Negima! Vol. 1

By Ken Akamatsu
208 pages, black and white
Published by Del Rey

Now I’ll admit it—I’ve never read Love Hina. Both Negima! and Love Hina are by Ken Akamatsu, and perhaps if I’ve read Love Hina I might’ve had a better idea of just what was in store for me with his brand-new series Negima! (or Magister Negi Magi as it’s known in Japan). Since I hadn’t, though… let’s just say I was really surprised.

Negi Springfield is a 10-year old wizard who’s graduating from school in London. Everyone who graduates gets a diploma that tells them where their magical skills will be needed as part of a career path. Options like “fortune teller” are pretty common, but ones like “teach English in a Japanese all-girls high school”, not so much. And naturally, that’s just what Negi got. Surviving the trip to Japan won’t be a problem. Surviving his class of girls? Now that’s a problem.

The basic setup for Negima! is a little odd, to be certain. A book about a 10-year old English teacher in a Japanese high school would be strange enough in its own right, and if that’s all Negima! was I might not’ve been so surprised. But for a book starring a 10-year old, it was very odd to see a “For Mature Audiences Ages 16+” sticker slapped on the cover… or the fact that every time Negi sneezes, women’s clothing flies off. (Something which happens approximately every 30 pages.) Or the times Negi accidentally crawls into bed with his female dorm mates, or has to go take a bath with them, or… well, you get the idea. There’s a surprisingly high level of titillation going on here, and it really made my eyebrows go up. What could’ve been a sweet, fun book just seems to be an excuse to show high school girls in their underwear (or less). It’s frustrating, because little vignettes like the class learning how to win against tougher girls in a dodge ball tournament are well constructed… but then right as the girls win, everyone’s clothes fly off, just in case you’d forgotten what the real aim of Negima! is. Never mind that with 31 girls to keep track of, most of the characters are little more than a blur… all that really seems to matter is nubile female flesh.

Akamatsu’s art is really lovely, though. It’s a very stripped down style, and I love some of the character designs, like Negi’s little classes that perch on his nose, or the magical staff wrapped in cloth that he occasionally rides on. Characters themselves are drawn in a really slick, clean style, with innocent faces and expressions. (Although when part of a larger group it’s very hard to tell them all apart—I think Akamatsu only has a couple of female faces that he can draw.) Of course, all of this ultimately seems aimed at just being able to draw panty shots and expanding breasts, which seems like a bit of a waste to me. Then again, I’m not a hormone-addled sixteen year old boy looking for a comic teasingly promising (if never actually delivering) soft porn.

If this is what Love Hina was like, I can’t help but feel thankful that I’ve never read it. Negima! has a tremendous amount of potential and then proceeds to flush it down the toilet on a regular basis. This should have been better. It could have been better. And ultimately, it doesn’t even come close. A real pity. …and yet, I suspect that target audience of sex-starved teen age boys are probably reading this review and running out to buy a copy. To them, I say good luck and enjoy. To everyone else, though, you’ll probably want to steer clear.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com

12 comments to Negima! Vol. 1

  • Negima

    Oh! my God.
    What did Ms. Arsena tell me.
    She say she love me.O///O

  • Sheyla Fae

    Dream On Negi – er- sensei.

    She was using you for practise to tell ANOTHER teacher (Takahata/Takamichi) that she loved him.

    She didnt mean you… at least not yet

    (o_~)

  • M. Northstar

    Mahou Sensei Negima is actually one of my favourite manga. Like you, I hadn’t read Love Hina before (don’t!), and like you, my eyebrows went for close orbit at the profusion of blatant (and blatantly misogynistic) fanservice; but I persevered, and in the end were rewarded.

    The fanservice never actually goes away, but it becomes (a little) sparser. More importantly, it becomes easier to ignore as it takes a distinct back seat to plot, characters and humor.

    There are 31 girls in Negi’s class, and at first they’re just background. As the story gains speed, however, they come forward one by one, or in small cliques, and gain life. They each have their own distinct personalities and motivations, and you begin to know them and love them. Gentle Konoka, feisty Asuna, Yue the philosopher, Kanede the wise ninja, dark Evangeline, who is the best take on “justifiable evil” I’ve seen for a long time.

    They are the strengths of the manga, and Akamatsu doesn’t paly the miser with the attention he lavishes on each, taking his time to develop and weave each into the greater story. As a sign of this, by volume 18 (as far as I’ve read yet), we still haven’t met all of them.

    In conclusion, I recommend any- and everyone to give this wonderful manga a second chance, or third, or as many times as it takes.

  • Shaun

    I admit, I bought Negima, thinking it was a porno but It turned out not to be.
    But it was a great story and I didn’t care anyway.
    The characters are deep and the culture of it is good too.

  • Michiru

    Negima is my favoret anime. especialy that one episode where whats-her-name(the one w/ purple hair & cute eyes i GOTTA know her name)
    confessed that she loves Negima.

  • Wish i wus a negi student

    negi just rocks, besides wats wrong with showing some panties and flesh. it’s only comic/manga, and who hasn’t seen that before in most every manga in excistance. the story just gets better and better as well as the charecters. i find them complex and fairly original. the fact that everyone seems to fall in love with a 10 year old is highly amusing. overall it’s just awsome and shouldn’t be thrown to the side as “softcore porn”.

  • I do agree with you on the fact that Akamatsu overdoes it with the panty-shots and stuff of the sort. But I had watched the Love Hina anime beforehand, so I kinda knew what I was walking into. I like it for the same reason M. Northstar above me does. Then again, i do happen to have a thing for the romantic comedy genre…(XD) Truthfully though, once you get past the nudity, it actually has a great story behind it.

  • nm

    I really don’t like the manga. It’s got porn. Plus, they making an amine. yuck!!!!!

  • I really donít like the manga.

  • stormy

    I think Negima is an awesome story. It really captures the concept that if you try hard enough to get something then you will succeed. I especialy like the episode where negi gets to fight the illusion of his father.

  • lotus

    Well the good side is they made two different animes about Negima!

    One that concentrates on the fanservice and the other one concentrates on the plot

    The one that concentrated on the plot has very less fanservice and made me watch more episodes

  • regilia

    the one with the purple is Nodoka Miazakie. and yes she is awesome I wsh she was real and loved me like Negi sensei.But anyway ya shes awesome