Manga Review – Negiho: Mahora Little Girls

Negiho: Mahora Little Girls

Negiho: Mahora Little Girls
Negiho (Young) Version
ネギほ(幼)文 (Negiho (Ito) Bun)
AKAMATSU Ken (creator); Yui (author)
Shounen – Comedy, romance
1 Volume (complete)
Kodansha USA

Summary:

Set in an alternate universe of Negima!, kindergartener Asuna falls in love hit at first sight with her adult teacher, Negi. In order to win her teacher’s heart, Asuna has to put up with the crazy classmates, many of which who are her rivals.

Review:

Almost every story has a built-in “what if” for readers to imagine. For some series, many of these alternate universe and alternate reality stories become a popular source of fanfiction and doujinshi. For Negima!, there are quite a few plot points open for readers’ stories. In Negiho‘s case, the story does an age reversal: Negi was a 10-year-old teacher to 15-year-old girls in the original, but here he is a legal adult teaching 5-year-olds.

So let’s tackle a few questions that are likely to arise. Do readers need to be familiar with Negima! to enjoy the story? Not really, but I don’t know why you would want to. Several characters — include a few surprise ones — make an appearance, but there’s nothing that would cause newbies to be lost. What if you haven’t finished the main series? Don’t worry, there’s nothing here that would spoil the ending.

Negiho: Mahora Little Girls is a comedy whose primary story focus is on Asuna’s crush on Negi. Certain fantasy elements are retained and/or brought over, but do not expect any battles with spells or anything. The magic is just used for a setup rather than a key element of the series. I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, Evangeline just wouldn’t seem like our Evangeline if she was just an ordinary student. On the other hand, the brains of the class still operate as normal, but it might have been more fun if some of the girls could use their special abilities, whether they were born with them like in Negima! or not. I think it would have been interesting to see Negi trying to control girls who are not mature enough to fully handle their powers. It’s a disappointing mix of not-quite-slice-of-life like Hanamaru Youchien and not a full-out fantasy.

I expected Negiho to be a full-stop comedy. This is not the case. We get chapters focusing on the girls’ friendships and Asuna’s feelings for Negi. While jokes are in every chapter, this isn’t a gag manga. Like any humorous series, the jokes are hit-or-miss. I didn’t like the anteater jokes, but fans are likely to chuckle at Konoka’s stalker or Chachamaru’s attempts to be more human. A lot of the humor relies on puns with characters’ reactions making up most of the remaining comedy. There are a few shout-outs to the main series, and even one to Negima!? series. (I’m guessing anteater is supposed to be the new chupacabra.) I found these references funnier than Asuna being depressed over her masterpiece.

As one would expect, certain characters are given much more prominence than others. Asuna, Konoka, Nodoka, and Evangeline are among the most featured, and Asuna functions as the main character. Negi is pretty unimportant. He basically hangs out off-screen, appearing only to deliver a pep talk or be punched due to a misunderstanding or Asuna’s tsundere fits. While all 31 girls make a visual appearance, don’t expect everyone (or every clique) to get a chapter dedicated to them, but they do act similarly to their Negima! selves.

The art is basically a shoujo version of Negima! with less sparkles. All the girls have big eyes. The SD/chibi characters are weird, with their sprites looking like ghosts or globs. Some of the girls are harder to tell apart. Chisame, for instance, when doing a pratfall, looks like Setsuna in a scene. Panels are busy in order to maximize the story per chapter, but the backgrounds are minimal. Yui doesn’t use a wide range of screentone colors or inking. It’s like the characters’ haircolor is either white or the same grey as their uniforms. However, overall the art quality is actually quite good for a professional debut.

Translation:

Honorifics are used. This volume was handled by the same translators as the later Negima! volumes and who are also working on UQ Holder!, which is currently running. This means the adaptation is consistent with the source material. But as Negiho is primarily a comedy, there are a lot of puns. Most of them are given a rough English equivalent, and translation notes are provided at the end explaining the original joke. Several of the wordplay instances will be familiar to readers of Negima!, and veteran manga readers will likely have seen many of the other puns in other series. But it’s always nice when translator(s) go the extra mile and include detailed notes for newer readers or as a refresher. Unfortunately, are several editing mistakes. For instance, in one case, the last “o” in a name is missing, and someone forgot to erase the Japanese text in another dialogue bubble.

Final Comments:

A humorous, quick read if you borrow it from a friend or a library. Otherwise, fans can safely skip this spin-off.

This is Yui’s first collected volume. Akamatsu, of course, created Negima! and its sequel UQ Holder! along with A.I. Love You and Love Hina. He also created (but did not do the manga for) Mao-chan. All these series are or were available in English.

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