「不死人たちの城」 (Fu Shinin Tachi no Shiro)
“Palace of the Immortals”

The Negima curse returns.

I’m reminded why I prefer not to blog shows that I’ve read the source material for, or re-experience a story in a different medium at all, for that matter. Adaptations can be good in their own right, but knowledge of the source can often prejudice us against the adaptation, and make it hard to see its good points. The story was made for the original medium, right? So of course it’s probably going to be better there. It stands to reason.

This isn’t one of those adaptations. If this episode illustrates the path it means to go down, it’s going to be bad.

As far as deviations from the source material goes, I have no idea why these changes were made. If they were going to introduce Yuuki Shinobu (Harada Sayaka) in the third episode, why not do it in the second when her story would have stayed intact? Or if pacing would have suffered (likely), do it in a flashback! That’s not ideal by any means, but it’s better than this. Gamers did that, with an out-of-place intro segment during episode eight that clashed with the rest of the episode, but in the long run it didn’t do as much damage as this change already has. And why replace the original entrance exam with these duels? Why shove all that training into one episode, so it feels token rather than earned? Why!? I don’t understand. It’s all for the worse.

As far as treating this as if I were an anime-only viewer, a bunch of the characters’ actions are either arbitrary, baffling, or stupid (Shinbou not telling them where the storehouse is, walking around underground caves with all those dishes, Shishido Jinbei (Sakuya Shunsuke) telling Touta to pull out the sword out of nowhere, etc). The animation was also shoddy, they tried to introduce too many characters in one episode so none of them stick, and the whole thing is aimless. Some of the fight choreography wasn’t bad, but past that it felt okay? Maybe average? About the coolest thing was seeing how some other immortals work, but that could have been done with a still shot when Makabe Gengorou (Kaji Yuki) was talking about the other kinds of immortals, or with his words. Which they already did anyway.

Look, I don’t like hating on shows in my blog posts. Someone will see something in this episode which I didn’t, and they’ll enjoy it, and I don’t want them to come here and see me shitting all over something they enjoyed. But this was an adaptation which I was still holding out hope for after last week’s episode, because the changes done there were defensible—and then we get this. Eugh. I was leaning toward blogging this, but now I’m leaning away, fast. I’ll decide whether I’m blogging this before next week, but I wouldn’t put your money on it. J.C.Staff doesn’t appear to be putting much time, money, or effort into this, so I’m not sure why we should either.

Random thoughts:

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End Card


    1. You know, that’s a thing I’ve been thinking about recently. We see that the original creator is involved, and we assume that’s good, but is it? Where’s the data on the comparative success rate of adaptations where the original creator is involved?

      More to the point, creating manga and doing series composition for an anime adaptation are different beasts. More related than, say, series compositions and carpentering are, but still. Different. Just because someone’s good at one doesn’t mean they’re good at the other

      Also, what if the studios are using the original creator’s presence to lend an air of credibility to the proceedings, even if that creator is marginalized behind the scenes and isn’t having a strong effect on the end product. One of the skills the creator might lack of navigating the politics of an anime studio.

      Finally, there’s also the simple fact that the original creator can make mistakes too! They might try to do something ambitious, or different, or try to force too much material into the adaptation, all just like someone else might do if they were adapting the work! Just because they know it better doesn’t mean they won’t screw it up, especially when they’re working in a medium they’re not used to.

      The more I think about it, the more I suspect that having the original creator help with the project might not be as useful as it first sounds. If someone wants to do a study to find out, I’d sure appreciate it.

      1. I’m not too sure about the success rate of animes with the creator’s direct involvement.
        You’d need inside info for this, or at least expose-style leaks.

        That said, I’m aware these creator/studio conflicts sometimes result in creators not wanting their mangas to be adapted at all for fear it’ll compromise their vision for the series. For example,
        shoujo mangaka Tanemura Arina has famously said she never wants any of her works to be made into anime, and purposely writes them that way (ex. fluffy shoujo mixed with mature themes like depression, loss and death).
        Some think she had a bad time dealing with anime studios who adapted her 2 works, Full Moon and Phantom Thief Jeanne, although there’s been no official confirmation.

      2. Interesting. One of those shows mentioned, Full Moon, is one of the favourite shows of an aniblog writer I enjoy reading. I watched a couple of episodes but didn’t want to get into a 50+ episode show. The MAL description suggests that the anime followed the original story for about one episode. Regardless of the results, I could see how that would upset an author.

        Karmaburn – Full Moon wo Sagashite

        FWIW, I agree with the thoughts on original writers getting involved. In the 3D world, this was discussed with the show Handmaid’s Tale. Its author, Margaret Atwood, explained that she is consulted routinely but they don’t have to listen to her. Which, unless the author has a strong vision for the show and the chops to implement it, is probably how it should be. But I don’t have anything emperical to back that up.

