A Negima Retrospective

Negi Springfield is a ten year old orphan… Well, nine, but ten by traditional Japanese standards… Who has just graduated from wizardry school. No, not at Hogwarts. His final task before becoming a true wizard is a simple one… Move to Japan and become a teacher at an all girls’ middle school! Okay, it’s more convoluted than simple, but to be fair, this particular school has strong ties to the parallel magical world. One full third of his students know about the magical world before they even meet him, but for the other two thirds, Negi has been saddled with the responsibility of using his magic to educate them and make their lives better, all without letting any of them find out that magic really exists… Which is no easy task when you consider that his class contains trouble-makers, head cases, hopeless romantics, egomaniacs, a ninja, a ghost, a robot, a vampire, a time traveler, a future TMZ intern, and an angry red-head whose destiny seems almost certainly to be intertwined with his own.

Since Negima is a manga that was created by Ken Akamatsu, the author of seminal manga series Love Hina, you can expect a few very specific things out of it… It’s a harem, it has somewhat creepy undertones, and it’s extremely creative. The first two are outlined right away in one of the franchise’s most important plot seeds… In order for Negi to perform his duties as a wizard, he’ll need to have a magically bonded partner by his side to defend him while he’s casting spells. But since he’s still in training, Negi is allowed to make multiple probationary contracts, to be employed until he finds one partner to commit to… And these contracts must be sealed with a kiss.

Yes, that sounds creepy, but this plot seed never ventures beyond simple kissing, or else it truly would become wholly morally repulsive.

As far as the creative edge is concerned, that somewhat skeevy premise rapidly evolves in terms of scale, stakes, and dynamic as Negi’s duty to his students… As well as his pledge to find his missing father… Take him and his chosen probationary partners through all of the epic magic battles and exciting adventures that have transformed this series from a raunchy guilty pleasure into my absolute favorite manga series of all time… But the length and episodic story structure also make it notoriously hard to adapt, but it’s popularity and success have paved the way for almost a dozen different adaptations, spin-offs and continuations. And for my 100th blog post, I’m going to go through all of them now!

So sit back, cast a forced recognition spell on yourself, and get ready to take a tour through Mahora Academy!

1: Mahou Sensei Negima! Introduction Film

Don’t know this one? You’re not missing much. It’s more of a three episode OVA than a film, and it was created by Studio Xebec to promote their upcoming 26 episode Negima series and introduce the characters. The episodes are 8-10 minutes apiece, and they each follow a minor story from the manga. The first one follows Negi’s introduction to his class, and it’s used to introduce the baka rangers… Or, the five lowest-scoring students in class. The second one is the love potion storyline, Which introduces Konoka, Nodoka, and the cheerleaders. The third one follows Negi’s tour of the campus with the Narutaki twins, and it introduces everyone else.

Studio Xebec has never been great with animation quality, and this is probably the worst looking product I’ve ever seen them put out… Although I can kind of understand the cheapness, seeing how this production wasn’t a serious priority. I don’t hate the premise, but the introductions basically boil down to each character getting a single page of information copied right out of the in-betweens from the manga, detailing their likes, dislikes, and club activities. We get to see a few of them enjoying their activities, which is at least a little interesting, but aside from that, this product was never meant to be taken as a serious entry in the franchise.

Would I recommend it? No. It’s pointless, and even at 30 minutes over-all, it’s a waste of time. It offers nothing that you couldn’t get from the actual anime itself, and while I understand why, it still looks like ass. Give it a pass.

2: Mahou Sensei Negima!

From what I’ve been told, the Negima manga was never intended to be a harem series. It was supposed to be a shonen action series, but Akamatsu’s previous Love Hina success dictated the direction of his next project, which is why Negima evolved as far as it did. So, when the first anime series begins production while the manga was still in harem mode, you can already tell that something is going to go wrong.

This anime focuses on the beginning of the manga and stretches as far as the Kyoto story arc, and to most people who loved the manga, it doesn’t exist. I don’t think they’re being completely fair, I mean, a lot of newcomers do get some joy out of it, so it has to have some value, right?

