200 Word Anime: Black Clover Episode 5

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Weekend Otaku and I continue our thoughts on Black Clover. This week the exam is over and we find out if they made it into the Magic Knights or not, though there wasn’t all that much doubt about how this was going to end. If you missed them, please check out our previous posts.

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Karandi’s Review:

We finally got to see some actual magic fights and they were kind of cool, but given we knew nothing about the people fighting other than being visually kind of interesting there wasn’t a lot of reason to invest in what was going on. We also finally got to see Yuno in a fight and he is very cool but, and this leads into my main issue with Juni Taisen, stoic characters who don’t react to danger are kind of boring to watch. Asta’s reactions might be totally over the top but at least he emotes (I just wish he was a bit quieter about it).

I enjoyed this episode though it went exactly as expected given it was more or less flashing a neon sign about where Asta would ultimately end up earlier last week. They even tried that whole fake out where at first no one takes him in and then there’s a twist. But, no big surprises here.

Still, they’ve managed to make me interested enough in the Black Bulls even though I’m not expecting anything terribly original. The Captain seems intriguing because at first he seemed kind of like Kenapchi from Bleach but this episode he started to take on more of his own personality and I’m kind of interested in him as a character at this point. I’m also wanting to know what is in store for Yuno given he’s now going to be endlessly looked down on as the one non-noble or royal in his group (and this show has not been subtle about class divide). Okay, it took 5 episodes but now I’m actually kind of curious and not just wanting it to improve. Hopefully, it continues to draw me in.

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Weekend Otaku’s Review:

As Karandi point out, this episode brought in some of the right elements to create interest in the show, if not any actual investment yet. There are a few things I would like to see improve, though:

First, why has no one said anything about Asta’s grimoire since episode 1? The five leaf is supposed to be rarer than the four leaf, right? A few characters by now should have seen it up close, and if the chain guy recognized it I expect that Magic Knight captains should too.

Second, please do something interesting with Yuno. All he does this episode is create a vortex to fend off his opponent’s lightning ball (because as we learned from Naruto, wind beats lightning). The only reason we have to think Yuno is something special is because everyone keeps saying so. The show was hinting that this is his story as well as Asta’s so I would like some more focus on him and actually getting to know his character.

The last problem I’ll point out today is one that I don’t think will ever be fixed, and that’s Asta’s motivation. I feel no empathy for him because there is no indication as to why he’s determined to become the Wizard King. I feel like there has to be something more than a fairy tale to drive him, but we haven’t been given any clues. Maybe his tenure with the Black Bulls will bring something out, or maybe I’m just being overly hopeful.

In any case, I’m with Karandi in that I am interested in knowing what happens next, so the show is working on some level.

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¬†Thanks Weekend. Reminder that we’ve also been reviewing the Ancient Magus’ Bride on WeekendOtaku’s site so if you have missed any of the posts you can find them here.

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200 Word Anime: Black Clover Episode 4

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Weekend Otaku and I continue our thoughts on Black Clover as Yuno and Asta take the exam to become magic knights. If you missed them, please check out our previous posts.

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Karandi’s Review:

Asta’s presence was somewhat diluted this week through the addition of other candidates for the magic knights and the captains. That, and Asta didn’t shriek every single line of dialogue. He actually had conversations with people and when he is speaking his voice is actually tolerable. So, with my ears momentarily spared, what did I actually think of the episode?

Pretty standard entrance exam stuff to be honest. I felt there was a wasted opportunity here as they focused so much on Asta without giving us much more of Yuno. They keep telling us Yuno is talented but other than showing him flying on a broom standing up (something we saw in the opening credits) he doesn’t really get seen at all during this exam. They might address this next week, but it feels like they could have done more with this than just showing Asta failing over and over again.

What they did get right was Asta’s opponent for the fight at the end. It wasn’t a surprise the guy was playing Asta the whole time, and they really made you enjoy it when Asta finally got to fight him.

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Weekend Otaku’s Review:

Black Clover has something of a running trend of trying to find new ways to say Asta has no magical talent. Whereas these “entrance exam” type episodes in other shounen series are a good opportunity to showcase some of the other new and interesting characters, this one basically neglected even Yuno to focus on Asta’s shortcomings. From the anti-birds swarming him to every magical test except the last one, the same gag that has persisted through three episodes takes up the bulk of this one as well. Asta can’t do magic. We get it.

From a story framing perspective though, this episode is a bit better than the others so far. Making the audience care about Asta isnt’ the easiest thing at this point, but it was satisfying to see him basically ace the combat test against a guy who rivaled his level of annoyance with that dumb laugh. The introduction of the Black Bull captain (and the explanation about how his squad doesn’t have a single decent mage) is a huge giveaway as to Asta’s destination though. Rather than wonder about his passing the exam, the show will need to find tension elsewhere next week.

With some more world building going on and a small view into how the nobles view the rest of the country, this show may yet have some interesting directions it can go.

Thanks Weekend. In case you’ve missed it, we’ve been reviewing the Ancient Magus’ Bride on WeekendOtaku’s site so if you have missed any of the posts you can find them here.

