UQ Holder is Ken Akamatsu’s latest manga series after he concludes his previous famous work Mahou Sensei Negima! or nickname “Negima!” series. Akamatsu sensei, have been well reputable in manga and anime world through his long run Shounen series, Love Hina and Mahou Sensei Negima!. Love Hina series was his first award-winning work in manga industry that had been adapted into several anime series, OVA, movies and light novel. Furthermore, Mahou Sensei Negima! was claimed as one of long run series ever recorded in Japan with 355 chapters (38 volumes), and also adapted into anime series and OVA. His work famous for love, comedy, eechi/fans-services, unwanted-harem, fantasy, shounen, magic and martial art genre aimed for boy and young male reader. Nevertheless, his manga also loved by girl and young female reader.
UQ Holder series already attract huge speculation among Negima’s fans who divide them into two groups. The hard core fans claimed UQ Holder is sequel of Negima! due it introduces previous character from Negima! series and there some hints mentioned other series characters still alive and living in same world in UQ Holder current chapters. Meanwhile, moderate fans suggests UQ Holder is a brand new story which no or little connection to Akamatsu sensei’s previous works.
The introduction of character from previous was for bridging or trademark purpose, particularly, for Negima’s fans. On the other hand, it also serves as marketing/commercial scheme where new reader must read all Negima! chapters if he/she want to know background history of UQ holder.
The main theme in UQ Holder is immortality and all effects surrounding it. It has been clearly state by Evageline A.K Mcdowell (a minor character Negima!) in color page of UQ Holder’s introduction chapter. Evageline was a vampire which has been lived for 700 years and the strongest vampire in world. She previously acted as mentor of main character in Negima! series.
The story describe good and negative side of immortality. There fun, love, happiness and joy time but there sometimes sad, lone and parting moment which unavoidable due a immortal person always in same state while other person slowly pass away. All devotion and attachment becomes boring and abandon matter due human nature change as time pass. In the end, an immortal person should grouped with other immortals is a simple way for his/her survival.
UQ Holder story started 50 years from Negima! conclusion. The story introduces main character a middle school boy named Touta Konoe who living in rural area of Japan. He and his four buddies always sticking together due same mind set, dream and goals. An interesting point here, one of Touta’s friend (the one who wearing glasses and have spiky hair) looks like Akamatsu himself. However, there other reason they stick together.
They band together just to beat their female teacher named Yukihime. She is a sexy, young, mature and bosom woman who work as teacher at local school in Touta’s village. Touta’s gang always try attack her every morning at road lead to the school due an agreement whoever defeated Yukihime will receive special approval to leave village. However, Yukihime isn’t simple and weak opponent.
Yukihime is a magician user and martial-art expert who always aware Touta’s tricks. She even don’t hesitate to beat up the gang into a pulp in single blow. Funny thing, one of Touta’s friend looks like develop into masochist who happy hit by his female teacher everyday. It becomes their daily activities before school time start.
Touta and his friends made promise they will defeat Yukihime one day, travel to imperial magic capital Japan, go to earth orbital/tower elevator there, go to space and find out what happen on space above earth one day. Even though each member of the gang has different life’s goal but their aim are same and promise will cross each other one day in the future.
Touta and Yukihime even have match after return home from school.
The introduction chapter also give a brief history how Touta and Yukihime start living together. Yukihime found Touta and his parents in verge of death and saved him as his mother’s last request. Yukihime fulfill her request and become Touta’s guardian since then. Touta later introduced to Yukihime by police and social service members as student while she works as teacher, ideal role for her guardian purpose. Interestingly, reader can see Yukihime is suck in cooking and house chores matter and forced Touta to do them.
Touta slowly began accepted Yukihime as his guardian and made friends with local students that formed his close friends. Nevertheless, Touta still cannot tolerate Yukihime’s sloppiness and heavy eater habits. He often embarrassed by her behaviors.
One day, Touta presented a bracelet to Yukihime as his thanks for take care him all time. The bracelet looks like an ordinary silver or bronze which popular among young ladies in present time.
