UQ Holder!‘s fourth episode begins the shows first major arc. Generally, it hit most of the major plot points and was fairly well paced. It just so happens to be the case that most of what got cut was important characterization and development.
The First Mission
In this episode of UQ Holder!, Tota and Kuromaru accompany Karin on their first mission. Said mission is to protect children in the slums from terrorists who intend to kill them. While there Tota begins learning Shundo from a roaming martial artist named Kaito, who turns out to be an immortal hunter, one of the men sent to attack the slums. Karin gets attacked by another hunter in the shower while Tota and Kuromaru get incapacitated in the slums. How will UQ Holder save the kids? Find out next week!
This is all stuff that happens in the manga, and it’s pretty well adapted into the anime. With the stuff that’s included in the episode, there really isn’t much to talk about. This episode is all about the stuff that wasn’t included. Much of the soul of UQ Holder! is absent in this episode, leaving a hollow shell.
Who Are UQ Holder?
There’s a scene in the manga that happens after the scene where Kuromaru says he could teach Tota Shundo. This scene has very, very important characterization for Tota. Tota states that he doesn’t have anything of his own and that he just latches on to things he thinks are cool. This idea of Tota having nothing of his own is pretty important to his character, and likely will be in the anime, so the lack of inclusion is somewhat baffling to me. Perhaps it will be included in a later episode? I don’t really know where they’d stick it in though.
In Kuromaru’s case, pretty much his whole side arc was cut from this episode, which not only is confusing, as his arc is kinda important, but it also adds more impact to the ending of this episode. It would generally be hypothetically possible to move the reveals about Kuromaru that was in this arc to a later arc, but this hurts the impact of his scenes in this arc. They have punch in the manga because it highlights his personal struggles. I’ll refrain from mentioning them right now as they will most surely be revealed later into the anime. So I’ll revisit this scene in a later post.
A bunch of Karin related content was cut as well. There’s a whole chapter of her fighting a cyborg at the beginning of the arc, which honestly makes sense to be cut. It does, however, give a glimpse into the loneliness of Karin’s brand of immortality, but they can easily bring that up later, so in complete seriousness cutting this chapter was a good move. When Chao reveals Karin’s full identity, the manga has a longer explanation of who she was, but that isn’t super important right now and may be brought up later. I’d say her characterization suffered the least this episode compared to the others.
The Staff of UQ Holder! Episode 4
This episode was the first episode not to be scripted by Shogo Yasukawa. Instead, the duty was handled by Yuichiro Takeda (scripts on GaoGaiGar Final). Still no script by Akamatsu, which I’m starting to think won’t happen. The episode was storyboarded by Shin Katagai (episode director Yuru Yuri San Hai). This episode’s animation had some nice action highlights and plenty of bits for fans of smears (as seen above)! UQ Holder! isn’t the strongest production, even someone with little in the way of looking at anime through animation can see that. This doesn’t mean it cant be fun to look at though, cause UQ Holder!‘s got small bursts for those more sakuga oriented.
What Does This All Mean?
What happened with this episode was something I hadn’t considered. A glaring oversight on my part in preparing to write about the adaptation. This episode advanced the plot at the expense of expanding the characters. Finding the golden ratio is not easy, if even possible between story and characters. This is even more the case in an adaptation, where you have to pick and choose what to adapt. Things have to be left on the cutting floor, and in this episode, it was the development for better or for worse. Personally, I think for worse. This episode had the appearance of the First Mission arc, but none of the things that made it important on the inside. But hey, at least it looked cool.