Well, let’s get into the obvious complaints first… You can normally tell right off the bat how a series is going to look by watching the opening, because that’s where the best animation usually lies… But Negima has one of the worst openings I’ve ever seen, and it says a lot. The animation is better than that of the intro film, but it’s still awful. The artwork is bland and the colors are under-saturated, making for a dull looking product. The same few BGMs are repeated over and over again to the point of irritation, and it’s told completely out of sequence, robbing it of any sense of story progression. It also removes all the fan-service, which will be a plus in some peoples’ eyes, but it’s absence feels more to me like a crutch being kicked out from under a handicapped person.

The English dub gets off to a really rough start, but for the most part, it feels more poorly directed than poorly acted. Several good actors had to take a while to find the right voice for their characters, although a few… Like Laura Bailey and Jamie Marchi… Nail it on the first try. There are a few that flat out sucked, but they’re mostly kept to minor roles.

There are a few stories from the manga that are told well here… The Evangeline battle was pretty good, and intro episodes for Chisame and the Narutaki twins were a lot of fun. The last four episodes are a story arc that’s entirely unique, which alone makes it worth checking out, and I don’t care what anyone says, this series has the best Sayo Aisaka episode EVER. The rest of the series is disappointing at best, and GOOD GOD does the Kyoto arc suck here(Setsuna’s terrible dub actress takes some of the blame).

Do I recommend it? Conditionally. If you’re coming into the franchise fresh and don’t have time to read a 38 volume manga, this is a pretty good place to start. Otherwise, the only real purpose it serves is explaining why the second series didn’t bother sticking to the original material. I would recommend watching episode 19(which is awesome), and buying disk six to see the show’s original ending. Other than that, there’s really nothing of value here.

3: Maho Sensei Negima: Spring!

Remember when I said that Xebec used the into films to promote their upcoming Negima series? Studio Shaft did something similar with two OVA episodes, the first of which is called Spring. The fact that Love Hina had a ‘spring movie’ that took place on a tropical island is probably not a coincidence.

This OVA follows a brief story from the manga, where Ayaka invites Negi to her private island resort, and somehow, the entire class winds up going there with them. It immediately introduces the conflict that lead into this story… Negi saying the wrong thing, and Asuna being offended by it… But the argument in this version makes less sense and is MUCH more stupid. But then it launches into an awesome opening sequence where all the girls sky-dive down to the island in one continuous shot, so all’s forgiven.

From there, the content is pretty mediocre over-all… We get character profiles just like in the Intro films, except they’re placed between scenes instead of during them. Every girl in 3A is featured here at some point, with only a few getting shafted. The feud between Negi and Asuna isn’t handled very well, aside from one epic incident involving shark costumes. The girls are all wearing their own unique swimsuits, and you’d better believe the camera is ALL UP IN THEIR S— the entire time, capturing more pin-up style angles and poses than anybody could have reasonably expected.

The chupacabra, which will be a running gag in the Second series, is also introduced here. The production values and English dub are HUGE steps up from any previous animated incarnation of Negima thus far, although all the pointlessly weird camera angles that have earned Shaft it’s reputation for being creepy and pretentious are here in full glory. It’s used to decent effect, though. And the ending theme, which is a sweet tribute to the manga covers, is also cool.

Would I recommend it? I guess so. It’s not a necessary watch, but it was a pretty big deal in it’s time, and it’s a nice little episode to watch in between seasons. It doesn’t really warrant multiple viewings, though.

4: Maho Sensei Negima: Summer!

This is the second OVA that Shaft produced, both of which come packaged in the US on one very affordable DVD. This one isn’t based on any existing material from the manga… At least not that I can remember… It seems to exist to make up for all the bath scenes that got left out of the first anime… But it follows the same idea as the Spring special; Give each character a moment to shine, and dole out the fan-service!

As a matter of fact, I’ll be blunt about this: If you’re one of the people who was offended by all the nudity and fan-service in the manga, avoid this title like the plague. Cheeky nudity and convenient censoring is abundant in this episode.

Yue casts a spell to help Nodoka find out who’s on the other end of her red string of fate, but due to a miss-cast, she accidentally binds Nodoka to Negi by an actual indestructable red string. Just when they decide to wait for the string to disappear, Ayaka whisks them away to her new Spa Resort! Negi and Nodoka will have to… bathe together?

If you can ignore the perviness… Or if you enjoy it anyway… This is actually a pretty awesome episode. There are a lot of really clever sight gags, and you’ll have to watch a few times to notice them all. There are also a few cameos to characters that would be appearing later in the second series. Nodoka and Negi have some really cute and funny moments together, although Yue’s arc seems forced, and Asuna’s arc just feels kind of rapey. Most of the jokes hit, and the ones that don’t are over quickly.

