In the decade since the world became aware of the existence of magic, the world has undergone a massive upheaval. However, a boy named Touta lives in seclusion in a rural town far removed from these changes. His ordinary life is highlighted by his magic-using female teacher and his supportive friends. When his tranquil daily life is disrupted, he embarks on a unique adventure.
As much as I’d like to enjoy a return trip back to the Negima universe, I can’t help but wonder why this anime even exists. Watching Uq Holder is like reading an incomplete book, one that has unsalvageable mistakes. It’s as if the producers gathered together at the last minute to procrastinate this like a school project. Don’t me wrong though. This show would have a lot of potential if the staff and directors actually had an elaborate plan. Unfortunately, it ended being broken in ways that can’t be repaired.
I’ll address this early so anime only viewers won’t shake their heads in disappointment and regret
losing their valuable time. As a manga reader, Uq Holder is crammed into a 12-episode show that can’t hold itself together. Beyond the rushing, many details are left unexplored and we hardly get character development in the proper places. It also doesn’t help out that the show sells itself as a sequel. Some characters from the original anime make cameos while introducing new ones and ideas. The term “Uq Holder” is a central focus in this anime. Essentially, it’s an organization made up of outcasts that are non-humans and immortals. The show attempts to get new viewers into a comfortable position with exposition. What ends up happening is an unimpressive story that leaves unfavorable impressions.
Honestly, there isn’t really an elephant in the room. With a quick glimpse of the key visual, it shouldn’t be surprising at what viewers should expect already. Anyone familiar with the Negima universe will likely recognize some of the character. For new viewers, this will probably evoke a thought at what a potential conflict the show will bring. To add insult to the injury, the principle character cast isn’t well developed. Touta Kono is a good example. He is the main male protagonist and honestly a guy that’s too carefree. Being optimistic and energetic isn’t an issue in itself but the show makes him look behave like a kid at almost any chance it gets. It doesn’t help that he often speaks his mind and is too dense to certain situations. Touta’s relationship with others become an important part of this show especially with Yukihime, a vampire and leader of the Uq Holder. Indeed, their relationship seems to be unique among this show that they are very close as friends, comrades, or perhaps something even more. Unfortunately, this show doesn’t develop them more than they should have. It’s pretty much a slap in the face for fans of the manga and general audience as a whole.
Beyond these two, there are also some other characters that get noticeable attention. Kuromaru Tokisaka is a character that I have mixed opinions on. First of all, the anime makes it clear that Kuromaru seems insecure about his gender. It becomes a recurring joke that gets old fast. Next, I can’t help but find Kuromaru and Touta’s relationship to be lacking. The two gets along well and seems similar in personality. However, there’s really not much beyond that. It doesn’t really exceed expectations or leave memorable impressions. There’s even an episode that puts the two together on a date but nothing really develops from it. This applies to other characters in the show where their role is minimized but instead puts Touta in the spotlight. It tries to get him over but fails on multiple levels. For instance, Kirie’s interactions with him feels like a bickering between young siblings. Karin also treats him with distaste that makes Touta look like a fool. Shinobu Yuuki (the maid) and Touta seems to have one of the only normal interactions in this anime but it only goes far as that. Nothing ever really stands out beyond their small talk. Additionally, I can’t proclaim the antagonists to be interesting either. Their motivations aren’t too clear and most of them are generic to the bone. One of them even has a perverted personality that makes crude jokes towards women. There’s a sense of mystery that is meekly explored about them although by story adaptation standards, it’s really more of a misshapen product. So in retrospect, I can’t really say this show has an impressive character cast at all. Too bad really.
Now I do have to admit, watching this show hit me with a dose of nostalgia. The original Negima manga was popular during its run and while the anime adaptation quality was subpar, it still had its moments. Uq Holder tries to remind us of those moments through the flashbacks and storytelling. Negi and his students make cameos in some way or form. Honestly, watching those segments were worth it despite the inconsistency with storytelling. The comedy of Uq Holder is also what people can describe as sexy and fun. It shouldn’t take long for viewers to recognize that the creator of this anime really want us to be get sucked into his ideas. However, that can really end up being a mess with and at its worst, a terrible executed joke.
