December 1, 1988 (cover story)
Cookery Research Club, Martial Arts Research Club, Robot Engineering Research Club, Eastern Medical Science Research Club, Biological Engineering Club, Quantum Mechanics Research Club
Wars, Chain of hatred, Dictatorship under one big country
Negi Springfield (Great Grandfather)
Chiaki Osawa (Negima!)
Chao Lingshen (超 鈴音 (チャオ リンシェン), Chao Rinshen), is a fictional character from the manga series Negima!: Magister Negi Magi, created by Ken Akamatsu. The 19th student in Japanese alphabetical order of class 2/3-A, she initially appears as merely the genius of Mahora Academy, known for her brains, her athletic skills and the boss of a food stand specializing in Chinese delicacies. Later in the series, it is revealed that in actuality, Lingshen is a time traveler, arriving from the future and attempting to use her genius to change history by using the power of the World Tree during the Mahora Festival to reveal the existence of magic to the world, where she clashed with her (claimed) ancestor Negi Springfield during the Mahora Festival Arc. (Please be note that in terms of Mandarin Chinese, surname is pronounced first, and then follow by the First name.)
Background & Personality
Chao, at first glance, appears to be a slightly daffy, food-obsessed Chinese girl in the class, which is not at all representative of the power and prestige that she actually holds to the campus. Chao is known as the smartest girl of all the students in Negi Springfield's 2-A class at the moment of his arrival, as well as the smartest within the entire grade and possibly one of the smartest people in the entire Mahora Campus. As a genius, she chooses to spend her time within several different Mahora clubs, participating actively in the robotics research, Chinese medicine, life sciences and atomic research, all in the name of helping and improving. Her knowledge and abilities in robotics have allowed Chao to advance technology alongside her cohort, fellow genius and #2 in her class and grade Satomi Hakase, towards the invention of an army of machines and weaponry as well as the invention of fellow Mahora student and robot Chachamaru Karakuri (invented as a partner which required less magical energy to power for Evangeline due to the curse that keeps her within the campus with diminished powers). Chao is also a master of various Chinese martial arts, alongside Ku Fei, and displays a sufficient knowledge of her own abilities.
However, Chao's greatest and most notable work to the campus of Mahora is the opening and maintenance of the food stand known as Chao Bao Zi (超包子). Based out of a small cart that travels throughout campus, Chao Bao Zi is one of the most popular and notable food kiosks at Mahora, particularly known for the nikuman dumplings created by Chao as well as chef Satsuki Yotsuba. Besides the two of them, Satomi, Chachamaru and Ku Fei all work at the stand and make sure to help each other out appropriately. Chao's love of food does seem to get carried away with her happy-go-lucky personality, as she goes around selling nikuman even outside the confines of the stand and consistently works with Satomi to create new technology to distribute it around to those who want it (while using Ku Fei as their unfortunate test subject). And it is through the stand that Chao has been able to make a massive fortune, making her not only smart and well skilled but rich in the process.
Yet even with her happy, slightly oblivious personality, Chao possesses a darker, more determined side hidden by her light exterior. While she appears to be a normal, genius-level intellect Chinese girl, she is in actuality a time traveler from the future, who came to change history. Claiming to be born and raised on a colonized Mars (of which she occasionally jokes in modern time with pictures or symbolisms of weird tentacled "Martian creatures"), she had likely experienced a life of turmoil and pain because of her connections with magic and being related to mages, and in fact, claims to be related to Negi Springfield. (It was likely that many future global entities misinterperated magical user's as a hostile or malevolent force.) Chao says that the reason behind this is because of the unknown factor of magic within humans. Therefore, in order to change the situation in her time, she decided to go back to the past and change history, even if it means exposing magic to humanity and ruining the name of her ancestor Negi. As a plotmaster, Chao shows a devious, colder, and darker side of her: she spends her time and effort, and makes all the necessary sacrifices needed to go about making sure her plan to reveal magic to the world goes smoothly (she admitted to Takamichi that she was even willing to wage military offensives against national and supranational entities if the world revolted against or was hostile at magical users in the aftermath if her plan succeeded) and Chao is not afraid to make alliances, sacrifices or battle against her friends and classmates all for the sake of changing her past to change her present, even to the point of using a self-torturing magic pattern to increase her magical power. However, Chao does show great respect to Negi and the rest of the students/mages that are opposing her plan, even as she is forced to fight against them for her plans to be complete.