Would I recommend this? Conditional. Avoid if the material offends you, but if you’re cool with it, there’s enough humor and creativity to make it worth watching a few times through.

5: Negima?!

The second series of Negima was, as I mentioned previously, produced by Studio Shaft, who picked up the license after Xebec’s utter bomb. Taking a cue from the negative response to the previous series, Shaft decided to create an entirely new story… Nay, an entirely new UNIVERSE out of the Negima material, which will no doubt piss off manga purists.

Instead of Negima’s weaker aspects, like fan-service and the slice-of-life and harem sides of it… This series focuses on the strongest aspects of the story, which are the wacky comedy and magical adventures. It goes through the process of introducing Negi to his class, and without beating around the bush, it immediately jumps into the Evangeline storyline, which is over by episode 3. That’s when the new storyline starts, with mysterious fairies causing trouble, and a weird-looking frog and cat monitoring Negi to make sure nobody finds out he’s a wizard… Thank God they’re gullible.

The fairies eventually drag Negi and his entire class into an alternate universe, where they spend the rest of the series adjusting to their new environment and trying to learn who sent them there so they can finally get home. And yes, along the way, it’s full of bat-shit crazy visual gags and non-sensical side plots that lend it a very surreal tone overall. And I love it.

Some characters are tweaked, while others are completely rewritten, such as the lead female being changed from a down-to-earth big sister type to a goofy moron with a limited attention span, a change that I am torn on(see my favorites list). The pactio system has also been over-hauled, possibly an attempt to explain the canonical inconsistency of Asuna’s card. Every single member of Negi’s class gets a pactio, much like the first series, but none of them feel forced or gratuitous. And speaking of forced and gratuitous, the fan-service is also gone, but unlike the first series, this one doesn’t feel lacking without it.

The dub, like in the OVA collection, is a huge improvement over the first series’ dub, with Jamie Marchi’s weird writing being the perfect match for Negima’s sense of humor, and almost all of the worst actors being recast with new ones. Being Shaft, the animation and visual style have also greatly improved.

Which isn’t to say it’s perfect… The pacing can be off at times, and while there are a lot of western-style references, some of the less accessible jokes fall flat. They slimmed down Satsuki, which is sure to offend some people, and some of the changes will have many manga fans clawing their eyes out in disgust(I personally didn’t mind them). The many pointless changes to the opening can be really annoying, especially since it was perfect the first time. A lot of the plot didn’t make sense, but it wasn’t really a BAD plot. To me, it’s a nice alternative story to what’s already great.

Would I recommend it? Of course I would. I can’t guarantee you’ll enjoy it, nor would I ever call it good by adaptation standards, but it’s a pretty awesome comedy series that I had a lot of fun with.

6: Negima?! Neo[

This manga was originally planned to be an adaptation of the second anime series, but it eventually turned into its own thing. So how does it do? Let me put it like this; The second manga is to the second anime what the first anime was to the first manga… A rushed, badly written, inconsistent adaptation that did everything out of order. Yeah, sorry, I don’t have a lot to say about this one, so I’m going to keep it short.

This manga wasn’t terrible, per se, but the artwork isn’t nearly as good as an Akamatsu project(It was made by a different mangaka, of course), and it’s too badly paced and emotionally bankrupt to really have any impact. Anya gets added to Negi’s class halfway through, and she is an insufferable character. The ending was also a huge disappointment, with the formerly complex character of Fate being completely rewritten for the sake of a cliched half-assed conclusion that’s over too easily and leaves way too many loose ends. There are a few story arcs that are decent, but for the most part, it doesn’t do a very good job justifying it’s own existence.

It brings up new details that are poorly explained and never again referenced… Like the Neo Pactio… And it’s also the only adaptation in which Negi picks somebody, but the result is confusing and unsatisfying.

Would I recommend it? No. It’s not the worst entry in the franchise, but it also doesn’t improve upon anything. Volume six was kind of cool, though.

7: Negima Parallel: TV Drama

There is a live action series of Negima. Yes, this is a thing that exists.

