200 Word Anime: Black Clover Episode 13

Welcome to the final post for Black Clover that Weekend Otaku and I will be writing together. We’ve mutually agreed to end our joint coverage of Black Clover here. While I don’t think either one of us have fully committed to dropping the show, we both know we aren’t really enjoying it and there’s only so many ways you can say that before it becomes repetitive. However, we will be continuing joint coverage of The Ancient Magus Bride over on Weekend Otaku’s site (link at the end of the post if you haven’t checked those out). Meanwhile, you can check out our previous posts of Black Clover if you have missed them.

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Karandi’s Review:

This week brings us some more brilliantly nuanced character performances as the noble characters subtly display their disdain for Hage and its residents before valiantly offering to protect those beneath them who are in need. Oh wait. No, that isn’t right.

Okay, we get Salim play acting as the nice noble though due to the poor writing quality and the absolute lack of subtlety in this show it is quite obvious where this whole mission with Yuno is going before we actually get there. As such the audience is asked to endure a fairly painful meal in the church where Klaus continues an internal monologue of disdain while Salim plasts false smiles across his obnoxious face. It is almost a relief when the sister gets kidnapped.

What made this scene worse was Yuno’s reaction to Asta sending money. Yuno, due to lack of screen time and contrast with Asta, is about the only character I haven’t actively disliked in this show and then we get the scene this week where he reveals clearly he is every bit as stupid as Asta, he’s just quieter about it.

Then, just in case you were still hoping for something from this story, we get a standard sequence of Yuno flying/walking toward the very cleverly chosen location where Sister Lily is being kept captive and facing off with one bad guy at a time. Because of course, when facing someone really strong your best option is to individually take him on and spread you forces out so they can’t back each other up.

This show is just kind of painfully stupid to watch. The story does do what most other shounen shows would do and you could almost write out the plots of several stories that would use this exact sequence and yet here there is nothing fun or interesting to distract from the poor quality or simple nature of the story. I honestly can’t see me getting to the end of this show.

 

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Weekend Otaku’s Review:

I half expected the detour in Hage to be simply that, given this show’s propensity for drawing out unnecessary sequences. With that said, I can appreciate the attempt to draw intrigue into some of the things going on in Clover Kingdom outside of Asta’s small point of view. As is usually the case with Black Clover though, the execution fails to impress.

The plot being more or less predictable isn’t too much of a disappointment, given that it led toward some more magic battling – something I’ve been wanting more of from this show since the end of the first episode. The problem here is in the lackluster experience, stemming from the gauntlet style one on one fights that Yuno spends about ten seconds on for each. Like every fight thus far (except maybe the one against Heath), there is no flash, no sense of the stakes, and no real tension. It’s just another set of scenes to get through on the way toward wherever this show is going.

On that point: with this episode coming in at the end of the winter season I had dared to hope that it would lay some groundwork for what’s to come. The most I could take away from the last couple episodes was that the Wizard King is interested in the brothers. I could be wrong, but I don’t think I missed any other major point among the tedium in between.

In the end there just isn’t enough to justify the time spent, at least in writing about it if not watching. I’ve enjoyed parts of this show more than I probably should have (I could be tempted to watch an entire season of Petit Clover), there isn’t much more I can say about it that I haven’t already. While the show may deliver something over the course of many episodes, one of the few reasons I may continue to watch, there simply isn’t enough substance to it on an episode by episode basis. Even for viewers who love shounen, Black Clover’s superficial approach to the genre’s tropes and lack of narrative leaves too much to be desired.

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 Thank-you Weekend, it has been a pleasure covering this show with you (and that was probably the best thing about the show). Be sure to check out Weekend Otaku’s blog for our reviews of The Ancient Magus’ Bride.

Karandi’s Random Reflection:

It has been so great following Black Clover and The Ancient Magus Bride this season with Weekend Otaku. I have a lot of respect for Weekend Otaku and his opinion so just knowing that he were going to read my random thoughts on episodes made me think about what I really wanted to say and saved me from just writing ‘Make it stop’ over and over again during the early episodes of Black Clover.

