Negi Springfield, a 10-year-old wizard who recently graduated from Merdiana Magic Academy in Wales, hopes to achieve two things—to find his missing father, who was once known as the Thousand Master, and to become a Magister Magi, someone who helps the everyday world through magic. To reach his latter goal, he is assigned one last task: to teach English at a middle school in Japan.
Much to his surprise and dismay, he not only discovers that his homeroom class consists of 31 girls, but also ends up revealing his true identity as a magician to Asuna Kagurazaka, one of his new students. Negi must now negotiate with the girl and face his most difficult challenge yet—to keep his identity a secret as he tackles magical threats both from within and outside of Mahora Academy, all the while keeping a watchful eye out for his lost father.
Mahou Sensei Negima! was published in English as Negima! by Del Rey from April 27, 2004 up until volume 27, released on July 27, 2010. Kodansha Comics USA picked up the license and published volumes 28-38 from October 2, 2012 to April 23, 2013, as well as republishing the previous volumes in nine omnibus volumes from June 14, 2011 to February 11, 2014.
After 9 years, 38 volumes, and 355 chapters, Mahou Sensei Negima finally ends. Hereafter shortened to Negima!, this series is close to my heart because it's one of the very first titles I've ever read. I spend my first chapters of Negima! figuring out how the heck do non-Japanese readers manage to read from right to left. And now, nine years later, I've read several other titles. Every week or so, I eagerly await the coming of the next chapter of this series. I get impatient when Ken Akamatsu takes "research breaks," or when it's a holiday in Japan (but I don't hold it against
them, don't worry). To imagine the span of time it took for this series to finish, I was in the middle of first year high school when I started reading Negima!. (The series was just a bit past a hundred chapters back then) Here I am now, finishing my second year in college, and finishing Negima!.
I suppose I'll get to the sentiments later, and I'll start reviewing. Encompassing a series as big as Negima! in a single review will be challenging (it's the first big series I will review), but I will try my best to do it justice.
When you're talking about a series spanning 355 chapters, you'd only expect a story as excellent as it is detailed. When the said 355-chapter manga is labeled as a harem manga, you'd expect overextended story arcs with different girls. When it's also labeled as a fantasy manga, you'd expect overextended story arcs with different magical girls. Negima!, however, goes beyond what everyone expects of a harem manga (or a fantasy manga, for that matter). It's one of the best points of Negima!, so allow me to expand.
In a span of 355 chapters, Akamatsu has taken us to worlds we can only start to imagine: form an all-girls school, to areas reminiscent of the Hyperbolic Time Chamber in DragonBall, to flying machines, to magical worlds comparable (or even superior, depends on your opinion) to Hogwarts. The author has taken us all for a ride of epic proportions; while most titles stick to one story in a few fixed areas, Negima! takes us to the edges of reality. With gigantic floating library-chasms and the Red Planet all in the mix, Negima! is an imagination-inspired adventure all in itself. All these we explored because of a boy's undying dream of finding his father.
The story circles around Negi Springfield, a young boy who desires to emulate, and eventually locate, the Thousand Master (who is also his father). Simple as it may sound, the sentence above is the driving force of the entire story. Meeting his students, exploring worlds of magic and beyond--all this was due to his wanting of meeting his dad. It's amazing how such a simple thing can take a story to such great bounds.
It's also amazing how Ken Akamatsu manages to compress so much story details in a single, coherent flow of events. We have robots, mages, ghosts, Mars, teenage romance, and immortality all in one story. Having all this in a single story is already a feat in itself; to have extended it to 355 wonderfully-created chapters is something that so few mangakas have managed to do.
What prevented me from giving a 10 was the ending. Long as it is, the ending feels a little hurried. Don't let this stop you from reading, though: it's apparently designed as an open end. I guess it just happened so fast that I didn't feel enough sense of closure for the series. Either that or I was just rooting for one of the girls too much. I'm still hoping dearly for some sort of epilogue to answer all the hanging questions. For now, I will remain contented for what the ending brought me. After all, I expected ending a series this big to be challenging and hard. Akamatsu manages to do it well enough to give me a fleeting bittersweet aftertaste in my head; I'm both happy and sad that the series has ended.
