Will there be a UQ Holder! Season 2 after the way the 2017 anime adaptation was handled? So far, anime-only fans seem to be pleased with the story and the animation, but many manga fans are aghast. Ending with UQ Holder! Episode 12 instead of having a full two-cour season resulted in the anime feeling very fast-paced instead of unnecessarily drawn out, but the problem is that studio J.C. Staff may have rushed too quickly.
Unfortunately, the way the anime adaptation was handled is reminiscent of the past. For those who are new to the series, the UQ Holder!: Magister Negi Magi! 2 anime is the sequel to Mahou Sensei Negima (Negima! Magister Negi Magi), which came out over 10 years ago. The story is based on the manga by Ken Akamatsu, best known for the harem series Love Hina. Both Mahou Sensei Negima and Love Hina were adapted by studio Xebec, with the latter receiving a so-so adaptation while manga fans were appalled by the Negima! anime.
When he first started on the Negima! manga way back in 2003, author Akamatsu desired to create a shonen series, but his publisher wanted him to repeat the success of Love Hina. So, the Negima manga started off with a harem setup only to shift gears over time, eventually becoming a battle harem shonen series. Unfortunately, the anime adaptation started when there were too few manga volumes available, so the anime’s story ended up overly focusing on protagonist Negi Springfield being a teacher of 31 schoolgirls at an all-girl high school.
Long story short, Xebec turned manga filler content into a 26-episode anime that ended with an anime original ending. A little over a year later, studio Shaft took over from Xebec in 2016 to do a remake called Negima!?. While some fans appreciated the new art style, the remake was essentially an original comedy story loosely based on the premise of the manga and not a true reboot.
Worse, these two anime adaptations never delved into the manga’s true shonen story, although there were several OVA episodes released over the years. These OVA episodes were manga-accurate, but the first three covered harem filler content. The final five episodes provided a truncated version of the events surrounding Earth and Mars in the Magical World story arc.
The final insult was that temporary legal issues caused Akamatsu to abruptly bring his manga series to an end. (UQ Holder! Chapter 140 actually fleshes out the ending of the Negima! manga a bit more.) Thankfully, the author was able to write the story for the 2011 movie Mahou Sensei Negima!: Anime Final and provide an alternate official ending for the anime story, but the home video movie was never released to English audiences.
The good news is that the UQ Holder! anime does a better job of adapting the source material. If fans don’t have time to read the manga, they will be okay just watching the anime since the new series stands alone and does not require knowledge of the Negima! manga. Unfortunately, that still leaves both anime and manga fans with the bad news.
UQ Holder! Manga Compared To The Anime
Akamatsu first started releasing the UQ Holder! manga in Weekly Shonen Magazine back in 2013. Starting in 2016, the series switched to Bessatsu Shonen Magazine, which means that new UQ Holder! manga chapters (which are called “stages” by the author) are coming out on a monthly basis instead of weekly. Instead of around 18 pages per week, he now releases around 40 pages per month.
As of November of 2017, the manga series is up to UQ Holder! Volume 15 in tankobon format, whereas the magazine is up to Chapter 143 as of this article’s publishing. The release date for UQ Holder! Volume 16 is scheduled for March 9, 2018, while Volume 17 is set for June 8, 2018. As the series is published in Japan, Crunchyroll simultaneously releases the English translation for those who have premium subscriptions.
The reason that making UQ Holder! Season 2 is difficult is because J.C. Staff blew through almost all of the available source material even though the manga was long enough for two to three seasons. The ending of Episode 11 roughly corresponded to Chapter 131, leaving only 12 chapters as source material for UQ Holder! Episode 12. In order to pull this off, they omitted entire story arcs and some interesting characters, including Dana Ananga Jagannatha, the vampire noble Witch of the Rift, and Santa Sasaki, UQ Holder member number 12.
Santa’s story is not so jolly, and he’s covered in Chapters 43 through 61. Without getting into details, the story involves a necromancer named Sayoko Minase, a zombie plague, and more time-traveling hijinks from UQ Holder member Kirie Sakurame.
Warning: The following contains major spoilers for the UQ Holder! manga and for those who have not watched the anime up until Episode 11.
Dana the Witch originally showed up in Chapter 76 as part of the story for the Mahora Martial Arts Tournament. In the manga, the main protagonist, Touta Konoe, was not a last-minute contestant who went straight up against Cutlass (his genetic “sister” Tena Vita). Instead, he fought against many opponents as part of the preliminaries, including Afro, the fighter who was shown in the hospital in the anime. Even Evangeline A.K. McDowell (Yukihime) and Fate Averruncus entered the contest once they heard that Negi Springfield himself qualified for the tournament.
How young Touta enters the tournament is complicated in and of itself, but to quickly summarize, he eventually finds himself struggling against the A-listers. That’s when the all-powerful Dana the Witch, who trained Evangeline many years before she met Negi’s father Nagi, transported Touta to a pocket dimension and offered to train him. Her floating palace exists out of time and space, so it’s connected to every time period, even parallel universes and the afterlife, so Dana knows everyone’s secrets. Because of this quirky state of existence, Touta meets a young Evangeline, who goes by the nickname Kitty.