I’ll admit, the first half of this season was particularly challenging for me due to my work situation but having this ongoing project really helped and I want to thank Weekend for offering to work on an extended collaboration. I know both of us had weeks where viewing the shows and getting a draft of the post to the other and then reviewing was quite the effort and yet for 13 weeks we’ve both been there for the other.

However, this project has also made me shift my focus a few times because I would realise both Weekend and I had picked up identical points so then we’d have to think about what else could be said about the episode or whether there was anything else to be said (and sometimes we’d come up empty). I’m really glad we did this 200 Word Anime project during Autumn and I’m really happy that Weekend Otaku was the one I started this project with. It is definitely something I’d like to do in future seasons though one thing I have definitely learned is to not over-commit myself because it isn’t that unusual for my work situation to go crazy and I was really struggling some weeks. When I review by myself I just shift my post order around at will if I fall behind as there’s always something scheduled later I could move up (that’s a necessity if you are going to keep daily posting long term), but even with the couple of days we left as a buffer between the episode airing and when we wanted to have our post out sometimes it was a push.

Basically, a huge thank you to Weekend Otaku and everyone who has followed along with this series of posts.


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200 Word Anime: Black Clover Episode 12

This week we see the conclusion of Asta’s shopping trip and we finally find out what Yuno is up to. Weekend Otaku and I share our thoughts on episode 12. Check out our previous posts if you have missed them.

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Karandi’s Review:

I actually didn’t mind this episode. Okay, it wasn’t a brilliant episode and it hasn’t changed my opinion of Black Clover overall, but it was kind of okay to watch. 

Asta chases down the purse-snatcher and we see the arrogant Praying Mantis guy get what he deserves before a kind of interesting reveal occurs. Then we transition (almost easily) over to Yuno’s current mission which ends up leading us back to Hage village. 

Nothing particularly exceptional and yet it felt like there was movement in the story and that there was some purpose to what was going on. Also, the minimal use of what Black Clover classes as humour certainly helped this episode out.

I’m fairly convinced that Yuno’s mission is going to end badly otherwise I don’t see the point in this interlude, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see. However, the promise of less Asta is kind of nice.

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Weekend Otaku’s Review:

Neither I nor Karandi (nor the rest of the anime community, really) have had any lack of criticism against this show. That’s why, like with episode 10, it’s nice when I can find something to enjoy about it. There isn’t a lot this show has offered over the course of twelve episodes, but it has some charming moments every now and again.

In particular I’m talking about the entire sequence with Sekke. From him calling Asta to a “bah-hastard” last week to his comical apparent last words before his mortified realization that he’s not dying, Black Clover utilizes an otherwise potentially annoying character for some decent comedy that worked a lot better for me than the forced situations this show most often goes for.

Aside from the comedy, it was nice to see Yuno getting a chance to do something more than a three second cameo. I can’t exactly place what I like about him, but not being Asta probably has a lot to do with it. His fight was entertaining enough regardless, though I would have liked to see Mimosa (really?) do something as well.

Covering something other than Asta does show some movement as Karandi said, but I won’t hold my breath on his side trip to Hage providing much of interest. I have to reiterate how much of a shame it is that this show’s pace is so unbearably slow, because at this rate even 51 episodes may not be enough to provide solid depth.

 Thank-you Weekend. Be sure to check out Weekend Otaku’s blog for our reviews of The Ancient Magus’ Bride.


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200 Word Anime: Black Clover Episode 11

Weekend Otaku and I continue our coverage of Black Clover as we move on from the fight and… go shopping? Check out our previous posts if you have missed them.

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Karandi’s Review:

What little hope I had left for this series kind of shrivelled and died over the course of attempting to watch episode 11. There were just so many groan inducing moments and places where I had to pause and walk away from my computer before convincing myself it wasn’t actually that bad and attempting to continue. But, I’m kind of done making excuses for this show or pretending it will eventually pick up.

