UQ Holder! is definitely an anime with so much potential especially since the manga is very good in my honest opinion as was its prequel Mahou Sensei Negima (the manga, not the anime because that was just bad) but unfortunately it suffered so much from being rushed, left out arcs, and a big focus on the RomCom elements which would have been much more cohesive if they took their time on adapting the source material. It should also be noted that there are many things that require knowledge about the previous work, Negima, which I recommend for you guys to read the manga as the anime never really went far especially with the Magical World arc.
The story starts out with our main protagonist, Touta Konoe and his friends attacking their teacher and Touta’s guardian, Yukihime (Evangeline A.K. McDowell). Their dream is to get out of the village and go to capital and reach the top of the space elevator. However Yukihime is a mage and isn’t so easily defeated. A crisis that develops leads to Touta finding out about his curse of immortality that was given to him by Yukihime and eventually he and Yukihime leaves the village and make their way to the capital where he can make new friends.
On their way there, Touta meets an immortal immortal hunter, Kuroumaru, who later becomes his best friend. While the three of them travel they eventually come into contact with Yukihime’s organization UQ Holder. UQ Holder is an organization of immortals that help the world much like a guild and they also operate an inn. This is the how Touta Konoe’s everyday life begins, one filled with romantic comedy as the staff and even guests eventually develops feelings for him, even his best bro. But not everything is sunshines and rainbows as Touta’s past is trying to capture him and he must uncover the truth as well as his connection to his grandfather who is the greatest mage, Negi Springfield.
The problem here is that J.C.Staff is trying to cram so much material (over 100 chapters worth) into just 12 episodes. So much doesn’t make sense that I kept asking myself stuff like “why this character is showing up so early” or “wasn’t there an arc or 2 before this scene happens?”, the result being that it is an obvious mess and destroys something that could’ve been nothing less than epic. If the studio had been given a chance to do a 2-cour (24 or 25 episodes) of this adaptation then it would’ve been undoubtedly much better than what has been presented to us. It also doesn’t help that they completely erased one arc that introduced us to a really strong character and another male in this Touta-centric anime, they also omitted the training arc where pretty much all the kids get ridiculously strong because they were taught by none other than Evangeline’s master. The training arc was somewhat shown in the OVA but it focused more on Eva and Touta’s relationship which was really sweet but the climax was omitted to my dismay. Also for those who haven’t read the manga you guys should watch the OVA after the anime because of the last line in the anime for it to make more sense.
The art was decent enough and the action scenes were quite fluid but they lacked the punch that could be found in the manga. It also doesn’t help that some of the more intense fights were cut out due to time constraints. I was also incredibly pissed they never once showed Yukihime using her Magia Erebia form to fight which makes one of the best fights in the whole series when she used it against Fate. Being a romcom anime as well there are many fanservice scenes but I question the censorship using Kamo, while it was cute and unique first time watchers will wonder who the creature is.
I can’t really say much about the soundtrack but the battle music was quite good and manages to sound right when the mood gets heavy or dramatic but it wasn’t exactly memorable in my opinion. The voices were alright but Touta’s was annoying or didn’t sound right at first but I eventually got used to it. The opening and ending had some fanservice and it was too cheery in my opinion, they could’ve just went for some Fairy Tail like songs and it would’ve been much better although that’s just my opinion.
In the end UQ Holder! had so much going for it but definitely is only subpar at best. A truly epic series despite all the fanservice and slapstick comedy was again afflicted by Ken Akamatsu’s (the creator) curse of having bad adaptations of his works. But despite all the negatives, the few positives helped alleviate my impression of the series. It was so nostalgic to see Negi and the class of 3-A all over again especially Asuna. It reminded me so much of the Negima manga that it makes me want to read it all over again. Also Kuroumaru’s case of his/her feelings for Touta retains the same amount of hilarity as it did in the manga. I also had fun watching Evangeline but that could just be my bias as she is my favorite character in the Negima universe. In a way it is also unique to see a romcom for immortals.
If you want to get the full experience of UQ Holder! then I wholeheartedly recommend that you read the Negima manga if you haven’t yet as its 2 major arcs are some of the best if not the best I have ever seen in any medium, then after that you can read the UQ Holder! manga which I will do so soon because the anime just doesn’t do it the justice and exposure it deserves.