Part in the Story
At the start of the series, Chao stays on the sidelines as Negi goes about his adventures and his relationships with other students in the class. While she does show some slight interest in him, it is more so as a spectator or her status as the owner of the Chao Bao Zi store, at one point wondering about whether "English boys like nikuman". However, with the impending arrival of the Mahora Festival on campus, she begins to make her move. After Negi saves her from a group of mages going after her for spying on the preparation meeting for the guardians of the school (primarily against Takane & Mei), she gives Negi a mysterious pocket watch to help him during the festival. The watch, in actuality a Casseopeia time machine powered by the magic of the World Tree during the Mahora Festival, allowed Negi (and anyone around him) to travel back to any time earlier within a day in order to partake in other events in and around campus, thus allowing him to relive the same day several times. When her intentions are questioned, particularly by Setsuna Sakurazaki, Chao fakes her reasonings and just tries to say its merely for fun.
Within the Mahora Festival itself, Chao and her restaurant was the primary sponsor of the Mahora Fighting Tournament and offered a cash prize of ¥10,000,000 to the winner. She had come into conflict with the school administration for spying and trying to reveal the existence of magic to the world at large, and even went as far as imprisoning Takahata and "Mini" Setsuna when they started to investigate the truth of the tournament. She also leaked details of Negi's search for his father, which, combined with his performance in the festival tournament, turned him into an instant celebrity. Her intentions are mostly kept secret until she carried out her plan (although world domination is listed as her primary interest, she 'dislikes' war, hatred, and the unilateral control of major powers (i.e. NATO or the United Nations.), but even Evangeline warns Asuna that Chao's kind of evil is far worse than her own. Chao later reveals her intention to quit school and return home on the last day of the Festival, and says that if she missed that chance, she would not be able to return home for another 22 years. Chao has often claimed that she is a Martian to those who have asked, more specifically that she is from a Martian colony a hundred years in the future, and that she is a descendant of Negi. Hints given in her own words to her friends, plus the spell pattern on her body, imply that the future she comes from may not be a happy one.Chao sets a trap for Negi during the festival, confining him and his partners inside of Evangeline's resort for a whole week. This gave her the opportunity to deploy a massive army of robots and capture several key points on the Mahora campus, and using 11 other 'holy' locations around the world, activated a powerful spell to cause people to freely recognize the existence of magic, bypassing the usual skepticism most people would have. However, Negi was able to use the remnants of the World Tree's fading power to travel one week back in time to the final day of the festival to try again to stop her. The final day of the school festival became a battle as a large portion of the festival's attendees, tricked into believing it was the finale event of the festival, were used to raise an army to fight Chao's robot forces, armed with specialized mage weapons designed to bring down Chao's robot army. Chao then makes her appearance before Asuna and Setsuna, equipped with what appears to be a futuristic battlesuit and promptly defeats them. Negi battled Chao on an airship high over the war game, where she revealed her claimed connection to both her teacher and the Thousand Master. When her Battlesuit Cassiopeia was destroyed by Negi, she revealed that, on top of a very high proficiency in Chinese martial arts, she is also a mage, and her elemental affinity is fire. However, unlike Negi, her magic is derived from a magical pattern which was inscribed on her entire body which allows her to use powerful magic at the cost of a huge strain on her body, possibly even to the point of her body breaking down (similar to Magia Erebea). During the battle, Negi warns her not to use such power as it may endanger her life, but Chao ignores the advice, stating that this was for all or nothing, that she had worked hard for over two years staking everything on her plan, and everything else didn't matter. When Negi asked Chao if the two years she had spent with her classmates were irrelevant, Chao had paused momentarily and admitted that it was the one factor she had not counted on. At the climax of the battle, the spell pattern apparently exploded or failed, causing her to be engulfed in Negi's final attack. Chao was defeated, but the battle left them both exhausted and out of power, both magical and mechanical. Just as they were plummeting to their death, Chao embraced Negi in a rare gesture of selflessness, intending to use her body to shield Negi from the fatal impact of the fall. Fortunately, they were saved by their classmates in her specially altered Chao Bao Zi stand, which could fly. But the fight also gave Satomi enough time to complete their spell, just as Chisame managed to break through Chachamaru's attack in cyberspace to restore the school's barrier. However, as per Chao's orders in the event of her defeat, Satomi did not cast the Forced Recognition Magic spell, but instead a spell to remove hatred and sadness from the world for one day. After the end of the plot, she prepared to head back to the future, keeping her word for losing and to protect the past from knowing of the future. However, Negi attempted to stop her, both in defense of the people who want her to stay and to offer her to become a Magister Magi like himself, hoping the two of them will fight in the past to change her future. However, seeing that she did lose and that she must keep her part of her promise, Chao chooses to return to the future. After distracting most of the class with a book revealing her own family tree, which would supposedly also include who Negi eventually marries, she says goodbye to her closest classmates (Satsuki, Satomi, Chachamaru and Ku Fei), as well as a goodbye to her ancestor Negi, promising to meet again, although how she intends to do so remains to be seen. The family tree booklet was eventually burned by Asuna, although Chao did not seem bothered by it, instead laughing happily at the way Negi's "party" was fighting for it. It's unknown if the book was real or not.