I personally like clean art. Thick outlines, clean expressions and beautiful scenery keep me hooked on a series. Negima! manages to score this as well. Though not perfect, it's certainly enough to be worthy of praise. If you've read his previous work, Love Hina, and liked the art there, then you'll probably like the ones here too. It's nice to see how Akamatsu gives detail to facial expressions concerning blushing and all things related to love (trust me, you'll get it a lot here). His art style is also distinct; you'll spot his work right away. His art brings his characters to life--and seeing that his characters have so much visual detail in them, he certainly doesn't seem to hold back when it comes to making them look good.
Here's the other strong point of Negima!. Most mangakas avoid introducing too much characters in a story, so as not to get the readers cluttered in remembering who's who. Akamatsu, however, kickstarts Negima! by introducing a class of girls. Then he takes us to a magical world, and introduces even more. I haven't even mentioned the teachers in Mahora Academy yet.
Instead of being the weakness of Negima!, it is rather the strength of this series. Akamatsu-sensei manages to introduce characters with distinct personalites that characterize each one and each one alone (well, except for the twins in the said class). If you're going to do a harem, you have to give the girls distinction. If you'll do it with a class, you've got a lot of distinction to do. Akamatsu accomplishes this by two ways: personality and power. He gives each character a distinct habit or trait that is his or hers alone. Above that, he also gives them a unique power (this is a fantasy manga with mages, after all). And might I add that this was done excellently.
After everything that's happened, I find it hard to put the story of Negima! down. It's been an long, entertaining ride through the world of Mahora Academy and beyond, and it's been fun seeing a young boy grow up to become the great, respected mage he wanted to become, just like how much of a great mage his father was known to be. I spent a few minutes each week of these past few years reading Negima!, seeing the story progress bit by bit and seeing how Akamatsu gives life to characters both lovable and respectable. He manages to turn mere students of some girls' school to saviors of two worlds--both the human world and the magical world. Akamatsu also manages to make one heck of a good lead character. Negi looks like a boy (well, he is a young boy after all), but certainly acts like he's on a level well beyond himself. I'll be honest with you people, and say that I didn't feel like I was reading a harem manga at all; rather, it was more like reading a story of self-discovery and self-improvement. It's the story of a young Negi Springfield on a quest to find his beloved dad, and in the process he was finding out the good things he can do for the ones close to him. Likewise, his students find out there's much more to their cute little English teacher, and slowly (although Negi barely realizes this) the teacher himself teaches his students lessons well beyond English--in fact, well beyond school at its entirety. He slowly guides his students in find out who they are, and that they can be so much more than what they think themselves of.
I don't know how may readers managed to reach this part of my review, instead of just going TL;DR. My review is this long because I give Negima! this much praise and thanks as it gives us readers its last chapter. It was nice to see how each student ends up in the future, and it was certainly great to find out what the young mage manages to accomplish in the end. But beyond all awe for the characters, I find myself even more awestruck at how Ken Akamatsu delivers a story of epic proportions and manages to keep it as entertaining as it was when its first chapter was published. Alongside Ichigo 100%, this is one of my first mangas to ever read, and just now surely one of the first big series I managed to finish all the way to the end.
In the end, Mahou Sensei Negima! gives a permanent place for itself in the list of the great mangas of the decade. It's a bittersweet feeling to see it conclude, but all stories do end (even if they are open-ended). To end this review, I quote from the last page of the last chapter:
"True magic results from courage of the heart. Boys and girls, be ambitious. One step can change the world."
Congratulations to Ken Akamatsu for the nine years of success, and a big thank you to him for taking that one step, which in the end gives us a story that spans nine years and several worlds. I can now say that I grew up with Mahou Sensei Negima; even more, I proudly say that I saw it grow to become the great story that I thought it should become back when I read its first chapter.
I've read this manga numerous times and it still holds the spot of my favourite story of all time in any medium.
...Maybe i'm a bit biased, but so far as i can tell it is also one of the most intelligent stories i've ever read or seen.
Do not be fooled by this manga's apparent nature, or how it starts off. This manga makes the biggest 180 you will ever see in a story. Once you're in the latter half of the series you'll hardly recognize it or the characters anymore, as so much has changed. There's an even bigger change once you
graduate from Negima, and move on into the world of UQ Holder, which is 80 years after the end of Negima, in a changed world.
