Mahou Sensei Negima – Chapter 341
Konoka and Setsuna have a complex relationship.
I doubt Ken Akamatsu will ever say more than that.
I mentioned in my last rant how shonen tend to use more adult themes unrealistically, but the one thing I forgot about was sexuality. I’m sure we all know enough about homosexuality in anime/manga that I don’t have to break out the Nanoha/Fate pics…or the Negi/Fate pics. I’m really not all that surprised that their relationship isn’t more out in the open, since shonen manga have a hard time displaying romantic content, straight or otherwise. Compare Chachamaru’s fantasy from a few chapters ago to Setsuna’s here and you’ll realize the implications aren’t that different. See, the way I view the scenes with Konoka and Setsuna is that they’re supposed to be scene as a romantic couple, but they can’t explicitly say it.
As much as a lot of us hate to admit it, most people are still squeamish around same-sex relationships. It doesn’t seem to be the sex part, since that’s what most people (and a lot of yaoi and yuri manga) equate the relationships to. It’s the idea of two people of the same gender in a perfectly healthy relationship that throws many people for a loop, since emotional connections are harder to visualize. Maybe it’s the writer who has trouble writing that kind of romance (this is Ken Akamatsu we’re talking about), or maybe they have to hide behind subtext because the editors won’t let them go any further. It’s sort of an odd thought that two women holding hands could be seen as too much, but the above scene can get in with no problem, except that does seem to be how a lot of people think.
Regrettably, I don’t have much experience as far as yuri manga goes (like with gaming manga, it’s something I intend to fix), but the fact that there are different terms for “explicit gay romance” and “non-explicit gay romance” shows that they’re more progressive than some people might think. Of course I looked up the few yuri series I know of, and most of them seem to be under the seinen or josei categories, so there’s still a taboo around showing this stuff to a younger age group. In fact, the only shonen I could find with yuri involved was Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl, which is about a boy who gets changed into a woman, so you can still argue that it isn’t completely out in the open.
I really think Negima is trying to tell us that Konoka and Setsuna’s story is intended to be romantic in nature, even if it can’t show it. It may never be fully resolved, but again, this is Negima we’re talking about. Personally, I thought their relationship has been handled well, especially in this chapter, where Setsuna started questioning her own future and place in life compared to Konoka, which is a lot more depth than she’d get if Akamatsu didn’t care about their subplot. I’m sure their story is going to have a good ending, even if I’ve resigned myself to knowing that they won’t be having another pactio in the near future.