Naturally, with the smartest student in Mahora now gone, Class 3-A's test average took a nosedive during the mid-semester exam before the summer break. But they did manage to take second place.
A while after the great adventure in the Magical World, during the next Mahora Festival, some of Class 3-A tried to hunt Negi down so they could find out who his "favorite" was. But Satomi and Asuna managed to intervene when Negi was trapped with Akira and reveal something: a saved copy of Chao's family history (thought to have been burned). She opened the book and showed them the page with Negi's name, seeing it to be the only thing on the entire page, meaning the future was changed due to their adventure and that everyone has a chance for Negi's heart. While this should mean that Lingshen's existence is in question, it is revealed in the next chapter that Satomi's copy was a fake.
When Asuna wakes up in 2135 after being sealed away by Negi in a hundred-year sleep (and over-slept by 31 years), Chao and Evangeline, being the last surviving members of Negi's class, were the ones to greet her. True to her promise, Chao returned to visit the rest of the class via a Dimensional Hopper, which allows her to traverse between different timelines, with Asuna in tow. This time, however, she appears to be more open with her fondness for her fellow classmates, even allowing herself to stay in the main timeline long enough to attend the class's graduation and subsequent celebratory outing before finally departing for her own dimension.
Chao has fully come to terms with her fondness for all of Class 3-A, and often makes it a point to stop by the series' main timeline to visit Maroha Academy. With the technology of "Time Manipulation" and "Magical Transversal Between Parallel Worlds" within her grasp, none could stand before her. Chao also has not given up on the fight to bring peace to her troubled timeline, in which she is hailed as she became "The Last Boss of Justice".
- Expert Hand-to-Hand Combatant: As a member of the "Chinese Martial Arts" club and a sparring partner with fellow classmate Kū Fei, Chao has demonstrated a high amount of skill in martial arts ability and skill. Although initially noted with her stance during the dodgeball game against the Black Lilies, Chao does not particularly use these skills until her two battles against Negi, both at the end of the second day of the Festival and during the final battle at the climax of the "Mahora Vs. Mars" competition. However, it is not shown whether her martial arts skills are below, on a par or surpasses Ku Fei, since she was never included in the class' 'Fighting Group', although it is suggested that her skills are slightly lower than Ku Fei, since she lost to Negi, who in turn, has yet to attain the full experience and understanding of the moves taught by Ku Fei. Furthermore, Ku Fei has stated that, even though she spars with Chao frequently, she never had a 'serious fight' prior to her match against Mana, further hinting that Chao's martial arts skill and proficiency are lower than her.
- Machine Kenpo: She combines Chinese Kenpo with her mechanical inventions to increase her fighting abilities.
- Expert Magic Spell User: During the final day of the Festival, Chao reveals her own knowledge and abilities in magic, particularly with her final battle with Negi and her spell (assisted by Satomi) to remove typical doubts about magic from everyone in the world. Using special spell patterns tattooed on her body, Chao is able to cast various spells of the fire element, presumed either due to her own preference or because of her Martian heritage. However, it is soon discovered by Negi that forcefully channeling magic through the magic pattern causes her pain, especially while chanting spells. Oddly enough, her activating incantation chant is remarkably similar to Negi's, which lends more credibility to her claims as his descendant. Negi's activation incantation is Ras Tel Mas Scir Magister, while Chao's incantation is Rast Teil My Magic Scir Magister. The glyphs tattooed onto her body only make themselves visible when she "unlocks" them and they rather notably resemble the marks that appear on Negi's body when he uses the newly learned dark art "Magia Erebea". It is speculated that Chao also learn Magia Erebea in future but fail and have to seal her own magic by the glyphs.
