Under Your Radar: Negima! Magister Negi Magi

A question that has been bothering me lately is what exactly I should include for these Under Your Radar segments. Should I exclude things that sold well in their market? But what if that’s a niche market? What about something that got a lot of attention within that niche market recently for one reason or another? What of the things that sell horribly due to misconceptions?

I have found my personal answer, and I’m sure that anyone familiar with this series I’m covering this time will have a pretty good idea what it is.

And, with this I announce that, after its long, 3-week absence, the Under Your Radar segments will be returning as a weekly event, every Saturday at noon (if time permits).

So let’s get started.

True magic is a little bit of courage.

Behold, my favourite series. I, of course, needed to get this one out of my system. Behold, Negima! Magister Negi Magi (known in Japan as Mahou Sensei Negima!, or Magister Negi Magi — “Mahou Sensei Negi” and “Magister Negi Magi” mean either “Magical Teacher Negi” or “Magic Master Negi”, the “ma” is a joke about Japanese onion dishes, that all have “Negima” in their name because “negi” means “spring onion”; the series is also known as simply Negima! to many).

Now, if you’ve seen either anime, or only read the first three volumes’ initial English releases, don’t leave yet. This series seems to be cursed or something, since Negima! adaptations of all sorts fail in one way or another. That said, going on about that would take forever, so just take my word for it or go over the TV Tropes page to get an idea of what I mean. In summary, the first anime ended before the plot shifted gears and revealed that what we had just seen was a well-disguised setup meant to trick the editors (said disguised setup looks like a painfully generic series based around a 9-year-old boy), the various spin-off manga were all terrible, the second anime is decent, but is actually an adaptation of one of the spinoffs that had an alternate continuity, and the OVAs will only do you any good if you’ve read the manga, and they barely cover anything on top of skipping all over the place. The movie doesn’t exist. In addition, the games for GBA, DS, PS2 and Wii will not help you in the slightest.

If you want to experience the series for what it is, the manga is your only real option. But to make things even worse, the first few volumes had terrible translation jobs on them that removed quite a bit of subtext and substituted it for perverted statements, in addition to claiming that the main character was at the bottom of his class instead of the top. Luckily, the omnibus releases were re-translated, but the quality control on the typesetting was terrible, with some major text spaces being blank, or repeated by mistake, mixing two bubbles up, etc. Overall, however, the omnibus is a better bet for understanding things better. I should also note that a few later volumes also had problems before the current translators (who also handled the omnibuses) took over.

Now that I have that out of the way, Negima! is a harem/combat hybrid series with heavy emphasis on plot and well-researched lore, contrary to what those two genres would make you expect, and a healthy dose of comedy. The problem, as I touched upon above, is that it opens with 2 volumes of generic harem stuff before slowly revealing its true colours over the course of the next 34 volumes, slowly increasing in quality until around the end of the Mahora Festival arc.

We open with Negi Springfield, a 9-year-old wizard, graduating from magic school in Wales. Upon graduation, all wizards’ diplomas reveal where they’ll be stationed to receive field experience. While Negi’s old friend Anya gets placed as a fortune teller in London, but Negi? He gets placed as a middle school English teacher at an all-girls school in Japan. He ends up teaching 15-year-olds.

You see, Negi is trying to become the best wizard he possibly can, in order to find his father, Nagi Springfield, known as the “Thousand Master”, the strongest wizard ever known.

When the series finally gets moving, it’s revealed that his 31 students aren’t as normal as initially thought. His students include an amnesiac magical princess, several half-demon mercenaries, his descendant from over 100 years in the future in an alternate timeline, a vampire that was sealed into being forced to go through middle school forever by his father, a ninja, a magical robot, a ghost, the list goes on. In fact, by series’ end, there was heavy speculation that the few students who didn’t have anything abnormal about them were hiding something.

In fact, there are two major strengths to this series. The first is how any and all setup will go unnoticed until rereading the series after seeing what was being set up. The second is how clean and detailed Ken Akamatsu’s artwork got after a while. In fact, one such major instance of the first thing was the class roster in the very first chapter, which sowed the seeds for quite a large amount of plot threads, and was later spoofed by a few other series.

While not quite every detail here is important, quite a few will come back later and catch you off-guard. This is why a careful translation for this series’ texts is very important.

In fact, while I’m on that subject, take a look at the characters in the middle of that first image, also from chapter 1. Are those… claws!?

I can’t go deeper without major spoilers, but I will say that the final two volumes are seen, by far, as the lowest point. For good reason, too, it seems like it was hastily thrown together, but I’ve already gone on at length about this. Recently, the final volume’s release was revealed to contain an author’s note from Ken Akamatsu, saying that he felt the need to bring the series to a temporary end after nine years and 355 chapters, and that what the ending shows was one of many possible timelines. As such, it is likely that he will continue from volume 36’s ending.

I feel the need to cut myself off here, since this is getting long. I’ll always have a soft spot for Negima!, so I could go on for hours. Next time, we’ll cover a series about manipulation that was only officially brought over to the West in anime form. See you then!

True magic results from courage of the heart
Boys and girls be ambitious
One step can change the world



2 thoughts on “Under Your Radar: Negima! Magister Negi Magi

  1. “Boys and girls be ambitious”

    Any relation to Reborn’s 2nd opening, by chance? Well, whatever; at any rate, this was a good read. I’ve been aware that Negima exists, but I’ve never really gotten into it. Maybe it’s time for that to change.

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