Negima! (Magic 201: Magic and Combat)

Chimaera

This review may contain spoilers! If you haven’t read the review for Volume 1 yet click here! It’ll give you a better idea of what the series is about.

Negima volume two picks up where the first one left off, following the aftermath of a battle between Evangeline and Negi. A recent graduate shipped off to Japan to teach a bunch of junior high girls at Mahora Academy, Negi Springfield spends this volume learning more about himself and from his students than he does actually teaching lessons. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but after a while it slows things down where it shouldn’t, making the volume a bit inconsistent in terms of enjoyability.

imageThe best part of the volume is the expanded world focus – we learn a lot of background information (though not nearly enough) about Negi’s nemesis Evangeline, Negi’s father (complete with dream sequences), the campus at large (it is very large), and Chachamaru’s startlingly softer side. This volume spends a lot less time focusing on Asuna, and although she is primed in the viewers minds as Negi’s backup when teaming against Evangeline and Chachamuru in volume one, we don’t get to see much of it happening except in bits during the early parts of volume two. Instead of a fast paced, high combat, turbo charged magic volume of episodes, we get to spend more time with the twins as they lead Negi around campus on a delivery errand turned walkabout, touching every place and club in the campus and letting us see the rest of Negi’s students “in action” – acting, riding, swimming, working in the library and constructing robots. A good portion of one episode is devoted to Chachamaru the robot and Kaede the ninja and is quite enjoyable as a result. The final episode of the volume is considerably weaker than the rest of them, and in a DVD marathon of Negima, it could be safely fast-forwarded through.

imageFor a volume titled “Magic and Combat,” you’d expect there to be a lot more real combat and magic involved, but there isn’t. Instead, the theme of this disc appears to hammer home that Negi is just a kid, has a lot to learn, and is so concerned with being a “proper” teacher that he’s well within danger of losing track of his goals for coming to Japan in the first place. In terms of battles, I’d like to see entirely less of the Mahora high school girls from the dodgeball episode (never again, preferably) and instead add more real, magical conflict into this happy go lucky and incredibly odd academy. A bookworm genius should not have to equate to spineless wimp, but that’s what the viewer is treated to in volume two. The magic is also not terribly impressive to watch, either. The series has great potential it isn’t living up to yet. If this could be resolved by aging everyone ahead a few years (Negi into his late teens, his students into early twenties) so that some of the mature humor could match the ages of the characters, I wouldn’t mind seeing a remake of this at some point.

The fact that Negi has a lot to learn is so heavily handled that one of the characters even comments in a scene how they really can’t expect too much out of Negi compared to other professors. Well, they should expect more out of Negi. He’s supposed to be a genius. We should all expect a bit more out of Negi at this point, since it is pretty clear by the end of the volume he has become more comfortable around his students and should really have a better grip on things than he appears to have.

Age and experience only go so far, and Negi should realize for all the life lessons he has to learn, he really should be leaning on some of those “book smarts” of his to compensate. It would make things more entertaining.

Caitlin Glass (Chachamaru) and Clarine Harp (Kaede) provide commentary on episode seven, which is perfect, since this episode focuses on Nagi’s interaction with those two girls the most. Appropriately, the character profiles also feature Chachamaru and Kaede as well. My only real gripe with the commentary was that it was too short – only half the episode. It was amusing to listen to these two anime voice veterans discuss their characters and comment on some of the same silliness that occurred to the viewer when watching the episode in question – notably Kaede’s super equipped campsite (how did she get that barrel up there anyway?), and they should have finished out the whole episode or added more people for commentary. Scene stealer Chamo the ermine helps keep the humor high over the course of a couple episodes.

Soundwise, the only thing that really grated on my nerves was Negi’s voice after a while. I was given the image of a cheese grater in my head every time Negi got annoyed over the course of this volume, and unfortunately this happened a lot. The screeching almost made him hard to understand and was downright cringe-worthy on the last episode. Like volume one, there appears to be a bit of short cutting involved with the art – some action scenes are comprised of stills rather than full animation. This is annoying and lazy.

Entertainment: 7
Not as consistently good as volume one, still worth checking out for the most part.

Technical: 7.5
Good sound, cheery music – not bad, but the voice acting really knocked this score down. The Japanese culture lessons continue on the extras, this time about public baths.

Overall: 7

DVD Features: Episodes 7-10

[B]DVD Extras:[/b] CHaracter Profiles, Schoolgirl Commentary, Communal Bathing in Japan, Textless Songs, Trailers

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