        As for this show, I’m disappointed in it so far. Touta’s seiyuu was great in a limited role in Hentai Ouji, but here she spends too much time yelling enthusiastically about nothing and everything. None of the characters seem to have any endearing qualities. I like Negima (both series), but so far, this show has none of the charm of either of them. And the monitor lizard scene was irredeemably awful.

  1. I’ll give it this. This episode disappointed me in new and interesting ways. Probably the most jarring was Gengoro, whose particular flavor of immortality was supposed to rely on the fact that he’s never told a soul about how it actually works.

    Most of the budget cuts and edits I can… tolerate, but the saddest one, I think, were the magic beasts. Not the CGI, of course, although that was also frustrating. What I mean is, this was supposed to be the first time the author demonstrated just how easy it is to deal with immortals– in this case, being digested for centuries.

    I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but to me, this is honestly the biggest thing that the manga has going for it. Much like how Asimov loved twisting his own supposedly iron-clad Three Laws for robots, I actually think UQ Holder is incredibly clever about making his cast look vulnerable despite being supposedly invincible.

    This is only the first actual bad episode, so I’ll keep watching for now. I’m… hoping the budget cuts are leading to something memorable. That’s all I have right now.

    1. Having just spent the evening reading two additional volumes of manga to wash the taste out of my mouth (also, because I wanted to), totally agree. I still do find myself thinking, “Yeah, but they’re immortal though” from time to time, so it’s not a perfect situation (it’s really the regeneration speeds that do that rather than the immortality per say; Jinbei is just as vulnerable to getting killed as anyone else, he just won’t expire from time, so any danger he’s in feels very real), but Akamatsu-sensei does a pretty good job of making them feel imperiled when by all rights they should be immune to everything.

      The magic beasts were a good early example of that. It makes you start looking for the quirks in each person’s immortality. That’s lost here.

  2. What baffles me the most about this episode is that they essentially went out of their way to say “yes we know the source did it differently but we want to do it like this” when Gengoro starts talking about the manga version of the entrance test.
    Overall the episode was just weird. Most of the reordering of events and such felt really arbitrary, heck they basically did everything the manga did except reordered and with less detail and more anime original content thrown in. Honestly it felt like there was enough anime original content that they could have just used that time to do a shortened version of the dungeon crawling test…

    That said, to be fair to the anime, if I didn’t have knowledge of the source material, the episode wasn’t that bad. Aside from the random cgi beasts and the really contrived way of the duo getting into the underground dungeon, it was honestly pretty decent as a standalone thing. Doing duels instead of dungeon crawling does allow them to give more screentime to more characters, though that reasoning falls flat on itself when, among other reasons, they didn’t focus on the duels anyways (instead they focused on Tota getting the sword from the dungeon and beating down beasts from the dungeon, except not in the dungeon… ok).

    Does Kuromaru’s immortality even work like that? Like, did Kuromaru use the string to clench his severed arm’s hand too?

    For the record, no it’s not. In fact in one of the chapters adapted by this episode it was stated that Kuromaru’s immortality works completely different from how Gengoro said it does; when he loses an arm, his body treats it as such and starts regenerating it, as opposed to Gengoro talking about how he can still control his arm with his thoughts. (To be fair the string could have been there to show Gengoro was wrong, but then that’s some detailed string work with just wrist movements.)

    1. On Kuromaru’s immortality: I thought so. Maybe Gengorou just had it wrong, but that’s a dicey gambit to try when viewers will take it as fact.

      You’re right, it was probably all right as an anime original, though contrived character actions really chapped my ass. It’s just…why? Why! Orz

      1. Yeah if they were going for Kuromaru fooling Gengoro, they definitely didn’t make it clear enough. Which just makes me think they got his immortality wrong. Which, incidentally, makes the claims about Akamatsu working with the anime staff seem superficial – mentioning this since you discussed it above with zztop and I find it hard to believe he would let mistakes like that slide, though it’s also minor enough it could just never have reached him if he does have a say. Since I imagine any say he might have would be based on a rough draft.

  3. Was this even the same show – disappointing…
    Even w/o reading the manga, this was way off from its
    first two episodes – which I thought were clever and funny.

    I was really looking forward to episode 3 – what happened!
    May just follow to see how bad and stupid of a wreck it’ll become.


  4. I was surprised by Shinobu in a maid outfit so soon too. I’m pretty sure she actually started working there by like… Chapter 50 or something.

    That said, I’m fairly certain they’re trying to avoid the mistake they made with the OG Negima of not reaching far enough in the plot… by speeding up the plot a little too quickly instead.

    Pick your extreme end of the spectrum.

  5. “Why shove all that training into one episode, so it feels token rather than earned?”

    It also doesn’t help that, as per cliche, it’s not that Touta actually passes the test (though, also as per cliche, he could have if he simply took an extra half second to finish his swing rather than instantly stopping the moment a scream STARTS to be heard), but simply has the pass handed to him because, “Wow! He’s such a nice guy! I think I’ll start crushing on him soon since I’m a girl who initially claims to hate him! I’ll say he passed based on an extremely loose technicality!”