If you want a bite-size taste of this manga and how it changes, check out the OVA's: Shiroki Tsubasa Ala Alba, and Mou Hitotsu no Sekai. They blew my head off it's socket and forced me to have to read the manga. The ova's will spoil part of the plot, so be aware of that in your decision. (The original 2 full tv anime series are complete garbage, do not use them to compare to this manga)
Some people are off-put by the bizarre nature of it, and tendency to oddness, apparent skirt-pulls (seemingly unjustified plot additions), and things that could solve all the problems but don't because that would be boring... However, this manga is a testament to Ken Akamatsu being a meta-writer of the highest calibre. Literally every element in Negima that would normally equate to what some people would call "bad story writing" is something he does it intentionally, and utilizes circumstance and characters to identify it as such. The point of it was to show that in the real world, things will broadside you without warning, situations can be completely unfair, or solutions may be just barely missed because they weren't looking in the right place. Pay close attention to tiny side comments and details in the environment, as they often tell a narrative of their own and answer questions you likely had. Some stuff you may even want to research if you're unsure of what a reference is or where something came from (there's a lot of wiki info, and information books for this manga).
-> Story: brilliant, but procrastinated in the beginning <-
Overall the story does have it's flaws, like anything, but if you can embrace the style, you'll quickly stop caring. Mahou Sensei Negima! is by no means an ordinary manga. It is written with such meta-knowledge, trope abuse, and fiction satire, that the story is completely unapologetically itself. Negima is a very eccentric manga. It is a wide-spectrum story which crosses countless genres and themes: from mundane school life, to underworlds, to complete other worlds, and even hits of sci-fi. This is a story that will have you on the edge of your seat wondering what the world will throw at you next in the endless chain of events leading them from place to place and into problems of epic proportion and forced to handle it.
Akamatsu's method of storytelling is fairly obtuse, however a keen eye will spot the amount of research and dedication put into the series, from martial arts to sciences, to mythology, and history, he truly manages to make full use of his knowledge and ability. From some of the best reveals, to some of the best character exploits, Negima has it all. This manga also possesses some of the most well handled time travel continuities in any series ever (and i mean down to the finest background detail, i haven't spotted any bloopers). It's really hard to give examples, as some of the best reasons to read this manga, are in the pinnacle moments when something happened in just the perfect way that makes you fall out of your chair in amazement.
This manga probably has one of the coolest schools ever invented anywhere (and the craziest student body, they even have an aviation club; it's like a gathering of all of the #1 geniuses and unique people in the world in one place). Also one of the most epic libraries, if not THE most epic library ever designed... I don't even like libraries, and i wish i could visit and explore the depths of the Mahora Library Island every day (like their library expedition club). There's beautiful fantasy environments, sky castles, and all kinds of awesome stuff to be seen later on as well. There's almost no place in this story i wouldn't visit if it were possible.
-> Character: outstanding! <-
This manga has absolutely phenomenal character development, especially for how many characters it has. Negi ends up as a teacher for a class of 30, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Throughout the manga many more characters are met and fleshed out. Negi and his students grow incredibly in ability and mind. You will see them grow from a bunch of silly middleschool girls to heroes strong enough to take on world-changing problems. Some characters come out the other end completely changed individuals, and others will remain the same, but full of memories and experiences. All of the characters are a bit insane, so don't expect anyone to react realistically to things like life or death situations; they'll usually manage to dive into it with indestructible optimism (even if it's an extremely difficult problem or fight, which they may not even win, and without damaging the suspense), but that's what makes it fun.
So many characters might seem hard to keep track of, but you'll find this to be surprisingly not the case. While you may not remember their names that well, each character has a very distinct appearance, personality, speech pattern, and their own unique abilities that no one else has. Though i guarantee you will have zero trouble remembering the impossibly badass Jack Rakan.
-> Art: detailed and fluid <-
On a slightly technical note, Akamatsu-sensei is one of the better artists out there for designing action scenes. Each frame flows from one to the next in such a way that you're never lost as to what's going on; there is ample indicators to interpolate it in your mind. He is also very good at drawing and maintaining environments in a sense that you can spatially orient yourself in the environment without getting lost. There are numerous spreads with absolutely beautiful scenes and scenery throughout the manga - truly valuable when exploring a magic world.
-> Enjoyment: off the scale! <-
I'm sure you've figured it out by now, but i love the hell out of this manga, it's intelligence, characters, environments, themes, and so on. It contains most of my favourite places in any story, my favourite characters and so on. This manga had me riding on the edge of my seat, and reading my nights into oblivion, because i couldn't pull myself out of this dangerously addicting series. I've read it 3 times now, and i get the same excitement, hype and joy from it every time. Mahou Sensei Negima is truly close to my heart; i love it to bits.