Adapted by JC Staff, this anime’s visual quality turned out to be what I had expected. It gives off a very shounen feel with its action and choreography. It does go beyond the usual punches and kicks as it adds blood and even violence. Some of the battle scenes goes over the top with even body horror elements. Fan service is very evident throughout the show with clothes torn off and eye-catchy angles. Character designs are consistently adapted with the mature appearance Yukihime and feminine look of Kuromaru. To say the least, JC Staff did its job but not one that you can talk about them for years to come in regards to this anime.
I can’t say much for the soundtrack except that it seems to work on certain levels. The OP and ED theme features montages of the main characters although is saturated with fan service. Character voice seems to work on most respects although listening to Touta talk can be quite annoying at times. On the other hand, I do appreciate how this show maintains a good balance of battle OST. When it gets serious, it maintains that mood.
After watching UQ Holder, I can’t say this is recommendable unless you’re absolutely curious about the adaptation or wanted to be hit with some nostalgia. It’s one of those shows practically screaming “read the manga!” The humor gets old fast and despite the nostalgia it can bring, it still ends up being very underwhelming. Ultimately, this anime turned out to be a poorly executed plan. When you put all the broken pieces together, it still ends up being broken.
Ken Akamatsu is one of the best mangaka I have ever seen. He took the worst two worst combined genres being Ecchi and Harem and manages to them good. Ken Akamatsu has known its attention to detail to developing its characters from main to even side characters. His works still intrigue me to this day thanks to his manga series being well written, well-paced, engaging, funny, and enjoyable to read.
For me Ken Akamatsu is a legendary mangaka.
However Ken Akamatsu works gets an anime Adaptation thing doesn’t quite as well. In fact, his works don’t really translate well into anime. For example, the Love Hina manga
is a solid romcom manga with great comedy that is actually funny, solid romance, likable characters that get developed and does a great job exploring the theme of love and achievement. However, the director for the anime decided to take everything that made the manga good and turned it into a bottom of the barrel, poor animated, unfunny, and cringe-worthy romcom anime that has no at all.
Another example of this is Negima which not as bad as the Love Hina it’s still pretty lacklustre adaption overall. The first Negima anime done by Xebec was is a decent show on its own that has good and emotional moments however when you start comparing it to the manga you will soon find out it’s a terrible Adaptation as it skips a lot of chapters as well character’s not even having the right colour to the censored fanservice. As for Shaft Negima the only one that I actually liked are the ovas because not only it’s followed the manga perfectly it was still a great watch for both the manga readers and newcomers. Expect for the Negima Final Movie which was shit. As for the Negima!? TV series is fine but also pretty boring due to the series being reduced to a comedy gag filler show after a certain set of episodes and it got boring fast. Now I personally don’t mind filler as along its done right as well being entertaining to watch but Negima and Love Hina filler are not even that good at all.
Now we got UQ Holder. Ken Akamatsu latest anime adaptation.
Is this anime any for newcomers for the Negima franchise?
Is this a good adaptation of the manga?
Or it’s just a forgettable shounen series.
We will soon find out the answer.
The story in UQ holder is set 80 years after the events of Negima. It follows a young boy named Tota Konoe who is the grandson of Negi Springfield, aspires to leave his village and life live in the city of Shin-Tokyo which has a tower structure rising into space. When he gets mortally wounded by a bounty hunter coming after guardian. He soon discovers that he has been made into an immortal vampire by Yukihime, who is actually a 700-year-old vampire mage Evangeline A.K. McDowell. From there Totua picks up another boy named Kuromaru for the journey and they go to a place outside Shin-Tokyo where Yukihime leads a secret society of immortals called UQ Holder. From there Touta embarks on a unique adventure.
UQ Holder is a fun mess. Am not saying the story is bad or anything, in fact, the story is kinda good overall that has a lot of good things in it which I don't want to spoil. However, the problem I have with the story is the show likes to skip quite a lot of chapters from the manga. If you fan of the manga you will not like this show as its skips some important chapters such as the Santa/Sayoko Arc. Another problem that I have with is that its some of the arcs are rushed especially in the tournament arc in episode 10 where the pacing of the show goes way too fast and because of that the tournament arc ended up being really rushed and kinda leaves the viewer feeling unsatisfied.
