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Manga: UQ Holder

"Living forever isn't as great as you think. [...] This is the story of those who—for whatever reason—got stuck in this sucky existence."
Evangeline A.K. McDowell

WARNING: Late Arrival Spoilers abound for Mahou Sensei Negima!.

UQ Holder! (aka ユーキューホルダー!, or "Eternity Holder!") is a Stealth Sequel to the popular manga series Mahou Sensei Negima! by Ken Akamatsu. Set 75 years after the end of Negima, it explores a number of ambiguous or unexplored details left at the end of that series, such as the space elevator and the adoption of magic on earth. The story began serialization in late August of 2013.

The story begins in the 2080s, a decade after the existence of magic was disclosed to Earthlings, though few are able to use it well. Touta Konoe, a teenage boy living in a small village, has heard of it, but cannot cast spells. When it becomes clear that his teacher and guardian, Yukihime, is quite familiar with magic, he tries to learn it from her, but is rebuffed. He and his friends then meet another teacher who passes along a surefire way to beat Yukihime with the use of a magic bracelet and a few binding spells. However, he turns out to be a bounty hunter and goes after Yukihime — who is secretly Evangeline A.K. McDowell, an infamous vampire sorceress with a massive bounty on her head, but also an ally of Negi Springfield, the mage who saved Mundus Magicus sixty years ago when he was just a boy and paved the way for the gradual revelation of magic. After he nearly kills both her and Touta, Touta drinks the blood of Yukihime/Evangeline and becomes an immortal like her in order to gain the power to stop the assassin. Though she apologizes to Touta, he refuses to believe that she has done anything wrong, or that immortality is a curse, and together they set out into the future.

UQ Holder! is one of the first round of manga to be simultaneously published on Crunchy Roll.

UQ Holder! provides examples of:

  • A Light in the Distance: See this picture here. Eva enjoyed her time with Class 3-A, but as the decades pass, she slowly outlives everyone else and grows tired of life, as the panels get darker and darker. However, as she walks on, she sees a light in the distance and new people waiting for her.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Touta's arm is cut off in the first chapter by the bounty hunter after Yukihime.
  • Arc Words: "Keep moving forward" and "a little bit of courage is the real magic", the Arc Words from Negima, show up here as well.
  • Artistic License - Physics & Engineering: Locating a space elevator in Tokyo (or Japan period) is problematic since centrifugal force from Earth's rotation is critical to such designs, so an equatorial location is required and Japan is too far north. However from Negima do know that A Wizard Did It.
  • Badass Crew: UQ Holder, an organization made up of immortal humans, vampires, robots, demons, gods, and various other monsters. One of their duties is to help and protect the various friendly monsters that may be targeted by hate and/or monster hunting groups.
    • Another one was shown in a flashback 20 years prior to the series: one consisting of Evangeline, Negi, Fate, Albireo, Chachamaru, Mana and Zazie, all pursuing the Mage of the Beginning yet again.
  • Berserk Button: Hurting Yukihime or Touta's friends is a good way to end up in the hospital.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Mr. Tachibana looks like a friendly, helpful guy, but he actually set up Yukihime's students to depower her so he could leap in to grab her bounty. Just so that it's clear that he's definitely a bad guy, he even makes it clear that he intends to kill all five of them as well.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Eva shows up with three of the high-ranking memebers of UQ Holder in order to save Touta in Chapter 28.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: While Negima was never a Bloodless Carnage it was more sedated compared to UQ Holder. Getting impaled, dismembered and even decapitated happens here almost all the time. Courtesy of large portion of the cast being immortal.
  • Call Back:
    • Along with the Arc Words above, the age changing pills makes a return in chapter 2 as a sort of off-hand response to Touta's woes about not being able to grow up past twelve.
    • Remember when Eva was cursed to remain within the confines of Mahora Academy before the main story of Negima? Chapter 10 has her leaving Jinbee underground about 2 years before the start of the story.
    • The underground mansion used by Alberio in Negima reappears in the underground cavern used by UQ Holder.
    • The entire Class 3-A appears walking with Evangeline in the opening pages. As they wave good bye to her in the following panel, each character is wearing the clothes they were last seen with at the end of the previous manga.
  • Cool Big Sis: Yukihime/Evangeline is this to Touta.
  • Cultural Cross-Reference: In chapter 2, Touta states that his big dream is to sing... with the same style as Louis Armstrong.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Fate delivers one to the Numbers in an alternate future, taking out Touta, Kuroumaru, Karin, killing Ikkuu and petrifying Kirie. She only managed to go back in time by slashing her own throat before the petrification finished, allowing her immortality to trigger.
  • Cutting the Knot: So you need to capture the vampire, but you can't get past the immortal that can Retcon damage away? Teleport her to the moon instead so she can't get back in time.
  • Death by Origin Story: Both of Touta's parents died two years before the start of the series. They were apparently members of the Konoe family, but it's not clear what their precise relationship to Konoka (children, cousins, adopted children, etc) was.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Invoked. Touta makes a bet with Kuroumaru that Kuroumaru has to do whatever Touta says if Touta wins a bout between the two. When Touta does win, his only request is Kuroumaru becomes his friend (and sign a contract formally establishing such).
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Kuroumaru. So much so that it's already a Running Gag for him to be mistaken for one, even after less than twelve chapters!
    • Also partially inverted, since Kuromaru is really from a group of people who are essentially genderless until the age of sixteen, at which point they choose which gender they wish to be. One of the plot threads in the Manga is regarding Kuromaru struggles to decide which gender to become when he comes of age.
  • Emergency Transformation: Touta is forced to drink Evangeline's blood in order to save her, himself, and his four friends in the first chapter.
  • Elaborate University High: The fourth story arc sends Touta, Kuromaru, Karin, and Ikku to Mahora of all places, though it is now called Amano-Mihashira Academy City. As the name suggests, the campus has become so massive that it's now effectively a city within the city.
  • Fanservice: First chapter in, and we've already got topless shots of Yukihime. Although compared to the female Fanservice in Negima and Love Hina, it's barely there. The males provide a lot of it this time around, especially Touta.
    • Amped up in chapter 17, wherein Karin spends the majority of the chapter fighting naked (after a full on rear end nude shot while showering).
  • Fate Worse than Death: When you are an immortal you can survive things you really wouldn't want to. Like being eaten by a magical beast and having to endure thirty years of being digested, or having your head locked up in a safe and dropped down the Mariana trench while alive and conscious the whole time.