    I haven’t read the source material myself (only looked up some details) and yeah, the episode itself felt a bit…off.

  6. Yeah, I already dropped this one. I gave it my rule of 3, but darn it if it just isn’t the most bland generic POS I’ve watched in a long time.

    It reminds me less of the second Negima anime, and more of the first, and, quite honestly, comes off to me as even less interesting than that. I mean, this things lives off of tropes like Black Clover does.

    For those who claim the source material is superior, I have reason to believe you as the canon OVAs for Negima released late were very good, and far superior to their TV counterparts, actually giving me hope for a full anime to cover from start to finish that sadly never came. If true, then I really feel for all of you, as this has the look of one of the season’s worst.

    I feel sorry for Ken Akamatsu. Studios just hate his guts apparently.

      1. If we’re being honest, I’m actually a fan of Love Hina as well, and own the DVDs, but yeah, Negima adaptations seem cursed unfortunately.

        It’s a shame too, as they’re right up my alley. The later canon adapted OVAs and Film were great, and as I said, really made me long for a full adaptation done in that way, and with that level of quality and respect for the source material.

  7. I love it. Its ecchi humor. Its love hina and nejima.I loved both.Its an older style.
    Maybe these young whippersnappers don’t like old fashioned anime.
    Its entertainment not philosophy.

    Its light anime it beats black clover.
    want philosopy look at made in abyss.
    you can have much worse than this. Its bread and butter anime.
    it keeps them employed.

    you can always make your own anime.
    This is how southpark started. Flash animation
    a Wacom graphics tablet a computer. use studio sai.

    Look at lilipichu. Im a fan boy. Korean animating blogger.
    Draw with Jazza.Animation lessons.
    Jaiden Animation
    The odd1 is out
    And my fave for her dry humour. Tabbes.
    Emirichu It’s Not Like I Like You cute song

    Many others

    write a light novel.
    make a manga. easy to be a critic.

    I like UQ as entertainment. There are a range of anime this season

    1. It doesn’t matter whether it’s old-fashioned or new-fashioned. That’s absolutely irrelevant. There’s only one problem here, they made a bad adaptation of a great manga.

      So basically, we enjoyed this really entertaining manga & was overjoyed when we heard it got an anime adaptation. However, our expectation was betrayed. The anime is only half as good as the manga due to all the unecessary changes they made. Thus, all the complaints were just natural.

      Also, don’t misinterpret this as I’m against changes or anime only materials. FYI, Chuunikoi anime is very very different from the light novel. However, I actually enjoyed it, even more than the LN in fact. There are good changes & bad changes. It just that the changes in UQ Holder anime belong to the later category.

  8. So much of this just felt like change for change’s sake. Introducing Shinobu now, after skipping her in ep.2, is a signal to me that she’s mostly here for the harem antics. The most significant part of her early manga intro was the discussion of Touta’s motivations, which was dropped. We don’t see her again in the manga until at least 3 or 4 arcs from now, which could have been the time for a flashback (We also miss out on a Love Hina callback when she was reintroduced).

    Outside of the anime-original duels, they basically just reordered events (beasts, sword, Jinbei) of the original trial/training, with Yukihime sending them all down to the basement at the end anyway. However, they cut out the portion showing how different types of immortality have different ways to counter them using the beasts in the basement.

    I was anticipating heavy cuts due to how far into the manga the promo art was showing, but these changes don’t seem to focus solely on increasing the pace or covering any plot holes those cuts might create. BTW, is there a solid source on how many ep this adaptation is supposed to be?

  9. What’s weirdest to me is that, as far as I can tell, they basically could have covered the important content of the manga’s version of the test in this same amount of time. Maybe they would have had to compress a bit, but nothing that I think would have hurt the story. There’s no reason to do things differently, other than “because we can!” which seems like a poor justification to me.

    I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep going with this one.

    1. I’m always open to an anime doing things differently. It would be marvelous to get a different version of the base story that emphasizes new things in new ways—an Ars Nova-style adaptation. I’ll always leave the door open for studios to attempt that, and won’t reflexively scoff because it’s different than the original . . . but it remains that, often when studios deviate from the source, it’s for the worse. Pulling an Ars Nova requires a deep understanding of the source material, and most script writers don’t get there (for whatever reason I won’t try to guess).

      “Because we can [try something new]!” is fine with me. But it’s gotta be good, or at least have a chance at being good. This . . . didn’t meet that benchmark, I’ll say.

  10. I’m currently in a course for transmedia and I must say that UQ Holder’s anime is the prefect example I would use of someone screwing up how to do these things. I was hoping episode 2 was just a blunder, but episode 3 is just… Seriously, that’s not how it works. Not how any of it works. At least not if you want to strengthen the IP.

    Even if Akamatsu is also to blame, I’d still put the most blame on JC Staff because they should know how to do their jobs. This isn’t that.

    Dorian S.

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