WARNING: THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS - JUST A COUPLE. MAYBE.
1. General Info
Mahou Sensei Negima! (Localized in the US as Negima! Magister Negi Magi!) is a Shounen / Harem / Comedy series written and drawn by Ken Akamatsu (a god among mangaka) that began on Feb 23 2003. So far there have been 263 chapters released, along with 2 anime series (Negima! and Negima!?), a few games, 2 Negima!? OVAs (Natsu and Haru, Summer and Spring respectively), another set of 3 OVAs titled "Ala Alba", and starting on September 17, a further new set of OVAs titled "Another World".Why they didnt just make a long-running shounen anime is beyond me, but whatever.
2. Plot Overview
Negima follows the story of Negi, a 10 year old graduate of magic school, who gets assigned as a teacher at Mahora Academy in Japan. He ends up being the English teacher of a class of 31 very strange and crazy girls, including (to name a few): a vampire, a robot, a ghost, a ninja, a mercenary and those are just the obvious examples. Negi's main goal is to become a Magister Magi like his father, the legendary Thousand Master, who disappeared 10 years ago. Negi's other goal is to find said father. To do so, he enlists the help of the girls in his class by forming a Pactio (Probationary Wizarding Contract) with some of them.
The plot is separated into Arcs as follows:
1. Child Teacher Arc
2. Evangeline Arc
3. Kyoto Arc
4. Willhelm Arc
5. School Festival Arc
6. Magic World Arc
The School Festival and Magic World arcs are easily the longest, coming in at 96 chapters each so far.
A Pactio is a contract between a mage and another person that gives the person magical powers in order to guard and assist the mage at all times. There are two kinds of Pactios - Probationary and Full. A probationary contract is formed when the mage and other person kiss inside a magic circle. The partner gains a Pactio Card that can be used to summon a personal artifact to help the mage out, as well as for telepathic communication and a way of summoning the partner to the Mage's side. A mage can have as many probational contracts as he/she wishes, but is only allowed 1 full pactio. We have yet to see a Full Contract.
Asuna's Pactio card.
Negi is a 10 year old mage from Wales. Being 10, he is quite naive about most things, but can be very serious and adult when he needs to be. He ALWAYS does everything to the extreme, never holding back on anything, no matter how draining it may be. He constantly has trouble placing his complete trust in his students when it comes to dangerous situations, and worries himself silly over their well-being.
Negi in Chapter 1
To begin with, Negi only knows a handful of combat spells. As the manga progresses, he receives training in both magic (from Evangeline and Jack Rakan) and martial arts, learning Chinese Kenpo (from Ku Fei). HE also trains himself, learning how to efficiently delay spells, and combine them with his martial arts. After entering the Magic World, he is taught the dark arts of Magia Erebia; a dark magic that involves absorbing magical energies into the body to increase one's strength, speed and power. This ability, combined with his proficiency in magic and martial arts, makes Negi easily the strongest character in the protagonist group.
Negi in his Adult Form (Age Changing Pills)
Using Magia Erebia - Lightning form
Kotarou is a half-dog-demon, half-human boy, also aged 10, who is introduced in the Kyoto Arc. He starts out as an antagonist for Negi, but later enrols at Mahora Academy and becomes Negi's closest and most trusted friend. They are rivals and battle partners, and Kotarou seems to understand Negi's inner workings better than anyone else. Kotarou can be rash, and arrogant at times, but he knows who he isnt stronger than, and works hard to get stronger. One of Kotarou's key personality traits is that he will never injure a woman. This leads to some comedic situations in the School Festival Arc.
Kotarou at the time of his introduction
Kotarou has recently established his place as the second strongest protagonist after Negi. He trains as a Ninja with Kaede, and can both summon dog-demon spirits to aid him, and transform into a dog-demon himself.
Kotarou with Negi in their adult forms.
Asuna Kagurazaka - Seat 8
Asuna is a student at Mahora Academy in Negi's class. She is the first to learn of Negi's mage status, and his first partner through the Pactio system. Her artifact is Ensis Exorcizans, it can take the form of either a Harisen, or a BIG FUCKING SWORD. Asuna is very blunt and straight-forward, and initially is quite harsh to Negi, but over time she grows to care for him greatly as if he were her little brother. She always wants to be by his side to help protect him, no matter the situation.