I will give UQ Holder Anime Adaptation this. The story itself was left unchanged from its manga counterpart which is shocking because the Negima anime didn't even bother adapting the rest of the manga halfway through.
Overall while the story UQ Holder had a lot good things in but ultimately gets crippled by skipping certain important chapters of the manga as well as having rushed pacing and because of that the story of UQ Holder as slightly above average at best.
The characters in UQ Holder were pretty enjoyable but they could have been a lot better and had a bit more character development
First, we have Touta. I personally liked his as a character. Yes if you compare to Negi from the Negima series he is quite a typical but he has a lot of charm in terms of his personality. I also really like his character interactions towards other characters like Yukihime, Kuroumaru and even Negi himself.
Kuromaru is an interesting character. This character battle style is very similar to another Negima character that we all Negima fans love Setsuna as they both use the Shinmei-Ryu sword technique. One of the things that I liked about this character is the whole Yatagarasu as all the members from the Yatagarasu are genderless before they turn 16 where after that they can choose to be a male or female. Another thing that I liked about Kuromaru is his/her character interactions with the cast and there are usually great because at this point Kuromaru and rest of the characters in this are confused about the Kuromaru's actual gender.
As for Evangeline or Yukihime. She’s still the loveable and badass character that we all love from the Negima series.
The rest of the characters are not memorable due to them having lack of screen time.
As for characters from the Negima series they are the same likable characters that we all love however they could have treated some of the Negima characters a lot better like for example Asuna who a great loyal partner for Negi is now being reduced to a Deus ex Machina type of character. I won’t tell what episode it happens but watching that episode made me quite sad because I really liked Asuna in the manga.
Overall the characters are enjoyable and likable but they could have been a lot better than they actually are.
Compare to Love Hina and Negima the visuals are a big step up for the most part.
The character designs were good and faithful to its manga counterpart. The actual animation is smooth and surprisingly consistent. The fights, for the most part, are well animated as well having a lot of tension. As for censorship unlike the Negima anime the show gives a big fuck you to censorship because of the show, for the most part, pull no punches when it comes to the fanservice and blood. Not bad J.C Staff
The only flaw with the visuals is one sometimes characters go a bit off model and the whole censorship when certain characters is just cringe-worthy but to be honest I rather have than a fucking extreme shot of Asuna panties that has a bear in the middle of the very first episode of Negima Xebec version.
Besides those flaws for the visuals, the show is pretty great visually.
The soundtrack is nothing special, to be honest. Yes, it has some good tracks but the most part it’s pretty forgetful.
The opening Happy Material is a great opening and I think it’s the best version of the song even surpassing the original Happy Material from the original Negima series which was already great, to begin with.
The ending theme Steady Go it’s a nice catchy song that fits well with the show.
As for right now, UQ Holder doesn’t have a dub but I hope it gets one soon.
I love to see Laura Bailey voicing Evangeline again because she did a masterful job at voicing Evangeline.
I liked UQ Holder for what it is. Yes, it has its problems such as skipping certain chapters of the manga to a certain character’s being underdeveloped but compare to other Ken Adaptions from the past it does a fairly alright job of adapting the manga as well be a pretty enjoyable show on its own right.
If you looking for an enjoyable shounen series that I recommend UQ Holder to anyone however if you are a Negima/UQ holder fan such as myself who read the manga then I advise approaching this show with caution.
Final Score 6.5/10
Being a fan of Ken Akamatsu's work (Love Hina, Negima series (this included)), I was even more happy to see it getting anime adaptations, but sadly with every passing adaptation, it always fails to make what the manga source material great, and then during the conversion to anime, it balls out at the very last minute, and this is another example here with UQ Holder, cramming 140+ chapters into 12 episodes (which clearly ISN'T enough).
Set 80 years after the events in Negima!, Touta Konoe (grandson of Negi Springfield) has Yukihime (or the legendary magician Evangeline A.K. McDowell who's a vampire as you wanna call it)
as his guardian, and when his life is risked by a bounty hunter, gets to know her true identity and is introduced to the secret society kniown as UQ Holder, a society made up of people with supernatural powers.
Being a manga reader, somehow J.C.Staff assumed that asking people to watch the anime in itself is more of a travesty, because the Santa arc (which takes up at least 20 chapters of the manga) is COMPLETELY missing, and I have no idea why this anime even got a green light in the 1st place. Sure, Negima fans can even complain that the adaptations done earlier was worse, but thankfully this isn't (at least) the worst yet.
