Negima!?: Season 2 - Part 2
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Negi Springfield has a classroom full of head-turning school girls to deal with and a lesson plan that spans dimensions. He and the cuties of Class 3-A are trapped in a world that looks familiar – but isn’t. The mysterious and powerful Star Crystal has been stolen from the Academy of Magic, and the Black Rose Baron is driving all the girls crazy. But that’s not the half of it; there are wild catfights to hose down, a giant vampire roaming the hallways, and Negi’s been turned into a Chupacabra for acting naughty in public! Before the final bell rings, the young wizard will wear out his lips on an outrageous adventure he may never recover from!
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This Negima?! DVD picks up right where the previous set's cliffhanger left off. The immediate crisis is attended to in fairly short order, but a whole new can of worms opens along the way and our young heroes find themselves in a bizarre alternate reality where anything can happen. (As if that wasn't the case already in Negima's "Real" world.) What follows is a lot of crazy, random, bizarre, and over the top humor/action/and even a little drama that fans of Negima have come to expect.
Other than that I can only repeat my thoughts from the first set, which are that this version of Negima, while not as gook as Ken Akamatsu's original ongoing manga series, is far far more enjoyable than the first Negima anime series. That series was a toned down recreation of the first six and a half volumes of the manga series which really just barely scratched the surface. This series started over and did something a bit different, giving us an all new story that doesn't fit with the original continuity wise but by itself is quite fun. It does seem to assume your familiar with the characters from either the previous series or the manga though, as far less time is spent on character's backstory.
All in all, if you're a Negima fan, this version of it delivers.
And that's only the beginnings of the magical mayhem in the second half of "Negima!?," which finds our preteen wizard and his charges banished into an empty (yet familiar) magical world. Fortunately this series never loses its flaky sense of humour, its elaborate magics or its stunning visuals, right to the very end. Too bad there isn't more.
The girls barely manage to turn Negi back into a human being, only to find themselves in another false reality, where Mahora is a deserted ruin. Negi, his students, Takahata, Shichimi and Motsu are the only ones there -- and the students cope by splitting into three teams to handle daily living and/or explore this strange new world.
But things take a strange turn when Negi's sister Nekane mysteriously appears in the bath, and Konoka figures out the identity of the Black Rose Baron. Furthermore, they have to deal with student feuds, a mecha-chupacabra, sudden transformations into small-stupid-animal form, a broken staff, Evangeline's growth into a 50-foot-tall vampire, Asuna's tiny brain, and hidden feelings.
But through all this goofiness, the mysterious Dark Seeds are constantly attacking -- until the Star Crystal fully awakens, and the darkness possesses Eva. Negi finds that to save his class, he must defeat the person manipulating the Crystal. Unfortunately, it turns out to be someone all-too-familiar to him...
As with the first half of the series, "Negima!?: Season 2, Part 2" is basically split down the middle between fantastical goings-on and slapsticky comedy. The big difference is that Negi and Co. are no longer operating in the real world, but in a surreal magical world where bloated leviathans trot through, and puddles of red-eyed darkness attack at random.
And it's a fairly relaxed ride for many episodes -- we see the girls exploring, gardening, and doing yoga in the half-ruined, vine-swathed school. A couple of the episodes feel like they were inserted to make a quota (such as the giant-Evangeline one), but most of them are solid little nuggets of comedy and action (especially since all the girls now have Pactio cards). The writers toss in some slapstick (Setsuna skids right into a dish cupboard) and amusing subplots (Asuna's obsession with the Black Rose Baron costume).
But the shadowed conversations between Takahata and Evangeline never quite let us forget that something big and nasty is coming. In fact, in the first couple and last three episodes, the malignant influence of the Star Crystal is most intensely felt -- we're treated to darkened castles with magic stained-glass windows, stormy skies, and petrification spells. And the stunning animation, full of vibrant jewel-toned lights and sweeping elaborate landscapes, is truly exquisite.
Negi is in the position of being the "grown-up" again, and the sweet-natured little wizard is further perturbed when he learns that his flaky, ditzy sister is hiding a huge secret. Asuna unfortunately acts like a total ditz most of the time, but Takahata gets some spotlight time as the laid-back teacher tries to pretend to be sexy and alluring. And the little squishy frog and cat continue to be a source of hilarity.
"Negima: Season 2, Part 2" coasts along on a fun little streak of comedy, before darkening itself into a vibrant, intensely magical climax. Just handle a few dead spots along the way.