But before we go into detail, let’s talk about how difficult it was to watch. I saw the first few episodes on Youtube, and then my search for subtitled episodes eventually led me to Veoh, where the subtitles were terribly translated and difficult to read. They didn’t have episode 23, so I had to watch it on Dailymotion in french, using Google Translate on every line of dialogue. I could not find it on legal streaming sites, nor could I find region-free DVDs of it. So yeah, it was a bit of a challenge seeing this thing through.

Luckily, the show’s not half bad. As far as acting is concerned, the girls all range from decent to pretty damn good. The CG is fake looking and cheesy, but I’m pretty sure the series is aware of this, and uses it to a pretty charmingly funny end, with everything from Negi’s wand to the ball in a dodgeball game looking kind of ironically awesome for how unconvincing and awful they look. Oh, and get this: CG Chamo lives in a patch on Negi’s shirt.

The first half of the series focuses on introducing Negi and his students, and after the “Hah-hah, I can’t believe they made this” humor wears off three episodes in… Well, it’s not an unpleasant show, but you’d have to have extremely patient to not consider it boring. Seriously, there’s an entire episode dedicated to The Out Walking Club… AKA Kaede and the Narutaki twins… Hunting down abandoned toys, then fixing them and playing with them. Nice idea, but taxing on the attention span.

The second half thankfully makes up for it. Following the clumsily handled Evangeline storyline, we get a surprisingly compelling plot thread where the girls in Negi’s class are disappearing one by one, even from peoples memories. And who’s behind it? Chao Lingshen. Yup, this is the only adaptation to feature Chao Lingshen as a time traveling antagonist, which she damn well should be portrayed as. Her motivations are poorly defined, and the resolution is incredibly stupid, but that alone is a pretty good consolation. The second half definitely makes up for the first half.

There’s no fan-service outside of some bikini scenes in one episode, but they make up for it. On the one hand, the marginal creepiness of a ten year old boy being the love interest of a bunch of teenage girls is made less marginal when put into live action. On the other hand, Negi IS played by a thirteen year old, closing the age gap. But on the other OTHER hand, Negi’s actor is female, turning this series into a showcase of underage lesbian kisses, which feels a little too exploitative… So be warned about that. It’s fairly chaste in spite of itself, but yeah, it warrants a warning.

Also, All of the characters are Japanese. Which is a problem. Yes, when anime gets adapted into live action, non-Japanese characters often get rewritten… Like in Death Note, how Rey Penber became Rei Iewamatsu. But at least Rey got a name change. Evangeline Katherine McDowell keeps her name, which is the whitest sounding name since Nigel Thornberry; and one character even points out that some of the students don’t look Japanese, despite the fact that all of them do. Lazy, lazy, lazy.

Would I recommend it? Conditional. If you know of some easy way to watch it, and can avoid all the trouble I went through, go for it. It’s pretty good. Otherwise, it’s not worth the effort. Just stick to the Baka Ranger mini-series, which is hilarious, and is available with subs on Youtube.

8: Sensei Negima: Shiroki Tsubasa Ala Alba

The next animated incarnation of the franchise, Ala Alba takes place between the Mahora-fest and Magical land story arcs, and it ignores all previous adaptations and tells it’s story directly from the manga. The first episode covers the story of Negi’s partners having to defend their White Wing badges from the rest of the class, as whoever holds the badges gets to remain part of the team. The second episode goes through one last vacation that they all take together, and it also introduces a far more likeable Anya to the story. The third and final episode is the last few days before departure, where everyone is either training or unwinding in preparation for what will surely be an uneventful trip.

This is probably the entry I’m the most torn about. It’s the most well animated entry in the franchise, with Shaft keeping their signature weirdness far away from it, and it’s also the most accurate adaptation so far. It’s not 100 percent faithful, but it’s seamless enough that you can’t really tell what’s been removed or altered. It’s also the first appearance of Kotarou-kun that didn’t just use him as a constant gay joke(Neo really sucked, okay?).

But then there are a few big problems that, to be fair, it couldn’t possibly have avoided. It was set after the Mahora-fest story arc, which was one of the biggest and arguably best events in the manga, and it doesn’t even bother trying to explain it’s references to that story… It doesn’t bother telling you who has a pactio card and who doesn’t, nor does it bother telling you why Negi was fighting Chau or who the hell that Colonel Sanders guy is. I’m not saying you can’t just jump into this story without reading the manga, but you’ll have quite a few questions as you watch it.

