March 10, 2012

Looking back

Filed under: Updates — CanonRap @ 5:40 pm

Has it really been 9 years, 38 volumes and 355 chapters?

I have been translating this story since November 2010, 47 chapters ago. Vetus has been open for business since October 2008. Negima first became known to me in 2005, three years after I finished reading Love Hina. This has been the only weekly series I have followed every week without fail. And now, I have read its last chapter.

No doubt most readers have found the recent chapters lacking in depth. “How the mighty have fallen,” I saw more than once. And truly, the plot leading up to the finale is notable by its absence. What happened to his quest to find his father? His plan to save two worlds? The identity of his one true love? They were all confined to a meandering epilogue, all build-up and foreshadowing left behind, all conclusions left by the wayside as the story rushed towards its ultimately happy ending.

But I doubt anyone will forget the battle in Kyoto. The memory of that snowy night. The tournament. The siege of Mahora. The whole new world. The crescendo of an epic in the making. And then, the realization that the entire story had become a titanic struggle between two central players, where the magic of friendship had no place and comrades were nothing more than pieces on a board.

Though to be honest, this was not a change I was entirely upset by. Yes, I did miss the mood of the older chapters, but I also enjoyed the new-found seriousness and intensity of the story. It was taking itself in a new direction, evolving into another form. And of all the things I enjoyed about Negima, I think its evolution and growth was the biggest and most crucial pull factor to me as a reader. I would continue to enjoy the development because I could not entirely guess where the story was going.

In the end, it was likely this escalation that brought the series down to its knees, crushed by the weight of its own myth, the complexity of its characters, the intricacy of its plots. The stakes were raised too high and too quickly. No matter how many quirky characters were brought in, how many ridiculous adventures were had, how many jokes were told and gags were used, somewhere the innocence had been lost. But it was never ‘too late’.

A choice could have been made, to let the characters continue with their progression and deal with what they will soon become: serious figures in a serious world. But Akamatsu tried to go back, and that I think was one of the major failings of Negima. Elements of the old status quo were forced to remain. Lesser characters stood in standstill, unable to progress further, and all attempts at past routines feel contrived against the spectacular moral clashes of the primary cast.

What actually went wrong in the course of the story — whether that be its ‘serious’ finale, its true finale, or sometime between or before these — depends on your view. I don’t think I need to bother convincing anyone here, and it’s too soon to tell what exactly reined in the series to its abrupt end. But at this point, what’s done is done. Negima as we know it is complete. I will not hesitate to say that translating the final chapters of this manga has left a bitter taste, but I certainly will not renounce the past 7 years of steady readership just for the last, rocky one-tenth of the story.

To me, it will likely remain one of the greatest manga experiences I have ever had. Negima was the reason I learned Japanese. The first Japanese book I bought was a volume of Negima. Negima and Akamatsu made me the anime fan I am today. It deserves that much, I think.

PS: As for Vetus, I doubt I need to say this, but I have no plans on closing down this site or stopping its updates (assuming we ever get new information, like the next Bible).


  1. Yeah, I’ve been reading Negima since the first chapter came out in Japan in 2003 and it has truly been the first manga I’ve seen the rise (and fall) of.

    In fact, since watching Love Hina circa 2001 and subsequently completing the manga… seeing Akamatsu move on Negima first elicited “omg 31?” from me, then “whoa…” followed by increasing amounts of manly tears shed as Negi grew from strength to strength… yet it never felt like it was being merely just a “shounen” manga.

    Yes, I do feel that Negima deserves a better end… but I guess this is the end of the line as far as Akamatsu thinks he can bring to the table for Negima. I do hope a lot of the nagging issues left gets addressed somewhat in the final tankoubon or the bible.

    Finally… on a personal note, I’d like to say a lot of thanks to you for doing the translations for Negima… even to the point of making Vetus. Over the years, I’ve seen many a translator for Negima, but none have been so passionate as you have been.

    Please do keep Vetus up as its an invaluable source of information for all Negima fans. Wishing the best for the site from here on!

    Comment by Kurogane Shiroikaze — March 10, 2012 @ 6:00 pm

  2. I started reading Negima! when Del Rey started releasing it in the U.S. Initially, I was excited by things, especially since Del Rey had threatened to self-censor the manga, but fortunately, they didn’t.

    I don’t remember exactly when I switched to a weekly reading of the manga. I am pretty sure it was after I started reading complaints about how horrible Del Rey’s adaptation was. I found that surprising, since Del Rey retained honorifics, including “ojousama.” When I read the scanlated chapters vs. the Del Rey chapters, I was horrified, and I couldn’t even re-read the first two volumes ever again because they were so bad. ^_^;

    Anyway, I was certainly entertained these many years by Negima! I am disappointed by how things turned out, but if Akamatsu-sensei does announce a sequel, then I’m going to be OK with things, knowing that he just closed shop as his exclusive contract with Kodansha ended.

