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Mahô sensei Negima! (2005)
An Ultimately Generic Romantic Comedy Anime That Borders on Being Bland
I was not expecting much out of this show when I originally saw it. I had no particular interest to watch it, but I happened to catch the entire series on the television. I had seen anime harem romantic comedies before, and I was not expecting an awe inspiring story or romance to be held within the series. Needless to say, the show did not surprise me or go past my expectations.
The show is based on the ten year old Negima, who the show is named after, as he becomes the teacher of a group of Middle School students. He also happens to be a magician and his students also have their own peculiarities and mysteries. To an outsider, this plot might be so outrageous that it could possibly be alienating, but any person who has seen a show similar to this knows this is rather run of the mill. The plot of this show and many like it usually just exist to create a set piece for a male that is awkward around girls to be thrust into an everyday and closely lived life with them. Even so, the plot of this one show is so out there it has actually been made fun of by another anime (Oh! Edo Rocket). This will undoubtedly make for many awkward situations and jokes for the writers to create though, but the jokes in this show either fail are have been seen in other shows, just the situation has changed slightly.
As for the characters, they can be described similarly to the plot, outrageous. If I can say anything about shows like this, at least most of them are rather tongue in cheek about how outrageous their plots and characters are. Any show that was not would almost definitely fail from the beginning. While the show has a varied and strange cast, they all still end up coming off as bland. The main character is your usual protagonist for a harem romantic comedy, awkward around girls, gets into precarious situations with them, and is gratingly annoying at times. Most of the other characters are also Japanese stereotypes for this kind of show. You have the shy girl with the crush, the tsundere who will not admit her affection, the smart but lazy girl, and the tough and usually reserved samurai/ninja girl are all here. Even aliens, ghosts, and robots as exist in this show are usually jokingly stereotypes (More so for Japanese dating simulation type games). It is fine if these characters exist in a show, but there needs to be work and character development done to set them apart from similar characters in other shows, and there happen to be so many characters that this job was impossible to completely accomplish by the show's end.
On the technical side, the show is generally colorful and cutesy. The production value is nearly the same as all other shows of the genre, so it ends up having the same general downfalls. The animation is sub-par, but is far from being bad. The voice acting is rather standard, and is not going to wow anyone. All of the voices are their own and can show some emotion, but it never goes beyond that. Some may find the wheezy yet high pitched voice of Negima in the English dub grating, which can be an instant turn off considering he is the main character. The voice is understandable, however, as Negima is a young boy.
One last complaint that can be made is the fan service that is present in the show. Many find the idea of seeing thirteen year old girls's panties, even animated, strange and uncomfortable. Fan service is expected out of shows of this genre, but the girls are generally older. Some may be uncomfortable watching the show due to this aspect.
All in all, Negima is just another drop in the bucket of harem romantic comedies. It does little, aside from magical aspects, to put itself apart, but the interest in such aspects of the plot begin to wane over time. The characters are also nothing new, and parallels will be found between characters and many others from this genre. Many will find the humor falls flat at times, but it may elicit a chuckle every so often. Others may laugh non stop if this show's humor is their brand. If you like genre, then you will like this anime. I would suggest to stay away otherwise, as this show is not going to make anyone fans of the genre if other shows have failed in the past.