Friday, January 2, 2009

Specifics Of Reading Negima

First read my post called "Everything You Need To Know About Negima", that should give you general information about it. But of course, it is limited and might not interest you enough. Here, I tell you more about this great manga but with specifics (most spoilers will be excluded).

Negima has originality. Here is my proof:
1. Shounen manga have useless characters, usually the female lead. Examples include Naruto, Bleach, and Rurouni Kenshin. Negima is a shounen title but it does not have any usless characters. Negima in the first chapter introduces 38 characters (one of them actually doesn't matter at all until much later), but don't let that daunt you. You are introduced each one slowly and detailed. Negi's class has 31 girls but each one is unique and interesting (full backstory too!). Their art design is good but it gets better. Future characters are also detailed and interesting. In fact, every character you see, however minor, is actually more important you think. A random teacher might appear later on and be an ally against a magical foe.
-Now for the shounen piece. The female lead (here come the spoilers...) is clearly Asuna. However she is tough and important. She constants takes part and gets stronger as the story goes. Other characters who join in helping Negi also are important and are not useless.

2. Pactio Cards. Magicians cannot cast spells if they are being beaten up using melee attacks. So they have a helper protect them. However, that defender can have their abilities boosted via magic and even given a special tool called an artifact. Each artifact is unique (and interesting) and has a special ability (example: the ability to draw something and have it come to life). To get these benefits, you must create a contract with the magic. This contract is called a pactio which is done by kissing (there might be another method) the mage in a magical circle. The proof of this contract is card. This system is very unique (I don't think any other story has thought of this) and many people have made pactio cards for other animes. Type in pactio cards in Google and you will get Naruto Pactio cards, etc. One of the great interests of this story is What If So-So got a card, what would their ability and artifact be?

3. Unique Shounen Set-up. I already talked about this in my last post. Most shounen have a stereotypical plot system: opponent, beat them, new opponent (stronger), beat them, etc. Sometimes that opponent is the main bad guy who controlled the prior enemy. This continues with some random chapters that might connect sagas together. Negima is a bit more unique with Negi actively trying to find his father, and this causes him to be in situations where danger appears. Think of Naruto: He wants to be Hokage. He doesn't really do anything to get this goal: he is just constantly being attacked or fighting. After each opponent, he doesn't review what happened and try to change himself to acheive his goal. You can find exceptions of course but they aren't amazing exceptions. The fact he learned a new technique isn't what I mean by he learned something.

4. The Story. Wow, I'm impressed. Negima seems to be just a manga form of Harry Potter at first and many manga have the main objective being the main character finding their father (Hunter X Hunter). But Ken Akamatsu does it better and with a new spin. We get a lot of backstory about the famous Nagi. He fought in a war where both sides were under the control of a certain organization whose goal was the destruction of the world (though there are reasons to believe this isn't their real goal). Nagi beats this organization with his companions and then goes wandering, trying to fix up the hundreds of problems that were left with the war's conclusion. He disappears for some reason. Of course, many of Nagi's enemies have now targeted Negi. This is of course without specifics so you shouldn't feel too impressed. But when you read it and get the specifics, you will be amazed at its intensity. Negi constantly pushes forward though and is willing to get himself 'dirty' to find the answer. SPOILER: He even uses dark magic so that he can defeat his opponent, despite that being the opposite of what his father would do.

5. Negi isn't the strongest man alive. There is nothing to say other than that. Shounen or not, he becomes stronger but he will not destroy the world with his awesome power that comes out when he is angry or his friends are in danger. There are people who are stronger and even more badass than him. These badass characters are what make Negima great.

6. Art. BEAUTIFUL! Well done and very detailed.

7. Humor, hints, and rereadability. Akamatsu drops little hints here and there and indirect mentions to things. There have been mentions to a main bad guy since the very early 50's (chapters, not the years) but only now is it being developed. There is constant foreshadowing and so a close eye and imagination is required to see these things before they happen. So rereading Negima to pick up things you missed is very easy to do and lots of fun. Sometimes, humorous comments are written next to bubbles or funny things in the background. Everytime you read Negima, you see something new or interesting.

8. Great characters. You will love at least one character by the end, no matter what. In fact, you will probably love at least 10! Even the characters you hate don't seem so terrible. I didn't like Yue, Chachamaru, or Hakase but I have come to accept and like them now.

9. Plot twists. As this post comes to an end, I fill tell you what I love about Negima the most: The twists and turns of the story. No, I don't mean "Oh my god, the real killer was the butler, not the maid we thought it was for 99% of the story". The plot twists are clearly visible throughout the story and perhaps just suspenseful events. Example (spoiler!): When we find out that Chao plans to reveal magic and seems like a megalomaniac, we are surprised but the suspense comes through her actions that shock and amaze us as she gets closer and closer to her goal. She literally is able to defeat everyone to get her goal.

So with that, Negima should be an interesting title and one you SHOULD read. It has something for everyone, just swallow your doubt and push through until you find something you love. If by the end of the school festival (that is around chapter 167 or so), you don't find something you like, you can say Ken failed you. But if you did find something during that time, you can bet it WILL show up again and you should still try to follow the story from time to time. It IS good, it just doesn't shock and amaze immediately. Turns out: Ken wanted it to be shounen from the beginning but his advisors wanted to keep the harem audience and made him start it like a harem before getting serious (which he gradually gets into and beautifully).

Dang, I do alot of analysis about Negima, huh? Here is a fun fact: I have editted wikipedia over 20 times about Negima. If you look up Negima on wikipedia, it will have a section chronicling the sagas of the Negima manga. I made that! Of course, some fans broke down the sagas (the current magic world saga only) into mini sagas which I dont agree with completely because its not possible yet without seeing the greater scheme of it. I might make a post with the correct sagas later (from a literary standpoint) since most fans don't see things as Rising action, climax, and falling action like I do.

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