Blu-Ray Review: UQ Holder – The Complete Collection

Magic, Violence, Love, Fan-Service and Negi. Pretty much everything you could ever want from an anime series lies within UQ Holder; but what can one expect from the Blu-Ray set released by MVM Entertainmen? Let’s take a look and find out.

Synopsis:

When you’re the grandson of a famous hero, you’d think that your life would be interesting, but Tota Konoe is stuck in the dullest place he can imagine! He can’t even leave his tiny village until he can defeat his teacher and foster parent Yukihime, and she seems to be impossibly powerful.

Then everything changes when Yukihime is attacked and Tota learns that both she and Tota himself aren’t who or what Tota thought they were! Now Tota has a new, impossibly long life ahead of him and an amazing destiny that ties in with the fate of his grandfather, the legendary Negi Springfield!

Get ready for vampires, demons and magic users galore as Tota discovers the perils of being a member of the world’s most exclusive organization as a UQ Holder!

Our View:

Adapted from Ken Akamatsu’s manga of the same name, and acting as the spiritual sequel to Negima?!, otherwise known as Negima! Magister Negi Magi, UQ Holder follows the explorts of 14-year-old Tota Konoe after finding himself turned into an immortal vampire while trying to protect his friend, Yukihime, from being killed.  Regardless of its origins UQ Holder has a story to tell with the characters portrayed; but it does heavily rely on characters from the past series in order to deliver that story. Fortunately ‘some’ background to these characters are provided; but as mentioned the being familiar with Negima?! does bring out the best results.

Taking place eighty years after the events of Negima?! the world these characters inhabit has changed; with immortal beings seemingly being normal alongside hunters that hunt them down for money. Yukihime, who coincidentially is the Vampire Evangeline Athanasia Katherine McDowell from Negima?!, has secluded herself from the outside world in a small village in hopes of protecting herself and Tota Konoe from unwanted attention. Unfortunately a hunter managed to track her down and ends up attacking her along with Tota. Bloodsheed aside Tota drinks up Yukihime’s blood and turns himself into an immortal vampire; and as such a new immortal is born.

This is where the journey of Yukihime and Tota begins and new characters are introduced through different episodes. In this case the second episode introduces Kurōmaru, a genderless immortal who was originally sent to kill Yukihime but after being defeated by Tota becomes his best friend. The third episode introduces to group known as UQ Holder as well as an old friend to Yukihime; known as Karin. It’s explained that the UQ Holder is a group that protects Immortals from enemies as well as keep the world around them safe from the enemy threats; the latter being kept rather secret (for the time being at least).

Over the course of the remaining episodes new characters, or should I say potential love interests, are thrown into the mix; with introductions including a grand-daughter of Negi’s student, a human worker at UQ Holde facility and an Immortal who has the ability to reset time back to a ‘save point’ after dying. Each of these characters are introduced in varying different comical ways; some are more serious with the threat of death lurking nearby while others some to be in the type of a harem. This is where UQ Holder begins to drift into various different genes while never remaining true to what it wants to be.

One the one side we have Tota Konoe, who by now has learned that he is infact a clone of the legendary magican Negi Springfield and that Negi is currently being held captive by Lalda at the top of the tower. While on the other we have a harem featuring different characters that are unwilling to admit they love Tota. This clouded perception of a magic-filled-harem story grows even more; as by the last three episodes of the series Lalda appears in front of Tota, with some familiar characters, for a destructive battle that serves some form of purpose but is poorly explained.

In hindsight this is UQ Holder’s biggest problem; it does not know what type of series it wants to be and instead spreads itself wide and far into different genres. That’s not the only problem; as despite its unwillingness to stick to a certain genre, or its logical ways of displaying magic, the series itself ends on an open-end with only the source material providing the answer. Such a disappointment; considering that everything else that was on offer was fun and entertaining.

Fortunately this Blu-Ray release does include the three OVA episodes that have been released, thus making it a true ‘complete collection’, and as a result the fun can continue… and fun it is. Unlike traditional OVA episodes –which are usually stand-a-lone with no reference to the main series, these OVA episodes taking place shortly after the events of the main series, which saw Tota and his UQ Holder allies defend himself against Ladla, and build-up the relationship with key characters.

In this case the first OVA episode explores Tota, somehow, explore and be involved with Yukihime, who at this time was known as Kitty, five hundred years prior to them meeting one another. This highlights the relationship they had built and the trust given before Tota knew of Yukihime. The second OVA episode meanwhile focuses on Tota and Kirië as they end up spending four months trapped alone together. The final episode meanwhile focuses on Tota and Karin after they both eat magical potions which see each other confess their feelings to other people within the facility. Comical storylines indeed; but more importantly they further expand the world that these characters inhabit.

Extras:

Outside of the OVA episodes, of which take place after the events of the main series, this Blu-Ray release of UQ Holder only features textless opening and closing songs for the main series as well as the textless ending song for the OVA episodes.

Basically it is a ‘barebones release and It is also surprising that trailers, for other Madman/Sentai Filmwork releases, are not included; as this is usually the standard for most anime releases of this calibur.

Specs:

Media:  BD 50, BD 25
Region: B
Running Time: 3:40:03 (Disc 1), 2:24:57 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: DTS-HD MA 2.0 (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

Animated by J.C. Staff to ‘sub-par’ standards UQ Holder takes place eighty years after the events of Negima to explore Tota and Yukhime’s journey in this world filled with immortals and magic. In this case Tota and Yukihime leave the village to return to UQ Holder HQ in order to protect themselves from any threats that may appear. Shortly after arriving Tota finds himself intertangled with both enemy assassins, mages, and romance; but alas overcomes all of this to become stronger and stop the biggest threat of them all; the mage of beginning – Lalda.

Sadly this is not to be; as the story opts to drift around different genres (such as Harem, Mahou, Ecchi, Shonen) before coming to an indecisive conclusion that leaves us wanting more and being told to read the manga (not exactly but it may as well do). Despite all of this critisim, if you can call it that, UQ Holder proves to be entertaining, fun and violent with a slice of fan service and harem; additionally Negima fans will be catered for as characters from the original make guest appearances through flashback and powerful magic. To be honest; it still doesn’t make much sense but it was fun.

Storyline aside for the time being then this Blu-Ray release, which seems to be mastered by Sentai Filmworks for use by MVM Entertainment, retains all of the features you would usually expect from a Sentai Filmwork release; with the menu featuring all episodes listed in one go and subtitles providing that mixture of English and Yellow (as well as smaller text) depending on the situation. Unsprisingly an English Dub has been provided and (if im not mistaken) the English Dub voice cast for Negima return in this spiritual sequel. The English Dub audio track is consistently good; with the exception for a select few characters; including the main character. I have no issues with the talent that was cast; they just didn’t seem to fit the parts that they had been cast.

UQ Holder provides an entertaining series with a dark, twisted and deeper storyline that is overshadowed by harems and comical banters between characters; but it is great fun to watch. This Blu-Ray release meanwhile is consistent with other types of Sentai Filmwork releases but it does suffer slightly with its lack of bonus content; on the plus side this is a ‘complete collection’ with all relevant content available in this one set.

Score: review-stars-4

UQ Holder – The Complete Collection will be available on Blu-Ray from 22nd April 2019 via MVM Entertainment.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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