The bracelet later prove bring fatal consequence for Touta and Yukihime. Its actually a metal bracelet that able to suppress any magic activation or enchantment. The culprit behind it actually a new teacher named Tachibana.
Tachibana has tricked Touta friends to attack Yukihime when she wearing bracelet later he back stab them by paralyze those student. He is in fact a bounty hunter who target Yukihime for reward 600 million Yen. The bounty sound familiar for anyone who already read Negima!. Meanwhile, Touta arrives at the scene in nick time.
Touta ignore his own safety attack Tachibana to save Yukihime but it prove a fatal move. The bounty hunter clean slash Touta left arm. He tumbles to ground in agony.
In desperate move, Yukihime saved Touta although she was restrained by binding spell. She finally acknowledge Touta reckless and stubborn to save her and his friends without concern his own safety.
Touta saw how Yukihime, his guardian killed in front of him by the bounty hunter. The scene probably most emotional one in UQ Holder story. Ken Akatmasu sensei was able to bring essential emotional scene to reader and what reader expect from this series fully describe through this scene.
Touta was stab by Tachibana in his back and he slump dying due lose much of his blood. He regret his behavior all time and ignore Yukihime warning before.It looks like a bad end for our main character.
Yukihime wake up Touta despite she in mess. He warned Touta and provide two options. First, he can die due loss blood. Second, he can becomes immortal by take some Yukihime’s blood and save everyone. But, there great consequence if he becomes immortal he cannot grow anymore and remain in his state ageless. Touta choose later option.
Touta rise up and receives immortal power from Yukihime blood. He cannot die and his body can regenerate at fast rate even though he received slices here and there. He beats Tachibana for good this time. The fighting sequences is best and typical of Ken Akamatsu’s manga action scene similar to Negima! style. No doubts reader can expects heavy martial arts and fighting scenes in UQ Holder later chapters.
Later, Yukihime reveals herself as Evangeline A.K. McDowell, one of Negima! characters, a famous vampire who has been lived for 700 years. She apologize to involved Touta in her curse as immortal. It looks like Ken Akamatsu try to refresh Evangeline character from loli child into young adult woman as set example how much mature his drawing style transformation from A.I Love You to Love Hina then Negima! later UQ Holder series.
In the end, Touta and Yukihime must leave the village due bounty hunter potential danger can harm other people near them. Nevertheless, Touta make promise with his gang members that they will meet again at New Tokyo in the future. It looks like big step for Touta’s journey as immortal and his new adventure along side Yukihime, later his new comrades he find along the journey as UQ Holder member.
There a lot of uproar speculation among Negima fans about this graves. Some fans claimed that Negi Springfield, Negima’s main character, had married Konoe in past. But, this theory contrast to Negima! ending where it looks like Negi has his own feeling on a girl other than Konoe. Other moderate theory is Negi’s son has married Konoe’s daughter result Touta born. The later theory is more acceptable for the grave explanation.
Touta and Yukihime’s next destination are New Tokyo, a mega city nicknamed Pillar of Heaven City due Japanese Orbital Elevator location is in the city.The mega city probably serves as home base or background set for UQ Holder story similar to Mahora Academy in Negima!.
Something catch my attention, there a flying police car similar to “Back To The Future Part 2” reference. This manga seem has futuristic theme but also present taste too. It also explain why there rare or no car pass in the street and infrastructure leave not maintain in UQ Holder’s world. Flying car don’t need road as it is flying except when it landed into ground.
In summary, UQ Holder apart as Negima! sequel or brand new series by Ken Akamatsu is a recommended manga for any reader who expects action, magic, martial arts and fantasy theme mixed with eechi, fan-services and comedy elements. The series has a lot of potential to be repeat success like Negima! popularity too if everything according to Ken Akamatsu trademark where he often promote science-fiction, fantasy and romance adventure theme.
Perhaps…just perhaps Negima! fans will revisit well known places in Negima! and see any difference of them after 50 years passed after Negima! conclusion. For example, Mundus Magicus, Mahora Martial-Arts Tournament, Mahora Academy and many more. In addition, Touta’s immortality add value where age doesn’t becomes issue in this series.
It is also my first recommendation in 2014.