With the original Negima!? manga going strong with over 20 books in the series, and an anime series along side it. Negima!? Neo takes us back to the start of the series. But it all feels a little familiar.
Volume 1 starts off back in Wales on the day
on Negiís graduation exam, giving us a brief look into Negiís time at the
magical school. With his friend Anya, another student at the school, Negi
must find and slay a powerful monster. Soon after this, Negi is given his
assignment of being a teacher in Japan, where he meets a whole host of girls who
he will be teaching. This includes Asuna, one of his students who he
happens to now share a room with. Its not too long into his time at the
Mahora Acadamy before news of a vampire reaches him, and Negi soon has to deal
with this creature, but everything isnít what it seems when this vampire is also
one of his students!
The story makes a nice start, with a unique look at Negiís time as a magical student, as it wasnít looked at in either the anime or the original manga. It works as a nice set-up to the rest of the book, and perhaps the entire Negi story, as we have seen very little of Negiís past in other material. From that point on though, the story follows the original fairly closely, if at a more rapid pace. It spends its time starting to build up the love-hate relationship between Negi and Asuna. The pace picks up once the battle between Negi and Evangeline begins, although it does quickly go through Asunaís acceptance of Negi being a wizard, along with the fact that Evangelineís partner, Chachamaru, happens to be a robot, though with how quickly the story has gotten to this point, perhaps its no surprise that this has been brought up so quickly.
If there is any problem with Negima!? Neo, its that there is a lot of stuff that it leaves out, especially when you consider that in this book, it gets to the same point as the end of volume 3 in the original manga. Many things such as the trip into the Secret Library Island, along with many of the moments you see Negi spend with other girls in his class. It also seems to take a few liberties, like with Konoka and Setsuna, who are rather close from the beginning, rather then seeing Setsuna start off
quite distant. Perhaps this comes from the fact that this is an adaptation of the anime, which itself was an adaptation of the original manga.
It seems a little weird to have a manga, based on an anime, based on a manga. But Takuya Fujimaís artwork is rather different to Ken Akamatsuís own, giving Negima!? Neo its own look that stands out. It's certainly a good pick up for those who are unfamiliar with, or new to the Negima series, but if you have already been reading the original manga, this book will feel all too familiar and quite rushed.
There is a small preview of volume 2, and a small bonus story based around the ĎBaka-Rangersí. There is also some concept art of a few characters, along with some translation notes which seem to be standard with the Negima series now, plus some notes from the artist.