One of the things this manga does that doesn't happen often, is scaling the strength of all the characters, like fans do when they propose charA vs charB wondering who'd win. In Negima, it's a lot of fun comparing all the characters and wondering who's the strongest, who's effective against who, what is their weakness, will their weakness work against them?
...Overall this manga is really hard to judge on any sensible basis, because it pretty much deconstructs everything you can criticize of it and throws it right back at you without caring. Stories that can do that are very rare. In a modern world where so many people are picking apart technicalities of story design and standards, to have a complete fantasy that will do things like create completely broken cheat characters, then advertise they're broken cheat characters, and make you love them regardless (yes, i'm talking about the famous Jack Rakan, the impossible badass himself).
With a series like this with such a colossal towering mass of things to talk about, it's a wonder why there isn't more conversation on it, especially with UQ Holder publishing now. I can only guess it's due to the inacessibility of it, and the poor impression in which the animes have on it. Hopefully the UQ Holder anime will bring a lot of people back to this.
Read this manga, you will not regret it. I'll see you around Mahora~
PS: If you don't believe me in the complexity of this story, or want a heap of spoilers, just look at it on TvTropes. This manga's exploits are off the charts.
- Semi-spoilers -
If you want a milestone of where to expect the manga to start taking shape and showing it's true colours, it's at the Mahora Festival Arc, which starts around chapter 70.
I FINALLY FINISHED IT!. Wow, its hard to believe that this manga started in 2003 and now over 10 years later i'm here writing a review wondering why the hell i didn't start reading manga at 4 years old instead of playing on my dreamcast or whatever.
I saw this manga catching my eye not long ago and since then i have marathoned it from start to finish and I am telling you now, its worth it.
Now I'm not personally good at writing reviews so I'll just drop a few things here:
> Give it time for the story to start - at the beginning it's a
lot of ecchi and things you would easily predict just by reading the description but seriously, i started laughing so hard at some of the stuff later on.
> Some of it the pacing was a bit too fast but that is by my own personal judgement
> Reading the whole thing isn't a waste of time, the whole thing is great and the ending gives a sense of closure ( However there is some stuff that i feel wasn't explained properly but I'm hoping that will be explained in the "sequel" of UQholder )
> Just a quick warning - UQholder isn't that much of a continuation of 90% of characters in MSN but rather a story of a descendant of Negi
> Really the only things i have a complaint about is that some of the characters felt excluded for the majority of the storyline but i can't exactly blame them due to the MAHOUSIVE cast (geddit?)
>The story is VERY good in my opinion however there's no way you could tell that by looking at the description. Don't be deceived!
Final Verdict: If you are a patient reader who likes a bit of ecchi then you should read this! But then again who am i to decide? Give it a try, i think personally it is a very good manga. Besides if you don't give it a try you might end up regretting it because the description does the story no justice whatsoever.
Mahou Sensei Negima! (MSN) is over. After more than nine years of serialization, the manga created by Ken Akamatsu came to an end. So many mixed feelings come to head when something that you follow for so much time ends! But hey, I'm starting to sound like a pansy (or dramatic... yeah, dramatic is better), and that's not the idea.
Now that the manga is officially finished, it's time to do a review, to invite new people to this peculiar story, and to remind the veterans (that are quite "sensible" at these moments...) why we expend almost a decade of our
time reading this...
Negi Springfield, a 10 years old welsh prodigy, has just concluded the first part of his studies to become a Magister Magi, that means, a wizard (just like his legendary and disappeared dad). The next part of his training, however, is different than anything experienced before: Negi is assigned as an english teacher in class 2-A of Mahora Gakuen, a japanese high school with only female students. Of course, in his new class, none of his students (14-15 years old girls) take Negi very seriously, and even if they kind of listen to what he says, they treat him more like a toy than a teacher.
