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Negima! Magic 101:
The Basics Of Magic
voice cast: Troy Baker, Bando Ai, Sasagawa Ayana, Greg Ayres, and Yamamoto Azumi

director: Nishikiori Hiroshi

145 minutes (12) 2005
Revelation DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Trudi Topham
I've stared at a blank screen for an hour now. Negima! (aka: Mahô sensei negima!) Where to start? It's Japanese. That's the only way to describe it... very, very Japanese. So Japanese I think it's almost pastiching the 'hordes-of-girls fancy off-limits boy' genre. I mean... It must be, right? Please? God?

Negi Springfield is the newest English teacher at an all-girl high school in Japan. He has about 30 students in his class, and all of them are romance-crazed 13-year-olds with a penchant for developing crushes on their professors. To compound matters Negi is a wizard-in-training, whose job is to teach English without his powers being revealed to the staff or students. If he can accomplish this task, he himself graduates and becomes a fully-fledged Magus.

Oh, and Negi's ten years old. Actually, he's only nine and three quarters, but who's counting when there's lots of nudity and accidental loss of clothing? Hilarity ensues.

So. Thirty 13-year-old girls. Check. Chasing after a boy who's not yet ten. Check. Random clothes' loss. Check. You know, I'm not sure it's legal in the UK for me to have this disc in my possession... And yet, in spite of Negi's terrible 'Welsh' (read: Dick van Dyke English) accent, the age-old Japanese cliché of a boy being chased by girls for no apparent reason, and a hapless small pervert virtually humping every girl in sight (not an old man in this case, but an ermine. Yes, an ermine), Negima! actually manages not to be six episodes of wanton paedophilia. Instead it turns into something quite charming and I find myself strangely wanting to get my hands on the next disc.

Part of the sheer fabness of Negima! is the variety of girls in the glass. Each and every one is a character in her own right. It would have been easy to just have a faceless amalgam of boobs and hair coming at Negi, but everyone has their own personality, desires, motivations, and goals, and the show introduces you to one or two girls per episode so that you are never overwhelmed. The class is also phenomenally abnormal, with a ghost, a robot, a vampire-sorceress and a ninja among them. I have yet to figure out whether the other girls can even see the ghost, as she's never addressed or noticed, yet nobody tries to sit in her seat. And they tend to behave like actual teenage girls, far more in love with the idea of being in love than they are with Negi.

Negi is also actually likeable, unlike most of the boys in this genre. He genuinely wants to help the girls academically (and later, when a supernatural threat arises, magically), and isn't remotely interested in romance, being a few years away from puberty. He carries a weight of responsibility for them that the other teachers just don't show, and doesn't descend into a pit of angst when he thinks he's to blame for events. He's wonderfully naïve about things like evil, utterly incapable of comprehending why anyone would want to do bad things.

I suspect it turns into a slightly deeper supernatural drama as the series progresses. Episodes one to five are quite light-hearted, but episode six starts to take a turn for the nasty (albeit still in the nice, fluffy Negima! way), leaving you on a cliffhanger. Maybe that's why I want to see the next disc. Yes. That must be it. I've not become addicted at all, no.

The extras are all right. There are a couple of trailers for other Funimation titles (Fruits Basket and Full Metal Alchemist), and a very nice little essay about life in a Japanese school that makes some of the everyday occurrences in Negima! make a lot more sense. All in all, I'm up for more of the same. Just don't tell the police.

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