Touta Konoe is your run-of-the-mill shounen, with his strong points being aggressive at what he does. Maybe not the best of the main UQ Holder crew, but his interactions with the others are what makes him stand out amongst the heavy action.
Kuromaru is an interesting one, because it states that his/her kind are genderless, and when they pass their 16th birthday they get to choose the gender to their liking (and of course if you watch UQ Holder you know the ship feels). Her battle style is of the Shinmei-ryu sword technique (similar to Setsuna), and like Touta, also creates a fun and distracting (in a good way) interaction with the others as well.
As for Yukihime, she's the Evangeline Negima fans know and love, just with her alias and establishment of UQ Holder. Nothing more to say on that.
For the others (the rest of the UQ Holder crew: Karin, Kirie etc.), they are not given enough time to showcase themselves on the big screen (although supplementary), but that doesn't mean they get their moments, and still strikes off really well.
All in all, the character development is one point where this show truly excels at, and wished it could be better if they stringed out longer than 12 episodes allowed.
Yes, you're probably thinking why J.C.Staff gimped on some of the visuals. And yes, things are sure to look more modern (and updated from the previous works), and while the art looked cheap, the animation was on-point consistent (well, most of the time) and gets the job done.
To be honest, I've expected J.C.Staff to input more budget knowing that the manga already had a great story to build up to with the action that's held very well, but knowing that paltry 12 episodes isn't gonna cut the slightest of the manga, I just hoped for the best and it delivers somehow, and it's satisfactory for the most part.
The OST is also fairly good as well. Both the OP and ED are energizing to hear (with a happy heart, of course) and can't really fault the BGM here. It's a work well done, but also at the same time, nothing special.
I feel like this anime will STILL divide 2 camps of people's thoughts:
1) Anime only, as in watching the show purely without knowing what's going on, with the 3-episdode rule making the basis for the show.
2) Anime + source material (be it LN, VN, Manga), as in knowing the source material beforehand, and expecting more to come out of the anime adaptation, and comparing both materials to knowing which is better.
As for myself, I really still feel like UQ Holder, as a manga it's great, but the anime adaptation barely touches the iceberg, and even with the OVAs coming out next year (which bases off the different arcs in the manga), it feels incomplete at its finest. Yes, I do like what I have watched, and give it a fair bit of respect, but really, RIP Ken Akamatsu for another bad unjustified adaptation. Like in the premlinary Episode 4 count, do watch if you're a diehard fan or Negima, otherwise, go and read the manga if you want more of the storyline.
Nostalgia hits us come the Fall of 2017 with another of Ken Akamatsu's work in the form of a spinoff of the Negima series, UQ Holder!. Does it hold up?...or will the high level of nostalgia disappoint us?
For LA, the Negima series is in a weird place for LA in terms of nostalgia all things considered. One is that the original Studio DEEN adaptation gives LA fond memories of this series but was definitely an adaptation with it's faults and typical harem cliches that hasn't aged well. The SHAFT version was LA's favorite over the years by having a more shounen-esque mystery feel to it
but having the typical SHAFTism that would have put people off. LA DID NOT read the manga but heard time and again from LA's friend that it went into a crazy shounen feel that even the SHAFT version didn't even get into. Thus LA was quite in a predicament when going into this spinoff completely blind.
And now we have this anime spinoff with an entirely new cast of characters, with old ones returning and it being a fully fledged out shounen series.
For a start, LA's first impression of UQ Holder was rather meh, going through the cliches of the shounen field from the hot-blooded main character who's a nice guy but dense as hell character trying to surpass his teacher Yukihime (or Evangeline just using a transformation magic looking like an adult but whatever...) while trying to get out of his hillbilly of a village town he lives in. His goal is to make it to the top of the tower in.....a far off city. Yeah typical stuff, but its not until the halfway mark when all hell breaks loose from plot twists every episode afterwards to nostalgic throwbacks that ACTUALLY factor into this plot, new harem characters enter the picture and it going full shounen on us WITH UNCENSORED BLOOD!!!!!!!.