  • First Episode Resurrection: Touta drinks Yukihime's blood when he's dying turning him into a vampire.
  • Foreshadowing: Yukihime's speech about the different kinds of immortality in Chapter 6 is accompanied with images of various characters. Since then, not only have a couple of these characters made appearances, but what makes them immortal matches what they were "labeled" with in this chapter.
  • Healing Factor: Vampires of Eva's level can regenerate entire limbs in the blink of an eye. Though Touta does soon lose consciousness after too much of that. Later it's revealed this healing factor has a weakness: the limb only regenerates if the original limb is destroyed. If the limb is merely cut off and doesn't get destroyed, no regeneration happens because the arm is still linked to the body and therefore not considered dead.
    • In the case of Kuroumaru's, his regenerates due to body modification so if anything gets injured or cut off it regenerates.
  • Hot Teacher: Yukihime/Evangeline's first appearance is a shot of her rear, with her students mentioning that they never get tired of seeing it.
  • Hotter and Sexier: Since she's no longer bound to Mahora, Evangeline's free to use her magic as she pleases and uses age changing pills to make herself look about twenty years older. It looks quite a bit different from her established "older" form, likely because she's trying to blend in rather than look like The Vamp.
  • Immortality: A major theme. UQ holder is an entire organization of beings with various types of immortality, drawing a clear line between not aging and actual invulnerability.
    • The Ageless: Jinbei stopped aging after eating the flesh of a mermaid in the 7th century, but lacks the Healing Factor of most other immortals.
    • Body Backup Drive / Brain Uploading: Ikkuu Ameya gained immortality by transferring his mind into a robotic body.
    • Complete Immortality: Absolute agelessness and invulnerability are said to just not exist, though Evangeline does believe that Karin and Touta have the "strongest" possible immoralities.
    • Daywalking Vampire: Evangeline A.K. McDowell and Touta Konoe are immortal vampires without any of the normal weaknesses.
    • Fountain of Youth / Immortality Inducer: The dark skinned man seen in chapter 6 gained immortality by using immortality granting items like Philosopher Stones, Miracle Drugs and Holy Wines.
    • From a Single Cell: Kuroumaru Tokisaka's immortality comes from a powerful Healing Factor, which staves off the effects of age and allows him to regenerate his body even after losing more than half of it.
    • Nigh-Invulnerability: Karin was blessed with the inability to age or be harmed in any way, so any damage to her is instantly retconed away.
    • Our Demons Are Different: Touta's secondary immortality comes from Magia Erebea, an ability that basically makes him an immortal demon powered by Black Magic.
    • Resurrective Immortality: Gengorou Makabe has a form of literal Video Game Lives, which allow him to revive if killed.
    • Save Scumming: Kirie Sakurame can set a literal save point with her specialized ritual magic. Upon death she will return to the time and place she created the save point. She can even bring people back with her in time.
  • Ki Attack: Shinmeryuu makes it's return.
  • Kid Hero: Though a little older than most examples of this trope, Touta is still only 14 years old.
  • Kill Sat: Chapter 37 reveals that the Holders have access to Chachamaru's Al-Iskandariya Orbital Satellite Weapon, and is currently under Ikku's control.
  • Living Forever Is Awesome: Touta doesn't put much stock in the "living forever sucks" line of thought Evangeline espoused through the decades. Though pulls a reversal in chapter 2 (Played for Laughs), when he finds out that he's stuck as a short twelve year old for the rest of eternity, which, as it turns out, interferes with the dream he and his schoolmates promised each other.
  • Losing Your Head: Cutting off the head of a vampire as powerful as Evangeline or Touta doesn't actually kill them immediately. And as long as they can get their head back on their body, they're just fine.
  • Magitek: It's stated that Muggles who can't use magic on their own can purchase what are basically magical iPhone apps that allow the use of simple spells.
  • Meaningful Name
    • The title's English UQ has the same pronunciation as the Japanese 悠久, the word for Eternity, making the title "Eternity Holder!". 悠久 also gets featured inside the UQ in the first chapter's title page.
    • the first part of Evangeline's middle name is 'Athanasia', which means "immortality".
    • Evangeline's alias Yukihime means "Snow Princess", referencing her status as a master ice mage, as well as her Defrosting Ice Queen personality.
  • Mooks Played with. A group of soldiers with identical weapons and armor attack Touta, and he clearly considers them video game style Faceless Mooks. They proceed to beat the hell out of him with ease. Though they are generic and, as a later fight shows, not incredibly powerful, they're still way stronger than him.
  • New Neo City: "New Tokyo: Ama No Mihashira City"; since the space elevator (the "pillar of heaven") has been built in Tokyo, the city − as well as Mahora academy − was renamed after it it seems.
  • Older and Wiser: Evangeline returns from Negima to serve as the new main character Touta's guardian and mentor.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Evangeline and Touta are both powerful vampires with a Healing Factor, Super Strength, Super Speed, and no problems with daylight.
  • Parental Substitute: Yukihime has served as Touta's guardian since the death of his parents.
  • Private Military Contractors: One enemy faction has their own private military trained against occult and chi-users, all Elite Mooks.
