Monday, 20 November 2006

Negima Magister Negi Magi, Ken Akamatsu, 2006

Negima! Magister Negi Magi, Vols 1 and 2, Ken Akamatsu, Tanoshimi, 2006, 190 pages, paperback, NZ$19.99 each. ISBN 0-09-950415-4 & 0-09-950416-2
[NZ agents: Random House]

In Japan comics are important publications, with a range of titles for all ages to read on the underground trains. When manga (Japanese graphic novel comics) are being discussed, Negima! is always one of the first titles mentioned. Ken Akamatsu and his team have created Negi Springfield, a young English magician who wears glasses and has just graduated from a school of magic. (The title means Master of Magic) The Harry Potter references are intentional; when Negi flies on his staff he says, “Just no Quidditch jokes, okay?

The first training assignment for Negi is to teach a class of young girls at a Japanese high school. The joke is that Negi is only ten, much younger than the 31 students he is responsible for. The plot, which concentrates on Negi’s relationship with these girls during various outrageously exaggerated adventures, suggests the series is aimed at girls. Since the female characters lose their clothes whenever Negi sneezes, and everyone spends a lot of time in bath houses and swimming pools, it is clear that the publishers also have an eye on the male market. The typical manga portrayal of long-legged young girls with short skirts and eyes like saucers suggests the dirty-old-man market is not being ignored either; the publisher’s rating is 16+.
Comic fanatics will enjoy these stories with their intricate detail, glossaries, notes and original character-development sketches. The translation is punctilious, with even the sound effects being translated. Purists will be delighted to finds that these books are read from the back and from right to left.
Dedicate yourself Negi. Japan’s youth is counting on you.”

Trevor Agnew

First published in The Press, Christchurch, New Zealand on October 14th 2006.

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