Sunday, 23 September 2012

魔法先生ネギま!〜白き翼 ALA ALBA〜/ Mahō Sensei Negima! ~Shiroki Tsubasa Ala Alba~ / Negima OVA: The White Wing

For those of us who have only watched the anime adaptations of Negima!, these OVAs rather drop you in at the deep end. The events don’t follow on from either anime, a different set of characters have formed pactios with Negi, and some characters just show up without explanation – including wolf-boy Kotarou-kun. Events that were never animated are referenced, and generally the backstory is entirely different. This is a pretty bizarre way to follow up a series, and it only really makes sense when you remember that these OVAs were actually freebies with manga volumes. Nonetheless, I can’t think of any other time this has happened, and frankly it continues to be a surprise to me how successful Negima! is, how much anime has resulted from it and how it’s managed to get OVA after OVA (this being far from the last) while something like Rozen Maiden stops.

The three OVAs here are almost unrelated. The first covers a fight with a character from Negi’s past and some action during a festival, the second has Negi’s childhood friend come to persuade him to go back to Wales and the silliness that follows, and the third is largely a selection of fan-pleasing little skits about the girls in the harem-class and their activities.

Though very true to the manga, these animations are chock-full of fanservice. Evangeline dresses as a goth loli, unleashes her power as a teacher and has various adorable versions of Chachamaru with her. The secret idol character goes to Komiket and the others tag along, leading to awkward moments with 18+ doujins. The two oldest-looking characters try to get the tickets they’re meant to at the cinema, where the lady doesn’t believe they’re 15.

SHAFT obviously didn’t have huge resources on hand here, but this was clearly a labour of love and they made it look nice. The magic, the combat and the festival kimono/yukata in particular are eye candy.
But this is decidedly fan-centric and as such, for those of us who’ve always found the concept of the 10-year-old boy surrounded by 15-year-old girls who want to seduce him and are without exception quite purposely drawn from anime stock a little tiresome and creepy, thus have no interest in picking up the manga, it’s very much throwaway. Still, it foreshadows the events of what will presumably be the next set of OVAs, with the characters heading towards Britain.

And I wonder if I’m the only one who found the scene with the fat girl, where almost nothing happens and she’s basically left on her own, deeply melancholy and almost upsetting? 

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