By Ken Akamatsu. Released in Japan as “Mahou Sensei Negima!” by Kodansha, serialized in the magazine Weekly Shonen Magazine. Released in North America by Kodansha Comics.
Sometimes when you’re reviewing Volume 35 of a series, it can be a bit difficult to know what to say. Especially when so much of the volume is people punching other people, sometimes with lightning. But as we head breathlessly towards the climax, we are reminded that Akamatsu always manages to make things interesting, even when we don’t expect it.
Note that Negi is not on the cover for the 2nd volume in a row. Instead we get Ayaka in costume, surrounded by the five girls who probably ended up getting the least attention in the series. I mean, even Zazie gets to be an actual demon. The twins and the cheerleader girls, though, ended up suffering from Akamatsu trying his best to write a plot that would feature 31 different girls and not quite making it. We get another brief reminder of Sakurako’s insane luck skills, but other than that, their main function is to be the ‘reassuringly normal ones’ when Haruna returns to Mahora Academy (even if, as Madoka intuits, that’s an insult by now).
As for the fighting, it’s rather interesting that even after all this time, Negi still wants to try to resolve things through discussion. It tends to separate out Negima from other shonen fighting titles – yes, there’s a love of physical combat, but every time we confront a villain and prepare for battle, there’s an offer to try to mediate. This doesn’t just extend to Negi, as even his followers do the same – Nodoka’s overture of friendship to Fate may get her socked in the jaw, but that doesn’t make it less sincere. (I would like to take the time to note, since I suspect I won’t get the opportunity again, how much I love Nodoka’s character arc in this entire series. She’s come a long way from ‘that one who’s like Shinobu from Love Hina.) But of course, for all the attempts at peacemaking, in the end it comes down to a lot of fights – which, luckily, Negi is also very good at.
One of the surprises in this volume is the fact that the connections between Magical World and the ‘real’ world of Mahora Academy have become so broken down that the fight is now literally coming to the school. This, of course, allows a lot of the cast who were left behind to appear again, as I noted above. It also allows Evangeline to finally give up and embrace her not-villain status. For a supposed morally bankrupt vampire, she’s really been one of the more noble characters in the series, and Negi’s influence has done her a world of good. As Zazie notes. Speaking of which, Zazie’s sudden penchant for conversation, and lampshading of Eva’s sudden affection for her classmates, is easily the funniest part of the book.
And yes, there’s people being stripped, and discussion on which of the girls Negi likes best, because this is still Akamatsu, after all. In the end, though, we’re left with another killer cliffhanger, as we find out what’s actually beneath that world tree. Oh yes, and Kodansha remembered to keep the extras this time!