5 Point Discussions – UQ Holder Episode 9: “Love, Baths, And Vigorous Exercise”

by Sage Ashford

UQ Holder
Tota learns the true story behind what happened to his parents. But can he handle it? Remember, if you like this article and 5 Point Discussions, please share it on Facebook or Twitter! It really helps. And if you’ve got any comments or questions, please hit me up @SageShinigami.

1. I was completely ready to pretend this episode didn’t happen if it went completely off-script and became your typical harem bathhouse-type episode, but they actually moved the plot forward quite a bit this week. Of course, it’s still totally a bathhouse kind of episode, but that’s also offset by UQ Holder’s eclectic cast of characters.
My biggest problem with this week’s episode is that this episode isn’t really earned. If you read my Black Clover recaps, then you’ve seen me go into detail about how Studio Pierrot is adapting the series at far too slow of a pace, but by contrast JC Staff is moving way too quickly. Though UQ’s manga was never really been shy about its fanservice, there was always some basis in logic for its harem-y elements. In the manga, Kirie develops a crush on Touta because he’s stupidly earnest and legitimately cares not only for her but everyone around him. He’s just so damn likable that it’s believable when most of the girls (and some of the guys!) fall for him.
But here in the anime, Kirie’s known Touta for all of two episodes prior to this one, and initially all she knows is that he’s responsible for her dying seven times in a row. Though his honesty and overall personality should still be disarming, it’s ridiculous for her to be so obviously smitten with him this soon, much less spend most of the episode trying to chase him down to complete an ancient ritual that will bond two people together forever.

2. *sighs* I’m torn. While it is great to see two Negima alums, and the show was suffering from a lack of “Ohoho”…it’s episode nine. This week introduces a trio of characters we normally wouldn’t be seeing for several episodes yet–Chachamaru (the tall robot) and Ayaka Yukihiro (the older woman) are holdovers from the Negima series, while the young girl is Ayaka’s granddaughter, Mizore. Mizore’s here to introduce herself to the grandson of a long line of ladykillers, Tota Konoe, and ask for his hand in marriage. There’s a pretty hilarious bit here where she accuses him of being an “enemy of womenkind” only to proudly proclaim she’ll marry him in order to keep other women safe, but it’s still hard to get away from it: this is still episode nine. Of a twelve episode series. There’s so little time in this show left and we’re still introducing new characters? You barely have time to introduce the characters you have (quick, you anime watchers tell me who Shinobu is) and you’re trying to pile on even more? How, Sway?

3. UQ Holder seems like an organization made up entirely of people who were granted immortality after suffering horrible circumstances, but are trying to make the best out of life despite that. Almost every member of UQ–from the grunts all the way up to the all-important numbers–have some kind of awful backstory that lead them to where they are now. In Amemiya Ikku’s case, he was a young boy that fell into a coma at age 13, but since his family was powerful and influential in the tech world, they discovered a way to build him a body and transfer his consciousness into it. He can even swap his consciousness into other bodies depending on the situation, making him uniquely able to adapt to a wide variety of missions.
Still, both in the anime as well as the manga, there are hordes of so-called “Immortal Hunters”, despite their being very little evidence of evil immortals. There is an arc about an immortal that killed scores of humans, but even in that case he was just a tortured little kid who only started killing humans that were particularly monstrous themselves. Other than a very particular Immortal, all of the ones we’ve seen are well-meaning sorts who just want to be left alone. Those in UQ Holder are basically superheroes, so this hatred of immortals is almost like how humans hate mutants in the X-Men…except there are barely even any evil mutants to have caused the hatred.

4. In JC Staff’s defense, they’ve tried to keep references to the series which UQ Holder’s a sequel to, to a bare minimum. Still, it’s little flashbacks like this that remind you that the subtitle to this series is “Mahou Sensei Negima 2”, and that it’s a follow-up to a series that Ken Akamatsu didn’t get a chance to properly finish originally because of some legal issues.  While they try to keep all of this to a minimum, as the manga (and anime) develop, references to the original series manifest themselves more and more plainly.
This week we get a longer glance into the past of 2005, where Tota’s grandfather Negi was still just an innocent ten year old boy in charge of teaching English to a classroom full of junior high school ladies. It’s a sharp contrast to the start of the episode, where Mizore claims that Negi was an impossibly skilled playboy who had a classroom full of girls wrapped around his finger–he’s so unassuming and polite that he can’t even turn down food from all the girls, and winds up so stuffed he can hardly move. It’s a cute scene, but more than anything if you’re not a fan of the manga you just walk away with more questions than otherwise: even this short glimpse of Class 3-A shows Yukihime, a ghost girl, and a teenager polishing a gun–there’s no way you can see all that and not want to see the prequel story they come from.  Maybe some day….?

5. Minus this conversation at the end between Yukihime and Tota, this episode is largely just fanservice and character development, but…wow. The plot takes a major jump forward at the end, featuring this bombshell of a reveal where Tota discovers the truth about his origins. There’s even more, though: Tota’s grandfather has actually been under the control of a powerful being known as Ialda, the Mage of the Beginning, and while he’s been utilizing his considerable willpower and skills to maintain control, it’s only a matter of time before he gives in and attacks the world. And Tota is one of the only beings they believe has the abilities necessary to stop him.
This is actually another massive change from the manga, where Tota had all of this explained to him by a failed clone who had most of Negi’s powers, and I’m guessing the resultant depression he sinks into won’t be a part of the anime as well, but if we’re going to get a finale together in three episodes I guess we’ve got to start hitting the big plot points, right?
UQ Holder is available on Amazon’s Anime Strike service.

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