Negima! (season one) Review

After watching Negima!?, I just had to check out its first season, which I have to say I was a little disappointed, as prequels are usually better than sequels. This season was darker than its successor especially towards the end, which changes the entire picture of what Negima! is.

Season one of the Negima franchise starts off similar to its sequel. Negi Springfield, a 10 year-old wizard in training, is transferred to Mahora Academy in Japan, which is an all-girls school. Here, he fights with a vampire, makes pacts with middle school girls, teaches English and searches for his father. The major difference between this series and the next is that this one focuses on the girls more and the other magicians besides Negi. Minus the Star Crystal plot and the Black Rose Baron, you can check out my Negima!? review for a better synopsis of the plot. Personally, I prefer the second series.

The actual story doesn’t really progress until episode 20. Yes, you heard me. 20. Up until then, it’s all about the girls and a more in-depth look into their lives beyond the school. Specifically speaking, we get a look on why Ayaka Yukihiro, class representative, acts the way she does (I love that episode to its entirety!). When class 2-A travels to Kyoto, Japan, for a cultural trip, Negi and co. encounter Fate, an antagonist who is better described in the manga. Fate desires Konoka Konoe, who, unknowing to the class, possesses a rare magical background, which I will not spoil! Because Fate is thrown it the series to make up for the manga, he seems very unexplained and random, which I did not fancy.

During the climax of the series, Asuna gets dark. If you’ve seen this series, you know what I mean. Not gonna lie, I cried. A lot. It was a simple yet tragic story that I will never forget. To this day, I can’t watch the last couple episodes without getting all worked up. This plot device really shows that Negima! isn’t all fun and games; it does have a more depressing movement to it. It was such an unexpected twist that it literally changed my view on the Negima series.

In this first season, the characters are better defined. Unlike the sequel which only shows comedy, these characters reveal some sad memories. As I mentioned earlier, Ayaka gets a nice treatment in this series. To be revealed later, Ayaka’s brother actually died during birth. Negi reminds Ayaka of her to-be little brother and that is why she loves him. In the second series, she just comes off as a creepy shotacon, so it’s better to view her from this series than the other. Regardless of her attractions, I love Yukihiro as a character!

Not gonna lie, none of the tracks stick out. Besides I think “Magical Battle” and this one relaxing theme which I still have never found :/ , there is nothing else that I can recall. Season two has a more memorable soundtrack than this one. One moment that I can remember, however, is the following day of the grand plot twist. Holy crap! It starts with a sad cello soloing and more instruments are added until the weight is to heavy to bear. At that point, I break down in tears. Whoever wrote that song did very mature job! The opening, “Happy*Material,” is also a very motivating song to listen to. Its playful chords and different vocalists (who are, BTW, the Japanese cast for the girls) make it a magical and, get this, “happy” song to listen to!

For being animated in 2005, I thought it was decent. I haven’t seen many older anime so I can’t really judge this one. It’s not distracting to any degree, but there some awkward animation pauses where the “camera” just stops on a character after they are done talking. Because of this, dialogue doesn’t flow to well sometimes. On a side note, I did watch the English dub for this one; it’s fairly well done, but nothing superb. Unlike the second series, the view isn’t anything crazy like frames flying across the screen, so take it how you will. Some think that is distracting, but with the second series in particular, I thought it was a nice touch.

I feel like I keep comparing this season to its sequel, but one really can’t help it. The second season embellishes on what the first season failed while the first season dives into concepts that were not explored in the second. Both series balance each other nicely. As such, I was entertained a decent amount. The character stories are interesting enough but the small individual arcs do get kinda boring after a while

The Negima franchise keeps with a fun, magical atmosphere, yes, but the first series not so much. I know it was the first adaptation, but still. It’s good, but not great or stunning. Motsu is not in this one, so it gets old just watching the same characters attempt and fail at various tasks. Though it seemed thrown in, the ending did actually improve my score of this show. Negima! is a series that you can watch a few times and still not get too bored, which is a good thing for sure! All in all, if you are a fan of the sequel, go ahead and pick this up. Otherwise, it may not be worth your time.

Presently, FUNimation’s Complete Series of Negima! sits on my shelf performing its magical mayhem while awaiting its next viewing.

Thanks for reading!

– Takuto, your host

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