Well while I've heard bits about the dub from trailers and heard accounts of it from others I've got my hands on the actual product for the frst time today. Let me say straight away that, whatever people think of the actual product, the packaging is exceptional. The box is simply the best I've ever seen, the stickers are cute and the chibi figurine was a great bonus. For the content, you'll have to bear with me as I'm always much better at spotting flaws than being able to articulate how good everything else is.
Unusually for a FUNimation DVD there is only one subtitle track (two including the signs and songs track) so no dubtitles, and both audio tracks are stereo, but usual for FUNimation DVDs the original OP is available as a seperate angle. Also unusual is that the Japanese names on the opening credits are written in the original order, given name last, and names are romanized fully, e.g. "Ookouchi". During the kiss section the character names are displayed (on the Japanses version the seiyuu are also given), but long vowels are not indicated here, e.g. "Okochi". There are also errors, e.g. Hakase is written "Nakase" and name order is random, some are Japanese-style and some are western style as if the title creator was just guessing which way around they go. In the subs it seems that, as well as keeping honourifics, they have left the names in Japanese order which makes sense when you're listing to them in Japanese order anyway so more companies should do this.
As far as the dub goes.. for the primary character Lucy is well cast as Asuna, but Negi just doesn't sound right. I'm not sure if it is just the English accent Greg is trying to pull or that he's trying to pull an English accent while also trying to sound half his age but it just doesn't work for me. The script is also heavily rewritten, although that seems to be quite common for FUNimation titles. This is not necessarily a bad thing if the localisation is done well, but a few things really stood out in the first ep (along with some odd slang):
Near the beginning the subs say that it is gone 8:30 but according to the dub they have to be in school by 8:30 so it's more like 8:15.
What the heck is GPA?
What's with the whole fertilizer thing? How random is that?
In the dub, why does Nodoka say she is returning the books she is picking up?
After reading out Nodoka's roster entry Negi says "here she comes now I think" - err... the whole reason he was reading it out was that he'd noticed her approaching.
The spell is completely different in the dub and the sub.
Now to the end credits: for the dub credits the character names are all in western order and lacking long vowels, and Yostuba is misspelt as "Yotshuba". In the Japanese credits, cast crew and characters are all in Japanese order and have long vowels intact (e.g. Shiina, Fuuka, Ookouchi). Chao's name is written "Xiao Lingshen". The ending song is performed by the "Kanakana" group (Asuna, Konoka, Nodoka and Setsuna), whatever that means.
And leaving one of my pet annoyances till last: name pronounciations. In the first ep about the only names that weren't completely wrong were Negi and Takahata, the rest came out something like this (approximating back into romaji for convenience):
I suppose I should just count myself lucky that this series doesn't feature a character named "dicegay", although I did wonder for a second who Satsuma was...