And that simple premise is the kick off of Negima. The idea itself, although interesting, is fairly typical (even if the ages of the protagonist are swapped... usually the teacher is the older one), and a good set up for your typical harem/comedy. And that was what the higher ups want Negima to be: a similar work to Love Hina, the author's previous success. But mister Akamatsu had other plans, and although at first the manga was certainly humorous, with the passage of the chapters (many, many chapters) some battle shonen elements were gradually added, and offensive magic spells and martial arts became more and more important. This is precisely one of the most attractive points of MSN, how the harem chapters alternate with the adventure and action ones. Broadly speaking, we could say that the manga has three components: the harem part (humor), the shonen part (action) and the ecchi part (present in the previous two, although predominantly in the first).
In the harem part, there's humor and drama, and is usually where new characters are introduced, while the old ones are consolidated. As I said at the beginning, at first everything is laughs and joy, and is not until later that the interactions between the characters have weight, they begin to forge relationships, and all that.
In the shonen part, we have training and battles. However, you have to be patient: the first more or less serious fight appear in the third volume, and the action is not a predominant part of the manga until volume five, where, finally, various factions fight and magic and swords fly everywhere. When is time to fight, MSN is closer to Hunter x Hunter than to Dragon Ball, by that, I means that intelligence and strategy is more important than the power itself (although, having power helps a lot n_n). Also, each magician has a high affinity element, and a smaller domain of the others (which vaguely remind me the Nen specialization of HxH). Just to give an example, Negi specializes in wind magic, and his childhood friend Anya, on fire.
Finally, the ecchi. Is everywhere, and you should have that in mind when choosing this manga. Is in every form known to man, like public baths, hot springs, accidental falls (where hands tend to end where they shouldn't), magic that goes wrong (Negi's a wizard that can lift skirts with just one accidental sneeze, and if the sneezing is strong enough, it can disintegrate all the victim's clothes), magic that goes well (cause not everybody are well-meaning in the world of MSN), sleepwalking, and many other forms that now elude my memory.
Unlike most of the manga/anime that I saw, which always start with a few characters and then expand (and set aside some of the initials in the process), MSN introduces lots of characters since chapter one (Negi + 31 students + some teachers), obviously using just a few at first, to explore the rest later. This may take hundred of chapters, but is going to happen eventually: the girl that did almost nothing in the past, will get her chance to shine, either with several chapters devoted specifically to her, participating more actively, fighting, or whatever. And it doesn't end there, no. Later, there will be added lots of new characters, and luckily, some of them will be men.
In the analysis of (some of) the (initial) characters, the MC of this story is, like i already stated like five times, Negi Springfield, a ridiculously smart welsh boy (he learned japanese at university level in just three weeks!) that want to become a great magician. His cousin told him that he should treat the girls with extreme courtesy, and his excessively politeness, plus the innocence of being only 10 years old, prevent him from understand some of the latent feelings of some of his students... Still, innocent, shy or whatever, when problems appear, he will face anyone who threatens the security of his class, whether if they're magicians, vampires, robots, demons, gods, or whatever.
The second most important character, and main female character, is Asuna Kagurazaka, one of the many students Negi have. Tsundere with all the letters, Asuna says that she doesn't like brats, problem that last less than a chapter, and end up becoming Negi guardian and roommate. She's rowdy, violent, academically inept and sometimes noisy, yet, she's a nice, cheerful girl. Konoka Konoe's Asuna best friend and roommate. She's tender, friendly, smart (although, sometimes a bit ditzy) and feminine. She's also the granddaughter of Mahora's headmaster, and an oujou in every sense of the word (with a ginormous fancy house in Kyoto, and all). Her only real concern is that she can't get closer to Setsuna, her childhood friend, that now acts aloof and distant... Nodoka Miyazaki is a shy girl who loves books, and is the first to develop feelings for Negi. Along with her best friends, Yue Ayase and Haruna Saotome (plus Konoka), she's part of the Library Expedition Club, the group involved in the first (kind of) serious plot story. Naming more characters would ruin the initial surprise, so the last character i would bring up is Albert Chamomile, a good friend of Negi and sometimes amoral advisor (for those who have seen Ranma ½, he has some similarities with Happosai), who's also an ermine.
The drawing of this manga is good from the beginning, but throughout the chapters an evolution is obvious. The characters, the magic and the landscapes, all gain details and quality, being what most stands out, obviously, the huge number of cute girls. Also, there are spells that are just spectacular, requiring double pages to show all its glory (and having, usually, some badass magic circles).
