200 Word Anime: Black Clover Episode 1

Welcome to the first 200 Word Anime post where Weekend Otaku and I will be sharing our thoughts on the episode. Be sure to check out Weekend’s blog as we’ll be reviewing The Ancient Magus’ Bride over there (hopefully – assuming we both get access and have time).

Overview:

In a world where magic is everything, Asta and Yuno are both found abandoned at a church on the same day. While Yuno is gifted with exceptional magical powers, Asta is the only one in this world without any. At the age of fifteen, both receive grimoires, magic books that amplify their holder’s magic. Asta’s is a rare Grimoire of Anti-Magic that negates and repels his opponent’s spells. Being opposite but good rivals, Yuno and Asta are ready for the hardest of challenges to achieve their common dream: to be the Wizard King. Giving up is never an option!

– from Crunchyroll

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Karandi’s Review:

I knew before I started this (from the thousand promotions around the internet) that I was about to watch a standard shounen which meant I was expecting characters who shouted a lot and the whole never giving up thing because being gritty and determined apparently makes you stronger. What I wasn’t expecting was that to be all this first episode delivered. I’m pretty sure Asta doesn’t actually speak until the 18th minute in this episode because nearly every line of dialogue prior to that (and there’s a lot) is shouted. Kind of made me want the chain guy just to pull the chain around his middle a little bit tighter and call it a day (okay, I shouldn’t wish death on the protagonist in episode 1, and he isn’t actually that bad).

However, if I ignore Asta for a moment and focus on the other characters and the story set up, while it still isn’t exactly winning points for originality, by the end of the episode it has actually set up what should be a pretty interesting if obvious fantasy story. More importantly, it made me really want to learn more about Yuno, his relationship with Asta and the world as a whole. It kind of reminded me of Attack on Titan where Eren drove me absolutely crazy for a lot of the first season because I cannot stand him as a character but I really liked the concept, the world, and some of the support cast so I stuck with it and now I really like Attack on Titan even though I still can’t stand the main character.

So I am on the fence with this one. This episode improved as it went and the episode climax was pretty on point and I’m kind of hoping now that we’ve gotten over the super generic introduction it can show us something interesting next episode.

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Weekend Otaku’s Review:

As Karandi mentioned, this show doesn’t deviate much from other shounen fantasy stories. The characters are actually quite reminiscent of Naruto, leading to an introductory act that plays out in much the same way: the spirited underdog (Asta) feels overshadowed by the gifted savant (Yuno), with Asta’s ambition checked by his severe lack of talent while his rival effortlessly outshines him. It sounds formulaic, but the setting of Black Clover gives it some potential.

While there has been sparse world building thus far, what little we learn about the clovers hints that Asta may be privy to a power that is unique even in a world rife with magic. Though it’s a given that his dogged attitude will see him through his initial setbacks, the nature of the grimoires offers some possibilities. To become a more compelling series that distinguishes itself from other shounen stories, I would like to see how the “black” clover influences Asta’s journey apart from his goal of becoming the Wizard King and some more depth to the characters through their shared backstory.

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Thanks Weekend and be sure to check out Weekend’s blog as they have some fantastic posts. I’ll let you know when our next post is out.


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UQ Holder Episode 1: Not A Total Disaster

Overview:

In the decade since the world became aware of the existence of magic, the world has undergone massive upheaval. However, a boy named Tōta lives in seclusion in a rural town far removed from these changes. His ordinary life is highlighted by his magic-using female teacher and his supportive friends. When his tranquil daily life is disrupted, he embarks on a unique adventure.

– From AnimeLab

Review:

This show opens with a scene of a group of school girls greeting a male teacher. The male teacher sneezes and magically blows the girls clothes off. Then we see some other blonde girl acting all smug who starts a monologue about being a 700 year old vampire. Then we get an opening sequence before we meet an entirely different group of boys who are trying to defeat their teacher so that they can go to the capital.

