The third episode of UQ Holder! marks the first time the anime has significantly deviated from the manga. The big question is, how did the team do, and what do the changes mean for the series going forward?
The Test to Join UQ Holder!
The anime deviates hard from the manga in this episode. One example is that, in the anime, when Tota and Kuromaru are trying to join UQ Holder, they have to do a test. That test is to land a punch on a member before the week ends. In the manga this is different. The goal was to make it out of the underground, though they still reference this within the episode. Despite the change of the test, most of the important parts of the test mini-arc are adapted anyway. The introduction of some of the Numbers, Tota’s sword, and allusions to Negima are all included. This sets a rather interesting precedent. Will they adapt future parts of the manga in a similar way? I’m anxious to find out in the coming episodes.
That’s what a lot of this episode is honestly, scenes adapted in a slightly different context. The bit where Tota and Kuromaru fall through the trapdoor is actually from the beginning of the arc in the manga! Tota’s line about men and women in battle is also a quote from the manga, though from a slightly different context. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, but it is a rather interesting choice to make. At the very least it shows that the staff are seriously looking at the source material.
CG in UQ Holder!
The episode ended with monsters from underground attacking, and the CG left… much to be desired. UQ Holder! isn’t the prettiest production overall, but even the CG is quite out of place. I’m not against CG in anime, rather I’m a promoter of it. It has to look good though, and most importantly it needs to be well composited into the frame. As you can see from above, the models clash with the backgrounds and characters in a very distracting manner this episode. Hopefully, it looks better in future episodes, or there’s less of it.
Additions and Rearrangements
As I mentioned last week, Shinobu’s introduction chapter was skipped. In this episode, she’s introduced as a maid working at Fairyland Hall, who befriends Tota and Kuromaru. While her motivations for being in the capital have not been explained in the anime yet, I have reason to believe they will, if the ending theme is correct. I’m pretty interested to see what the anime does with Shinobu honestly, she’s one of the most tacked on aspects of the manga. I hope her character is one thing that the anime might improve on. This is one of the places that being a looser adaptation can be a benefit to a manga like UQ Holder!.
Some information from later in the manga was included in this episode as well. Like Gengoro’s type of immortality, which was only revealed in the chapter released this month! I suspect this means he will get more scenes in the anime, scenes that require knowledge of his powers. Tota’s sword Side Stick doesn’t talk until much later in the manga, but it makes sense to introduce that aspect now as it’ll likely be utilized in later episodes. The arc where his talking is introduced will most likely be cut for time so revealing it now is a good decision. I think this really shows the priorities made with adapting this episode. Episode 3 is a mishmash of different elements from the manga. Surprisingly enough it kind of works. The episode flows fine, so you’d only really notice these things if you were a fan of the manga beforehand.
This episode included a fair amount of inclusion of Negima references, and it’s one of the strongest things the anime has done so far adaptation wise. Tota and Kuromaru’s test this episode is inspired by the test Negi took to becomes Evangeline’s student in Negima. Additionally, the trend of making hints from the manga explicit in the anime continues in this episode. In the manga, they say Side Stick was made by an “evil wizard” but the anime explicitly says it was Albireo, a character from Negima who will be appearing in UQ Holder!. Since the anime is clear from the beginning that it’s a sequel to Negima, the constant alluding to it makes sense.
The Staff of Episode 3
This episode was directed by Hiroshi Tamada (episode director on Victory Gundam, Moyashimon). The storyboard was done by Koji Natori (assistant director onTamayura: More Aggressive)This also marks the third episode in a row that the script was handled by Shogo Yasukawa (Food Wars, Chivalry of a Failed Knight). He’s charged with co-series composition duties with Ken Akamatsu, the original creator of UQ Holder!. I wonder if Akamatsu will write any scripts himself, or if he will simply remain an overseer. Akamatsu’s involvement in the anime’s production is one of the things I’m most curious about with the series. If we could learn which changes were suggested by Akamatsu himself, I’d make it easier to talk about as a whole. I hope we’ll learn more in the future.
Judging by the description of the next episode on the series website, we’ll be entering the First Mission arc. I honestly thought they’d skip it, and just place the most important scene somewhere else. I am glad it’s being included though, it’s the first real big fight in UQ Holder! so I’m curious to see how they adapt it. Next episode will be a turning point in how the story goes, so it’s important to adapt it well. I look forward to seeing how they change things next time, and for all the episodes in the future. Still, I’m looking forward to new UQ Holder! but let’s see how long that can last.