OP Sequence

OP: 「ハッピー☆マテリアル」 (Happy☆Material) by Takakura Yuka, Hirose Yuuki, Kayano Ai, Ogura Yui, Harada Sayaka, and Kito Akari

「美女と少年」 (Bijo to Shounen)
“Beauty and the Boy”

Blood. Blood everywhere.

I deeply, deeply love the Negima series, which I wrote about at length in the finale post to the original manga. It was a huge influence on my own writing, and the first thing I ever wrote (a Negima fanfic)—so it feels odd to say that I’ve never read the UQ Holder manga. Not for lack of desire, but rather because I’m weirdly able to deny myself pleasures even if there’s no good reason. Delayed gratification, thy name is Stilts.

So you’re going to get the point of view of a Negima veteran who’s also a UQ Holder neophyte; probably a quite unique experience. Which means I have no idea whether this first episode was faithful to the manga, but I can at least speak to the world and some of the call backs. Let’s start with some basic storytelling work though.

The theme of this episode is that immortality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and in this, it was overly heavy-handed. The flashback intro sought to set the theme, but it said rather than showed, and “You don’t have to worry about dying” is a tough sell at the best of times—it’s something we all understand intellectually, but it’s hard to buy into emotionally when we’re all squishy humans quickly sprinting toward the grave. Add in violent dismemberment that’s recovered from via immortality, and the theme is a tougher sell yet. You’ve got to go full Endless Eight to make people really feel it, and I hate that Haruhi arc. It was effective in portraying the loneliness of long times, though.

All of which is to say that UQ Holder is trying for a pretty tricky theme off the bat, and it doesn’t entirely land on an emotional level, but it’s the first episode so oh well. I have more of an issue with the blatantly spoken exposition, but can’t say they’re not being faithful to their predecessor there. Minor gripe.

What I was most surprised about is how bloody it got. Negima always took great pains to avoid the grislier details, save for where Evangeline A.K. McDowell (Matsuoka Yuki), here known as Yukihime, was concerned, because we always knew it wouldn’t stick. As a statement of purpose that “This one will be different!”, that was mega effective. I’m really pleased with the savvy there. This is not your grandfather’s Akamatsu Ken shounen right here.

Character-wise, I found “Yukihime” to be the most interesting, though it’s almost entirely fueled by knowing who she really was already. Evangeline, playing foster mother? Bwuuuh. You had my attention. Though I think someone who clearly has magic but won’t admit it would be worthy of interest anyway, I just can’t confirm. Konoe Touta (Takakura Yuka) alternates between annoying kid and scrappy hero, I don’t have much of an opinion on him, but it’s early days for the boy so no biggie. And if I’m being honest, the character thing I was most interested in is why a Konoe boy is calling Negi Springfield (Satou Rina) “grandfather,” and why Negi’s son or daughter + son- or daughter-in-law are buried next to him, but not his presumed partner—but that probably comes down to framing for the manga panel, and IF ANYONE SPOILS THIS FOR ME I WILL BURN YOUR DREAMS DOWN I SWEAR TO GOD! I haven’t dodged spoilers for this long to have stuff ruined for me now. Use spoiler tags, and say what your spoilers are about (without spoiling!) outside of the tags, please. Don’t make me violence you.

The long and short is that this is a first episode, it’s all set up, so where it goes from here is the real key. The only other thing I’ll say is that the animation isn’t quite worthy of derision, but it ain’t luxurious either. Par for the course of a Negima-related adaptation, I feel. Let’s see where this one goes.

Random thoughts:

  • Even Chachazero was left behind? Harsh. I’ll admit, that’s the only moment the “immortality sucks” theme hit home for me. If you can’t even keep your murderous magical doll minion . . .
  • That revived Negima OP! Can’t say I don’t love it. After all, the music is the only thing I liked from those Negima anime, since they were mostly trash.
  • Everyone’s got to be chasing some older male (& possibly dead) family member in this ‘verse, don’t they? Ufufu~
  • “Even a little courage is what makes true magic.” I’m always fine with a sassy Evangeline!

My SECOND novel, Freelance Heroics, is available now! (Now in print!) (Also available: Firesign #1 Wage Slave Rebellion.) Sign up for my email list for updates. At stephenwgee.com, I’ve begun blogging again! The latest post: Help Houston.

Full-length images: 02, 03.