  • Punny Name: UQ is pronounced the same as 悠久, the Japanese word for Eternity.
  • Reused Character Design: Shinobu Yuuki not only has the same given name, character design and personality as Shinobu Maehara from Love Hina, they also address the protagonist as "senpai", to make it extra obvious.
  • R-Rated Opening: The first chapter involves Yukihime/Evangeline being rather graphically chopped to pieces by a bounty hunter. Needless to say, Akamatsu is making it clear from the start that this is not going to be a Love Hina clone.
  • Series Goal: Touta wants to climb to the top of the Star Scraper tower, but then he finds out all you have to do to climb it is buy a ticket. Then he decides to start organization to bring fellow immortals together, only to find one already exists. It's starting to become a Running Gag that Touta's goals are ether easy to achieve or already done.
  • Shirtless Scene: A lot with Touta.
  • Shout-Out: When Jinbei talks about the comrades he used to have when he first became immortal, a picture is shown of him(?) with another six samurai.
  • Space Elevator: There's one in the capital that Touta wants to go up.
  • Spider Tank: Strong Hand deploys one against Yukihime and Touta, but it doesn't survive long enough to be of any use, courtesy of other Numbered members of UQ Holder.
    • Notably, it looks a lot like one of the mechs(the one she sent after Negi, even) that appeared in Chao's forces during the Mahorafest battle.
  • Spin-Offspring: The main character Touta Konoe is (allegedly) the grandson of Negi Springfield.
  • Star Scraper: There's an impossibly tall tower in the capital where Touta believes strong mages live at the top. Yukihime/Evangeline tells him it's an orbital elevator.
  • Stealth Sequel: The fact that this series is a sequel to Negima! wasn't revealed until the actual release of the first chapter. Although it's still unclear whether it is a direct continuation of Negima!'s ending or it is set in some Alternate Continuity.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Chapter 1 shows us Negi's gravestone telling us he is apparently dead. Eva's opening speech about can imply much of Class 3-A has followed and being 80 years in the future most would be rather old now anyways to say nothing of any adult characters from Negima. Yet this is a series about immortality so time will tell...
    • A flashback later provides that as recently as ten years ago Negi and a few other 3-A members were alive and fighting the Lifemaker on Mars.
    • As the story goes on we learn that Fate Averruncus is not only alive and well, but the head of "Ala Alba" opposing UQ Holder and trying to recruit Touta to go rescue the still living but somehow imprisoned Negi Springfield. He's also accompanied by a Tsukuyomi Iwai who may or may not be the same character.
    • Chapter 37 reveals Chachamaru's Al-Iskandariya Orbital Satellite Weapon is now under the control of UQ Holder, namely owned by Yukihime and controlled by Ikku. Given this is Chachamaru's Pactio item, which is implied in Negima to not be transferable (and a little beat up), it could be implied that Chachamaru from Class 3-A could still be alive/around somehow (or it got "transferred" via an undisclosed means).
  • Summon Bigger Fish: Inverted. Rather than calling Yukihime to fight Fate, they bring Fate to her.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Averted in Touta's fight against the bounty hunter. After his first attack is blocked Touta tries to throw your standard Shonen protagonist speech at the villain. Except the villain doesn't cooperate, gets behind Touta and lobs his arm off mid-sentence.
  • Time Skip: The series takes place in the 2080s, as near as can be figured out from some very vague numbers on gravestones, around 80 years after Negima!. Chapter 45 gives the date clearly as 2086.
  • Title Drop: In the sixth chapter, we're introduced formally to UQ Holder: A group formed by an immortal Eva knew that would gather other immortals together into a family.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Evangeline is significantly more friendly here than in the parent series.
  • Twenty Minutes into the Future: The series is set in the 2086, 76 years after Negima's ending, but 50 years before the world Asuna's wakes up in in the same series.
  • The Unmasqued World: Magic was finally revealed to the world at large ten years before the beginning of the series.
  • We Help the Helpless: As Karin put it:
    "We, UQ Holder, as a faction of humans who are not bound by the ways of humans, have always been protecting those who have been ejected, trampled on and forgotten by the world of humans."
  • Wham Episode: Chapter 24, which confirms the presence of Magia Erebea as Touta's newly-awakened power, and adds a flashback that shows Negi and a few of his endgame allies being alive 20 years prior to UQ Holder!, still fighting the Mage of the Beginning.
    • Though some fans did suspect it, in chapter 42, Fate declares that Negi is still alive and he's trying to save him. And that by saving him, he saves the entire solar system. However, he also does note that, yes he did kill Touta's parents.
  • Wham Line: "The strongest Grand Mage in the Solar System...Fate Averruncus."
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: According to Yukihime/Evangeline, immortality eventually becomes a curse. She appears to have outlived most of the original Negima! cast, leaving her alone once again. She's even apparently left Chachazero behind, though the opening colored pages are likely to be more symbolic than literal.
  • Years Too Early: Quoted word-for-word when Yukihime scolds Touta and his friends after they attack her for the first time on-panel.

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