Over a period of months, Touta is taught using deadly hula hoops (seriously) how to master the White of Mars and Black of Venus abilities he inherited from Negi and Asuna Kagurazaka as part of her “beginner’s course” for her students. Kitty realizes that the wild mixture of these powers is what is preventing Touta from using magic, so Touta must learn to control them independently. He calls this separation of powers “Revolution” and mastering this control allows Touta to be able to use Magia Erebea like his grandfather.
The final fight with Negi’s forces takes place at a different time and location in the manga, but due to time constraints, the anime set the finale at the end of the tournament. In the middle of this battle, the anime has Touta learning about what happened to Negi from fighting Ialda Baoth, the Mage of the Beginning, and how Asuna was sealed away on Inverse Mars (Mundus Magicus). The humorously nicknamed Ku:Nel Sanders (his real name is Albireo Imma) also shows Touta brief flashbacks about Evangeline’s past. But, in the manga, Dana the Witch explains or shows to Touta much of what is happening.
Most of the manga’s tournament story arc was skipped entirely, but even the fight between Touta and Cutlass was nerfed because certain abilities were not featured in the anime. Cutlass is shown wielding a sword similar to Asuna’s weapon, but the anime did not show how she can also use the Black of Venus power. In the manga, Cutlass initially lost the sword fight against Touta, but then she used a magical artifact called a Pactio card that let her stop the flow of time. In the manga, Touta was able to counterattack because Kirie’s kiss also has the ability to stop time, but since the anime did not mention that ability earlier, it became a requirement to downplay Cutlass’ powers.
Needless to say, J.C. Staff did a good job overall in keeping the anime interesting while sticking to the main plot points, but they sacrificed much in the process by squashing everything into 12 episodes. The mere story highlights of many manga chapters and volumes were summarized in the anime within two episodes. Even an interesting speeder racing story from Chapters 113 through 124 was skipped, although the Solar Olympics races were briefly referenced in the anime when Touta was admiring Shinobu Yuuki’s custom speeder. Instead, anime audiences got the hot bath harem hijinks of Episode 9.
If anime audiences wish to read the manga without starting from the beginning, it is recommended to start with Chapter 41. The anime covered most of UQ Holder! Volume 1 through Volume 4, so starting at the point where Fate is captured (Episode 7 and 8 in the anime) makes for a good transition point for reading Santa’s story. In order, the anime covers Chapters 1 through 26, 29 through 42, 63, 65, 70, 71, 95, 98, 100 through 103, 110 through 112, and 125 through 128.
It’s difficult to compare the chapters of the manga against UQ Holder! Episode 12 because the finale was largely an anime original ending. The manga did not have Class 3-A pop up out of nowhere to save the day, so the ending was arguably just Negi nostalgia. At the same time, the anime did not finish off the main quest, which leaves the door open for a second season.
UQ Holder! OVA Episodes To Fill In Some Of The Anime Story Gaps?
Before the new anime even aired, UQ Holder! OVA Episode 1 was released in September of 2017 with Volume 14 of the manga. Titled “Amor Primus,” or “First Love,” the OVA provides more insight into the relationship between Touta and Yukihime by explaining what Evangeline meant when she said Touta was 500 years too late in proposing marriage. The story is based on Chapter 97 of the manga in addition to Chapters 80 through 85. As such, it should probably not be watched until after finishing Episode 12 of the first season.
Here is a preview of the OVA episode.
Two more OVA episodes will be released with manga Volume 16 and Volume 17, which are released in March and June of 2018, respectively. OVA 2 is titled “Eternal First Kiss In A Moment” and will probably feature a special moment between Touta and a young Evangeline. OVA 3 is called “Karin Senpai’s Secret That Can’t Be Spoken.”
UQ Holder! Season 2 Release Date
As of this publishing, anime production company J.C. Staff has not announced anything official about the UQ Holder! Season 2 release date, although this article will be updated as soon as the anime sequel’s premiere is confirmed. However, there can be reasonable speculation about when, or if, the UQ Holder! Season 2 air date may occur.
As previously mentioned, the anime has already caught up with the manga source material. Mangaka Ken Akamatsu is releasing chapters at a slower rate, dropping down from about 70 pages a month to around 40 pages a month. At this rate, it will take several years for Akamatsu to produce enough source material for the second season of the UQ Holder! anime.
At the same time, it is possible J.C. Staff is planning on presenting the story events of the manga out of order with some revamping. It is conceivable that the Santa story arc could happen in the second season. What’s more, Episode 12 briefly showed Dana The Witch peeking down into the tournament dome. It’s possible the anime writers planned for the first season to end on a high note during the tournament battle only to have Touta go to Dana for training afterward. After all, Touta has to power up somehow in order to free his grandfather from Ialda Baoth. If that is J.C. Staff’s plan, it would drastically reduce the number of new manga chapters required to make an anime sequel.
The author has not specified any plans for UQ Holder! ending by a certain number of chapters, but if it’s coming anytime soon it may be better to adapt the upcoming manga story as a UQ Holder! movie. In the end, fans should hope the anime ever receives an ending, never mind UQ Holder! Season 2.