Black Clover is decidedly mediocre. Even at its best, which arguably was episode 10, it barely managed to be slightly better than average with many examples of similar scenes played out better in other anime. And then we are reminded of everything that is actually pretty terrible about this show in the very next episode.

Repeating bad jokes does not make them better. They might have been tolerated the first time, groan worthy the second, but by the time we get to episode 11 and the captain breaks yet another wall while telling the other members of the bulls not to break things (twice in the space of five minutes) all you can do is shake your head and wonder why you are still giving this show any of your attention.

Magna’s screeching about Asta not knowing the Magic Knight’s salute (first I’ve heard about it either) seems really out of place given neither Asta nor Noelle even knew what a magic knight was supposed to do and the Black Bull’s clearly have done nothing to actually have any kind of orientation program for new knights (which you would think would be pretty standard protocol for any organisation).

We also get a rehash of the Sister Lily joke and Magna gambling, the guy with the little sister crush, and so on and so forth until we end up shopping in the castle town. Basically, this show has no charm or appeal and this week it didn’t even manage anything that might resemble action or excitement. At this point I’m just accepting that the show isn’t going to get better and while it remains watchable it really isn’t enjoyable.

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Weekend Otaku’s Review:

Whatever hope last week’s episode instilled in me was fairly dashed this week . Perhaps hope might be too strong a word, as that possibility faded about halfway into the season. Call it ‘mild expectation’ instead, that a shounen battle show would do shounen battle things, or at least attempt to work toward a plot that leads to whatever this story is trying to do.

Instead we get yet another episode where virtually nothing at all happens. I’m not sure I’ll understand or accept Pierrot’s reasons for whittling away time like this. I’m not at all opposed to more mundane moments in action series, but when said moments don’t do much to develop characters, don’t add to any framework for the plot, and barely add flavor to the world, what can you say about them? The only things we learn from this episode are: missions get you gold stars (but because the Black Bulls are awful they’re hilariously behind everyone else). and missions also get you money (but because the Black Bulls are terrible they spend it poorly). Also that nonsense with the three finger salute (despite the four leaf clover being a well known thing) that Karandi mentioned.

Everything else that happens is symptomatic of the same problems this series has had from the start. Humor continues being forced upon the viewer, eg: Asta reaching for Noelle’s waist on the broom immediately after she tells him to back off just so she can knock him off it, or Magna setting Asta’s hair on fire because what else could have resulted from his William Tell practice session? On the other hand, I genuinely laughed when Agrippa said they should all hang out and everyone walked away because they couldn’t hear him. A shame they don’t do more to use these characters.

Really, aside from peddling jokes I don’t know what this show plans to do. A little research indicates that manga readers like Black Clover (or at least don’t hate it) because it gets to a compelling story in relatively short order. You can’t say Pierrot has any intention of following that pattern when the cliffhanger of this episode is a petty robbery. If this series is going somewhere, it probably won’t do so before most viewers have given up on it.

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 Thank-you Weekend. Be sure to check out Weekend Otaku’s blog for our reviews of The Ancient Magus’ Bride. It you’ve missed our posts be sure to check them out.


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If you enjoyed this post and like the blog, consider becoming a patron to support further growth and future content.

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Karandi James.

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200 Word Anime: Black Clover Episode 10

This week we actually get a fight in Black Clover and Weekend Otaku and I share our thoughts on how this show is going. Check out our previous posts if you have missed them.

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Karandi’s Review:

All things considered this was a relatively decent episode. Not good or spectacular mind you, but decent enough. We had the fight that was promised by the end of the previous episode and each of the three characters the show seems to be trying to get us to care about had their moment, and it was all pretty standard fare with shouting protagonists and gloating villains.

A few things stopped me from really enjoying this though. Firstly, while it looked good enough, most of us have seen magic fights in a lot of anime now and visually this fight had nothing on similar sequences we’ve seen in shows like Fairy Tail or My Hero Academia. That doesn’t actually make it bad, but it does take some of the wow factor away that might have accompanied it. I guess if it was my first shounen maybe it would be more impressive.

