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Negima!: Magister Negi Magi, Vol. 5 Paperback – March 29, 2005
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"Paparazzi chick" Asakura has found out about Negi's magical abilities, and has teamed up with pervy ermine Chamo to exploit them. She arranges a "kiss Negi" competition among the girls, in order to get him more probationary partners. Problem is, Negi has botched a doppelganger spell, and now there are five half-witted Negi clones wandering around the building. Will anyone kiss the real Negi?
Meek Nodoka comes out of the deal with a magical card, which transforms into a mind-reading book. Meanwhile, Asuna and Negi prepare to deal with a thuggish band of eastern wizards. Unfortunately, they end up trapped in a bamboo forest with one of them: Kotaro Inugami, a lethal dog-boy. And finally, a strange girl with a crush on Setsuna challenges her to combat...
The fifth volume of "Negima" is probably the first one where we see a completely equal balance of fights and comedic problems -- one is fight-based, one is comic, and the third is both. This is probably the best balance that Ken Akamatsu has, and he does a pretty good job.
The story is still littered with underwear shots, crushes on a preteen, and the might-be-might-be-not interpretations of Setsuna and Konoka's relationship. And the humour is getting even funnier, with the exploding Negi duplicates causing mass confusion. But the magical duels are becoming more complex, and the enemies are getting a lot more lethal -- Kotaro is perhaps even worse an enemy for Negi than Evangeline the vampire was.
More and more girls have found out Negi's secret, and with the addition of Nodoka as a second probationary partner (nobody permanent yet), there's a bit more romantic tension. Negi himself undergoes a bit of growth, as he talks about his determination to become more powerful, and Asuna finally admits that she could "never hate anyone who gave his all." Although it's anyone's guess who she hasn't made Chamo into ermine mittens yet.
More probationary contracts, magical enemies and funny competitions are the backbone of the fifth "Negima" volume. It started off weakly, but keeps getting better.
With Asakura (Kazumi) having learned Negi's secret, Chamo-kun uses her to scout out potential partners for Negi. Chamo-kun will get ermine dollars and Asakura gets to have some fun and more. A contest between several pairs of girls we've been previously introduced to is formed with the goal of kissing Negi. Asakura has rigged video monitoring in the inn for the contest and provides the play-by-play for the rest of the girls who are watching it on TV. What they don't know is that Se-chan provided Negi with paper dolls which when activated create a duplicate of him so that he can help Se-chan and Asuna patrol the inn grounds. The duplicates cause all sorts of fun and the girls that kiss them create flawed magic cards. Only Miyazaki manages to kiss the real Negi and create a real card, which she is given a copy of though she doesn't know its true nature.
Meanwhile Asuna is given a copy of her card so that she can activate her special weapon when she wants and she can communicate with Negi no matter how far apart they are. Miyazaki overhears this and discovers the card creates a book for her, which then reveals to her information of things going on in the form of a picture diary. So as Asuna, Negi, Chamo-kun, and a paper doll in the form of a mini Se-chan head to the temple to deliver the letter and finish Negi's quest, Se-chan guards Konoka-chan along with Yue and Saotome.
Negi and Asuna soon find themselves in a magic trap where they battle Kotaro, a powerful kid in the Kansai Group. Miyazaki follows the action from her book and eventually comes upon the fight in person. Using the book, she helps Negi and Asuna as they fight for their lives. Meanwhile Se-chan is attacked as another kidnapping attempt is made on Konoka-chan and has to defend Konoka-chan with her life.
The story continues to become more interesting. Even the kiss contest was very interesting though it only added little to the main story arc. However, the groundwork is clearly being laid for some of these girls to have greater roles as we see with Miyazaki. I like how her character is being brought along. The amount of fanservice has dropped off in this volume. It is still there, but considering the sheer amounts of it in Volume 4, it is a relief to have it cut back so much.
Peter David is not part of the English adaptation in this volume, so his trademark humor is missing. That's not a problem, just an observation. Del Rey continues to do a good job with the honorifics, translator notes, spell dictionary, a display of the botched cards, some character sketches by Akamatsu-sensei, and an English preview of Volume 6.
Bottom line: "Negima!" continues to impress with its interesting story and is turning into a favorite manga title of mine. I look forward to buying Volume 6!
This chapter not only will have some interesting stories (I particularly enjoyed the development with Setsuna and Yue) but will also introduce the "changes" of the usual Mahora Tournament, as well as the sponsor who as you are probably guessing, might have a hidden agenda...
Even though it features some minor battles(you know, the usual tourney preliminaries to get the 8 finalists), you will still see Takahata and Evangeline moping the floor with the participants.
Note: Recommended for fans of Negima. Newcomers do yourself a favor and buy/read the series from Volume 1-13 that way you will understand why this manga series is so awesome.