    Finally, I’d like to thank you, CanonRap, for the translation work you’ve done with Negima!, and for the Vetus project, which is completely awesome. ^_^

    Comment by AstroNerdBoy — March 10, 2012 @ 6:15 pm

  3. I started reading Negima a few years ago, before the Magic World arc started.

    I enjoyed the comedy and harem antics of the first volumes, the serious stuff about Negi’s father, Evangeline’s past, and Chao’s future. The fights in the Magic World arc. And all the characters that were introduced.

    My only complaints are the plot lines that did not get finished and the ending which feels rushed and leaves many unanswered questions. I have a feeling that something behind the scenes caused the abrupt end, but I don’t we’ll ever learn all the details.

    Now I’ll probably read it from the beginning and after that read Love Hina and Akamatsu’s other works. If he announces a new manga I will check it out.

    I don’t have any Negima merchandise, where I live it’s hard to even get translated manga. And shipping from Japan is expensive, but there is a chance I will get to visit Japan in the near future and I will buy some volumes.

    And many thanks CanonRap for creating this site that is a treasure trove of Negima info and translating the chapters.

    Comment by Rhonin the wizard — March 10, 2012 @ 6:53 pm

  4. The first time i know about Negima is when it’s already about 150 chapter or so, that’s when i finished Love Hina.
    I come to like it so much even though at first I read it beacuse i got disappointed at School Rumble ending, i hoped this series will be better. And i ‘was’ right, and maybe still ‘am’ right, depends on the last chapter…
    I don’t know what others thing, but I think this series has a very good growth and steady pace, from normal comedy to more action and i liked it that way.
    The real end of this manga for me is when the Battle with MotB ends and they return to Mahora, i can accept a harem ending rather than no ending like SR.
    And for CanonRap, really i am very grateful for this site, even it’s in 5 first row of my bookmark ^^
    I got many interesting trivia and info about Negima from here.
    Well, as of now, I’m still buying the Negima release in my country. I have no regret at all buying them and will treasure them as one of my best collection, and i hope this blog will stay intact to sometimes remember things….

    Comment by Victor — March 10, 2012 @ 11:24 pm

  5. This is my first comment here, despite me coming here since at least late-’10. I had been introduced to the manga first by a close friend of mine at the time in 2007, and finally got invested in it after watching the Negima!? anime. I hadn’t imported any of the manga itself, but I do own some of the pacto cards, and I do own the Negima!? DVD’s and the Del Rey releases.

    I don’t consider myself a die hard fan of the series of KenA (despite me reading the majorty of his work ) but I do like to think of myself as being more than a casual fan of the series. I enjoyed this series greatly, from the art (despite the sometimes over the top fan service) to the story, whether it was serious or light hearted. Looking back now, the main draw for me to keep on going with this manga was the cast surprisingly, despite me worrying about the harem element at first (thus the characters outside of the main couple would end up being underdeveloped) but KenA had surprised me by crafting a cast of well developed, unique, likable characters that I cared for and wanted to see what was in store for them in this story.

    I don’t know if I have the right to say this, as again I’m not the most die hard of Negima fans, but I honestly don’t think these few chapters have destroyed or ruined this manga as a lot of comments I see around are saying. That’s not to say I like this ending (I’ll get to that in a sec) but at the same time, like you said here, this doesn’t negate all those fantastic moments we had reading this manga. I still love Nadoka, I think that her development from the beginning as a shy student to a reliable member is the most shining and notable example of how good the cast was in this manga, her stand up and constantly throwing herself in the face of danger during the magical world despite how grim the situation was as being her finest moments, and I rank her as among my favorite 20 females in manga/anime. I like Yue, I think that her moment where she felt guilt about falling in love with Negi and her subsequent realization that Nadoka never hated her as well as the entire stretch of her adventure during the magical world was one of the manga’s highlights. I like Stesuna, and think that she when she was given the chance, her fights were often better than even Negi (and I’m still annoyed how her fight was eclipsed by Negi vs. Fate :T) and despite never caring one bit for Konoka, I thought that the relationship between the two was really great. Kaede, Shiori, Chachamaru, Natsumi, Kazumi & Sayo, Makie, Mana, Nagi, Hakase, Chao, Misora, Tsukuyomi, Rakan, Shirabe, Albireo … just because the ending gave us cliff notes to go by that doesn’t measure up one bit to what they deserved doesn’t mean that all the past 300 + chapters were a waste.

    And that’s really it. That’s what I don’t like about this ending, that it’s the cliff not version, the thing that everyone wanted to happen but without any of the development or story to give us that end result. I’m going to be honest here and admit that I honestly though these last 4 chapters were great, and that I actually enjoyed the Chase Negi mini arc (despite me thinking it was very misplaced as a final arc) I liked seeing how Asuna (despite not being in the manga for God know’s how long now) ended up traveling to the future, and I thought the drama was gut wrenching and emotions were conveyed wonderfully of how much she had lost. I liked the happy ending they cast got, despite how again without any of the hardship to go through, it lost a lot of weight. I enjoyed seeing an Adult Yue being a badass detective, despite me think that the fanservice was over the top and disturbing. And You know, I liked this chapter, it was the sort of end I wanted after all, with Negi finally being with his father and introducing his comrades to him …

    … and that’s really the biggest thing that makes me sad about all of this. This IS how it should have ended, but at the same time hearing (as opposed to seeing) how they rescued Nagi after his ”Come and kill me son” killed ME a little inside, considering how important that was, how much the manga built it up to that point.