Asuna is physically in fantastic condition, she is strong, fast and has high stamina. She also has the strange ability to cancel out any hostile magic performed on her. She gets trained in Kendo by Setsuna, and Survival and Kanka (the ability to combine magic and ki energies) by Evangeline.
Setsuna Sakurazaki - Seat 15
Setsuna is an expert of the Kyōto Shinmei-ryū style of swordplay, and is a childhood friend of Konoka Konoe. Initially she is not seen very much in the manga, serving as merely a background character. In the Kyoto Arc, however, she is established as a major supporting character, becoming the third person to form a pactio with Negi. Her artifact is the Sica Shishikushiro, which allows her to create and control up to 16 wakizashi blades.
Setsuna has a troubled past. She is half-demon of the bird tribe and was kicked out due to having pure white wings. She met Konoka at a very young age, but after they both nearly drowned, she submerged herself in her Kendo studies and drifted apart from Konoka. Nowadays they're back to having a very close relationship, though Setsuna finds herself often flustered at Konoka's feelings.
Setsuna's Pactio Card
Nodoka Miyazaki - Seat 27
Nodoka is a shy girl whose hair often covers her face. She very quickly develops a crush on Negi, and establishes her place as the girl who loves Negi the most. She is the second person to form a Pactio with Negi, although it is by accident. Her artifact is Diarium Ejus - a diary that shows the inner thoughts and feelings of any person whose name she calls using writing and illustrations. Nodoka is easily one of the most useful non-combat members of the Negi-Party, as she can use her artifact to predict enemy combat moves and plans.
Nodoka's Pactio Card
Evangeline Athanasia Katherine (Kitty) McDowell - Seat 25
Evangeline (Dark Evangel, Doll Master, Maga Nosferatu, etc) is a hundreds of years old, dark magic using, pure-blood, daywalker Vampire. She is the first main antagonist for Negi, and serves as a main support character for most of the manga. She trains Negi in magical combat, with his blood as the payment. She owns a place called Evangeline's Resort; a room where 1 hour in the real world is 1 day inside the resort. We have yet to see her true power, but it is hinted at that she is stronger than anyone else we have met in the manga. This has created the theory that Evangeline will be the "Final Boss" character.
When Evangeline was 10, she was turned into a Vampire, so she has had the body of a 10 year old for hundreds of years. However, she used her magic to make herself look adult. 15 years before the current story, she had a spell cast on her by the Thousand Master that prevented her from leaving Mahora Academy, as well as draining her powers.
Jack MOTHERFUCKING Rakan. He's a partner of the Thousand Master, and the one who trains Negi in the magic world. He is COMPLETELY BROKEN, making fun of almost every single Shounen trope in hilarius ways. He can summon MASSIVE BLADES with his artifact, can break dimensions by SHOUTING, LAUGHS after taking massive beatings, he even drew up a power level chart, giving Negi a power of 500, and himself a power of TWELVE THOUSAND!!!!
After taking a beating from Negi
^ HOLY FUCKING SHIT WHAT THE HELL!!?!?!?!?!
4. Manga's feel
The manga's art style, I think, is really good. The character's are drawn very consistently, with their appearances changing slightly over time, becoming more individual and recognisable. The facial expressions are fantastic, and hilarious at times. The backgrounds are actually there *cough*Kubo*cough*, and some of them are just exquisite.
The dialogue and characterization is top-notch. The comedy is funny, the serious is serious and the characters all stay in character all the time. The fight scenes are a lot better than those in Dragonball Z, or Bleach. They consist of more strategy than pure power, and any trash talking is either kept to a minimum, or used to explain what the hell just happened. Overall, the manga has an enjoyable feel not many others have.
5. Personal Thoughts and Recommendation
I personally believe that there is no better manga out there. If you love shounen or harem anime/manga, you will love this. If you've never read manga before, this is a great introduction to it. If you just want to kill time, read this! It's really that good! Ken Akamatsu is a genius! And whenever it says "Negima will be taking a break next week so the author can collect data" it means that Ken is actually collecting data!!!
I recommend this manga to everyone and anyone.
100 out of 10!!!