Negima! Magister Negi Magi, Vol. 38

(This review shamelessly spoils the entire volume.)

And so Negima ends, at least for now. This volume gives me very complicated feelings. It starts off with some of the most teeth-grindingly annoying chapters we’ve had in ages. We then get possibly some of the best chapters in the entire series. And it all ends with a flashforward that answers everything we didn’t really want answered, avoids answering things we did, and undercuts the moral that it had just given several pages earlier. In short, while there’s a ton to adore here, this volume is… a bit of a mess.


Let’s start off with the end of the Battle Royale to beat Negi up for toying with girl’s hearts. Which only gets worse when the cheerleaders manage to force out of him that he does have romantic feelings for someone. The fact that Negi is way underage (as are all the girls, really, but 15 isn’t really all that underage in terms of fandom shipping, whereas ten is) has been a point of contention throughout the entire series, with many fans finding the fact that people are making jokes about seducing Negi vaguely discomfiting. As such, laying it all out in the open makes it even worse, since it’s clear from the writing (good on Akamatsu showing this) that Negi simply isn’t mature enough to handle something like this. It really makes the reader dislike characters like Yuna (who I quite like apart from this) and Haruna (who I don’t really like much at all, to be fair) who keep pressing things, especially as it’s all done just so they can have another melee chase sequence and a gratuitous last-minute pactio.

We then get the sequence with Asuna. This is the polar opposite of what I talked about above. It’s subtle, well-handled, and almost perfect. Asuna says that she’s come to terms with being a magic ‘battery’ for 100 years (which everyone thinks will erase her personality, by the way), but coming out of it in the future and discovering that yes, indeed, everyone is dead by now is absolutely devastating for her. The emotions in the scene where she reads the time capsule are amazing, and it makes the climax (and sudden appearance of the two obvious characters to suddenly appear) even more awesome.

There was some controversy about the ‘easy’ resolution to Asuna’s fate when this first came out, mostly as Western shonen manga fans are always desperate for a ‘dark, unhappy’ ending for some reason I can’t quite figure out except they’re all teenagers or something. I was very happy with it, mostly as it made perfect sense given everything we’ve seen before. Negima has abused time travel shamelessly ever since Chao was introduced, why shouldn’t it resolve the entire thing by using time travel? It makes everyone happy, solves the ‘how do we get enough magical power for 100 years’ question, and is a giant emotional pile of tears. Win all around, this part of the manga was fantastic.

Right after Asuna’s return, when Negi and everyone else are asking future-Eva and Chao about what happens from now on, Eva points out that the future is a blank page, and that they don’t have to rely on knowing what will happen. And I really wish Akamatsu had taken his own advice. He says that this is ‘one possible ending’ and that ‘this world is possibly the happiest’ – though given only 7 years or so have gone by, it still has a ways to go. And, well, it ‘ship sinks’ the four main fan pairings. Now, to be fair, harem manga, especially lately, are well-known for having inconclusive endings. Authors and editors don’t want to upset fans who are invested in one particular girl, so they like to leave things vague. That said, we still don’t know who Negi ends up with when he grows up… but we know it’s not the girls he had the most character development with. Which… suck, really. I suppose it’s my fault for getting emotionally involved in the ship tease despite everything.

More annoying, however, is laying out the fates of every single main girl. The future is a blank page… now let’s write in it. If you’re going to do an open ending, leave it open! Special mention must be made of Chisame’s future, by the way. It’s absolutely, 100% in character… and all the more depressing because of it. Why would you do that? She had possibly the most character development, along with Nodoka, of the entire cast! And now, in the future, she’s a hikikomiri shut-in who helps Negi behind the scenes. We see her staring grumpily at her computer… just as we did at the start. She’s not even cosplaying anymore. Having seen the possibilities, she has chosen to stay the hell away from them. Bleah.

Oh yes, and we still have no idea what happened to Negi’s mother. Akamatsu hints that it may be left to the anime (which, given the anime’s final movie was FAR WORSE than this manga’s ending, is not something I look forward to.) We do, at least, hear that Setsuna and Konoka get married… though in typical ‘must be as vague as possible’ tradition, it’s left uncertain (but obvious) if it was to each other. The reason for this car-crash ending, by the way, is rumored to be that Akamatsu and Kodansha got into a fight about materials and he cut the manga short. They presumably patched things up, as he’s preparing a new series for them, but that doesn’t really help Negima. Maybe he’ll come back to it, but then I’m still waiting for Shirow to return to Dominion too.

So in the end I remain dissatisfied, but I will try to remember all the great fun I had reading this series. Given Ken’s goal was to avoid doing just another Love Hina-style harem comedy the way Kodansha wanted him to, I think he succeeded admirably. We grew enamored and invested enough in this world, its hero, and its many, many heroines that we are allowed to get up in arms when it all falls apart. Love it or hate it, few were indifferent to this volume of Negima.

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  1. OverMaster says

    One of the worst, most messily executed manga endings ever, and in a fair world, everyone involved should apologize to the readership.

  2. shanejayell says

    Not the worst ending ever, but yeah it didn’t impress me. I stopped buying the manga near the end of the magic world arc, and I can’t say I regret it much. Overall I’d say Negima started OK, got good in the Kyoto arc, then gradually declined….

  3. I collected the series since I got vol 1 in a cool store that no long exists. I was bummed out by this ending as well since I did want Nodoka to end up with Negi.

  4. I know this maybe very late response. I don’t like that manga series itself will not be “done”. I’m not fan of this open ending, but that’s way it is.

    I think biggest crimes is that is the fact that Vol 38 is incredibly hard to find. I got lazy and collected most of series up 36. I find out later, that apparently 38 is arguably least printed and rarest volume. Omnibus released by Del Rey apparently overridden the last volume. I’m sure why its so hard find now, since other volumes are easier to find.

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