And even if you have read the manga? Well, for me personally, I can’t watch this OVA without wishing the entire manga had been animated from scratch in this exact style, beginning to end. And the sad thing is that now that Negima’s over and a new sequel is already replacing it, I know the odds of this ever happening are slim to none. I’d like to say Ala Alba is one of my favorite adaptations for all the things it does right, and for how damn funny it is, but I just can’t detach those negative feelings from it.

Would I recommend it? Yes, I would. It may be confusing for newcomers, but on second thought, it might actually be a great way to promote the manga to them. And for the rest of you manga fans who won’t be burdened with my personal issues with it, it’s a nice little piece of nostalgia.

 9: Maho Sensei Negima! Mo Hitotsu no Sekai

I would say the biggest problem with the Ala Alba OVAs is the part of the story it chose to tell. It wasn’t badly written, badly executed, or badly produced… It was that it told a section of the story that takes place between two of the biggest and best story arcs of the series, basically containing the fallout from one and the build-up to another. Because of this, no matter how good it looked, there really wasn’t anything exciting or climactic going on in any of it. But this OVA didn’t have that problem.

After watching Negi and co. land in England, visit his hometown, and teleport to the magical world gate, five stowaways from Negi’s class are revealed… But before he can get this issue squared away, my favorite moment in the entire animated Negima library happens… The Assault on the Gate.

The music in this scene is the exact kind of music you’re supposed to build tension and suspense with… A two-tone note that gets louder and louder as we get closer and closer to danger, and then BAM, Fate Averuncus makes his move! The fight against him and the race against time to save Negi’s life are just as exciting as they were in the books, only animated! Fate casts a forced teleportation spell, separating all of them, and we get the episode of Negi and Chachamaru rescuing two of the other classmates, and then we get the third episode, where… Negi is already in town, a few other students are with him, he’s already competing in the tournament, and he already knows where Makie and Yuna are.

I’m not going to lie, when I first went through this. I looked around desperately to find out if I’d skipped an entire episode by mistake. And could you blame me? There was a lot of content between episodes 2 and 3, and I wanted to know where it was! But no, they just skipped over it.

In any case, the story is heavily condensed from there, a lot of material is removed, and all we’re really given are the biggest moments of the plot with occasional shots of where each of Negi’s students have wound up, although only about half of this information is ever followed up on or resolved. The only character other than Negi who really gets a star’s level of screen time is Yue, whose Farandole story arc is given as a bonus episode, but aside from that, this series ends with Negi waking up from having mastered Evangeline’s dark magic scroll.

I’m really torn on this one too. I really am. On the one hand, they removed way too much content, and we see so little of Negi’s lost students that I honestly wonder why they bothered showing their situations at all. On the other hand, the story is streamlined and fast paced, and each of the five episodes has at least one moment that managed to give me chills. The assault on the gate was the perfect beginning to this OVA, and Yue’s battle with the dragon was a satisfying… Although not conclusive… Finale.

I won’t pretend that it’s anywhere near as enjoyable as the manga was at this stage of the story, nor will I claim that it was well executed… Seriously, one more episode between two and three wouldn’t have killed them. But all the same, I still think this OVA was freaking awesome.

Would I recommend it? Yes. It’s a pretty damn exciting story arc for fans of the manga, and even for newcomers, if you’re able to handle the timeskip without getting confused, it’s still a really fun watch. Now, onto the movie!

10: Negiho?

Oh, right. I have to get through this before the movie. Great.

So, Negiho is a role reversal of the original mangas concept. Instead of a ten year old teaching a class of middle schoolers, Negi is an adult teaching a class full of kindergartners based on his original students! The original idea was probably to create a manga based on the episode of Negima?! where he had to take care of his students when they were all stuck in their childish dud forms, but instead, they went with this new idea!

I’m not going to beat around the bush about this, Negiho is f–king creepy. Negima has always had an issue with exploiting it’s characters for fan-service, and if you think the five year old versions of these girls are immune to that exploitation, than you have way too much faith in humanity. They get into fights with each other about their bodies, compare bathing suits, battle for the hearts of their oblivious teachers, and oh yeah, one of them comedically loses her clothes in front of adult Kotarou. I was largely forgiving of the original manga for this kind of thing, but come on, guys.