 

ED Sequence

ED: 「Steady→GO!!」 by Takakura Yuka, Hirose Yuuki, Kayano Ai, Ogura Yui, Harada Sayaka, and Kito Akari

49 Comments

  1. Man, for all the talk about UQ Holder being more of a “spiritual successor” to Negima! due to how different is, they’re sure trying their hardest to make it look like a truly direct sequel, especially with both the revival of “Happy Material” for the OP theme and the very title adding in “Mahou Sensei Negima! 2”.

    As for Negi’s partner not being buried next to him, I can only guess either…

    A.) It’s simply to keep up the mystery on who Negi himself might have chosen (for some reason).

    B.) That partner is still alive somewhere (though I doubt it’s Eva).

    HalfDemonInuyasha
    1. Akamatsu Ken’s been using UQ as a direct sequel to Negima as of the later and most recent manga chapters, covering the plot holes caused by his abrupt ending of Negima.
      The 1st 80-90ish chapters were rather independent and could qualify as a “spiritual successor” though.

      zztop
      1. It’s actually more of a “side-quel” (a la Shyamalan’s “Split” to “Unbreakable” movies) and I personally love what he’s doing with it now.

        Given the original anime vs manga, though, my expectations for this series are very lukewarm. No information’s been changed, but they’re doing the ol’ “Anime Scramble” with reckless abandon.

        Aex
    2. @they’re sure trying their hardest to make it look like a truly direct sequel

      That’s just the studio telling the Negima fans of the world to watch the show. There’s probably a lot of casual Negima anime or manga fans out there who have never heard of UQ Holder.

      Lyfe
  2. Honestly if youve already read the Negima manga Id recommend reading the UQ Holder manga before watching this since we already know theyre taking liberties and skipping whole arcs. Heck, one of the main characters was completely removed from this adaptation. This show could end up being good but its also probably gonna spoil alof of key moments without actually providing the context which is why Id say read the manga first.

    Yuuki
    1. Heck, one of the main characters was completely removed from this adaptation.

      Is that so? Is there any confirmation of it? I think I suspect who it is and why that person’s arc was deemed not essential. Not that I’m too surprised; back in the preview I lampshaded how the cover for UQ Holder spoiled a major event that happens later in the series… And when I say “later” I mean “not until around chapter 125 in UQ Holder”. How many episodes is this adaptation going to have?

      Mistic
  3. Word is Akamatsu made UQ Holder a Negima sequel to make up for prematurely ending the Negima manga back then due to IP/copyright fights he had with his publisher, Kodansha.
    Apparently back then the Japanese government was proposing a new copyright/publishing law that could’ve allowed publishers to wrest control of a manga’s IP away from the mangaka, and Akamatsu chose to end Negima early rather than risk having his creation getting stolen by Kodansha (his contract with them was due for renewal). Said law never got passed.

    Reactions from readers have been mixed – some say they like how Akamatsu’s been filling up the gaps/plot holes in Negima caused by the sudden ending, but they don’t like how he’s sidelined UQ’s original identity for the sake of addressing old regrets from Negima.

    More cynical readers suggest Akamatsu’s merely using the Negima connection as a crutch to bolster UQ’s popularity from the old Negima fanbase. (I saw a pic of Negima tankoubons carrying advertising for UQ Holder.)

    zztop
    1. I was a little anxious about how big the Negima shadow was for a few chapters, but recent events make me think it’ll be okay. There’s been enough thought put in for the series to make sense, find it’s own legs and still be it’s own thing, even with the lots of convenient things Akamatsu keeps doing to fill up Negima.

      Plus I trust Akamatsu like few other authors.

      Aex
  4. While there seems to be the theme of “immortality sucks”, I think part of it is that immortals tend to have plenty of regrets. Eventually all things leave them save for other immortals. Apparently not even Chachazero was immune to the ravages of time or perhaps after all those years, Eva released her to walk her own path like her younger sister Chachamaru.

    It does however give an interesting character study of Evangeline, she went from a hammy villainess wannabe to the wise old mentor apparently. I have to admit I like her new “adult” design much more than the Negima version along with the lower register for her adult voice. Still she does kick ass like few others can which warms the cockles of my heart.

    Mechamorph
  5. As much as I enjoyed this, the clear juxtaposition of trying to get this action comedy to feel like a harem comedy is jarring. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the blood and action and shonen esque yelling really felt odd against the fanservicey cutesy openings and endings.

    sosbrigade1991
    1. I think the cutesy openings and endings are meant as nostalgic throwback to the 1st Negima anime, which had cutesy songs too. In fact, UQ’s reusing the OP of the 1st Negima anime, Happy Material.

