Image source: TVアニメ「UQ HOLDER! 」 on Twitter

UQ Holder!: Magister Negi Magi 2 may be over, but that won’t stop the series creator from coming on to a “best of” episode to talk about his favorite moments and what’s different from the manga.

In UQ Holder!: Magister Negi Magi 2, a teenage boy named Tōta Konoe becomes an immortal vampire. But, instead of causing harm to people he enters the ranks of a secret society. There, he works to protect people from being exploited and harmed. While helping people, Tōta soon learns an ancient and powerful being is slowly devouring his grandfather’s soul. Now, that being wants Tōta and has enlisted people from his grandfathers past to capture him.

Then as the series came to a close, the creator of UQ Holder! popped in for the last broadcast episode to give his thoughts on the series.

Every so often the last broadcast episode of an anime series will feature some of the cast members doing a commentary over a certain episode or over a compilation episode. It’s fun to listen to cast talk about the different scenes or what was going on during the recording sessions. However, it’s rare for a manga author to give his opinions on an anime adaptation of his or her work during these broadcasts. That didn’t stop the creator of UQ Holder!, Ken Akamatsu, from doing a commentary with the voice actress of the series heroine, Yuki Matsuoka. What he had to say is rather insightful as it gives us a window into what other manga authors might be thinking when their series are adapted into an anime.

What’s striking about Mr. Akamatsu’s commentary, though, is a lot of it is closer to chitchat than a deep look into the ideas that went into certain plot points or characters. Instead he spends a great deal of time talking about the series from the perspective of a die-hard anime fan. It’s actually not much of a surprise if you follow any public appearances or interviews of his as he often proudly claims to be an otaku—something he also does during the episode. So, what we’re hearing, essentially, is a giddy otaku talking about what parts of the series he loves the most. This creates a sort of odd disconnect because we know Mr. Akamatsu created UQ Holder!, but he’s speaking about it as if he were a random fan. It just goes to show you really can be a fan-boy of your own work.

Image source: TVアニメ「UQ HOLDER! 」 on Twitter

However, there are fleeting moments in the episode where we learn a great deal about how Mr. Akamatsu watched the series. One of the first scenes of the episode recaps the climax of the first episode of the series. Here we see Tōta and his mentor, Yukihime, in a bloody mess with severed limbs. It’s a well-crafted scene and the emotions can really be felt. However, Mr. Akamatsu stated he when he first saw the scene during a private pre-screening he was worried if it were too bloody for TV broadcast. The mere fact it was broadcast as is, though, made him happy. He even said during the commentary, (roughly translated) “As the original creator I’m very satisfied with this.”

Hearing Mr. Akamatsu say this is actually intriguing as a viewer because it shows us the types of things the original creator of a work worries about when a work of theirs is adapted into another medium. The scene in question is the highlight of not only the first episode of the anime series, but also the first chapter of the manga series. So, being able to show it as the bloody mess it is is important to him. But, at the same time, Mr. Akamatsu understands there are limits to what can be broadcast. Thus, to hear how he was worried then relived tells us he trusted the production team to handle his work in the best possible way.

Image source: TVアニメ「UQ HOLDER! 」 on Twitter

It’s not just how the production team handled Mr. Akamatsu’s work that he paid attention to, though. There are moments during the episode he talks about the sound production, art design, and animation, particularly in the fourth episode. What he specifically comments on is fight the character Karin Yuuki engages in. For instance, Mr. Akamatsu talks about how the punch and pistol sound effects have a certain hardness to them and Karin’s movements are smooth. These are difficult to replicate in a manga, so it’s interesting to hear what Mr. Akamatsu has to say about the scene. But, on top of this, he also notes how the pistol is actually slightly different from the manga (apparently he drew a government issue Colt pistol and the anime uses a Delta Colt pistol). Not many people would catch such a minute detail. But, coming from the original creator we see how much attention he’s paying to the details in the art, as well as sound, design.

Image source: TVアニメ「UQ HOLDER! 」 on Twitter

The largest revelation of Mr. Akamatsu’s commentary comes near the end of the episode when he and Mrs. Matsuoka discuss the climatic battle of the series. The battle features Tōta fighting the character Negi Springfield from the anime series Negima!?, which is also a Ken Akamatsu work. However, in the last moment of the fight we see all, and I mean all, the girls from Negima!? appear on screen. For those familiar with the UQ Holder! manga series, this doesn’t happen; the scenario takes a different path. The thing is, when Mrs. Matsuoka asks Mr. Akamatsu if he requested this ending to the anime, we learn an amazing fact about both the anime and manga of UQ Holer!

Mr. Akamatsu, in fact, didn’t request the ending we see in the anime of UQ Holder! But, the ending isn’t a coincidence either, since he states, “Had the manga ended here, this is probably how I would have ended it.” He even goes on to say, “This is close to the ‘true’ ending of UQ Holder!” In other words, Mr. Akamatsu would have had all the Negima!? girl’s show up and help Tōta fight Negi in the manga series at the same point. That’s a major reveal about the behind the scenes planning of the manga series. And Mr. Akamatsu’s commentary during the episode is probably the only place we’ll ever hear it. That makes the extra “best of” UQ Holder! episode all more worth watching for fans of the franchise.

Listening to Ken Akamatsu talk about the anime adaptation of his work is really interesting. While he’s as much of a fan of the series as the next person, he offers insights to the series we didn’t know before. And only a creator can really do that.

UQ Holder!: Magister Negi Magi 2 is currently streaming on Anime Strike and HIDIVE.

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