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Negima!? (Season 2)- Volume 1, Early Look/Review
By Marc | December 5th, 2008

Time for another early look.  I’m a big Ken Akamatsu fan, so I’ve been looking forward to more Negima for awhile.  The new series is interesting (yes it’s a new series, put Season 2 up there because it is still vaguely known as that to most people).




Let’s take a look at this reimagination, see what works, and see what doesn’t.


First thing, underneath everything else at the very bottom the entire first episode is embedded dubbed.




Let’s start with the packaging. Negima!? comes in the modern Funimation ‘dual thinpak’ packaging.  A soft papery box with 2 thinpaks inside of it.  Each thinpak has a single disk in it, and this covers the first half (13 episodes) of the series.  On the cover of each volume you get the girls and Negi dressed in (fashionable?) clothes.  Each cover has 3 or 4 people on it, and each cover is reversible.  The back has episode titles (long titles in this series, with many being over a dozen words), and the second disk lists extras also.  I’d also like to add kudos to Funimation on the reversible covers.  This time around the reversible are themed exactly the same as the fronts.  So if one of your favorite characters are on a reversible cover you can reverse that one without making them not match, or look out of place in any way.  Also, just to comment…  imagine the front cover of the box itself, with only Negi and Asuna, and imagine Asuna saying “POW! Right in the Kisser”…. can’t unsee that now can you?




The menu is nice and clean.  Nice big letters with a bit of a chalk theme to it.  Only issue I found, the Extras menu does not list the commentary for episode 12.  That is listed in the Episodes section under episode 12 itself.  Not a big deal, but I prefer when stuff like that is listed under extras.




Negima!? is an interesting show to review, because it is heavily advertised as (and believed to be) more Negima…  but it isn’t.  It’s basically a full reimagining with seemingly very little of the specific stuff we expect from anything with the words ‘Ken Akamatsu’ on them (although I haven’t kept up with Negima in manga form, so I guess it’s possible this has changed, although I am aware the story has apparently gotten quite deep in the manga).  When you think of Ken Akamatsu you generally think of two specific things.  Slapstick style comedy and the female body (his most popular work, Love Hina, was based very nearly purely on the main character slipping, pulling off clothing, then getting punched into orbit).  Negima!? on the other hand is quite a bit different.  The story has a bit of mystery to it beyond being used as as gag.  The jokes are often wordplay and less slapsticky.  Perversity isn’t nearly as prevalent (in fact, I can’t recall Negi magically sneezing Asuna’s clothes off a single time on either disk).  But in no way is it bad.  It’s just very different from what Negima and Akamatsu fans may be expecting.  I found myself enjoying the popculture references (both Japanese and American) prevalent throughout the series (added to in the dub, look out for visual cameos by Queen and Cartman hidden…sorta, along with a cameo by a well known meme, which you can see in the screencap under this section of the review).  I know alot of people who saw this show and didn’t like it, but I couldn’t help smiling and laughing constantly while watching it.  It’s something new for Negima fans, and maybe something for potential fans, or people who long ago decided the Akamatsu style of comedy wasn’t for them.  If there is any issue with the series it’d be that some characters are shown so often and so in depth, that many of the other girls you honestly feel like they aren’t really in the show beyond extended cameos.  I recommend the show highly, when I’ve been feeling rundown because of the end of a particularly long and hard class semester, Negima!? refreshed me and gave me some much needed laughter.




Everything has a negative, and this set’s is most definitely it’s video.  Sometimes it looks gorgeous, often is looks decent, and sometimes, you wanna smack someone.  The video is 480i anamorphic widescreen, but there are plenty of issues that are, frankly, unacceptable for a show that was on the air two years ago.  Rainbowing, quality often jumping from great to horrible shot by shot, and numerous other video errors cause the quality to jump around like crazy.  The issues seem to be with the masters though, not with Funimation’s encoding.  It’s still completely watchable, it’s just disappointing that something clearly went on behind the scenes that gave us anything but pristine video for such a modern show (One of the more obvious examples can be seen directly under this section, with a screencap I took purely by chance while watching it).




Audio is as good as you’d expect.  Everything is clean and clear.  Both tracks are Dolby 2.0 at 192k.  This is one of the cleaner recent Funi boxset tracks at that bitrate.   You never have to question what someone is saying over an effect, and everything is clear and crisp.  While no doubt the audio could be better, most people will likely never notice any issues.




