For those of you who have no clue who he is, boy, are you missing out. He's the mangaka behind both Love Hina and Mahou Sensei Negima, two of my favorite anime/manga works of all time. Love Hina was one of my earliest exposures to subtitled anime and it hooked me from the beginning. It might have actually been one of my first exposures to anime that didn't involve giant robots, magic swords, or ninja fights to the death. It was the also the first 'harem anime' i had ever run across where the main male protagonist is surrounded by female characters, all of who either like him or want to kick his ass, often at the same time. To this day, Love Hina is hands down the anime I've watched the most often and I was pretty sad when it ended.
After taking a bit of a break, Ken Akamatsu went on to start a new series called Mahou Sensei Negima which was sort of like Love Hina but kicked up to 11. The protagonist is a 10 year old wizard named Negi who is sent from Wales to Japan to become an English teacher for a class of Japanese middle school students as part of his magic school's final exam. Now there's a mouthful. Anyway, this motivational post pretty much sums up the series at first:
It's as if Akamatsu took just about every single type of female Moe trope pasted them on a wall and threw darts at it to determine his characters.
Goth, Loli, Tsundere, Genki, Shy, Afraid of Men, Robot, Snarky, Glasses, Ghost, Twins, Ninja, Sniper, Kuudere, Onee-san, Pettanko, Nurse, Sporty, Big Boobs, Scars, Bookworm, Low Self-esteem, Gymnast, Pig-tails, Ojo-sama, Geek, Lesbian, Nun, Cosplayer, Cheerleaders, Vampire, etc, etc.
If your 'type' or fetish isn't represented somewhere, you must be into something really twisted or unique. And of course almost all of them at least like Negi, with a good half dozen sure they're in love with him and twice that number dancing about the issue. Of course, given the fact that he's 10 he can hardly reciprocate and spends much of the early part of the series pursued and confused. A few have even come up with a 'reverse Genji' plan where they figure they can 'raise' him to be the perfect boyfriend in 5 years or so.
All of this might sound a bit twisted, but what wraps it all together is some absolutely wonderful storytelling. It's not simply some mindless endless episode of 'Three's Company' with teenagers. There's a really amazing backstory and the series slowly morphs from Unwanted Harem into a classic Shounen Action manga. I was reading it off my laptop during my trip to Gencon this past summer and I got so wrapped up in it that I missed _2_ flights in a row out of Chicago. The story was so engrossing it kept sucking me in and I would completely lose track of time.
The worst part of reading Negima is that you eventually catch up and there's nothing left but to wait week after endless week for the new issue to come out and then be fansubbed. At this point I think it might be justified to hop a plane to Japan, kidnap Ken Akamatsu and force him to storyboard the rest of the manga for me. Just like in that one episode of The Simpsons, shoplifting (and kidnapping in this case) is justified because it's their fault for 'making you want it so much'.
I just recently (around a week ago) re-read all of Negima from the beginning, all 270-someodd chapters worth. I'm actually thinking it might be worthwhile to buy the manga volumes in English, which would be an unprecedented step for me. It would also cost a ridiculous amount of money given how many freaking volumes there are. There are times I think it must really be a blessing that I wasn't born Japanese and don't speak/read the language. If I did, I'd be spending hundreds of dollars on Negima claptrap, including all the video games that have come out. So much want. I'd draw the line at figurines though, because I have this theory that once you cross that particular event horizon there's no coming back.
Another spiffy thing about Negima is that there's going to be a full length feature film coming out in a year or two. Waiting for it is absolute suckage but it's great that they're still putting out media for it even if it's slowly. Negima's apparently popular enough they even came out with a live-action series adaptation of it recently. Here's the cast:
Sorta cute and creepy all at the same time, right? I haven't gone so far as to try to watch the live-action, though I hear that they actually got a porn star in the cast. I'm guessing it might be hard to find people able to play incredibly busty 14-year olds.
Anyway, if you haven't seen or read Negima, I recommend it heartily. It's hands down my favorite series right now making entries about it at least somewhat mitigates the sting of endless waiting.