The character design is kind of interesting. For those familiar with Love Hina, some similarities are blatant, and is obvious that the MSN took some traits borrowed from its predecessor. You don't need to be Sherlock Holmes to notice the physical similarities (and also in behavior) of Asuna and Chisame with Naru Narusegawa. Nodoka, the shy girl of Negima, is a lot like Shinobu, the shy girl of LH. Kaede and Mitsune could be sisters. If Akira bothered to let her hair down, she will be a lot like Motoko (although, in behavior, she is more like Otohime). Ku Fei, the chinese girl is very similar to Su, the indian girl. For Seta and Takamichi wasn't enough to look alike, they have to share professions too. Mei Narusegawa and Mei Sakura are clones. And with the MC? In a rather peculiar choose, Negi looks a lot like Shirai, one of Keitaro's ronin friend. Maybe the author was fond to the character... and speaking of him, Akamatsu is a declared fan of InuYasha, and decide to paid a little tribute to the Rumiko Takahashi character with Kotarou Inugami, a half demon dog-kid that's quite aggressive, yet very likeable.
But enough talk, is time for the verdict. Well, this is my favorite manga, so of course I recommend it for people who enjoy harem comedies, and for those patient enough, shonen fights. But is time to put things in the right place, and say the pros and cons, so you can decide.
+ A giant cast, in which all the characters receive attention, mature, and do important things.
+ Unique in its combination of genres (just like tvtropes said, Mahou Sensei Negima = Harry Potter + Dragon Ball + Love Hina).
+ It's a harem where, really, lots of girls have a real shot with the protagonist (unlike most of the exponents of the genre, in which you just know who's going to win with only five chapters available).
+ The general consensus of readers of this manga and other shonens says that Negima has the best shonen battle ever. Well, that's terrible biased, but I can say that is, at least, among the best (and I'm a person who watched Dragon Ball, Naruto, Saint Seiya, Hunter x Hunter, Rurouni Kenshin, FullMetal Alchemist, and many more). This is the item that, actually, made me read this whole thing!
+ Great drawing, with an amazing evolution.
- An amount of ecchi that is disturbing sometimes (specialy taking into account the age of the protagonist).
- The real story takes long time to develop
- Many subplots open, lots of them remain without answers
- In addition to the above, a few arcs where showed, but in the end, they weren't done (being the Nightmare Circus the most emblematic case).
- The end was very controversial. Lots of important things remain unexplained, or where just hand waved.
But hey, that's it. Now it's on you to decide if this manga worth it or not. I gave what I consider the necessary tools (without spoilers, of course). Analyze the pros and cons, and see if the concept appeals to you. But the most important thing of all: if you decide to give Negima a shot, please, remember that the REAL Negima takes an important amount of chapter to get started!
Ok, that's it (this time for real), and thx for the long reading. I usually don't review things with lots of previous reviews, or works that are already popular, but this one was an special exception for me n_n
Mahou Sensei Negima! (MSN) acaba de terminar. Después de más de nueve años de serialización, el manga creado por Ken Akamatsu vio su fin. Cuantos sentimientos encontrados le vienen a uno a la cabeza cuando algo que siguió durante tantos años termina! El vacío que, en cierta forma queda... Pero bueno, tampoco es como para ponernos dramáticos xD.
Ahora que el manga termino oficialmente, es el momento de hacer la review correspondiente, para invitar a nuevas personas a esta peculiar historia, y para recordarle a los veteranos por que estuvimos casi una década leyendo esto...
Negi Springfield, un prodigio gales de 10 años, acaba de concluir la primera parte de sus estudios para convertirse en un Magister Magi, o sea, un mago (al igual que su legendario y desaparecido padre). La siguiente parte de su entrenamiento, sin embargo, es distinta a cualquier cosa que allá experimentado antes: Negi es asignado como profesor de ingles en la clase 2-A de Mahora Gakuen, una secundaria japonesa donde solo cursan chicas. Por supuesto, en su flamante curso, ninguna de sus alumnas (que tienen entre 14 y 15 años) lo toma muy en serio, y aunque escuchan lo que dice, lo tratan mas como a un juguete que como a un profesor.
