Negima! is based on a manga series by Ken Akamatsu. The series was produced by Xebec and was directed by Nagisa Miyazaki. The series aired on Japanese television from January 6-June 29, 2005. FUNimation Entertainment first held the North American distribution license for Negima! but as of this writing, Sentai Filmworks holds those distribution rights.
Negi Springfield is the main character in Negima, and he is a 10-year-old wizard from Wales who dreams of becoming a “Master Mage.” A “Master Mage” is a special wizard who can use his powers to help normal people by using covers. Negi wants to become a “Master Mage” in order to find his father, a legendary mage named Nagi Springfield, who is believed to be dead.
After graduating from the Merdiana Magic Academy in Wales, Negi is given a duty as a cover in the real world. He is to become an English teacher at the Mahora Academy in Japan, and his class consists of 31 middle school girls. However, most of the class sees him as a little brother instead of as a teacher. Over the course of the series, about half of the class finds out Negi can do magic, despite his efforts to keep this fact hidden. As time goes on, Negi also discovers he has antagonists that come from magic schools or are demons.
The most notable student in Negi’s class is Asuna Kagurazaka. At the beginning of the series, she is a bullheaded and daffy girl. Her relationship with Negi starts out rather rocky, but as time goes on, they get to know each other and Asuna becomes willing to be friends. Asuna’s encounters with Negi also slowly start to awaken dormant abilities within her.
Other notable students are Ayaka Yukihiro, Konoka Konoe, and Nodoka Miyazaki. Ayaka is the rich, bossy, and controlling class president. She is overly fond of Negi, and Ayaka also has a love/hate relationship with Asuna.
Konoka is a cheerful and caring girl and is also roommates with Asuna. Konoka is the mediator of the group; she is also a fan of fortune-telling and has magic potential. Konoka’s grandfather is also the dean of Mahora Academy.
Nodoka is a shy bookworm, who starts out not having feelings for members of the opposite sex. However, she develops feelings for Negi after he saves her from a fall down a flight of stairs.
Negima! is a “harem” anime that includes elements of magic, and the series also features “fanservice.” For a harem series, it’s rather enjoyable. It may utilize some of the character tropes of this type of series, but enough other elements, such as magic, are brought in to help round out the characters so they’re more than just one-dimensional tropes.
When I first started watching Negima! it came off as a rather light-hearted show; but as I progressed through the series, I noticed that the tone started changing. The tonal change becomes a bit more noticeable about halfway through the series, and the tonal shift is completed in the final episodes. By the end of the series, expect to see some pathos. You might also need a handkerchief while watching a couple of the episodes because they might cause the waterworks to start flowing.
If you’re a fan of Love Hina, you may also have an appreciation for Negima! The original source material for both anime are by the same author, so there are some similarities in the basic harem concept. However, Negima! adds the element of magic to its story.
I have to say that Negima! is strong for a harem series, and I believe it’s a lot stronger of a series than many of the more current harem anime that I’ve sampled.