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.
When I reviewed the previous volume of Negima, I noted that our heroes would start kicking ass in this next one. Which is true, but we do have about 50 pages before that happens. And in that 50 pages, a whole lot more sympathetic characters get killed off by our suddenly body-count happy author.
Of course, this is a shonen romantic comedy manga, despite occasional drama, and the people killed off are being turned into magical feathers and dissipated, not having huge bloody chunks cut out of them. Thus, it is not particularly a surprise when, just a few chapters later, it’s revealed we may be able to get all of them back. Still, for the chapters where it’s happening, it’s horrible to see. Yue’s rival Emily, Jerk with a Heart of Gold Tosaka, and even the giant Teddy Bear woman all get taken out. Least surprising but most devastating of all, Fate takes out Jack Rakan, who manages to briefly resurrect himself from the dead (because he’s just that awesome – no, really, that’s the canon explanation) and give our heroes a brief pep talk. Even Chisame ends up in tears.
Of course, not everyone takes this lying down. Yue’s reaction to Emily’s death is to turn into MAGICAL PSYCHO BERSERKER, and it works for about 10 seconds till Mana talks her down. Then there’s Nodoka. Remember a few months ago, when I posted my top 10 Negima moments, and hinted more would be in future books? This is the one I was thinking of. Nodoka, having seen two of her companions killed in front of her, snaps out of her funk and proceeds to kick the bad guy’s ass with her pactio powers, cleverness, and a few magical dodging skills she picked up in case stuff like this happened. Afterwards, the entire cast’s jaw drops when they hear about it. Normally when an author has the characters lampshade how awesome something was, it seems self-serving, but here, it’s more acknowledgement.
And so, after Chachamaru takes care of the giant Chtulhu monster with her new pactio weapon, we pause to briefly run away and regroup. Which is good, as Rakan noted something else that our heroes are finally clued in on (even if the reader has known for some time): the Asuna they’re with is a fake, and the reason the villains are able to do all this damage is they’re using the real Asuna’s power. So it’s time to interrogate the false Asuna… which is a bit of a problem, as the fake doesn’t know she’s a fake. Luckily, Negi has his secret weapon. (cough) Hey, when all you have is a hammer…
As the volume ends, Luna is no longer Asuna, and tells them what she knows (which isn’t a lot), without even needing enhanced interrogation (kudos to the Nibleys for that phrase, by the way). So Negi needs to power up again, and must call on imaginary Evangeline once more to draw out his inner beast… which may not be able to be put down after all this is over. This is the trouble with siding with dark magic.
Much as I enjoyed the volume as a story, I would be remiss if I did not point out that it was even more riddled with typos than usual. In previous Kodansha/Del Rey reviews, I asked who was editing the books and if they knew what continuity was; in this one, I wonder if they even use editors at all anymore, or just have the translators edit their own work. “Nodoka56…” was particularly egregious. It also seems to be missing the character commentary on Asuna. I realize that there was a rush to get out Negima every 2 months to catch up after the hiatus, but come on, shoddy product does not help you at all, Kodansha.
That said, another great volume of Negima, and I do look forward to seeing how this battle continues to play out. Surely Akamatsu can’t introduce anything more surprising than what we’ve already had…