Con esa simple premisa arranca Negima. La idea en si es bastante típica, y aunque las edades estén al revés, es el planteo básico ideal para que una comedia/harem empiece. Y es que eso era lo que los editores querían que sea Negima: una obra similar al éxito anterior del autor, Love Hina. Pero el señor Akamatsu tenía otros planes, y aunque ciertamente al principio el manga era humorístico, con el paso de los capítulos (muchos capítulos) poco a poco se fueron agregando peleas de estilo shonen, en las que tanto la magia como las artes marciales son importantes. Eso es, justamente, uno de los puntos más atractivos de MSN, como se alternan los capítulos de harem con los de aventura y acción. A grandes rasgos podríamos decir que el manga tiene tres componentes: la parte harem (humor), la parte shonen (acción) y la parte ecchi (presente en las dos anteriores, aunque predominante en la primera).
En la parte harem tenemos humor y drama, y es donde usualmente (al menos, al principio) se introducen nuevos personajes, al mismo tiempo que se consolidan los viejos. Como dije antes, al principio son todo risas y alegría, y no es sino hasta mas adelante que las interacciones entre los personajes tienen peso, las relaciones empiezan a forjarse, y todo eso.
En la parte shonen hay tanto entrenamiento como peleas. Sin embargo, estos se hacen esperar: el primer enfrentamiento más o menos serio no aparece sino hasta el tercer volumen, y la acción no es parte predominante sino hasta el volumen cinco, donde hay peleas de varios bandos y magia y espadas volando por todos lados. A la hora de pelear, MSN es más cercano a Hunter x Hunter que a Dragon Ball, con eso quiero decir que la inteligencia y la estrategia es más importante que el poder en sí mismo (aunque tenerlo ayuda mucho n_n). También, cada mago tiene un elemento con el que tiene afinidad, y un dominio menor de los otros (lo que me recuerda vagamente a la especialización del Nen en HxH). Solo por poner unos ejemplos, Negi se especializa en viento, y su amiga Anya, en fuego.
Finalmente, el ecchi. Esta por todos lados, y deberían tenerlo muy en cuenta antes de leer este manga. Esta en las formas ya conocidas por todos, o sea, baños públicos, aguas termales, caídas accidentales (en las que invariablemente las manos terminan donde no deberían), magia que sale mal (Negi es un mago que puede levantar faldas simplemente estornudando, y si lo hace muy fuerte, puede desintegrar toda la ropa de la pobre victima), magia que sale bien (por qué no todos son bienintencionados en el mundo de Negima), sonambulismo, y otras muchas formas que ahora eluden mi memoria.
A diferencia de la mayoría de los mangas/anime que yo vi, en los que siempre se arranca con unos pocos personajes para después expandirse (y dejar de lado a algunos de los iniciales en el proceso), MSN introduce muchos personajes de movida (Negi + 31 alumnas + algunos profesores), obviamente usando unos pocos al principio, para más adelante explorar al resto. Esto puede tardar unos cien capítulos, pero eventualmente va a pasar: alguna de las chicas que durante más de 100 capítulos hizo poco y nada, finalmente tendrá su oportunidad de lucirse, ya sea con varios capítulos dedicados específicamente a ella, participando más activamente, peleando, o lo que sea. Y no termina ahí, por que luego se irán incorporando mas personajes, y afortunadamente para la variedad, varios serán hombres.
En el análisis de los personajes (iniciales) en sí, el protagonista absoluto de esta historia es, como ya dije unas cinco veces, Negi Springfield, un niño gales ridículamente inteligente (aprendió japonés a nivel universitario en solo 3 semanas!), que tiene como objetivo convertirse en un gran mago. Su prima le dijo que debía tratar con mucha cortesía a las chicas, y su excesiva educación, mas la inocencia que implica tener solo 10 años, le impiden ver los sentimientos latentes de algunas de sus alumnas... Así y todo, cuando hay problemas, enfrentara a cualquiera que amenace la seguridad de su curso, ya sean otros magos, vampiros, robots, demonios, dioses o lo que sean.
El segundo personaje más importante en esta historia es Asuna Kagurazaka, una de las tan nombradas alumnas de Negi. Tsundere con todas las letras, Asuna dice que no aguanta a los niños, cosa que dura menos de un capitulo, y terminara convirtiéndose en guardiana y compañera de habitación de Negi. Konoka Konoe es la mejor amiga y compañera de Asuna, también es mucho mas femenina y amable que esta. Nodoka Miyazaki es una chica tímida (bordeando la androfobia) que ama los libros, y es la primera en mostrar sentimientos por Negi. Nombrar a mas personajes quitaría un poco la sorpresa inicial de su aparición, así que termino mencionando a Albert Chamomile, amigo y consejero un tanto amoral de Negi (para los que hayan visto Ranma ½, tiene muchas similitudes con Happosai), que además es un armiño.
