Negima! Magister Negi Magi, Vol. 33

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.

This review contains spoilers for this volume, and I recommend you have read it before you begin.

When we last left our heroes, they had finally arrived at the scene of their final battle, only to be met by the least expected foe ever. This was part of a sequence of five chapters that basically hit Negima fandom like a bomb, and honestly, even though we’re over 50 chapters down the road now, I’m not sure it managed to top it until just this week. At least in terms of chatter.

Akamatsu, of course, knew exactly what he was doing – he has Chisame immediately lampshade the fact that he dropped said foe right into the battle with little to no foreshadowing, which is *just not done*. In fact, given the state of things between Earth and the Magic World, it’s pretty much impossible that she can be there at all. But there she is, being deadpan and managing to… easily take out all of our heroes at once. Wow.

The two chapters that follow, which show Negi in a ‘perfect world’ where his parents defeated the enemy 20 years ago and never died, is really heartbreaking. Not just for Negi, who knows that no matter what he does, he’ll never ever have a childhood like this, but also in how the others are affected. In Negi’s dream the Kyoto arc never happened, which means that Setsuna and Konoka are still not speaking to each other. Eva is removed from him as well. As Negi himself notes, it’s a fun, happy world, but he instinctively knows there’s something wrong with it.

We get a sneak peek at most of the other fantasy worlds of the cast as well. Some are purely for comedic effect (Setsuna’s, Chamo’s), but it’s startling to see how many of them have the potential for heartbreak just as Negi must be feeling. Yue studying happily with her late grandfather; Mana still partnered with her dead sempai; Sayo simply being *alive*. Even the ones featuring couples give pause for thought. Nodoka’s fantasy involves her reading books with Negi… and Yue (I’m starting to suspect that these two are going to end up taking each other out of the love sweepstakes by sheer politeness), Ako is no doubt going to once again realize that the Nagi of her dreams doesn’t exist; and unlike Setsuna’s sexualized dream, all Konoka has is happily playing with Setsuna as a child. (That’s got to hurt; you may have your work cut out for you, Setsuna.)

Luckily, Negi is helped out by Zazie. The *real* Zazie, not the fake one that confronted him at the start of this volume. It is highly reassuring, especially given how little we know about her, to see that Zazie is still in Negi’s corner. She was supposed to have an arc of her own in the Festival volumes, but the story got out of control and Akamatsu had to cut it. Here you can see him using her complete lack of characterization as a boon, first to throw us off, then here to reassure us. I hope we see more of her in the future.

The next chapter contains what I think is, in my mind, the funniest moment in Negima ever. Admittedly, others will no doubt disagree with me, but Chisame being told why she and Makie did not succumb to the dream world like everyone else is a thing of beauty. It works well in English too, given that Poyo explains things using a ‘net term’, rea-juu, which had to be explained for the Japanese audience as well. (Also, thankfully, Makie’s confusion as to what the word means is given a different translation. I’ve no idea which is more accurate, Kodansha or the scanlators, but I’m happy to go with the less controversial one.) Chisame’s horror that she’s enjoying all aspects of her life right now is a thing of beauty, and wonderfully timed.

After that, everyone wakes themselves up, and the rest of the volume is a standard battle. Not that this is without many items of merit. It’s a lot of fun. Negi’s reveal that he has a plan to save the Magic World without destroying the magical inhabitants, as well as Fate’s angry reaction. Mana’s revelation of her own heritage, which is clearly combined with an honest lust for battle. Kotaro’s brief thoughts of taking on Fate himself, and (showing how he’s grown), his realization that it would be impossible. The cameo from Tsuruko of Love Hina, here more than just a shadow in the background (though she’s still unnamed). Nodoka tackling an enemy made of fire to stop her. And, in case you thought it was all serious business, Ako’s artifact, as well as the glee with which she wields it.

This is a very busy volume of Negima, which something for almost everyone. (Even Anya and Asuna get a look in.) Kodansha Comics nearly gets it right, but they’re still missing the character bios at the end. I’m not certain why, as they have 4 pages of fanart as well as Misora’s Q&A. Is it just because they decided to add the ‘Next Volume’ preview? I think most fans would disagree with that choice. In any case, recommended to all of you who’ve kept up with the series anyway.

This review was based on a review copy provided by the publisher.

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