The attempt to capture the most powerful mage in the world begins! But can UQ Holder pull it off without being destroyed? Remember, if you like this article and 5 Point Discussions please share it on Facebook or Twitter. And if you have any questions or comments, please hit me up on Twitter @SageShinigami!
1. There’s a lot to love about this episode, starting with just how seriously everyone takes Fate. There’s this nervous tension that comes with all of them realizing how easily things could spiral out of control and the entire lot of them could wind up horrifically mutilated and Touta taken out of their hands.
They don’t even break character when Fate arrives and reveals himself to be a lot nicer than everyone’s made him sound up to this point. He’s a cocky pretty boy to be sure, and he has a low opinion of QUEEN Yukihime, but without the context of the original Negima series to back him up, he seems like a fairly decent fellow…who would murder them all if they gave him half a chance.
Usually in series like this where the heroes have come up with a plan, they deviate from the plan almost immediately, to the point that you wonder why they even came up with one. Not here–last week’s plan of getting Kirie to touch him and transporting him back to the past made perfect sense. It’s only the fact that Fate didn’t come alone and brought his own squad of helpers with him that forces them into a legitimate battle. Even though UQ has one of the dumbest main characters since Son Goku, the cast actually acts like they know what they’re doing, which is pretty cool.
2. One of my biggest problems with this series is how much they’ve downplayed magical applications, and it finally came back to haunt them this episode. The entire plan involves getting Kirie to bind Fate and transport him into the trap she’s set, but a moment’s hesitation due to Fate’s soldiers hindering Kuromaru and Ikku from coming with them, leads to Fate turning her to stone.
But Kirie thinks ahead enough to have gotten an anti-petrification app that cancels the spell–it’s a cool idea, and highlights just how useful magic apps have become. When Fate first came on the scene in Negima, his petrification spell was plot warping–no one could do anything about it and half of the reason he was so threatening was that he could easily turn anyone who got in his way to stone. Here, one of his best weapons is dealt with in a matter of two minutes.
3. MANGA WATCH: This week’s episode is actually pretty accurate to the source material aside from two things. The first comes after the group gets Fate teleported to the bottom of UQ Holder headquarters. Fate comes face to face with Yukihime and they immediately cease hostilities because Fate realizes how outnumbered he is. The manga on the other hand saw Fate actually attempt to fight Yukihime, leading to some awesome looking high-level spells and Yukihime’s really awesome Magia Erebea snow armor transformation. Now, arguably, it was cut for time, but more likely? It was cut for budgetary reasons–it was a gorgeous ice spell that looked absurdly extravagant to properly animate, and that’s something UQ Holder has struggled with.
As closely as the show has attempted to hew to the existing manga, it’s never tried to elevate it in any way. It’s a straight-forward adaptation that’s lacking in soul or style. This is a futuristic world that relies on technology as much as magic, and manages to merge the two without leaning heavily one way or another. It SHOULD look like a cross between No Game No Life and the futuristic Universe 11 from Dragon Ball Super, but instead it looks like every other anime series that’s come out this year. Being a Negima fan means your adaptations will always suck, I guess.
4. After our heroes successfully trick Fate, he decides to reward them by answering one question each from all four of them. While Karin’s question is largely useless unless you’re a shipping fan, the rest go a long way towards pushing many of the mysteries of the series into the light. Most importantly is that Touta’s grandfather Negi Springfield is alive, and that Touta’s necessary to save not just him, but the rest of life in the universe. Much of this will doubtless be left in the air by the end of this series, but this was a smart way to give the series some necessary exposition to push things along and give our characters some ideas about what to do further down the line.
5. MANGA WATCH PART TWO: The second part of this that caused the series to stray from the manga is an addition rather than a subtraction. In the first episode, we saw Negi talk to Touta briefly, something that didn’t really happen in the manga. Well now, they’ve taken that to the next level and shown Touta meeting Negi well over an arc before he’s meant to. Fate attempts to motivate Touta by claiming he was responsible for killing his parents, only for Negi to suddenly appear and point out that Fate had nothing to do with it. Unfortunately, before more could be revealed, the connection between Negi and his grandson was severed on Yukihime’s orders. This makes Yukihime look unnecessarily manipulative, as she never really HID the truth from Touta directly, it just never came up.
This isn’t a major change in the end–rumors are that the series is going to end at twelve episodes, which means there are only four remaining. If so, there’s nowhere near enough time for things to reach a proper ending. If there were though, it’d be a shame to spoil something fans shouldn’t have known for at least another dozen episodes. Ah well, changes happen.
UQ Holder! is available for streaming on Amazon’s Anime Strike service.