El dibujo de este manga es bueno desde el principio, pero a lo largo de los capítulos se nota una evolución notable. Los personajes, la magia y los paisajes, todo aumenta en calidad y en detalle, siendo lo que más resalta, obviamente, un sinnúmero de chicas lindas. También, hay hechizos que son, lisa y llanamente, espectaculares (requiriendo paginas dobles para mostrarlos en todo su esplendor, usualmente involucrando círculos mágicos gigantes).
Lo de los personajes es interesante. Para los que hayan leído/visto Love Hina, se darán cuenta enseguida que varios de los personajes principales de MSN toman elementos prestados de LH. No hay que ser Sherlock Holmes para notar las similitudes físicas (y también en comportamiento) de Asuna y Chisame con las de Naru Narusegawa. Nodoka, la chica tímida por excelencia de MSN, se parece mucho a Shinobu... la chica tímida por excelencia de LH. Kaede y Mitsune podrían ser hermanas. Si Akira se tomara la molestia de soltarse el pelo, seria Motoko (aunque su carácter es más parecido al de Otohime). Ku Fei, la chica china es muy similar a Su, la chica india. A Seta y a Takamichi no les alcanza con parecerse, si no que tienen la misma profesión. Mei Asakura y Mei Narusegawa son, lisa y llanamente, clones. Y con el protagonista? En un suceso bastante peculiar, Negi se parece mucho, mucho a Shirai, uno de los amigos perdedores de Keitaro. Tal vez el autor le tenía cariño al personaje... y hablando del autor, que es un fan declarado de Inuyasha, decidió rendir un pequeño homenaje al personaje de Rumiko Takahashi con Kotaro Inugami, un personaje mitad perro demonio bastante agresivo pero muy bueno en el fondo n_n.
Este es el momento del veredicto. Bueno, este es mi manga favorito, así que por supuesto que lo recomiendo para las personas que les gusten las comedias harem, y para los que sean lo suficientemente pacientes, los shonens de peleas. Pero es el momento de poner las cosas en su lugar, y decir pros y contras, para que ustedes decidan.
+ Un cast gigante, en el que todos reciben atención, maduran, y hacen cosas importantes
+ Único en la combinación de sus géneros (como dijo tvtropes, Mahou Sensei Negima = Harry Potter mas Dragon Ball mas Love Hina)
+ Es un harem en el que, realmente, muchas chicas tienen posibilidades reales (a diferencia de la mayoría de los exponentes del genero, donde la resolución es obvia con solo 5 capítulos disponibles) con el protagonista.
+ El consenso general de lectores de este manga y de otros shonens dice que Negima tiene, muy probablemente, la mejor pelea de shonens de la historia. Bueno, eso es terriblemente parcial, pero sí que está entre las mejores (y lo dice una persona que vio Dragon Ball, Naruto, Saint Seiya, Hunter x Hunter, Rurouni Kenshin, FullMetal Alchemist, y un largo etcétera). Este punto fue el que me atrajo a mí a este manga!
+ Evolución del dibujo notable (no es que al principio sea malo, pero la mejoría es soberbia)
- Una cantidad de ecchi a veces perturbadora (mas teniendo en cuanta la edad de los protagonistas)
- La historia real tarda mucho en desarrollarse
- Muchas tramas secundarias se abren, y quedan colgados sin mayores explicaciones
- Sumado a lo anterior, se plantearon muchos arcos que ni siquiera terminaron realizándose (siendo el caso más emblemático, el del Nightmare Circus)
- El final es muy polémico. Simplemente, muchísimas cosas quedan sin explicación. Algunas, muy importantes.
Pero bueno, eso es todo. Ahora está en ustedes decidir si este manga vale la pena o no. Les di lo que considere las herramientas necesarias (sin spoilers, obviamente). Analicen los pros y los contras, y vean si el concepto les atrae. Pero lo más importante de todo: recuerden que el Negima real es distinto al de los primeros capítulos!
Gracias por leer, y si apretan el botón de not helpfull, les va a entrar un virus xD
We love cute couples and following the development of their relative relationships in our favorite manga series. But let's turn up the heat, and see what happens when characters have more than a singular love interest. Let's enter the wild world of the harem manga!