The dub for Negima!? is quite good.  The vast majority of the cast from the first series are back, with a few replacements (although if you saw the recent Spring and Summer OVA episodes in English, you’ve already heard the new people).  The dub is very enjoyable, to the extent I stopped flipping back and forth between the Japanese and English audio.  The dub is rewritten to add a few more American jokes that generally fit very well (including a longer Dr. Seuss joke regarding food that ends with a green eggs and ham gag).  It’s a very good dub, just a few more things to say. First all the songs are dubbed.  I know alot of people don’t enjoy dubbed songs on the English track, but I enjoyed these.  1000% Sparking is dubbed for all of it’s appearances (unlike the Japanese version there is only one version of this song though).  The ‘temporary’ opening for episode 13 (it also shows up on 14, but that isn’t on this set) is also dubbed and enjoyable.  The first ending, Hoshizora Letter is dubbed for it’s few appearances and is soft and relaxing.  The high point is the second ending though, A-LY-YA! English version will really have you nodding your head back and forth with the beats (this song also went thru multiple Japanese versions, and there is a single English version).  Going back to voices,  there are two specific roles I feel the need to comment on though.  First, Negi after something significant happens to him in episode 12 (no spoilers here folks) in episode 12 this…other Negi, is played by his normal actor Greg Ayres.  For episode 13 though, the role goes to his brother, Chris Ayres, doing a nearly spot on impression of his brothers Negi (either that or they screwed up with the credits…not sure which).  The other thing I feel I must comment on… Chris Sabat as the narrator.  Sabat really goes nuts in this role, and I honestly just enjoyed everytime he showed up, because every time the narrator talks, he seems to go a bit more insane (not to mention breaking the fourth wall and talking to the characters once in awhile).




Extras on this set…  here’s another low point for the set that has a few moments of greatness.  We get no clean openings here despite the first opening going thru a few visual and audio changes (on the Japanese side).  We get the first ending clean, along with one version of the second ending (which went thru nearly a half dozen variations in this set alone, both visual and audio).  The version we get has a purple and blue flannel type pattern background, along with Asuna and Konoka dancing.  I’m disappointed we didn’t get all the variations we’ve seen thus far (I can understand not seeing the most recent, since it might show up on the next set, but a few of them I doubt we will be seeing again).  The real meat of the extras on this set is called ‘Notes From the Classroom’.  This has screencaps you can scroll through of when there was text onscreen.  It doesn’t have every moment, since many of those were self explanatory, but it goes thru all the ones with jokes regarding other Japanese shows, and explains them very clearly (no shows have their name blanked out, so if a joke has to do with Zatch Bell or Legend of the Galactic Heroes, you won’t have to guess because of blanked out letters).  This is a great extra, and I appreciate having the notes be in a separate extra where I can sit back and read them with a small screencap showing me what it is talking about (the episode is also listed).




Negima!? is a nice take on a show and franchise many of us already know.  It goes off in different directions but is some of the most fun I’ve had watching anime this year.  (It’s currently locked in an epic battle with Lucky Star and some of School Rumble for the position).  I recommend Ken Akamatsu and Negima fans pick this up with the understanding the comedy is quite different from what you’d expect.  While the lack of some clean openings and endings in the extras is a small issue, and the video a larger issue for me and no doubt others (although I’m sure others will also say there are no issues, which will probably lead to a more enjoyable experience for them since they won’t notice the video issues).  Regardless of these issues, anyone who wants to sit back and laugh…  I can’t stress how much of a must have this.


Show: A (Funny, funny, funny.  That is all that needs to be said… well, and oh yeah, there are a few decent fights also)
Packaging: B+ (What has become a standard for Funimation.  Wish the box would be a bit more sturdy, but it isn’t a big deal.  Extra points for reversible covers that match the normal ones, so you can flip one without flipping the other and have it be noticeable)
Video Quality: C+ (Shakey video quality.  This has been one of the harder video grades I’ve given because it jumps so much.  Throughout watching when I was trying to decide what I’d end up giving it I jumped everywhere between D- and B, but decided to stick to my orignal decision that a C equals ‘watchable, but not good.  The video here is definately above that, but in no way good, and the fact that the show is recent makes me shakey about giving it as high as a C+)
Audio Quality: B+ (Good audio, but nothing amazing)
English Dub: A (This is the kind of dub you’d show to someone who can’t stand dubs.  Every role stands out a little bit, even if one or two can grate a bit.  Special note on the narrator.  Rewritten where needed, but never leaving the spirit of the original.)
Extras: B (The notes on some of the Japanese text jokes is a truly awesome extra, and despite the lack of extras, and missing clean openings and endings, compelled me to rate the extras above average.  Plus a commentary.  I’m hoping in the next set we get bloopers, like we did for the original Negima anime)


Overall (not an average): A- (A great show.  The strength of the show itself lifts the overall ranking up despite video issues).


Really looking forward to more of Negima!?  Slightly disappointed the video isn’t as good as it should have been, but the show is just so enjoyable that I can’t let that stop me from enjoying it.  Although I can definitely understand why so many people seem to dislike it, it isn’t what you expect when you hear the title Negima, but I really suggest giving it a fair chance and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.


Sorry for any formatting changes, new version of WordPress made some changes that I’m getting used to.


Gallery under ads. All caps are lossless PNGs taken in VLC, feel free to request more. (Caps are sized 853×480 so as to display properly on computer monitors, as encoded the disks are 720×480, but having the caps be 853×480 emulates how they are meant to be seen using the widescreen ‘flag’ put on the DVD). {I was having so much fun watching the show I went a bit crazy with the caps this time, also the flash uploader works again, so enjoy all the caps}


Categories: Early Looks, w/ Anime Episode
  • http://astronerdboy.blogspot.com AstroNerdBoy

    Good review. I haven’t picked up this DVD set (and I kinda doubt I will) but I have seen the series save for the final episode. I will be interested to see how you see things going in the 2nd half of the series though.

    Glad to hear there are translator notes though. That’s an extra that needs to be on many, many anime DVD’s.