Negima! Magister Negi Magi Omnibus, Vol. 2

By Ken Akamatsu. Released in Japan as “Mahou Sensei Negima!” by Kodansha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Weekly Shonen Magazine. Released in North America by Kodansha Comics.

With this second omnibus of Negima, Ken Akamatsu is starting to make his move. He’s obeyed his corporate masters and written in a giant harem cast, with tons of fanservice and blushing tsundere heroine, just like his last title. Indeed, this omnibus contains a mini-arc where the cast fight a battle to get a kiss from Negi. However, bigger things are afoot, and this omnibus is also where Akamatsu lets us know that there will be adventure and pure shonen fighting here as well – and that eventually it will be the main thrust of the plotline.

The most obvious thing we get out of this re-read of Volumes 4-6 is we see another of the main cast introduced – Setsuna Sakurazaki. Just as Asuna bears similarity to Naru from Love Hina, and Nodoka is like Shinobu, Setsuna is clearly meant to be the Motoko of this series, right down to the flustered panicking whenever love is mentioned. (Indeed, the connection to the Aoyama family is later made explicit, about 20-odd volumes later). Setsuna is briefly introduced as a potential villain, but that doesn’t last long, and soon we’re finding out about her loyalty to her friends, her amazing sword powers, her yokai heritage, and of course her repressed yearnings for her Konoka-ojosama, which manages to be played for laughs *and* taken seriously at the same time.

The other thing I noticed here was how casually we’re introduced to two of the major villains of the entire work. Fate and Tsukuyomi both appear as supposed ‘mid-level bosses’ of the villain of this arc, Chigusa. However, Chigusa proves to be mostly useless (Akamatsu lampshades this by having her defeated by Chachazero, Evangeline’s two-foot-tall puppet creature), so Fate quickly takes over, and proves to be more than a match for Negi, who is powerful but inexperienced. Fate is mostly drawn as a blank here, though I did like some of his dry humor when he muses about the water spells he’s using on Asuna, and how they interact with her magic cancel abilities. And Tsukuyomi is cute and adorable, and only wants to fight her sempai in a sword battle! Except for one panel, she is not at all the terrifying lunatic we will see later on.

Akamatsu is still feeling around how to work in all 31 girls in his plot without making the whole thing too unwieldy – he never did quite master that, though he got close. The popularity poll included at the end shows that Makie is the most popular of all the girls for two polls running, so perhaps she is the character that is most disappointing – despite a late run, Ken hasn’t really worked out her potential. On the other hand, he’s also realizing which girls *do* work well as a main cast member. Setsuna arrives and is immediately one of the crew, as I mentioned, and Nodoka is the second girl to get a pactio with Negi (and oh what a pactio it is). As for Evangeline, let’s just say I think her skyrocketing popularity caused both Shonen Magazine and Akamatsu to go “Whoah,” and after being casually disposed of by Negi in the first omnibus, she’s back to full strength here, going toe to toe with Fate, taking out huge building-sized ancient demons, and laughing all the while.

The translation here is new, as with the first one, with the Nibley twins replacing the work of Peter David (Vols. 4-5) and Trish Ledoux (Vol. 6). A replacement of David’s very loose adaptation was quite welcome. The extras have the preliminary sketches included at the end, but lack the ‘character bios’ and cover art sketches we get with individual releases.

Overall, if you’re going to be getting into Negima, this is likely where you’ll hop on. Vol. 5-6 have a great arc that shows the series finally escaping its harem roots, and even though there will always be fanservice, it’s a gamechanger. Fans want magical battles, and Akamatsu is here to provide them.

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