Secondly, the villain was overall pretty lacklustre. Okay, I’m not expecting much at this stage of the story from a clearly low tier villain and I’ll admit that early on in Bleach, Ichigo only really fought the mindless hollows and we didn’t get actual antagonists until nearly the end of season 1. However, even with low expectations the main villain here was boring and I’m not even sure what the other three guys were doing because they got wiped out in the fight but did they actually contribute anything during it?

The last thing I had a real issue with was after the fight was done. Touching farewell scene with the grandchild of the guy who died and the show has to throw in what it attempts to pass off as comedy. Other shows might get away with this sequence, but they’d probably deliver it better with characters I actually liked so it might work. Here is just shatters what little mood the show had managed to construct and leaves a bad taste in my mouth as the episode closes.

Still, this episode was progress of a sorts for Black Clover and I only really hated Asta during the last few minutes as most of rest of the time even his shouting seemed vaguely justifiable given the circumstances.

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Weekend Otaku’s Review:

In a lot of ways, this was the sort of episode I think Black Clover needed. Thanks to the battle which took up the majority of the time, we got a break from the forced humor and drawn-out aimless scenes that dragged down a lot of the earlier episodes. It wasn’t without its flaws, but I feel some satisfaction in the show doing some of the things I expected from a shounen battle anime.

Like Karandi said, there was nothing spectacular here, but the fight gave us a few things that might have made it feel very unfulfilling otherwise. Noelle’s new spell was strong, but not in a way that made it a one sided bout. Magna likewise, for all his bluster, had to rely on his junior teammates and their ability to tactically use their powers to defeat Heath. If nothing else, it sets an early expectation that the real fights won’t come down to Asta simply swinging his sword and laying waste to any opponent he manages to surprise like he did in episodes 2 and 4. I can’t say with certainty that the rest of them will follow a similar pattern, but this fight achieved the goal of feeling like a challenge for the young mages.

Aside from these credits, the generally unimpressive magic animation and overall lack of creativity from the plot challenge enjoyment from those who aren’t new to shounen anime. The tandem attack Magna and Asta pulled off is almost right out of Naruto and the water shields are a familiar sight (from the same episode!) as well. To top it off, the few scenes that reveal the overarching plot to revive the ten tailed beast collect some magic stones suggests a rather predictable blueprint for the rest of the story.

But things have to start somewhere. If Black Clover can manage to stay on course, there’s still a lot it can do to distinguish itself by getting viewers invested in the relatively small cast of Black Bulls characters. If that goes well, maybe we’ll even see Yuno again and have hope that a decent anime can form out of the whole thing.

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 As always, thanks Weekend. Be sure to check out Weekend Otaku’s blog as we’ve been covering The Ancient Magus’ Bride over there. It you’ve missed our posts be sure to check them out.


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If you enjoyed this post and like the blog, consider becoming a patron to support further growth and future content.

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Karandi James.

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200 Word Anime: Black Clover Episode 9

Continuing with Black Clover, Weekend Otaku and I our now sharing our thoughts on episode 9 as the first mission turns into more than either Asta or Noelle really counted on. If you’ve missed any of our previous posts you can check them out here.

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Karandi’s Review:

What can I say that hasn’t already been said about this show?

Do I comment that we had a recap of over two minutes for the previous episode in which nothing of substance actually happened so this served no purpose other than to remind us of how lame this mission was supposed to be?

Do I mention that the first new dialogue we hear in this episode is “Ahhh!” as Asta once again runs around screaming (and that is at the four minute mark)?

Should I instead turn my focus to the incredibly blunt and obvious theme of nobles looking down on commoners that is being developed by literally just repeating it over and over and over again?

Or the equally obvious and blunt foreshadowing of the tragedy awaiting at the village?

Perhaps I was supposed to care about Noelle’s apparent revelation that when she’s asked by a teary child to help suddenly she can use magic. This seems ridiculously cheap and a way to easy way of overcoming a block that is essentially her only defining trait as a character, but why should that matter at this point?

