5 Point Discussions – UQ Holder! Episode 1: “Beauty And The Boy”

by Sage Ashford

UQ Holder

Hi all. It’s the beginning of October, which marks the start of the Fall Season of television. But its not just America with a host of new shows to watch, Japan has a ton of stuff too! The air waves are slowly filling up with a host of new anime, but fear not!  Comicon.com and 5 Point Discussions is here to guide you towards some of the more fun series!

First off, we’re starting up with UQ Holder! Just a bit of background: Dubbed “UQ Holder!: Mahou Sensei Negima 2” in Japan, the series is a direct sequel to Ken Akamatsu (Love Hina)’s popular Negima series. Negima’s claim to fame largely comes from starting out as a slice of life series that transformed into a hardcore battle shonen series. Having a rough cliffhanger due to some creator’s rights issues, UQ Holder is Akamatsu’s way of making things up to the fans the haphazard ending they got with the original Negima series. (Plus the original Negima manga got an awful anime adaptation.) As always, if you enjoyed this please share it on Facebook and Twitter, and if you’d like to contact me about this, feel free to hit me up @SageShinigami on Twitter.

1. As I mentioned in the intro, this series is a direct sequel to Mahou Sensei Negima, which is why it has such an awkward opening that literally introduces half the cast of the Negima manga before moving on to the characters it’ll actually focus on for most of the series. That’s going to continue to be awkward, so from time to time I’ll devote a bit of space to explaining the little background things you need to know.

The original Negima series was about a young boy named Negi Springfield, a ten year old kid who “mastered” the use of magic and was given his final assignment: becoming a junior high teacher at an all-girls high school. As the story goes, Akamatsu’s editors didn’t really want him working on a shonen series when he was known for slice-of-life/harem series, so he started this series out with a set-up that seemed as if it leaned towards what he was famous for…only to gradually work his way up to doing more hardcore action. The end result is actually pretty cool: a shonen series where most of the supporting cast is women kicking ninety kinds of butt. UQ Holder directly ties into all that, but unless they decide to screw the adaptation, it’ll be a long while before we really get into those characters and how they affect this story.

2. Still, the intro becomes important after you meet one of the main characters of THIS series: Evangeline A.K. McDowell. Known here as Yukihime, Evangeline was transformed into a vampire centuries before the series starts while she was a young girl, which itself starts decades from the present day, where Negima takes place. She plays a major role in the original Negima, growing from an isolated woman trapped on a high school campus to becoming one of Negi’s biggest allies.

But even though she becomes friends with the rest of the class, most of them were still human…and they had a limit to how long they were going to live. So eventually, after finally opening up her heart to friends, she had to watch them die one by one. The manga has a pretty heartbreaking summary: “When you’re living a long life, before you know it…you’ll be on your own at the end. No, even before that you’ll grow tired of the things you loved. Devotion and attachment become impossible. You’ll rapidly forget just about everything.” A lot of this series has to do with the challenges of being an immortal in a world of mortals, so it’s good they humanized the characters from the original series for those who haven’t seen or read it before.

3. The series introduces magic fairly quickly, as the main character Touta and his school friends attempt to attack Yukihime, only to be quickly rebuffed by a barrier she raises to stop them. In Negima, magic was supposed to be kept as this major secret that everyone tried their best to keep hidden, but somewhere in the eighty years between that series and UQ Holder, the secret gets out. Magic is not only accepted, but common–it’s even so widespread that people completely incapable of using magic can still enjoy it through downloadable phone apps. This is one of the most clever things a writer has ever done, allowing something that’s usually very rooted in fantasy nonsense to evolve and find a way to fit in in the modern era. Depending on how far the series goes, we should get to see this in much more detail later on.

4. The side effect of the main characters in this series all being immortal is that the battles can get quite brutal. The teacher that helps the boys learn magic in an attempt to even the playing field between them and Yukihime winds up being a jerky bounty hunter who wants Yukihime’s head. She’s worth millions, which makes sense given she’s been around for hundreds of years. Touta tries to save her, but he immediately cuts the teen’s arm off, then actually dices Yukihime into pieces. By drinking Yukihime’s blood, Touta transforms into a Full Immortal and regenerates his arm to save his friends before their awful teacher can kill them. There’s no confirmed episode count for this series just yet, but if we get far enough eventually we’ll get around to showing just how far Akamatsu is willing to go with characters who can regenerate from any injury. (It’s not quite horror film bad, but if you’re squeamish it doesn’t get any better from here.)

5. Next Episode: This first episode only covered the first chapter of the manga, but it was around eighty pages long, so that’s actually making good time. The bigger problem is, judging by the name of the second episode (“You Can’t Hate Someone You Meet Naked”), there’s a good chance they’re going to skip chapter 2 to adapt chapter 3 and 4 instead since they contain one of the major characters of the series. That’s kind of a bummer, since there’s way too much plot left to start skipping chapters, but no adaptation is perfect, right? See you in seven.

UQ Holder! is available for streaming on Amazon’s Anime Strike service.