Image source: TVアニメ「UQ HOLDER! 」 on Twitter
Immortality is an important part of UQ Holder!: Magister Negi Magi 2. But, what constitutes immortality in this world isn’t quite what you’d expect it to be.
Our hero Tōta Konoe has entered the ranks of the secret society “UQ Holder.” It’s active members all consist of immortal beings who save those who are downtrodden. And Tōta has had his first mission with a few of those immortals. But, they’re not immortal in the way he expected.
So far in UQ Holder! there’s an implicit understanding all the major and most of the supporting characters are immortal in some form or another. At first this leads us to believe the characters are literally undying; they live forever. Yet, this hasn’t been the case with every single character. In fact, the whole idea of immortality is turned sideways because in this world what constitutes immortality includes more than what we’re familiar with (your vampires, gods, demi-gods, and so on).
We’ve had a taste three unique types of immortality throughout the series thus far with four major characters. While Tōta and his mentor Yukihime are vampires, they’re not your blood sucking, sunlight hating, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula type of vampires. Rather, they have immortality, super-human strength, and regenerative abilities similar to those in more contemporary vampire stories. This makes the two characters blasé to a degree, but it’s a good reference point for us as viewers. It’s familiar enough for us to understand and not become to confused with how their immortality functions. More importantly, though, it allows us to quickly see how the other characters immortality differs from theirs.
Image source: TVアニメ「UQ HOLDER! 」 on Twitter
Take characters like Tōta’s friends Kurōmaru Tokisaka and Karin Yuuki for example. What’s fascinating about these two is that, at first, it appears their immortality is based on an immense healing factor. For instance Kurōmaru can reattach severed limbs and Karin instantaneously regenerates all her wounds. While their abilities are similar, they come from vastly different places. In the fourth episode it’s revealed Karin’s immortality is divine in nature, that it’s by her words, God’s love. She’s in essence touched by God’s good graces, which is why she heals so quickly. Kurōmaru on the other hand is a demi-human (a non-human entity) with fast regenerative abilities. So, while he’s technically mortal, he’s neigh impossible to kill because he’s able to regenerate so quickly by reattaching his limbs.
Yet, Kurōmaru and Karin’s regenerative abilities aren’t the only way a person is immortal in the series. We’re actually told in the third episode a few ways this can be. For example, ghosts and robots are included into the mix. It’s not something we often think about, but there’s validity to this train of thought. Consider, a ghost is essentially the remnants of dead person, be it their soul or something else. However, if a ghost could then take physical form and interact with the world around it, it’s essentially an immortal being. A similar argument can be made with robots and androids. Provided one has an energy source and is maintained, it could last neigh indefinitely—making it technically immortal.
Image source: 赤松健@UQホルダーTVアニメ放映中！ on Twitter
But, then we have a very odd definition of an immortal being during the same expository scene in the third episode. It’s actually a person who has extra lives a la a video game character. It’s an extremely unique idea because it’s true. A videogame character has infinite lives, depending on the level of player. Think about it in these terms. When we play a videogame, like Super Mario World, the character we control has a certain number of continues before it’s game over. But, if we play well, we can maintain and even increase that number. If we play poorly the number decreases.
Thus in the context of UQ Holder! the concept is just a character with so many extra lives they’ve become immortal. And we actually see a character like this in the same episode as well. On the outside he looks like an ordinary person. But, when he’s stabbed through the heart we see a digital “game over” sign pop up over his body with 255 extra lives. He’s the living embodiment of how we envision videogame characters who just doesn’t die.
The idea of immortality is different in UQ Holder! But, that difference in definition show’s how broad the term becomes when we actually sit down and think about it.