And lastly, should I mention that Yuno has apparently vaporised from the story so the only character I was even vaguely interested in (not that he’d done anything interesting) has since ceased to even have purpose in Asta’s flashbacks?

Despite all of the above, there is one unmistakable positive from this episode. We actually get to see them use their powers for an actual purpose. Not in some assigned duel or for household chores or as a cheat or anything else. We genuinely have a magical threat, people to protect, and a real fight on our hands. Now if only the show could make me care about that.

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Weekend Otaku’s Review:

I’ve accepted it as a standard for Shounen Jump adaptations that up to the first half of an episode might be recap, so I’m not particularly bothered by that. I can even take the predictability of the plot, such as the first mission turning out to be more dangerous than planned. Traits like this can feel tiresome but are okay so long as there are other elements that can retain interest. As we have said time and again, however, this is a real challenge for Black Clover.

To be fair, I agree with Karandi’s last point in that I enjoyed the chance to see some more characters in action and at least an attempt at showcasing a magic battle. Though the animation doesn’t go out of its way to avoid looking generic, pitting Asta’s group against some real foes injects some much needed drive into the otherwise stale plot. Magna’s fire magic isn’t the most original power but I liked seeing him use it to do something other than throw a fireball. Noelle’s new spell might also hold some promise but we’ll have to wait and see since the show is in no hurry to actually do anything.

This is all in vain hope for a silver lining, because what Black Clover continues to suffer from is a lack of anything that could get the viewer invested in the story or characters. Asta’s unwavering will would be admirable if we see him press on in the face of failure, but without any real challenge after nine (!!) episodes, the only way this manifests is him swinging his sword at all his problems. The class divide is repeated time and again as a theme, but it feels like nothing more than a way to get Asta fired up (as if he needs it). He hasn’t changed anyone’s perception on the topic and he’s still a joke even when he does manage to break the stereotype.

I shouldn’t hope for this series to do anything more than the standard generic shounen fare, but I’m annoyed that it doesn’t even seem to be trying.

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 Thanks Weekend. We’ve also been covering The Ancient Magus’ Bride over on Weekend Otaku’s blog so if you’ve missed our posts you should go check them out.


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200 Word Anime: Black Clover Episode 8

Here we are again: Weekend Otaku and I discussing Black Clover. Well, the episode title promises the first mission and by the end of the episode I guess they’ve kind of left on a mission so how did we take this episode?  If you’ve missed them you can check out our previous posts here.

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Karandi’s Review:

Okay, I am starting to get seriously annoyed at this show. Asta’s still screeching and for the first few minutes of this episode it is a near continuous and unnecessary shriek that just made me end up muting the episode. I should not have to mute a show in self-defence just to be able to force myself to keep watching it.

After I got over that and we actually got into the episode, I have to wonder once again what is funny about incompetence, laziness, and general poor decision making which is more or less what the audience is subjected to here. Yami, the potentially interesting captain, actually is just another moron who goes on a ‘mission’ which turns out to just be a gambling expedition where he ultimately bets the services of his magic knights and then loses. While I’m still not actually sure what a magic knight does, despite the useless time waste of a breakfast sequence where for some reason the magic knights are discussing it (getting back to that), I am fairly confident in saying that trading a knight’s services for losing a hand of cards is pretty pathetic.

And back to Asta… Just what? How are we supposed to take this character seriously when his entire life dream and every action has been driving him selfishly towards becoming the ‘wizard king’, and now it appears he doesn’t actually even understand the fundamentals of the journey? Who becomes a magic knight without knowing what they actually do? Why on earth do the writers expect the audience just to swallow this?

My happy moment this episode came when Noelle hit Asta in the face and knocked him off the broom stick.

 

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Weekend Otaku’s Review:

When I mentioned last week that the pace of this show can create some real issues with maintaining interest, this is what I meant. “Go! Go! First Mission” had a decided lack of any actual mission as the show spent entirely too much time on insignificant scenes yet again. From the long breakfast scene which served as merely a prelude to the card game that arguably set all this in motion, the episode fails to deliver anything of substance in favour of a new (for once) set of gags and 20 minutes of attempted humour.

