The anime adaptation of UQ Holder! – Magister Negi Magi 2 has finally graced the small screen. As a die-hard fan of Negima and a regular reader of UQ Holder, I’ve been anticipating this since it was announced. I have been sceptical though. UQ Holder is a property that would be rather hard to adapt in my eyes. As time went on the promotional material made it seem like it was going to be … messy.
[NOTE: this article will contain spoilers related to the appearance of characters UQ Holder manga, but not their plot relevance.]
What is UQ Holder and why talk about it?
Due to the slightly confusing nature of UQ Holder’s existence, allow me to summarize what it is. UQ Holder is a sequel to the hit manga Negima, set 80 years after the conclusion of Negima. It follows Tota Konoe, the grandson of Negima’s protagonist Negi Springfield. It starts off only slightly related but has since grown into a full-blown sequel. Sadly, Negima never got a full faithful anime adaptation, with much of what made it such a fantastic series never getting animated. This puts UQ Holder in a bit of an awkward position as an anime sequel to an anime that didn’t follow through to the originals ending. It really makes me wonder who the show is for.
As a huge fan of the franchise, I’ve wanted to dig deep into the anime adaptation since it was announced. For that purpose, I’ll be diving into each episode to analyse the choices made by the production team, and hopefully get a better understanding of the work. Now that the first episode is out though, how did it do?
The first episode
Rather well actually!
Other than a flashback to Negima originally from chapter 129 of UQ Holder, and some anime original plot foreshadowing, the episode followed the first chapter. On top of that, it did a good job of portraying the chapter in animation. The visuals were able to highlight Tota and Yukihime’s bond in ways that were elevated by the subtle movements and colour work. Building this relationship is key. It’s an important foundation for Tota’s character, and I believe it will be in this adaptation. The episode ended off with some very nice action animation by Hiroshi Tomioka. The cut displayed some fancy steam and magic work, which is promising for a series about magical combat. For a first episode, UQ Holder’s premiere certainly gives fans of the genre something to be excited about.
Let’s talk about the added foreshadowing I mentioned. It’s much too soon to figure out what it’s purpose is, but Tota see’s a ghostly figure of Negi multiple times. It intrigues me as I wonder how much anime original content will be present in this adaptation. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind if it went on to have its own plot, and at this point suspect that it mostly will be. At the very least it seems lots of the manga will be cut out. I’ve got some reasons to suspect that.
The future of UQ Holder
The key visual that has been used the last couple of months to hype up the show features most of the main cast of UQ Holder, as well as Negi, Yue, Nodoka, Rakkan and Albireo. Aside from Negi, these characters do not make appearances until much later on. The fact that this anime adaptation highlights that, would mean that it would have to get to that point. That, or create a similar scenario.
I suspect the Investigation arc will be cut, as Sasaki is not in the promotional material or the OP and ED. Poor, poor Sasaki. Additionally, the characters Shinobu and Mizore (oh god Mizore…) are featured prominently in the theme songs. The two do not become significant until shortly before Negi and co appear in the manga. It seems that the harem elements that were introduced around that time will be more apparent in the anime…
Also of note is that the OAD episode that was released last month was very interesting from an adaptation standpoint. It showed Evangeline’s experiences in the “Dana arc”, which was told through Tota’s perspective in the manga. What bearing this will have on the anime is something I’m very eager to find out.
3D in UQ Holder
An interesting aspect of the manga for UQ Holder is that the mangaka Akamatsu has moved into the realm of digital production for his work. Part of this, though this was also the case for Negima, is using 3D models for the buildings and backgrounds presented in the world of UQ Holder. Akamatsu revealed on Twitter that the same models are being used in the anime adaptation, keeping a consistency between the anime and the manga. This is pretty interesting from a production standpoint. It also goes to show the involvement of Akamtasu in the UQ Holder anime.
From all the promotional material, it’s hard to get a grasp on what this show is going to be. This is why writing about it will be interesting and hopefully worthwhile. I hope to make sense of the choices made by the staff, not just dismiss the show as “ruining the manga”. Though it’s possible it will! Another reason I’m so intensely curious is that Ken Akamatsu himself is co-handling series composition. I’m curious to see how Akamatsu will adapt his own work into anime. Fans of Akamatsu’s work have longed for a good anime. I personally cannot comment on the quality of past adaptations as I have not watched them. Is it possible UQ Holder will be what they are looking for? Maybe, there’s still a chance. I’m certainly looking forward to next week more than I expected to.