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My Hero Academia Episode 37: Those Two Have Got To Work On Their Issues

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Review:

I know they put Midoriya and Bakugo together because their communication was dreadful, but that just seemed needlessly unfair. Midoriya was trying, kind of, to work with Bakugo and he is an absolute jerk. I still can’t believe we’re actually supposed to see him as a future hero and not a villain. Though in a world where Endeavor is technically a hero (the number 2 hero) even though he’s also a jerk I guess we’ll just have to accept that hostility and violence are apparently not disqualifying characteristics.

This fight was as explosive as you would suspect with Bakugo in the mix, but I think All Might was the surprise this episode. He really plays the role of a villain well (even if he did provide multiple openings for the students – it wouldn’t really be a test if they couldn’t have done anything). He’s actually pretty scary when you realise that once he doesn’t care whether the city gets destroyed his power is even more dangerous.

And in the midst of getting crushed, Bakugo and Midoriya kind of come to an understanding even if they still don’t like each other and still can’t really work as a team.

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Still, I will exhibit no surprise is Bakugo ever becomes evil. Might be a little judgemental, but the kid is dangerous.

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Overall, a pretty good conclusion to the exam but nothing overly unexpected except perhaps how good All Might is at being a fake villain. Then of course we got the preview for the next episode and it seems we’ll end the season with the return of the villains so something to look forward to.


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My Hero Academia Episode 36: And So They Fought

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Review:

If this wasn’t the second last episode of the season, you would swear it was a filler episode. We get the match ups of most of the characters we don’t really care about (Uraraka is the exception here but her match is over and done in almost an instant). While there’s certainly merit to seeing some of these classmates in a fight, and some of the teachers that previously had been been in the background, there’s no plot progression and the main characters are sidelined quite literally, taking the role of commentators rather than participants.

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That isn’t to say the episode wasn’t fun or that there weren’t some cool moments to be found here. However, from a strictly plot point of view this episode gives us very little. Nother is really revealed about the characters that couldn’t have been surmised prior and none of this is leading to anything except Midoriya and Bakugou’s fight against All Might which of course doesn’t start until the final minute of the episode (almost as if the writers were worried we would suddenly stop watching without that bit of a cliff-hanger).

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All and all, as part of the overall feeling of My Hero Academia, this episode works, but it is hardly one of the better showings we’ve had from this second season and I think most of the tournament episodes earlier in the season were stronger than this.


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My Hero Academia Episode 35: Aizawa’s Always A Teacher

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Review:

There’s a lot of terrible teachers out in the anime universe, fortunately for Todoroki and Yaoyorozu, Aizawa isn’t one of them. Even when he’s hunting them down, he still takes the time to reflect on their progress as students and to give them the push they need to overcome their own difficulties. As much as he likes to play the tough guy, when it comes to his students, he is always a teacher.

Still this episode sees us go through three different tests and after the inglorious defeat of the two muscle heads in round one it seems like most pairs have at least discussed possible plans.

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The teachers aren’t going all out but they aren’t playing overly nice either so it is kind of nice to see the students rise to the challenge.

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Still, this episode hits you with the emotional high of Yaoyorozu finally getting to do something other than fret or worry about her own inadequacies. It has been a long time coming but she’s finally joined the many other awesome female characters in this show that get to stand on their own two feet and be counted. And seeing Todoroki follow her lead and learn from his own mistakes was also pretty cool.

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Now we just have to hope that some of our other favourite characters don’t bomb out next week. This show continues to be a bundle of fun as even the most mundane of events (a school exam) comes to life when these characters take the stage.


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Hunter X Hunter Episodes 20 + 21

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Review Episode 20:

Okay, when they set up these matches I was not expecting Killua to be the one who lost. Nor was I expecting a “I’m your brother” reveal so there we go. Two surprises in one episode. Still, the moment below broke my heart just a little bit.

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He’s so cute. You know, for a trained killer. He just wants to be friends.

Anyway, Gon’s reaction at the end of the episode was perfect and I loved that the narrator felt the need to tell us twice that Gon was angry. Just in case we missed that from the way he marched down the hallway and kicked in the door. Of course, Gon being angry is a new state of affairs so maybe they just wanted to make sure we got it.

Review Episode 21:

They weren’t kidding when they said Gon was angry. And now we have all kinds of modern conveniences including ninja who use email. But anyway… I’ve given up trying to figure out if this is based on any particular time period because it just seems so incredibly mixed. Anyway, these two are really creepy still.

So that’s the exam done, except the final line of the episode makes it clear it isn’t. You know, for all the supposed perks of being a hunter, there are way too many hoops to jump through in this application process. But hey, we’re off to rescue Killua, maybe, so that should be fun.

Hunter X Hunter is available on Crunchyroll.


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Hunter X Hunter Episodes 18 + 19

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Review Episode 18:

The fourth phase is finally ends though the snakes give them a little bit of trouble. Not as much as they should because apparently Gon is super-human. Evidenced by being able to hold his breath an impossibly long time and carrying three people simultaneously.