The entire character cast is very vast to say the least what with new and old characters coming in. So who are the most important characters in all this?...our main protagonist Touta Konoe voiced by Yuka Takakura, Yukihime/Evangeline voiced by Yuki Matsuoka, Negi Springfield is in this too of course who's reprised by Rina Satou and Fate voiced by Akira Ishida are the forerunners of this anime. Kirie Sakurame voiced by Ai Kayano, Kuroumaru Tokisaki voiced by Yuuki Hirose, Shinobu Yuuki voiced by Sayaka Harada, Mizore Yukihiro voiced by Akari Kito and Karin Isht Orte voiced by Yui Ogura (Favourite character by the way) are all in the harem and they have some sort of screentime and battles over this anime. The only harem members that didn't exactly have enough time are Shinobu for not having ANY battle prowess thus they kinda get shafted and Mizore for just entering the anime too late enough though she's battle ready but isn't as powerful as the core cast already are. As for the nostalgia cameos, it's too be expected the original series cast gets a cameo and some form of presences in the plot also yeah Mizore YUKIHIRO reminds you of someone?...yeah Ayaka Yukihiro voiced by Junko Minagawa gets an episode as well if only because of Mizore...a moving of the torch as you could say. LA's favourite cameo would probably be Asuna...because it was ASUNA like come on.
LA thinks one of the only problems besides that LA hadn't read the source material as well as the original source material was that the pacing is very quick, yeah not "all over the place", UQ Holder! has a pacing it's just very quick trying to cram in enough exposition, characters and action scenes in one episode as much as possible and yes this impacts the finale but again...this anime is trying to cram in an ongoing manga source material into 12 episodes.....this was GONNA HAPPEN.
In terms of animation by JC Staff, the animation is pretty consistent, from the amazingly brutal battles to the updated and newer characters and ecchiness typical of the Negima series. All LA will say about the animation is that LA really liked the animation all round and it didn't flake on shortcutting at times and didn't annoy LA in many ways. All round the animation especially the supernatural shounen battles were the highlights in terms of animation.
The voice acting on the other hand was pretty great all round. From Yuka Takakura crossdressing voices living up to the tradition that Rina Satou did in the original and doing a great job at it, to Yuuki Hirose voicing eerily similar to Nana Mizuki in her typical badass role and yeah a Yui Ogura performance LA can get behind who's voicing a kuudere badass. As for the nostalgia cameos, well it's to be expected that the majority of the voice cast reprises their roles...well cept the ones that...uhhhh can't because reasons. Just reasons. Either way, LA really loved this voice cast, from new and old and even some very well done newbies. Ohh LA forgot but LA thought that Sayaka Harada as Shinobu was voiced by Ayana Takatatsu all this time before LA found out it was Sayaka...MAN Sayaka has range!.
So right back to the question LA put at the start of this review. Does this spinoff anime hold up by itself?...well LA thinks this question needs to be rephrased. Does this spinoff HELPS to it's original source material while being it's own thing. Well to that LA says yes. This spinoff helped to be like it's original source material as well as growing it's world building as well as TRY to bring in new characters to be important to the plot to which LA feels that Ken Akamatsu obviously planned with this spinoff to how intrinsically linked Touta and Evangeline is to Negi Springfield.
Sure this spinoff has problems like the aforementioned pacing issues this anime has but even then LA could defend it by it being an ongoing manga so it was to be expected as well as the problem of a core cast of new characters with powerful battle prowess taking themselves to the forefront with the lesser battle prowess characters being left in the dust and the nostalgic cameos though they are important to the plot, but only by a few scenes unfortunately and of course being an audience member who didn't read the original source material as well as THIS source material and going completely blind had it's own problems, but even with all this, LA did like this spinoff for being it's own thing while paying homage to the original series AND being completely shounen helped as well.
Nostalgia is something we want to have to go back to those good old times, but even then we can't have it back 100% as a full experience in the form of a new spinoff, prequel, sequel or whatnot. But having a spinoff learned from it's mistakes from it's MANY adaptations it had is a good step up but that same spinoff bringing in it's own mistakes is for LA...a given.
UQ Holder!: Mahou Sensei Negima! 2 is a decent to great spinoff even with it's strengths and weaknesses. What else can LA say?..Ohh wait how about...