The girls never act like real children, either… I know, surprising, right? Well, here’s a prime example. There’s a chapter revolving around the traditional Japanese princess festival, an extended holiday where girls arrange a set of dolls according to a caste system. The girls in Negiho want to dress LIKE the dolls and sit pretty on the shelf. Yeah, no, little kids would generally rather play than be told to sit on their asses and look like pretty little dolls. That sounds about as appealing to a child as getting a time out, doesn’t it?

But these girls aren’t real kids. The girls in Negima were much more realistic teens, and even they weren’t entirely realistic. The Dud card episode that this was obviously based on was tasteful in comparison, with the girls’ personalities and puppy-dog crushes on Negi being played for laughs, and none of them were sexualized. Negiho’s girls are the exact opposite.

I’m not going to say it didn’t have any good ideas… The circumstances under which Chachamaru became Evangeline’s servant are actually pretty damn funny… But in general, I can not imagine anybody thinking this product would have been a good idea.

Would I recommend it? No. One decent arc aside, this is the worst of the lot. Avoid at all costs and for the love of god, don’t make the mistake of saying ‘challenge accepted’.

11:  Negima Finale Film!

The two previous OVAs may have had their flaws, but all the way through, you could tell they were building up to something great. They had to cut some material in favor of the larger story, and if you knew the manga, then you knew exactly what they were building up to… The climactic fight between Negi and his archenemy, Fate Averuncus. This long, epic, high stakes battle would not only justify any miss-step the OVAs might have made, but it would make the OVA collection stand out as the best Negima series since the manga. And if that’s what you want to see, get ready…

To see the finale of the Magical World story haphazardly condensed into one five minute sequence. I wish I was exaggerating. The film begins with Natsume using her artifact to sneak up on Fate with Kotaru and a few others in tow(WTF?!) and then blazes through the rest of the story at break neck speed, offering up no explanation for any of it, past or present. Not only does it skip entire chapters, but it actually has the balls to list off the chapters it IS pulling material from… Needless to say, it goes from chapter 311 to chapter 330 in just over a minute.

Once this is done, we go straight back to Mahora Academy, and spend the rest of the movie there, and this is the point where the OVAs strict adherence to the manga is thrown right out the window. The plot of this movie is that once Negi’s students graduate, his trial period will end, and he’ll be forced to pick one permanent partner out of them. Everyone else, barring a few exceptions, will instantly forget everything they know about magic.

And here’s the thing: The movie, itself, inadvertently points out just how absurd this premise is. Natsume, Setsuna and Konoka talk about being exempt from the rule because they’re all in contracts that don’t involve Negi, which is great… But what about Misora and Mana? They’re each involved in third party contracts too! And what about the eleven students who knew about magic before they met Negi? Oh, and here’s a good one… What about the fact that Nagi Springfield, as an adult, has over a half-dozen contracts that are still active? Didn’t really think this through, did you?

The entire story from that point is of people moping around and contemplating their fate, or going through transformation scenes for no reason at all, or engaging in stakes-free battles. Oh, but it’s okay, because at least we get to see Negi pick a partner, right? This would be the second entry in the franchise to do so, and it can’t do it any worse than Neo did, can it? Well, I would normally avoid spoiling something like this, but I don’t want you to make the mistake of getting involved with the plot or getting your hopes up, so I’m just going to spill it: He picks his entire class, effectively rendering the entire conflict pointless.

They stand in a circle, they all get pactio cards, and… WHY DOES EVERY ANIMATED NEGIMA SERIES HAVE TO GIVE EVERYONE A PACTIO CARD?! In the manga, only seventeen of his students made contracts with him, and aside from the final one, none of them ever felt forced or meaningless, but don’t tell the animated incarnations about that! Hell, at least Negima?! found a way to do it that made sense to the plot! We then get a big dramatic magic catastrophe sequence that craps all over the original mangas ending. Yeah, I’m not going to pretend the mangas ending wasn’t disappointing, but it was better than this.

Oh, and Negi’s going to keep being a teacher, AND he’s going to follow his girls into high school, so where the hell did that deadline come from?

This isn’t just one of the worst entries in the Negima franchise. It’s also one of the worst anime movies I’ve ever seen. The plot makes absolutely no sense, half the material is some sort of fan-service filler, the ending is as fanficky as they come, and it tries to complete the story and wrap it up with a pretty bow, despite the fact that these OVAs have NEVER worried about telling a complete story before, so why break that trend just to put out the worst possible ending?

