Negima! Manga Volume 16

Negima!: Magister Negi Magi, Volume 16

SPOILER Summary: Negi’s story of time travel is not believed by anyone but Takahata. Negi is told how Chao defeated all of the mages at the school and reveal the existence of magic to the world. Takahata provides a means for him to escape while the battle harem has to fight a series of battles against various mage groups determined to capture them as they move to rescue Negi. They finally break through with Takahata giving them his blessing. However, in order to travel back in time, they have to get to the roots of the World Tree where the remaining residue magic should be enough to take them back. The dragon that lives under the library is there waiting and gives them some issues, but in the end, they manage to escape the dragon and make it back to the 3rd day of the school festival, where Chao pulled off her plan. However, they emerge mid-air and Negi is forced to cast a spell to prevent them from crashing to the ground and dying.

Negi comes up with a plan to stop Chao’s which will involve bringing in the students to fight Chao’s robot army (an army not designed to kill or injure, but will simply cause the clothing of their victim to disappear). Using Yue’s artifact, Chamo finds a source of weapons on the Magic World that they could safely use in the battle. Chamo, Konoka and Setsuna inform the Headmaster who ends up agreeing to the plan since it will be billed to the students as a game for prize money.

Chao sends her forces in an hour early but the students are ready and eager to win the game. Asuna, Setsuna, and others (such as the school mages) are classified as “hero units” in the game so they can use their abilities without raising too much suspicion. Chachamaru starts her attack on the computers of the school, so Chisame is forced to pactio with Negi in order to battle Chachamaru within the Internet. That done, Negi, having rested, is now ready to enter the fray.

Thoughts: First, lets address the controversy over this volume. Del Rey has been slipping lately, and I was afraid that we’d see more of that crap. But fortunately, all of the honorifics survive this issue and it remains fairly otaku-ish. The first controversy is the cover. On the left is the Japanese cover and on the right is the Del Rey cover.

The Japanese cover is more ecchi with Ayaka’s breast mostly exposed. Clearly that’s a no-go in U.S. markets and so Del Rey cleverly covers Ayaka up to make it less ecchi and more acceptable to U.S. bookstores. As compensation to fans, Del Rey has the unedited, color, clean (text-less) artwork inside the manga. However, some fans have thrown a major wobbler over this, claiming that Del Rey is engaged in censorship. Censorship is when a government forces you to change text or artwork and clearly that didn’t happen here. So while Del Rey did edit the art, it cannot be called censorship.

That said, I approve this edit. The one troubling thing about Negima! for me has always been its ecchi content. However, the ecchi stuff is mostly within the pages of the manga and so not out to display to everyone, and thus potentially offend someone. This cover is the most ecchi cover to date and Del Rey has to play it carefully. Plus, I don’t like buying a manga that looks worse than it really is. So with Del Rey having the clean, unedited artwork inside, that should be good enough. Heck, I wish that kind of art was included with all Del Rey manga titles. It would be a sweet extra.

Now, had Del Rey started editing stuff within the manga, then I would have had a problem with them. What’s within the covers shouldn’t be edited. However, a cover done the way Del Rey did it is not a problem with me. Besides, we don’t get all of the cover art from the Japanese anyway and Del Rey choses others to be on the spine at times that the Japanese tankoubon has.

The other controversy (which I didn’t bother trying to get a capture of) that people are talking about is the game screen page. This page is a parody of what you’d get when you play a dating-sim game (or other visual novel game) and your choices lead you to a bad ending. The Japanese version of the screen is labeled “Bad End” which Del Rey has as “Bad Ending.” OK, I don’t have a real problem with that because it is an aesthetic thing. However, where people have a more valid point is the “Continue/End” options on the Japanese page (with the pointer on”End”), which Del Rey has change the single option of “Try Again.” Since the other girls talked about not being done yet, it makes sense that the pointer would be on “End.” Here, I think fans have a point and Del Rey should not have changed that because what they have doesn’t make as much sense to me.

Otherwise, it is nice to add to the collection. There’s still volume 17 and 18 to go before the festival arc completely finishes.

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