This is the beginning of perhaps a series of blogs that I might write so if it goes over well, maybe I'll do more. Now I like anime, in some cases I even would say I love anime. It's got a nice, distinct style to it and its own brand of humor that I wouldn't change for the world. Sometimes I really get into an anime and it'll give back 110%. Other times though, it'll decide it would rather take me by the head and kick me to the curb. When this happens, I have to stop and think to myself just when this anime lost its way in my eyes.
The anime in question for this article is Mahou Sensei Negima by Ken Akamatsu, the guy who did Love Hina. A fun series premise: a young mage has to complete his training in Japan by teaching a class filled entirely with quirky Japanese school girls. Negi Springfield, a 10 year old Welsh boy, has his work cut out for him considering he has to keep his powers a secret from everyone or be forcibly turned into an ermine by some mage council back home. It's a silly premise, but it leads to lots of amusing little adventures, panty shots and the like. Plus, it's got a plethora of cute girls who are all interesting in their own right. Whether it's the shy bookish Nodoka or the tsundere type swords lady Setsuna, there's plenty of girls for every one!
Of course, one girl, a rather brash young lady named Asuna Kagurazaka, happens to see Negi use his magic to save someone from falling off a flight of stairs. She confronts him about it, forcing him to explain the situation and needless to say Asuna is fine with keeping his secret. She doesn't particularly like Negi from the start, especially since he replaced the teacher she had a crush on for the longest time, Takahata-sensei. As time goes on though, she starts to feel for the little guy as they go through zany adventures involving a love potion, vampire attacks (courtesy of class mate Evangeline A K Macdowell) and even time travel. As time goes on, more girls learn his secrets and Negi starts learning kung fu from one of his students even!
This is about the beginning of the end for me, however. The point at which Negima switches from a rather fun little almost harem anime romp to a shounen magical combat anime. Spoilers ahead for those of you who do not wish to know.
It seems to me that Ken Akamatsu should stick with romantic comedy things because the guy cannot write an interesting villain to save his life. In the grand scheme of thing is a group of ne'erdowells headed by a stereotypically emotionless white haired mage kid named Fate. He first shows up in Kyoto during a class trip with his first group of evil doers tryin to kidnap Konoka, a student of Negi's who has ties to the Kansai school of magerie. The combat portions of this are interesting, but of course Fate is being set up to become the main villain in the series so the final battle ends with him getting away with his minions. One later shows up and becomes Negi's friend in combat, rivals almost, and things just slide down hill from there.
As the story delves increasingly into Negi's attempts to find his father, who might still be alive, I found myself caring less and less about it. Especially once Negima falls into DBZ territory and breaks out the old Hyperbolic time chamber not once, not twice, but THREE times in at least two separate arcs. In fact, in one arc it even works to their disadvantage since the villain knew they would do it and adjusted her plans to happen before they came out. Eventually things spiraled out of control with Asuna being a princess from the magical world and Negi trying to use dark powers to try and make himself a better fighter when in the end things would have been fine enough if they had just stuck with the original comedy formula.
I haven't read it in a while, so perhaps some of these issues have been resolved. At this point though, it doesn't matter to me. Negima, you lost your way.