After graduating from a magic academy, 10-year-old genius Negi Springfield is assigned to a Japanese school as an English teacher for practical training.
Mahou Sensei Negima! is a manga series written and illustrated by Ken Akamatsu, known for his best selling title Love Hina. It was serialized in Weekly Shounen Magazine from 2003 to 2012. The first anime adaptation of Negima was produced by Xebec. One year prior to the anime’s debut they released short snippets titled Mahou Sensei Negima! Introduction Film, which were 3 shorts in which they loosely adapted some of the early chapters under 10 minutes. These are actually pretty good, however they’re barely representative of the finished products quality (Reminded me a lot of the Jump Festa preview of Ichigo 100% which was way better than the actual adaptation). In 2005 However when the anime finally aired many eyebrows were raised, There was too much to take in at once: The horrible animation, The dull and hilariously inaccurate character designs, The omission of many of the iconic fanservice scenes, And to top it all off near the end of its run it delved into a horrible anime original scenario which ends killing off Asuna… well at least the voice cast was great… but still stick to the manga nothing really of interest to see here.
One year later Shaft produced a second adaptation helmed by Akiyuki Shinbou who would later go on to direct the likes of Bakemonogatari and Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica but at the time was mostly known for recently having worked on Pani Poni Dash and Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha. This version was titled Negima!? This adaptation takes the concept of Negima and removes any and all fanservice (Because everyone clearly loved it when Xebec removed service, so clearly the solution was throwing it all out the window). And instead of picking up after what little Xebec actually adapted or even rebooting it, This delves into an anime original storyline for the entirety of its run merely borrowing some elements from the manga… Ugh. On top of all that they also they managed to butcher the concept of the Pactio Cards by whoring it out so fast (Something Xebec also did near the end of the first adaptation). Pactio Cards in the original manga were sparse and it was fun seeing what new magical artifacts the cast were aided with but they were sparse. Neo-Pactio however as they’re referred to in this version completely ruins the concept by adding unnecessary changes. On the plus side the character designs were a bit more in line with the original designs, But there were still some pretty dumb missteps like many incorrect hair colors and Asuna’s heterochromia missing which even Xebec didn’t manage to overlook. All in all this season is pretty much a disappointment focusing on bad comedy and Shinbou’s wacky antics too much.
Early on during the airing of Shaft’s production it was supplemented by two OVA’s titled Negima!? Haru and Negima!? Natsu (Spring and Summer Specials) these used the same character designs and were basically fanservice OVA’s loosely adapting some chapters from the manga but still taking place in the Negima!? continuity. Finally in 2008 with Mahou Sensei Negima! Shiroki Tsubasa Ala Alba it received its first great adaptation of the source with all of the character designs finally spot on. And a bit of them glorious fight scenes and fanservice. However the issue with Ala Alba is that it’s not really designed to appeal to anyone but fans of the manga. Ala Alba mainly adapts precursor events to the Journey to Magic World arc so if you only followed the animation you won’t have the faintest clue what is going on. Ala Alba’s preorders for the first volume were also used to gauge if there was still public interest in more Negima in anime format. They considered a film and even a brand new season if they reached 100,000 preorders. The preorders at the end totaled up to 82,581. And the total sales of the three Ala Alba volumes was 245,000 copies.
During 2009 and 2010 5 OVA’s were produced again by Shaft as a follow-up to Ala Alba titled Mahou Sensei Negima! Mou Hitotsu no Sekai it adapts a couple of chapters of the Journey to Magic World Arc, which is easily the best arc of the manga. Reusing the updated character designs used in Ala Alba, and this time around the animation budget was obviously increased. Mo Hitotsu is the pinnacle of Negima! in anime format… and it makes it all the more worse that what followed was such a sack of shit. Lastly in 2011 Mahou Sensei Negima! Anime Final was released… one of the most disappointing movies I have ever seen. See many assumed that this film would adapt the final confrontations between Negi and Fate’s Posse and possibly end with the former Ala Alba taking on Cosmo Entelecheia and the big reveal that came at the end of the arc. Instead all of that is summarized in sloppy fashion in less than 5 minutes. And the rest of the film is a dull horrible original scenario basically forcing Negi to pick a single partner… which makes no sense whatsoever. In the end though he picks all of his students and consequently ends by once again whoring out the Pactio Card by giving one to all of his students… what the actual fuck… Why does it always resort to whoring out the Cards. This is one of the worst entries in the franchise. The plot is garbage, more than half the material is horrible filler, and it tries to complete a story that has had minimal canon material in anime format.
I followed Mahou Sensei Negima! for years and it kept my attention glued with what are some of the best fights in manga, a great fleshed out harem, gorgeous artwork, and a healthy plethora of fanservice. Admittedly though before the Mahora Festival Arc the manga is in that Early Installment Weirdness state where it wasn’t absolutely sure what the hell it was about, but when it came into its own comfort zone, Oh man was it good. The ending does come seemingly out of nowhere… but there seems to be a lot of underlying reasons for that. At the moment the sequel UQ Holder! is in serialization but I really hope to one day read all that was merely glossed over before the timeskip and the eventual ending. Negima is one of my favorite manga’s so witnessing first hand the barrage of third-rate productions come out was disheartening and the fact that barely 9 episodes can qualify as “good” makes it all the more worse. Though we will always have the manga this is one series that was unfortunately plagued with one too many mediocre anime adaptations. If you’ve never read the manga I cannot recommend it enough.