      The action/shonen stuff is definitely in line with Akamatsu’s wish to do a battle shounen series, something he’d wanted to do after ending the Love Hina manga. His editors coerced him to make another harem series in Negima, but Akamatsu got the last laugh by eventually turning Negima into a battle series.

      zztop
    1. Which anime is the manga based on? I have seen Negima! (2005 version) but that is obviously not based on the manga.

      Anyway, I love UQ Holder due to how our heroine is one of those rare “Onee-san” (or “Legal loli” in this case) which I rarely see. I want to see more heroines that are either an Onee-san or legal loli.

      L002
      1. There is no anime based on the Negima manga. There are a few OVAs that adapt specific parts of it accurately, but you’ll be pretty lost if you haven’t read the manga up to those points. Both full Negima anime series are complete anime-only fabrications that ran off in entirely their own direction. If you want to actually know the version of Negima that UQ Holder is built from, you’ll need to read the Negima manga. In it’s entirety. Especially the stuff at the end.

        Wanderer
    2. @Wanderer

      Yeah, I’ve been meaning to for ages, and I always said I would once the anime was greenlit—but the time constraints that kept me from doing it before haven’t gone away. I might spend this weekend marathoning the whole thing, but we’ll see. I got a couple intros to do, so I probably won’t have time again >_<

      1. If you’re able to read the manga while posting about the anime, any chance we could get some form of updates on that too, like back when you watched both Utawarerumono seasons around the same time?

        Erimaki
  6. How possible is it to get into this without having watched/read the original series? I’d assumed this was going to be more of a stand alone successor but I’m getting vibes from people that it may be heavier on the “you need the background” side.

    qwert
    1. Depends on how far they adapt. Any reasonable adaptation wouldn’t get too far into the stuff that you’d need to have read Negima to understand. There will be some references and stuff, but they will either be explained or be things that will just go completely over the heads of the uninformed and you won’t even realize there was anything there to catch (which shouldn’t in any way lessen your enjoyment because those details are more like shout-outs than necessary plot elements).

      Now, if they change things or rush things too drastically, that could all go out the window, as later in the UQ Holder manga (like 90, 100 chapters in) the Negima connection starts taking on much more plot significance. They’ve already changed a bit: that scene of Negi in the school accidentally stripping the girls is from much later in the manga. However they may have simply placed that there to try to tie it in for Negima fans, as they’re marketing this adaptation specifically as “Negima 2”.

      We’ll really just have to wait and see. If they don’t tamper too much with the timeline, non-Negima readers should still be able to enjoy anything this anime would reasonably cover. If they do tamper with it, all bets are off.

      Wanderer
  7. L002
      1. Well, too bad for her then. She’s getting that taste of her own medicine.

        Ever wondered how Nagi felt when she pursued him so relentlessly, enough that he tricked her that one time just to get away from her? Now, she knows.

        Mincemaker
    1. I won’t spoil who specifically, but no, they’re not all dead….okay maybe A LITTLE spoiler given it shouldn’t come as a surprise, but remember that…

      Show Spoiler ▼

      HalfDemonInuyasha
      1. Because some of us like the original cast quite a bit, and find the idea of them being dead depressing. The fact of the story being set X number of years in the future has no bearing whatsover on our emotional response.

        Wanderer
      2. I don’t think that’s really relevant. The cast didn’t die tragically/horribly or anything like that. They did the most natural thing anyone could do, they grew old, likely had families and lived their own lives. They were never going to be with Evangeline forever. That’s why I find his “They left Evangeline alone” thing odd. She’s immortal and would know what comes with immortality. They were never going to be with her forever either.

        To each their own, I just don’t think its in any way sad or whatever that a series 70+ years in the future doesn’t have its original cast.

        Lyfe
      3. Don’t be so ridiculous. They’re not real, not everyone becomes an emotional wreck because cartoon characters aren’t alive in that universe because they’ve died of old age.

        Lyfe
  8. Now that I think of it, has any of Ken Akamatsu’s works EVER been faithfully adapted from the book for TV? Love Hina had weird episodes about RPG fantasy dreaming, creepy dolls and giant robots, while both Negima series just went completely off the rails.

    prime_pm
    1. Sadly, no. Seems ones behind the anime series’ were far more interested in purely the harem comedy aspects rather than the actual deeper parts of the story and/or characters themselves.

