When I first watched this back in April 2012, I was relatively new to watching anime, so I didn't have many standards. I just wanted to watch something where I could kick back and enjoy myself with a decent story, entertaining characters and a bit of humour.
The first time I watched Negima!?, it delivered. Sixteen months later... not so much.
Negima!? essentially starts out exactly the same as the original Mahou Sensei Negima!. Ten-year-old Negi Springfield has just graduated from the Magic Academy in Wales, and receives his task to become a full-out mage: become the teacher of a Japanese all-girl middle school class.
However, he must do everything he can to keep his identity as a mage a secret, else he'll have his magic licence revoked and be turned into an animal. Needless to say, he gets caught out almost immediately.
What's notable about Negima!? is that it actually starts off with the original manga's plot; namely, the Evangeline arc. However, it's made clear that Negima!? is a spin-off from the original as this gets cleared up in the first few episodes and fast-forwards a whole year after the incident.
What makes this show stand apart from its parent show Negima!, besides the extra question mark, is that it focuses more on comedy and action compared to the original's harem antics. However, even the comedy starts to lose its lustre as the show drags on, becoming just the same jokes repeated with some variety thrown in every now and then.
Being done by Studio SHAFT, the animation is one of the saving graces of the anime. Bright colours are often used with odd angles and flashes of title cards featuring the characters, especially in the later stages of the anime, used to show a scene break. The actions were done really well, particularly the battle with Evangeline in the opening episodes.
Not really that much to say about the sound this time around.
The opening song, "Sparking 1000%!", is one of my favourite songs, and would make it onto my top 50 anime openings list if I make one. There were various endings; "Hoshizora Letter" didn't really stick out for me, whereas the regular ending after it, "A-LY-YA!", was a lot more fun to listen to, and fit the light-hearted feel of the anime very well.
The background music was never really particularly memorable, except for one or two tracks used during action scenes, which were also used in the first Mou Hitotsu no Sekai OVA.
The voice actors were much the same as they were in the original Negima! anime. They brought the characters to life much more effectively than the original anime, but that may just be because of the series' more colourful presentation.
As with the original, the characters is where Negima!? truly shines. What with introducing a total of thirty-six characters in the first episodes alone, there are a lot to choose from.
One thing this anime does is stick with one attribute of each character and take it to the extreme; for example, Asuna, who in the original was often tired due to her paper routine and had poor grades as a result, was turned into an outright lazy character whose day started the moment class ended.
One thing I really liked about Negima!? was the fact that it brought several characters who were never really important in the original right into the forefront much earlier, particularly the Narutaki twins and Kaede.
In the end, Negima!? is nothing more than a spin-off of the original work. The only things the two share is the setting and the characters. It's better not to think too much when watching this anime, so just sit back, relax, with a nice cup of tea and watch the characters go through their various advantures.
Story - 4.1
Animation - 8.7
Sound - 7.8
Characters - 8.1
Enjoyment - 9.0
FINAL SCORE - 7.54/10