Negima!? Final Thoughts

After the extreme disappointment of the Negima! anime adaptation, I hoped that with the transfer of the franchise to SHAFT that maybe we’d see a reboot and a proper manga adaptation. Alas, that was not to be as it was announced that SHAFT would create Negima!?, which would be a reboot, but a completely new story not based on the manga story. While this wasn’t what I wanted, I felt that at least I could give the new anime a fair shake since I would not be comparing its story or even characters to their manga counterparts. So how did it fare? Not so well in the end.

The anime started out well enough with Eva being used from the start as an antagonist and the story arc having the closest link to the original manga with Eva’s punishment and true nature. Asuna discovers magic, becomes Negi’s partner, and then the battle between Eva and Chachamaru against Negi and Asuna is on. So for the first three episodes, I saw a lot of promise here. With episode 4, that promise started to vanish with Shichimi and Motsu’s arrival and a new villain — the Black Rose Baron and the mysterious Star Crystal. OK, I liked Motsu most of the time but this showed me that we weren’t going to have an interesting anime from a story perspective, but some parody-comedy anime.

OK, I can live with that but then Asuna’s character became Chupacabra-obsessed, the other girls were given time even if to say nothing, the Black Rose Baron was a joke, and the Star Crystal stuff was just a yawn. Further, the new pactio system was just dumb. Clearly, SHAFT wanted to cash in on the pactio card desires of otaku Negima! fans. In Negima!, the pactio cards serve a purpose. In Negima!?, they are used partly for comedy effect and sometimes seriously. That’s because the pactio system, in which the girls have an orgasmic reaction to having their card pulled, has three cards — the “armor” card (the real one), the “cosplay” card, and the “suka” form, which is the big joke as this card being pulled turns the partner into a chibi form, dressed in some sort of animal costume. I guess the mages in SHAFTS world prefer a bad joke over practical application.

In and of itself, having these worthless forms is just merely stupid, but could be used for comedy. However, that’s where things go south for SHAFT. You see, on one hand they try telling some kind of serious story and Negi needs one of his partners to help him out. Then on the other hand, “OOPS! You scored a suka card. Try another partner.” If that’s what you were trying to do, then why try to do some sort of serious story at all? The two elements just did not blend together at all. The comedy elements worked only when there were comedy moments, but not always.

That’s the other problem — the comedy is hit-or-miss. Early on, I think there is a bit more hit to the comedy aspects. Motsu provides the most laughs, whether he’s tweaking someone, pretending to be Makie’s father (for reasons unexplained until the last episode, and then you wish that the explanation had just been skipped), or just making wry observations ending in his trademark “ii imide” line (“in a good way”). There are other light moments that work fairly well, but as the series progresses, the comedy becomes more and more tired and tedious. Episode 20 had a South Park parody but it fell flat to me. By the shows end, I was pretty worn out with it all and glad not to have to watch another episode for review purposes.

By the time episode 24 comes around, the series should by all rights be over. Sadly, SHAFT had two more episodes to fill, so after basically wasting tons of time throughout the 2nd-half of the series, SHAFT now has to kill two more episodes. Ugh. I couldn’t believe it.

In the end, while this series does have some good and funny moments, the bad and tedious moments outweigh them. Hit or miss comedy, a story that tries to be serious in the middle of a non-serious environment, forced lines for all the seiyuu regardless of purpose, and just a general sense of “meh” makes for a sub-average anime at best.

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9 Responses to “Negima!? Final Thoughts”

  1. Anonymous says:

    well I really dont like the negima anime because the negima manga is a lot better in every way but I though I read the article in the internet set that negima anime is very popular in japan I wonder why(this information may be wrong so if it wrong sorry)

    sorry for my poor english

  2. Ian says:

    So, I’m guessing that you give Negima!? a 2 out of 5, right?

  3. AstroNerdBoy says:

    @Anon — I’m not sure how popular the anime was in Japan. I do know that SHAFT’s work on the OAD (OVA) series “Ala Alba” is going over quite well, so much so that a new “Negima!” OAD series has been given the green light.

    @Ian — Yeah, 2 out of 5 sounds about right.

  4. mastermack0 says:

    Despite being a huge fan of Negima, I have NEVER seen the Negima!? and probably never will. I’ve attempted to 3 times but I never seem to be able to go see the second episode. It just doesn’t interest me. The first anime was okay because I had not yet seen the manga at the time. In fact, I like the anime because its terrible end actually forced me to find out if the manga ends so badly. Had the anime had a happy end, there might have been a chance I did not see it.

    But your review of Negima!? makes me happy I have not seen it yet. I hear too much good stuff about it yet never am able to see it.

  5. Gyt Kaliba says:

    So in the end, do you actually prefer the Negima! series over this one?

  6. AstroNerdBoy says:

    @mastermack0 — I got into manga because there were anime titles that either left the story hanging (the 5-episode Ah! My Goddess OVA series as well as Love Hina) or I was told that the manga version made things clearer (Chobits). So I understand where you are coming form.

    @Gyt Kaliba — If I used the numbering system I did earlier, both would get 2 out of 5. My reasons for disliking said series are different though. So I don’t favor one over the other.

  7. thug_life says:

    i gave negima!? a 3.5 out of 5. imho, it’s a great start, but there are just times where they force too many things in one episode. (probably because many animes conform to the 20 to 30 episode scheme, stupid, in my opinion) i would like them to be focused at least more on the story concerning the star crystals.

    the whole chupacabra is a nice break and all, but it got taken a wee bit too far. was akiyuki shinbo trying to force as much comic relief to balance out the seriousness? definite yes especially the post-show clips. a little too much effort there!

    otherwise, its worth a shot to watch.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I just bought the Funimation dub and I’ve watched the first 13 episodes, I find this series much better then the first one. I haven’t watched the whole series, but I don’t have high hopes either. Really the funniest thing in this series is the Makie Matsu father thing. Things like this make me wonder how well a 13 episode OVA series of the Mahora festival would do. Now that I think of it the Mahora festival would probably be 25 episodes.

  9. AstroNerdBoy says:

    An accurate and well animated adaptation of any of the manga stories would go over better than the two TV series created to date (IMO). Unfortunately, no one is talking of making such an adaptation since the next OVA series is geared toward the Magic World arc.

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