Now this title is one that surprised me. I liked the anime when I was first starting getting into anime, and I even liked the weird parallel world re-imagining anime it had after that, but both times it appears that they only adapted the first 6 volumes of the manga, out of 38, and even then it was mostly filler…I think? Honestly I don’t remember it that well haha.
Actually, reading the manga is a different experience. I’m not sure why, but when I read this I felt this blanket of calmness envelope me, like all my troubles would go away. It made me happy, and relaxed me all at the same time. That, and the fact that the author, Ken Akamatsu, is a complete badass really sold me on this series.
The story is about Negi Springfield, a ten year old chap from England who just graduated magic school, and upon receiving his diploma, which will dictate what his career for the rest of his life be, he is summoned to Japan to be a teacher! Despite protests, Negi accepts his destiny and travels to Japan to become the first ten year old teacher, and to possibly find clues of his long lost father.
Now, Ken Akamatsu is famous for two works he did. One of them being Negi, and the other being the ever popular Love Hina. Love Hina was written first and was such a smash that the publisher wanted another harem/romance story from him, but he wanted to branch out into a battle manga, so don’t be surprised if the first three to four volumes act like a typical harem story. The chapters are all one story each in the beginning , and it’s mostly just cute shenanigans being played about, but don’t let this discourage you. Somehow, and I don’t know how, Akamatsu started to change this comedic romance harem story into something much more, and the way he did it was genius. By the end of the third volume you have your first serious battle, and it gives you some rules to magic with the creatures that inhabit the world. The story from there continues to slowly introduce elements that would play a bigger part, particularly in the battles, later on.
As I searched forums about fans of Negi, I noticed that practically everyone said “I almost dropped this during the first fifty chapters,” but I couldn’t understand why. Yes, Negi is a harem and with that shows a lot of nudity with sexual-ish situations, but the main character is ten so he doesn’t get urges, instead it’s played off as the younger brother walking into embarrassing situations with his sister (figures) at a bad time, and it plays well for comedy. Is it cliche in the beginning? Sure, but I didn’t hate it, and in fact, like I stated at the beginning Ken Akamatsu has this style that puts me at ease, so I was already enjoying the series. It wasn’t until volume five that the action really started to pick up and it began to feel like a battle manga.
The most daunting aspect about this series though, is the fact that is has so many characters. You have Negi, his thirty students, a few teachers, and then villains and all their subordinates. In the first six volumes I’m almost positive I had to keep track of fifty characters, at least. And you know what? I can say for certain that I could identify at least seventy percent or more of all the characters that have appeared. Akamatsu does a brilliant job in introducing the characters, making all their designs and personalities uniquely theirs, and he puts them in these situations that allow the reader to get to know them. I can now point out which character is Kagurazaka and Sakurazaki. At first I kept mixing them up, but after their story together it became apparent that they were different.
The artwork is amazing. Everything is detailed. I can even distinguish characters in the background, whereas most shonen would just draw incomprehensible people because it’s so far away. Since it’s a harem, you do see a lot of naked, or semi-naked, girls. Akamatsu definitely know how to draw naked girls well, so that it’s a balance of raunchy and purpose. Although, as a side note, I will say his drawing of boobs greatly improved from volume 1 to volume 6. When it comes to the magic and battle scenes, I couldn’t believe how well they were. Panels were placed perfectly, and spells being cast actually felt magical. Akamatsu is able to produce a better battle than most battle manga. Not only that, but all the spells were Latin or ancient Japanese, so I have to give him solid props for having the time to translate and dig up those translations.
The first three volumes I had in single editions, but volumes 4-5-6 I got in an omnibus format. At first I was skeptical at buying this, because when I picked up the One Piece and Naruto 3-in-1 volumes at a store, they felt like they’d come apart in my hand. Surprisingly, very surprisingly, the Negima omnibus is very good. It has over 500 pages and after reading the whole thing the spine was still relatively flat. It barely was bent, if you’re careful with it. The pages are nice quality and won’t rip when turning them. Overall, I’m really impressed with the omnibus so I’d say if you want to buy Negima do it in the omnibus, you get more bang for your buck and you’ll complete the series faster. The only downside is it looks like they dropped the omnibus at volume 9 (30 individuals) so you’d have to complete the rest in single editions.
Overall, Negima was a pleasant surprise that went from a standard fun harem, to a battle magic oriented story with lots of potential. I’d say read up to volume six and see where you stand. If you like it keep going, if not then a long series like this may not be worth your time. But from character details, like kids actually acting like kids, to the stunning artwork that is produced, and even the seeds you see that this has such a bigger story, really makes this series better than good, and a really strong introduction. From what I hear, it only gets better, and I must say after volume 6 my interest is definitely piqued and you can look forward to another Negima review in September 😀
*If you have read passed volume 6 please do not spoil anything in the comments, thank you*
Negima! Volumes 1-6
7.5/10 = Very Good
– Standard Harem formula at the beginning
– Maybe a tad too much fanservice