The frustration comes from this show’s lack of resolve to actually do anything. It’s perfectly willing to stretch out scenes to fill time when it could be moving the plot forward. It’s really hard to understand what anyone gets out of this, because when the audience isn’t actually having fun the comedic bits lose their effect and the audience loses patience. Asta’s hyper-enthusiasm wasn’t funny in episode 1. It’s still not funny seven episodes later. When is anyone going to see that?

I get that Black Clover is part comedy, but it buries any story relevance under its excessive jokes. As Karandi mentioned, it’s not entirely clear what Magic Knights do and the heavy focus on Asta and the Black Bulls almost ensure that it might be awhile before we find out. It’s a shame that we’re 3/4 of the way through the season and nothing of consequence has happened. Asta’s goal of becoming the Wizard King was never the most compelling premise, but I expected more from this series than what we are getting.

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 Thanks as always, Weekend. Remember, we’re also covering The Ancient Magus’ Bride here and we actually like that show.


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If you enjoyed this post and like the blog, consider becoming a patron to support further growth and future content.

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200 Word Anime: Black Clover Episode 7

Weekend Otaku and I share our thoughts of Black Clover. This week we see Asta settling in as Black Bull and a two second glimpse of Yuno.  If you haven’t been following along you can check out our previous posts here.

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Karandi’s Review:

It is very hard to defend a show, even a potentially long running one, when you get seven episodes in and you still feel like you are stuck in the introduction. For all the character development and world building we’ve so far gotten in this story, we could have fit most of the things that were necessary into about two episodes. Endless repetition doesn’t make for a deeper or meaningful experience nor does dragging things out for the sake of showing every step in a journey when not every step is particularly interesting or note worthy.

This week’s example is the tour of the Black Bull’s castle. While we kind of learn a tiny bit more about Magna, this is basically a series of fairly weak punch lines as we get shown around a castle that apparently changes anyway. Prior to this we had the short clip of the church receiving Asta and Yuno’s letters, but do the reactions of those waiting back in the church mean anything to the greater narrative?

Finally the story gets to introducing the other new recruit to the Black Bulls and she’s as stereotypical as every other character we’ve met so far. Rich and snobby but with a massive chip on her shoulder which they try really hard to make us feel sorry for her and realise she isn’t such a bad person by the end. In a show with better writing and characterisation this trope can work just fine but here, like most everything else, it is serviceable at best and enough to string us along because of the possibilities of future improvements. And that’s really all this show has going for it. Currently untapped potential.

Though, in case it isn’t obvious, I’m really tired this week so my tolerance of mediocrity is a little lower than normal.

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Weekend Otaku’s Review:

Karandi hit the nail on the head in pointing out the pacing problems this show has. The most glaring indication of this is in how dragged out the most insignificant scenes are. Introducing Asta to the Squad’s castle, several minutes of disbelief over his letter back home, and another useless sequence with Yuno are just the latest set of a long list of scenes that could have been heavily shortened or even omitted. The titular “other recruite” actually makes her appearance quite late because of this, but given how quickly the main conflict of the episode is resolved maybe that was for the best.

Noelle’s story is decent on paper. Where Asta’s desire to prove himself against all odds is standard shounen fodder, the theme of the disgraced upper cruster (think Neji from Naruto) can often provide an interesting foil. The overly straightforward narrative style of Black Clover, however, leads it along predictable lines. It’s kind of fitting to think that Yami took her in based on her sheet power, but her backstory and characterisation lack gravity because of the show’s simplistic handling. She’s just another element that may get interesting eventually, but for now is little more than a generic piece.

More than half the season in and there isn’t yet a compelling thread to follow. If studio Pierrot is intentionally going at a snail’s pace to milk this story for all its worth, doing it like this risks losing any semblance of interest from the portion of the audience that wasn’t drawn to it by the manga.

Black7f Thanks Weekend. Be sure to check out our posts following The Ancient Magus’ Bride here.


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