- High-Level Intellect: As a matter of fact, Chao is the only genius girl among the other students. She uses her genius for both Academic and Technological feats. This could also add credibility to the descendant claim, as Negi himself 10 years old, (17 at the end of Chapter 355) a professor teaching students and a gifted genius in his fields of expertise. She is only smarter than him because of coming from the future, which is obviously going to be more advanced than the present.
Chao in other Media
Mahō Sensei Negima! (1st Series)
Towards the end of the series, Chao gives Negi a Casseopeia watch (similar to the one used in the manga) to change Asuna's history for the better. Chao's Pactio is a fan-wielding warrior, but her power is not shown.
Although Chao's personality is closer to how she was prior to the Festival arc in the manga, she does gain some more notice in this series than in the first anime. Chao's usage is typically seen either by the means of her genius (working with partner Satomi on various machines and devices) or in her obsession with cooking and, particularly, nikuman.
Surprisingly, Chao is one of the few girls from the Mass Pactio in this series to activate all three Neo-Pactio forms through the series. Her Armor form transforms her into a martial arts warrior with a metal tessen, used by her to fight against a possessed mechanical chupacabra invented by her and Satomi previously in the "other world Mahora". During the "Suka incident", Chao turns into a small "giant panda" that builds the "Chao Castle." And during the final Pactio invocation, she transforms into a waitress who has many different flavors of nikuman, of which she makes Takahata-sensei try several. Because manga events have prevented Chao from ever Pactio with Negi, this may be one of the only times she could demonstrate power as such.
Chao also has several special jokes and omake as seen through the series. In one episode ending series, she and Satomi create two "Super Power Hand" devices (one per short) that appears to help in martial arts, but actually assists in the distribution of nikuman (which helps her defeat her hungry opponent Ku Fei). In the final episode, the data screen reveals that, like in the manga, she is a Martian (which, to a casual viewer, may be just for laughs since she has shown no hints of her being from the future, let alone being from Mars).
- Listed birthday: December 1, 1988 (this was made up or at least, just the year considering that she came from the future)
- Popularity: 20th >> 26th >> 21st >> 15th >> 29th >> 20th >> 25th >> 20th
- In chapter 158, the bar code Chao uses to activate her Magic is "9784063637328 1929979004002". This is the same barcode that was on the original volume one copy of the Negima! manga.
- She is the main antagonist of the Mahora Festival arc
- It should be noted that the character 音 in her name is never pronounced as shen in any Chinese dialect. Since the other two characters in her name seem to be pronounced in Mandarin, her name would have been correctly rendered as Chāo Líng-Yīn (Pinyin spelling with diatrics), as spoken in Mandarin. But the name "Lingshen" stuck and was never corrected. Her name literally means "Bell sound" in Mandarin. The pronunciation is probably mistaken for 聲, which is pronounced as Shēng. Both 音 and 聲 can mean "sound".
- In some official material, her name is equally romanized as Chao Rinshen, sometimes due to the discrepancies in pronouncing Chinese names in the Japanese language.
- It is also noted that she is the only student voiced by two voice actresses as Megumi Takamoto took over the role from Chiaki Osawa. The reason Osawa did not reprise the role in the Spring and Summer OVAs and in Negima!? while everybody else did was an indefinite leave from voice acting due to her marriage. (In comparison, Setsuna Sakurazaki has been portrayed by two live-action actresses.)
- ↑ Mahou Sensei Negima! anime, ep. XXVI
- ↑ In the image above, Chao does Chun Li's signature "Hyakuretsu Kyaku" (Lightning Kick) move.
- ↑ Negima!? anime, ep. 22
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Negima!? anime, ep. 21
- ↑ Negima!? anime, ep. 18
- ↑ Negima!? anime, ep. 26
- ↑ Negima!? anime, ep. 8 and 9