UQ Holder! completes it’s adaptation of the Fate arc from the manga, as well as lay the seeds for the show’s future. How did it fare in this endeavour? Fairly decently I think, but the show is faltering in other aspects at the same time.
UQ Holder Fights Fate (Literally)
This episode roughly adapts through to chapter 42 of the original manga. Hardly any big chunks of content were cut, save for a fight between Fate and Yukihime. Because of how much content was covered, much of the episode was paced quite fast. As a result of this, none of the fights, save Tota and Fates, had much presence. Karin and the other’s fights felt rather pointless in a larger sense.The fights felt just there to give them something to do. Now it isn’t like this wasn’t a flaw of the arc in the original manga. It’s simply highlighted in the anime since the new villains are only on screen for a minute. None of them had any character, which is a disappointing aspect of both versions of the story.
On the topic of the fights, UQ Holder!‘s animation is starting to be spread thinner and thinner. UQ Holder!‘s never been the most polished show, and that’s fine. It looked nice when it needed to, and was simply average when in it’s calmer moments. In episode 8 though, things really started to slip, with lots of scenes requiring more movement and ended up lacking the punch a good action scene needs. This was a big action episode, and for the most part, the animation simply doesn’t hold up to what one generally expects. There were some good smears though, I like those.
In terms of direction and visuals, episode 8 hold its head a bit higher. Episode 8 of UQ Holder! marks the return of Shin Katagai as both the director and storyboarder. His vision rings throughout the episode. The episode includes a motif of showing enemies in the reflection of characters eyes, which is a fun visual I like to see in anime, and just one example that’s brought out in Katagai’s direction.
Message From Negi
The episode did make one fairly big change, and it’s a most interesting one. The magic device that Cutlass attached to Tota last episode unlocks a message from Negi. This shocks the cast, and Negi explains that Fate has lied to Tota, but understands why. Negi almost reveals the “truth” about Tota before Yukihime orders Kuromaru to destroy the device. Parts of this exchange seem somewhat inspired by an event that happens at the beginning of the Mahora Martial Arts Festival arc, but most of it is anime original. The inclusion of this part here makes sense since the Investigation arc is being skipped, and most of the aforementioned arc will probably be very different.
This episode, due to the inclusion of Fate and Negi, brought in a lot of Negima! nostalgia. I might harp a lot on this show, justifiably I think, but at the end of the day, I’m a sucker for all things Negima! Seeing Negi and the old Ala Alba on screen just warms my heart. I’m honestly surprised with how much highlighting of reference they’ve been adding to the anime, there was no mention of Fate calling his new group of baddies Ala Alba. Not that I’m complaining, the quietness of how Fate’s dedication to Negi appears in this episode is well done. UQ Holder! is often quite brash in its execution, so being able to use a more subtle approach is welcome.
The Future Of UQ Holder!
As a fan of the manga, UQ Holder! is at it’s most interesting when it’s least faithful. I’d have loved a faithful adaptation, but at this point, I’m here to see things get crazy. Much of this episode was faithful but in a way that lacks any punch. Akira Ishida was great as Fate though. I do love me some Akira Ishida. His performance and how he was animated was a highlight of the episode. When the dots appeared on screen I was quite charmed. Next episode looks like it’s going to be harem hijinks (my favourite) and the introduction of Mizore. I very much look forward to that episode being over.
UQ Holder!‘s essentially done with setup, and is moving into the next stage. Seeing as it will likely be very different, this is somewhat unexplored waters. I’m interested to see how it’ll handle it.