Recently sometime I talked about how I finally got into UQ Holder, the new manga from Ken Akamatsu. Akamatsu did one of my early favorite manga, Mahou Sensei Negima. When I read Negima I was much younger, and my critical analysis skills were yet to be really honed. So it sits in a place of nostalgia in my heart.
SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT FOR UQ HOLDER
Reading UQ Holder now with all I know about literary criticism and with all the other anime and manga I've consumed gives me more insight into the story and the industry, at a keener look at Akamatsu's style and consistent tropes.
When I wrote about UQ Holder, it was about how the Gravity Blade is my new favorite weapon ever. That hasn't changed. Another part of that card was talking about how UQ Holder has taken a definitively more shonen approach than Negima did at first. Negima started out very much as a harem and slightly ecchi manga before ultimately focusing more on the fantastical shonen battles.
Where I was willing to compliment Holder on making it's shonen elements the forefront of the story before, now I can't so much.
Where Negima made a shift away from Harem/Comedy elements into more battle shonen pretty late in the game, UQ Holder has now started to shift in a lot of harem elements. Touta has now found himself at the center of a love harem/triangle/quadrangle, though with classic harem MC ignorance of it all.
It really got going hardest in chapter 100, after the introduction of some new characters (and old!) who seem to have set their sights on Touta. At this point we already know that Kuromaru and Kirie have strong feelings for Touta, and then they see this human girl show up and peg her as competition.
Then the whole chapter devolves into a classic Akamatsu harem scene, where all the parties interested in Touta's heart try their best to make sure they are the ones who scrub his back 50 times, in accordance with an old inn urban legend.
I don't know if Akamatsu knows how to make a story that isn't a harem. From Love Hina to Negima, it was all harem action, with shonen battle manga elements creeping in later. Now we start the opposite way, going from a battle shonen emphasis to growing the harem parts.
Fans of Negima are still a little bitter over Akamatsu never making a final decision about what girl Negi wound up with, and speculation still runs rampant (Touta's family name is Konoe, which would maybe imply that he came descended from Negi and Konoka). Now with this new harem being developed, the only thing I can hope for as a fan is that there will be some closure to this one.
I also hope it doesn't lose sight of itself as a battle manga. I prefer those myself, and so far this one has been good imo. I'm cool with it also being a harem, as long as Akamatsu makes it so that the two elements are equally developed.