Would I recommend it? No. I would not. In fact, this movie’s very existence makes me want to reconsider recommending the previous OVAs. The entire movie should have been the finale to the magical world story, with Asuna’s time-traveling arc(Which was the only genuinely good part of the mangas ending) occupying the film’s last ten minutes. As it is, this movie’s a piece of crap.

12: UQ Holder!

While Negima may be my favorite manga of all time, it’s not perfect. In fact, it’s really not all that great over-all. The beginning was full of over-the-top harem cliches, there’s way too much underage fan-service, the main character started off really lame, the ending was a huge disappointment… And so on, and so forth. Its sequel, on the other hand, doesn’t have these problems… So far at least.
UQ Holder takes place in the year 2086, around 80 years after Negima ended. It follows Tota, the spunky grandson of Negi Springfield, who lives out in the country with his combat teacher and legal guardian Yukihime. One day, he’s mortally wounded while protecting her, only for it to be revealed that she was the legendary scourge Evangeline the whole time! She turns him into a vampire in order to save his life, and from this point forward, Tota will be an undead vampire in the same vein as his teacher!
She takes him to UQ Holder, an organization made up entirely of immortals… And oh boy how many kinds of them there are. He’s tested and eventually joins their ranks along with Kuromaru, a student of the Shinmei school whom he’d befriended along the way. Together, with new friends and new resources, can Tota ever achieve his dream of climbing the capitol’s mysterious tower and making a name for himself?
When I started doing research for this project, Holder is one of the few titles I hadn’t previously known existed(the other two were Negiho and Intro Film). I ordered the first four volumes… And pre-ordered the fifth one… And I could not be more relieved at my choice to buy this and read Neo online. My money went to the good series.
Right off the bat, I was struck by how different this series was from the original. I mean obviously Akamatsu’s matured as an artist since Negima began, but aside from that, it just got off to a much better start. Tota was a far more believable character than Negi, acting his age instead of being precocious. He’s more like Kotaro than Negi, honestly. The jokes are a lot funnier than the awkward, forced jokes that plagued the first few English volumes of Negima, and I marked out hard when Yukihime(Snow princess, get it?) was revealed to be Evangeline.
My favorite things about Negima were the high stakes action scenes, the balance between that and comedy, the world building, and the main character striving for an intriguing goal. UQ Holder wastes no time getting to any of that. The fight scenes are epic, there’s barely any fanservice, and the ideas it has about it’s world and the variety different kinds of immortality are a constant source of surprise for me.
My only problems so far are with a few of the characters… It’s showing hints of developing a harem down the road, and while I appreciate that it’s not jumping right into that material, I find two of the possible harem members very problematic. First of all is his friend Kuromaru, who’s genderless, and won’t have one until he picks one at age sixteen. That’s not a terrible idea, but the fact that the choice comes down to “Do I want to be Tota’s lover or his friend?” Bothers me.
The other one is Kirei, and while her variety of immortality had me in stitches at first(How can you not laugh at that save point stuff?), it became clear all too fast that she was intended to fill the dual roles of Tsundere and loli girl, as though she were a combination of Evangeline and Chisame… Two characters whose greater flaws are excusable in context. Now if only Kirei had Asuna around to kick her in the face and make her moments of stomping on Kota’s face less creepy.
Is it as good as the first manga? Well, it’s the best entry in this post, for one. Not only is it as good as the original, but it has the full potential to become BETTER than the original down the road, providing that it not get creepier and keep up with all the awesome stuff it’s doing.
Would I recommend it? Hell yeah! I mean, this is the only entry in today’s post that could be enjoyed perfectly fine by someone who hadn’t read the original. It’s its own story, it feels like it, and it can be enjoyed perfectly fine as a stand-alone… So far, at least. It ain’t done yet.

So, in order from best to worst…
1: UQ Holder
2: Mo Hitotsu No Sekai OVA
3: Negima?!
4: Negima Summer Special
5: Ala Alba OVA
6: Negima Parallel TV Drama
7: Negima Spring Special
8: Negima! Magister Negi Magi
9: Negima Neo!
10: Negima Finale Film
11: Intro Film
12: Negiho

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