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I do get that this is an anime but I genuinely have to question how we are supposed to ever worry about these characters when they seem pretty indestructible. Unless they are an exam extra in which case you can get dropped to the bottom of the gorge without a word being said. Anyway, I’m not sure I like where those interview questions are leading but I guess we’ll find out in the next episode what the final phase is all about.

Review Episode 19:

Okay that was unnecessarily heavy. I watch a lot of fairly dark shows but when watching a show like this the last thing you expect is pretty much something that amounts to torture of an eleven year old, and levity at the end of the episode or not doesn’t make that sit any better. It’s kind of all about expectations. Watching something you know is going to be dark means you are pretty immune to the affect of it whereas in this case it kind of hit me off guard.

That aside, Gon is an idiot but apparently that’s enough for him to get by this time. Though part of me kind of wisher Leorio and Kurapika had run into the fray. So, broken arm, severe bruising (though realistically should be internal bleeding given the beating he took), and a head wound aside, Gon technically won his round and so should technically have passed the exam. Wonder how that will play out next episode.

Hunter X Hunter is available on Crunchyroll.


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Hunter x Hunter Episodes 14 + 15

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Review Episode 14:

Part of me is a little concerned about how little regard some of these characters have had for their surroundings. Small details like the last 24 numbers and who owns each one seem to have passed a few of our characters by. Given some of their feats of concentration and observation that seems like a major oversight.

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Anyway, to progress to the final stage of the exam Gon has to get 6 points. Admittedly, the easiest way to get 6 points is to collect your targets badge (given its worth 3 points and your own is 3 points) but was there ever an explanation that said that couldn’t just steal three other random badges. Given who Gon’s target is, that seems like the far safer course. Or maybe I just look for loop holes and they aren’t supposed to get the points that way. Anyway, not a huge amount happened here as we seemed to be transition from the previous challenge into the new one, but I look forward to the upcoming episodes.

Review Episode 15:

Should I feel bad that my plan was the same as Hisoka’s? I mean, he is not a great person and he plans on just taking three random tags. Anyway, blood sniffing butterflies? Really?

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I guess it saved us watching Gon walk around cluelessly for half an hour. Not that it mattered given once he found Hisoka he just kind of crept in the bushes for the rest of the episode. Fortunately, Leorio and Kurapika picked up a lot of the slack this episode.

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It was kind of satisfying to see Tonpa finally get crushed and the monkey guy had never left much of an impression so there was no issue there. Actually, I’m more thinking to what will happen next with Hisoka about to target Leorio and Kurapika.

Hunter x Hunter is available on Crunchyroll.


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Hunter X Hunter EPisodes 10 + 11

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Review Episode 10:

The main group are having a bit of a disagreement with Kurapika refusing to finish off his opponent but rather than watching them wallow we get to cut over to Hisoka finishing off his route through the tower. I liked that just when it looked like things were shaping up for a major fight between Hisoka and the previous examiner that the fight was cut short when Hisoka just had enough and ended it. It was a nice moment and kept things moving. Cutting back to the main group, Leorio finally got over his sulk and actually had one of his cooler moments. I’m kind of wondering if he’ll win his match but part of me doesn’t want him to because I’d really like to see Killua have to take some action, but I guess I’ll find out when I go to the next episode.

Review Episode 11:

Leorio went from one of his cooler moments to one of his most lame in about the span of five minutes, but that’s pretty much expected at this point plus it guaranteed Killua got to have a match (though not much of one). I’m sorry, that was incredibly cool. Can we please see more of that?

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Anyway, three examinees are finished, and Gon’s group are now waiting out 50 hours in a room that looks extremely modern, still adding to my confusion about what time period this whole show is set in. Looking forward to what happens next.

Hunter x Hunter is available on Crunchyroll.


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Hunter X Hunter Episodes 8 + 9

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Review Episode 8:

Just what we needed, a trip through a tower full of traps with Tonpa. Try saying that quickly. Anyway, once again we get to see the characters all be fairly callous after one of the applicants is eaten while attempting to scale down the outside of the tower. While I’m not expecting them to cry buckets they could at least pretend that they are upset that a person just died for a test. Other than that, mostly we get to learn more about what a despicable downer of a human being Tonpa is and I am really, really hoping something nasty happens to him soon. To be honest though, I think I’m getting hooked on this show because I nearly skipped ot the next episode without stopping to consider my thoughts on this one. I just want to know what happens next.

Review Episode 9:

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I genuinely have no idea what time period this show is meant to be set in or based on at this point. The use of technology seems really random and inconsistent (because we had the laptop guy who dropped out, and there’s an airship, and this room but not seeing phones or modern weapons really at this point).

I kind of wondered when the rules for Gon’s match were explained what was going to stop them from just blowing out the other person’s candle so I’m kind of happy with how that match resolved but the real standout was Kurapika.

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It was a great moment for him and what made it even better was Gon’s reaction.

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Hunter X Hunter is available on Crunchyroll.


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