Negima!? – 24
OP: 「1000%SPARKING!」 by 佐藤利奈, 沢城みゆき, 斎藤千和 (Satou Rina, Sawashiro Miyuki, Saitou Chiwa)
The OP changed again, this time focusing on Negi, Nekane, and Anya.
When Negi wakes up from being dragged somewhere by the darkness, he finds himself surrounded by his students in a world of stacked desks. Soon after, he comes face to face with a dark monster and flings some desks at it with his magic before fleeing with everyone else. Back in the other world, Takamichi is explaining to the girls that the Star Crystal created this magical world, but when he tries to look for Negi using his magic, the trees around them starts reacting. Takamichi and Nekane are forced to put up and maintain a barrier to protect everyone, meaning that the only other magic user left who can look for Negi is Eva. Although Eva refuses to do it at first, she reconsiders when Asuna threatens her with a harisen. Eva’s magic produces an image of Negi running away with everyone in the class, except the girls know that the girls that Negi is currently with are fake. Inside that world, Negi and the girls have reached a dead end where the stack of desks drop off to a black void. Even though Negi can’t hear them, Takamichi and Nekane yell for him not to go down into the netherworld – the black hole of the magic world. Fortunately, Negi figures out that the students he is with are fake and blasts them with his magic after they all merge into the creeping darkness.
Negi then finds himself back at the magic academy, and Anya appears behind him. Even though Negi is sure that she’s an illusion, Anya insists that she’s real and reminds Negi of his past. Since Negi demands that she return the real Anya, she transports him to a space with a room-sized orrery as a centerpiece. Anya shows him how she had taken the Star Crystal by her own will because of how she resented Negi being blessed with friends and companions. She then attacks him with magic, but even as he lies on the ground, Negi still wants the real Anya returned. Faced with another attacked by this Anya, Negi’s staff starts glowing and all the girls get transported through their pactio cards to him. The cards protect him with a shield and then help him with the spell that destroys the orrery. The fake Anya formed by the darkness disappears, and Negi sees that the real Anya had been held inside the orrery the entire time. He tries to save her as everything crumbles around them, but she starts getting pulled into the black hole below them. Unable to stay afloat in the air, Negi also gets pulled down with her by the Star Crystal’s magic. Blaming herself for everything, Anya tries to get Negi to let go of her and save himself, but he refuses.
It is during this desperate situation that Takamichi and Nekane notice something penetrating its way into the magical world, which Shichimi and Motsu identify as their master. That person is Nagi Springfield, and he saves his son and Anya from the Star Crystal. By the time Negi opens his eyes again, he and everyone else have been returned to the real world, and the Star Crystal has been sealed up. Negi is able to hug Anya in relief, and everyone enjoys the sunrise as if they had just been through a dream.
I was at least a little surprised to see the world from the opening sequence make an appearance in this episode, but it does give a feeling that (finally) everything ties together. Nagi coming to save Negi was also unexpected, though I wouldn’t call it that surprising since there were only a handful of people who could have come from the real world to save him, and his father was the best candidate. In any case, getting to see Nagi was exciting and I wish he could have stuck around a little longer, if for no other reason than to see him interact with Eva.
Overall, it was clear that this episode is where all the animation money went, cause it looked tons better than last week. But now that Negi and company returned to the real world and the Star Crystal storyline has more or less been resolved, I’m not sure what the final two episodes will cover. I’m certainly hoping that this series ends on a high note…