Canned Dogs recently posted an article about Akamatsu commenting on the recent increase of popularity of the Negima manga, which he says;
Akamatsu’s opinion is that the current direction of the manga is good as the battles have been pretty compact and it’s good to have an increase in readership even if just for a short period of time.
However he feels that it’ll be safe to return the manga to normal again, as the popularity would probably not drop sharply after having become so popular now. As an analogy he says it’s like how he doesn’t want to rapidly do shoryukens, he wants to use some hadoukens to zone too.
And I would like to respond with; “Thank the heavens!”.
Seriously I was waiting for that. If you asked me about my opinion of Negima nowadays, I would say that the Rakan battle is definitely a filler arc. Why so? Because they were concentrating on the fight itself solely. Most people have seemed to forget that there is a pressing story going on involving the fate of Magic World and the seething rivalry between Ala Alba and Fate Averruncus.
In fact, it’s been a long time since there was any real development about that end, ever since the Rakan arc started circa chapter 238 or so. It’s now Chapter 248 which means it’s been 3 months (including Akamatsu’s infamous 1 week breaks every 4 chapters) since the main story ‘stopped’.
It’s an unbearably long time, especially for me who has been reading Negima ever since it’s debut back in 2003. One of the strengths of the Negima manga has been the fact that Akamatsu never neglects the main story even during filler chapters or fights and we’ve all seen that skill over the past 6 years of the manga. In fact, this is probably the first time that Akamatsu has ‘ignored’ the main story for so long and I was beginning to worry about him losing his touch finally.
Now don’t get me wrong, I do love the fights in Negima, and honestly speaking, they are one of the best parts of the manga. In fact, Rakan’s fight is one of the most impressive fights of the series so far.
But every time there is a fight in Negima, it’s not just about the battles and techniques, in the background there is a valid context for the fight to go on and the fights never fully focused on just the fighting. For example the school festival tournament was all about stopping Chao’s plan and we all had that in mind as Negi progressed through the tournament.
Rakan’s fight though, was more about for the sake of fighting than anything about the ongoing story, and while that made for a nice break, it’s been taking a bit long for my liking and having the main story paused for that long is not really a good thing in my books. It will be hard to get back on track with the story after this long and I guess a reread of the older chapters seems in order. Also I am starting to miss seeing the girls, except for Ako, whom surprisingly hijacked quite a bit of the current arc.
The battle with Rakan has definitely taken too long a time and taken up too much attention and I’m glad that Akamatsu himself has expressed intent to return the manga back to normal after this. The core of Negima isn’t just about the fights, there’s also an overarching, engrossing story to tell as well. I just hope that this aspect of the manga will not be forgotten, in light of the new ‘fanbase’ that Negima as gotten.