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Negima!: Magister Negi Magi, Vol. 16 Paperback – December 18, 2007
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Negi Springfield receives an alarming message from the Dean: If his class comes in last (as they always have), he won't continue as a teacher. Terrified, he accompanies the Baka Rangers (the worst students) in search of a magical book that will make them instantly smart, on the legendary Library Island.
Problem is, it's guarded by a giant killer statue, and traps and puzzles meant to dissuade the dumb. Soon Negi and his Rangers are on the run for their lives, desperately trying to get back before the decisive test. Will the book give them the knowledge they need... or will they be forced to struggle on without its help?
The stories continue with Negi getting to know some of the girls in his class. He pays a visit to Ayaka, a poor little rich girl with a massive crush on him, but Negi's presence brings up a saddening memory of her childhood. Mischievous twins play with his mind. And seething nerd Chisame tries to use her sexy Web persona to strike back at Negi, only to get burned when he sees her frolicking in a bunny suit...
Akamatsu tightens up his plotlines in the second volume of "Negima," with more focus on Negi as a teacher and a pal, and less on naked girls. Okay, there's still nudity, but usually used for comedy and not titillation, like Chisame's final humiliation. And even Akamatsu acknowledges the absurdity of this, by having a flustered Negi splutter, "Boy, any excuse..." if the girls strip.
The Library Island story is perhaps the best here -- it has action, humour and it shows how attached Asuna is becoming to Negi. And there's a message woven in there, not too subtlely, about how the only way to succeed is hard work, and that a teacher should work hard to help his students and not just leave the bad ones behind.
Negi doesn't get much exposition in this one; it's focused on his students. The revelation of Ayaka's late baby brother makes her more than just a spoiled rich girl, and Akamatsu handles this tragic twist with delicacy and poignancy. And we get to see a bit more of Konoka, the Dean's cheerful granddaughter, who is being pressured to marry in her mid-teens.
The "Negima" series gets more solid and sweet in its second volume, showing that Ken Akamatsu was getting into step as a fantasy storyteller. A vast improvement, and a fun comic read.
The entire school is preparing for the massive Mahora Festival, and 3-A isn't sure what their "theme" will be. And Negi is still depressed, believing himself to be weak and a bad teacher. Who will rescue him? Satsuki Yotsuba, a kindly gourmet with a knack for helping others -- both with food, and with her common sense.
Negi also gets to know other girls in his class -- the girls go a-ghostbusting when the timid class ghost tries to get friendly; robot girl Chachamaru suddenly gets klutzy and stuttery, prompting mad scientist Hakase to run a diagnostic. The results are unexpected -- Chachamaru is experiencing human emotions, and has fallen in love.
And while Asuna has had a crush on her hunky ex-teacher for awhile, she's never worked up the nerve to admit it. Eager to help her, Negi tries a magic pill that temporarily ages him four or five years. He's quite the hottie, and Asuna finds herself disconcerted by this handsome teenager. And when the Dean reveals some stunning new facts about the World Tree, Negi finds himself having to defend one of his students -- from other wizards!
When "Negima" started, it seemed like a rather limp cross between Harry Potter and "Love Hina." But as the ninth volume rolls around, it's clearer than ever that Ken Akamatsu has grown into his series' large shoes. He's better than ever at mixing fantasy, comedy and lovable characters.
Peripherally, it's all about the upcoming Festival (which apparently will happen in the tenth volume). But the real focus is on the wizard boy and his students, and Akamatsu doesn't resort to stereotypes to make them likable (especially chubby Yotsuba). And fans of rough dog-boy Kotaro will be glad to see that he's apparently joined the cast full time, as Negi's rival/foil/friend.
There's plenty of straightforward comedy, like various kids having fun with the aging pills, and the disastrous date that Asuna and Negi go on. And while most of the story focuses on the various girls in Negi's class, it ends with a sorcerous scuffle with Negi, Kotaro and Setsuna, promising a great time in the next volume.
Ken Akamatsu's "Negima" series is still going strong in the ninth volume, and things only promise to get better. A solid collection.
As for the actual story, it's fun, dark, light hearted, and full of twists. Ken Akamatsu really brings everything to the table.