5 Point Discussions – UQ Holder Episode 5: “Magia Erebea”

by Sage Ashford

UQ Holder

UQ Holder’s battle with the Immortal Hunters comes to an end in one pulse-pounding, action- packed episode!  But what mysterious character is watching our heroes from afar?  Remember, if you like this article and 5 Point Discussions please share it on Facebook and Twitter, and if you have any comments or questions hit me up @SageShinigami.

1. After a tense battle, Karin finds herself captured by one of the Immortal Hunters, who has deducted who she is. In the late 1400s, a small town believed one of their inhabitants was a witch, so they attempted to torture her to death. They tried everything, up to and including burning her alive, but all of it failed. Though she felt the pain, the damage itself was completely erased and her body was never affected. Eventually, a young child that looks suspiciously like Evangeline found her and led her away from the village. Viewing the power as a curse, Chao offers to help save her from this life of hypocrisy, where she saves lives in a world where any god that exists has obviously turned on her.

Like I said before, one of the biggest selling points of UQ Holder, in my eyes, is its willingness to pull from vast sources to give its world a sense of variety and diversity. Everyone’s not immortal because they’re a vampire, and not all forms of immortality are equivalent. Despite being UQ Holder No. 4, Karin has one of the highest classes of immortality possible, which is why Yukihime mentioned in the third episode that it’s quite possible that at the end of time, the last two beings left would likely be her and Touta.

After being trapped just long enough for us to learn her backstory, Karin is easily able to dispatch with Chao when she frees herself. She reveals that the power doesn’t come from being cursed, but out of God’s love for her, and that’s why she’s so reluctant to use it. After that, she hands out a pretty horrific looking kick-based beatdown that would make Chun Li proud, before heading off to help Touta and Kuromaru:

2. So, after an episode of this, you might have been wondering why a group of Immortal Hunters would deign to bother with a task that has absolutely NOTHING to do with hunting immortals at all. And it’s a good question, specifically asked by the child Kuromaru and Touta try to help escape from the Hunter, Ruki. And the answer actually fills us in some on what the world of UQ Holder looks like politically.

In the 60 years between our time and UQ Holder, after Earth discovered the existence of magic, they traveled to Mars (where a lot of the more magic-based creatures live), and colonized a part of it themselves. Since just traveling up the orbital elevator alone costs millions, obviously Mars is largely a place where only the rich live. Still, Earth’s population has experienced a massive drop between food shortages and the effects of global warming, causing many areas to suffer mass centralization, creating city slums like the one UQ Holder has been assigned to protect.

But all of those people living in the slums are essentially not paying rent, and since rich people in this world are horrible people, they’ve decided they can’t have that. Especially not when it makes people closer to the tower (who spend much more money) uncomfortable, causing a level of social unrest that those at “the top” have found untenable. Of course, it gets all the more sad in the manga when Ruki points out that his family DOES pay taxes to the government, and the place they stay at is actually leased by the nuns…so half the explanation is just BS and they just want the poor people gone so they can gentrify the place.

3. Magia Erebea: After Kuromaru goes down trying to fight Kaito, all hope seems lost for Ruki and the village…until Touta wakes back up, boasting some strange black energy gauntlets on his arms. They give a small explanation of this, but Magia Erebea is a way of growing one’s magical capabilities several times over, at the cost of potentially blackening one’s soul. The technique was invented by Yukihime, then perfected by her student Negi Springfield, which aided him in becoming the most powerful mage in the world. Touta having the same technique even though it’s ostensibly not something that can simply be “passed down” hints a bit more at his origins, but for now they write it off by saying he got his powers from Yukihime’s blood and that gave him this ability as well.

With that power, he proves easily capable of dispatching Kaitou, but there’s also a drawback to Magia Erebea. Activating it requires one to bond with magic meant to harm, which can darken the person and turn them into a complete monster if they don’t have the strength of will to overcome it. Negi nearly became a monster with it, his vast intellect proving to be something of a hindrance to clearing the hurdle of getting under control, but fortunately Touta’s a complete idiot and overcomes it just because he doesn’t want to win under anything other than his own power.

4. MANGA WATCH: This week there are actually two major things that were cut from the manga. For one, as it stands now the “one-sided” Kuromaru/Touta romance has been completely quashed. There was an entire speech that belonged to the previous episode about Kuromaru wanting to protect Touta and UQ Holder because he had to throw away everything else and had nothing left, that was supposed to correspond to a speech from THIS episode where Touta pointed out that he didn’t have anything either, other than their friendship and UQ. It was a bonding moment that was also meant to tease out the relationship between them that always straddles the line between bro-y, Heterosexual Life Partners and complete fujoshi ship teases. Not that UQ Holder was ever the deepest series, but stripping what depth IS there doesn’t sit well with me, even if this is otherwise a decent adaptation.

5. MANGA WATCH PART TWO: Or at least, it was.The two remaining immortal hunters, our blind swordsman Shion and our beaten up werewolf boy, decide to retreat after realizing they’ve done so much damage that the there’s no way the slum city could ever recover. At this point, Evangeline shows up–signaled by Kuromaru’s fireworks trick from the previous episode. Outnumbered and outmatched, the duo escape while a mysterious person watches overhead. I’m going to leave the identity of that particular bad-ass in the dark for now, because eventually they HAVE to show him, but I will admit to being bummed out.

There was a lot more to this than just Evangeline showing up. Shion was supposed to show off his ridiculous skills as a swordsman against Karin, which robs her of yet another chance to shine in a series where all she’s done thus far is beat up a guy who sexually assaulted her. Meanwhile, Shion was meant to corner the exhausted Touta along with the rest of his organization–a large mob built to stop immortals and supernatural creatures…only for our UQ Holders ace members to show up and finally let us see what the rest of the big guns fought like.

Ultimately, this is irksome to me because I really feel like both Negima and UQ Holder are some of the greatest shonen series ever created (Negima Top 10, UQ Top 20), and it seems like they’re robbing the series of its depth and epic moments in order to…what? Reach some plotlines that even Akamatsu hasn’t yet resolved in the manga? The series itself is still decent, I’m just baffled by the decision process here–we’re going for decent when it could be amazing.

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