Ross founded the UK Anime Network waaay back in 1995 and works in and around the anime world in his spare time.
Author/Artist Ken Akamatsu
I have to admit that I was never a huge Love Hina fan, so when Negima landed, similar as it is in look and tone, I wasn't hugely excited.
Negiis a magician, who must complete a teaching assignment to fully qualify as a great magician. A tough assignment for a 10 year old boy, especially as he's teaching at an all-girls school, and has landed the job of teaching the most under-achieving class on campus. Add to that he has a class full of girls of different ages (some are kept down for being thick as two short planks) and we have something that, on the surface at least, is scarily similar to Love Hina.
Once the story gets into gear, the series comes into its own. The magical element certainly spices things up on the action front, and Negi's age means that the girls are constantly teasing him with their somewhat nubile young bodies, so if a touch of light fan-service is your thing, form an orderly line.
On the subject of Negi's class, all the girls have their own quirks, most notably Asuna Kagurazaka, who learns Negi's secret early on and has something of a temper. Whilst many of the girls seem to have romantic entanglements with Negi during these 3 volumes, Asuna is the most likely to end up with him.
It helps that Ken Akamatsuis such an accomplished artist. His lines are always bold and clear and he's not afraid to use screentone, leaving you with a very lush and polished look to the book. His skills at layout are also quite exceptional, with each page looking dynamic and exciting.
The series never takes itself at all seriously, and the humour is genuinely funny. Negi himself isn't the total loser Love Hina's Keitaro was, and that makes him a more likeable character - he may be out of his depth, but he has guts, and that really lifts these volumes in my eyes.
I'd recommend Negima wholeheartedly. It's fun, well put together and has a cast of likeable characters, and I have no doubts that this will top even Love Hina in the popularity stakes. Keep an eye out for the inevitable anime!
Lovely artwork, genuine comedy and great pacing keeps Negima at the top of the pile.