    I’m sad about Negima ending, but I think that sadness was increased by how much was glossed over, and how easily it was glossed over, especially since I wanted to see this sort of ending earned by the cast I had grown to care about. Like I once said at ANB blog, I don’t feel like Ken A owes me anything, I invested in this manga by my own free will, and at the end of the day it is his work and he could do whatever he wants and I have no right in the matter.

    I just feel like this wasn’t how it was meant to be.

    Sorry about writing too much. And thank you for all the hard work you’ve done.

    Comment by Arabesque — March 11, 2012 @ 9:59 am

  6. Thanks for the hard work

    Comment by Besshoumon — March 11, 2012 @ 1:19 pm

  7. I started reading Negima! scanlations, when the manga was at its 120th chapter. It took me a week to read the first volume, another one for the second volume. It took me one night to catch up to the (at-that-time) last release. Now, that was an unforgettable night…
    After that, waiting for each weekly chapter seemed so painful. Yet, so rewarding… And those last chapters? They might have left a bit bitter ‘rushing’ aftertaste, but then again, I believe Akamatsu-sensei tried to do his best at his current circumstances.
    In the end, I’ve even started buying the official releases. And together with a similarly impressed person, we’ve started scanlating Negima! into our native language. As a fellow translator/scanlator, who is 282 chapters behind the ‘current’ final events (._.’), every now and then I will use the resources you accumulated over time at this site. To spread the ‘love’ for this great manga. Your site has become a great help, thank you. Also for all the translations in that last year… \(^_^)d

    Comment by r.a.b — March 11, 2012 @ 5:59 pm

  8. I started reading this manga 2006, a few months after having finished reading Love Hina. Actually, I watched the anime first, but since I knew because of LH that the anime’s ending is definitely not the manga’s ending, I started reading the manga and was positively surprised of how well-developed the story and the characters actually are. Ken truly made Negima one of my most favourite mangas ever and I am really grateful for that.

    Seeing this ending now… I don’t even really know whether I’m angry, sad or just disappointed, but even though I imagined such an ending, I never thought it would come that soon, as I expected one final last arc and that arc is missing now. It also leaves a bitter aftertaste for me as I’ve bought the English and Japanese releases(without knowing any Japanese) because the German releases are poorly translated. Finding your website through the AQS forums, I was glad you began translating the chapters later on and I hope you will keep being present if there ever is a chance of a sequel/spin-off(cue the music: …).

    So with this comment here, I want to thank you for your hard work. Thank you, CanonRap.

    P.S.: Bit off-topic: Now that I am at it, I also want to thank you for your contributions for the Type-Moon works. 🙂

    Comment by Arandur — March 11, 2012 @ 9:03 pm

  9. It an ok ending, not the best or not the worst. I hope Akamatsu-sensei make a sequel. But if not I still have a blast at reading Negima and nothing will change that (not even a ok ending)

    Comment by Griffith D. Dontey — March 14, 2012 @ 11:12 am

  10. Negima was a gateway manga for me. While I was faintly aware of anime and manga during my high school days, I never delved into it seriously until I saw this little manga series called Mahou Sensei Negima in 2006. I was intrigued–comedy that actually got me, action, and plotlines unheard of in cartoons not named Justice League. Other anime and manga came by that did things better, but Negima had the strongest impression, and the world built around it held my attention.

    Most of all, the characters were awesome. Who didn’t like Nodoka’s pluckiness, or Yue, a.k.a juicebox Batman? As a matter of fact, other than brief spells with Tohsaka, Nitta, and Yuna/Haruna spearheading that chase Negi arc, I’ve never really hated any of the characters.

    Hell, Negima even introduced me to Yuri, and it’s not even a shining example. In the end, I wound up caring a lot more about plucky healer Konoka than most people (except maybe Setsuna) , though I did enjoy the yuri uninterrupted by the harem antics.

    True, all those unresolved plotines are painful, and all that potential got terribly wasted. I’m terribly upset that Arika was doomed to obscurity despite her role in Nagi’s life. However, this cheaped out ending doesn’t negate the awesome ride I’ve got. And Konoka Konoe.

    Thanks for everything. As one of those people who actually deals with fanfics, I will enjoy the people’s answers to those unexplored ends… and the idea of Konoka trolling Tsukuyomi for years to come.

    Comment by Doctor Ansem — March 15, 2012 @ 3:31 am

  11. Hi.

    Totally random request here, but… can I ask for a hand to some terms to my fanfic? I’d like to know how I can tell/write these phrases in japanese (of course, not with japanese characters ^^”):

    – Reverse impact;
    – Reverse instant movement;
    – Advent of Grey Dragon;
    – Burning Thunder Armor.

    It’s for a Negima! fic of mine (still in development, though). Sorry for ask in your blog, but, if you can help me with this, thanks. ^^”

    Comment by Blogima — March 21, 2012 @ 3:34 am

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