      HalfDemonInuyasha
  9. Have to check it out. As the author basically trashed his own work and had out of character endings for several characters in the last part of the Negima story as he closed it out I had always hoped he would eventually regain full rights and continue on the original story. There is always hope that someone who cares more about the bottom line than pride gained power within the publisher would go some money is better than no money and sell their claims for a share of profits.
    But a later story sounds interesting.

    RedRocket
  10. HOT D***!!! Oldschool is back! I haven’t seen a Negima series since the burst of the housing bubble! I’ve been looking forward to a well established title! What’s next after this Chrono Crusade? Mahouraba, gravion, Mai Hime?

    Renasayers
  11. In response to your comments about Touta, I think he’s a much weaker character than Negi in general. The problem is that he’s meant to be the anti-Negi. Energetic, cheerful, and fairly dumb as opposed to Negi’s angsty bookworm type. Which is good at face value, but the problem is that Negi himself was basically the anti-shounen hero, so by flipping the script here, Touta just becomes a fairly standard shounen hero.

    He’s not a bad character per se, and he’s got some moments I do like, but he’s just a far more rote character than Negi ever was (until right at the end when Negi became a bit more of a standard shounen protagonist)

    KaleRylan
  12. Too bad the only most popular dub of any Negima animation was its first, with hackneyed performances, awful animation, and a horrible finale. Yes, there are OVAs, and this new show, but I really wish it hadn’t have started out so awkwardly, much like One Piece. Otherwise the franchise might have gotten a better chance at being a hit here in America.

    So this takes place decades in the future, since it stars the original star’s grandson. Interesting.

    starss
  13. I’m glad they actually put Mizore and Shibobu in the opening despite the former not appearing until MUUUUUUUUUUCH later.

    One thing I kinda like is that while Negima went from harem to Shonen, this goes the reverse way… at the same time, our protagonist is the complete opposite of Negi to the point he’s not actually as dense as he seems and does land himself a legit girlfriend before the series even ends (unlike Negi, who gets his AFTER his series and in a flashback of UQ)

  14. I’m mostly interested to see how they plan to adapt this series. As others have mentioned, the Negima-centric plot doesn’t kick in for quite a while in the manga, but the sub-title and images imply we will get to that point. This first episode was a strict adaptation of the (~80 page) first chapter of the manga, aside from the initial Negi scene that comes from a much later chapter.
    https://randomc.net/image/UQ%20HOLDER%20Mahou%20Sensei%20Negima%202/UQ%20HOLDER%20Mahou%20Sensei%20Negima%202%20-%20OP%20-%20Large%2006.jpg
    There is a notable character missing from here, so I would guess that character’s arc is cut. I can think of a couple other arcs that may potentially be dropped as they aren’t directly connected to where the main plot has gone, but that would also remove character development and potential plot threads/foreshadowing. Given the Negima adaptation track record, I hope this one will be better, but my expectations remain tempered.

    Never expected to hear a new version of Happy Material, still occasionally have one of the many variations come up in my playlists.

    SK
    1. There is a notable character missing from here, so I would guess that character’s arc is cut.

      Assuming you’re talking about Show Spoiler ▼

      maybe they didn’t include him because Show Spoiler ▼

      Wanderer
      1. That is indeed who I’m talking about. While your reason could be true,
        Show Spoiler ▼

        My guess was based on the promo art, and how much stuff would need to be cut if the anime intends to get there anytime soon. I’d be happy if they showed his arc, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. I did a quick check on MAL, though, and the only character introduced in that arc who I saw listed was Show Spoiler ▼

        Again, that by itself doesn’t guarantee anything, but I see little to indicate that arc will be included.

        SK
  15. I’m not exactly thrilled by that intro being completly out of place (mangá begins from the part Evangeline is sitting on that chair), plus that opening missing a character while pushing others that shouldn’t even come close to appearing in the first few cours. Also, the opening and that intro hinted heavly on ecchi and that’s very scarce before Karin appears (and even after that, it only reaches Negima levels much later).
    But it’s already more promissing than the Negima animes, so I’ll just hope the missing character isn’t just there because he won’t appear while this opening is the current one. After all, he appear only after 40+ chapters, so, if the anime isn’t rushed, there’s plenty of material to do whole 26 episodes without him. Plus, it could help hiding his nature.

    RodIshiCi

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