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Honestly, this introduction is a mess. I’m not exactly sure who that opening sequence was attempting to appeal to but it is just a confused mess of ambiguous, dull, or generic tropes and none of it really screamed keep watching me. As the episode progressed, things got better but Touta, the main character, is pretty much your stock standard shonen hero. He’s training to beat his teacher to achieve some nebulous goal that doesn’t seem well thought through, his parents are dead and he’s raised by his mentor, turns out he’s also lost his memory, and by the way, after nearly dying his mentor reveals that she turned him into an immortal to save his life.

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The episode ends with teacher and boy heading off to the capital and from the opening and ending it looks like we’ll meet a whole new cast of characters so no reason to really care about anyone we’ve met so far.

This is not a great introduction to a series, but there’s been worse opening episodes. I’ll give this one a couple more to see if it can settle in to something that might eventually come up with an original idea (seriously, this show has an orbital elevator which they keep referring to as a tower that he wants to climb – how many other anime just flashed through your mind). Or even if this show can find a way to present a generic story in an interesting manner given it kind of failed completely at that in this first episode.

If you checked out the first episode, let me know your thoughts.


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Knight’s & Magic Episode 13: Some People Are Just Sore Losers

Review:

Well, this ended pretty much the way everyone predicted and managed to be pretty pointless right to the end. Ernesti fights the drake and shows off a few new tricks (though I’m not certain splattering it with oil and setting it on fire counts as a new trick).

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We then get the engineer from the otherside (name has totally escaped me at this point) and Ernesti having an argument which may have only been occurring in their heads or may have been broadcast, I don’t know as it was unclear, about the aesthetics of robot design. Because that’s super important in a life or death battle.

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All of this is interspersed with the side characters storming the fortress below and one final fight with the sword mecha which ends as expected before the captain of the drake decides to ram the Princess. This is where my mild irritation with the generally stupid writing decisions in this show blew up into full of rage as the Princess stubbornly insisted she wouldn’t move because she believed that she would be protected. Lady, there’s a giant robot dragon falling out of the sky about to land on you. Would it kill you to take three steps to the right? No, instead Kid has to have a moment to jump from one airship to the drake to fight the captain and then jump out of his mecha and into Ernesti’s hand because I guess Kid hadn’t done anything useful in a few episodes because wasn’t his mecha powering the airship? Oh yeah, his mecha was powering the airship. His and Ady. So why is it still flying given he’s just abandoned ship? So frustrating.

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Anyway the war wraps up, we get some more Kid and Princess stuff before they all head home. But this is my favourite part of the episode. The Smiths that actually build the machines that have made everything possible finally get official recognition for their effort. Then Ernesti begins plotting his next steps and we end the show. Of course nothing is resolved because opposing designer guy survived and is looking for a new hire, the King or whatever of the country that started the war hasn’t been defeated, the sword guy is still alive and heading home, and there’s new tech coming out everywhere changing political and economic landscapes, but sure, let’s just end the story here. Why not at this point?

I’m kind of looking forward to a full series review of this show. I think it is going to be fun to write.


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Elegant Yokai Apartment Life Episode 12: Sometimes People Are Just Broken

Review:

This story still has no real idea what tone it is actually going for. The majority of episode 12 has Inaba and the story being super serious as we first assist the possessed teacher and then realise that even when he’s not possessed, he’s just a little bit broken at this point. Of course, the audience kind of already knew that given the Id monster was attracted to him for a reason. Just taking the monster away doesn’t fix everything else.

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And it is all just going through the motions again. Characters do everything you would expect to resolve the situation, though Inaba is still making some really stupid choices, and nothing really raises the bar above passingly interesting.

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The worst parts are Inaba’s internal (and sometimes even external) monologues. With some characters this can come off as charming, or at least offer some insight, but Inaba’s character just comes off sounding presumptuous or really naive. Although, part of my overall issue is I just don’t like this show so now I’m nitpicking. Plus, the preview for next week makes it look like a pool episode. Let us all hope they offer something more than girls in swimsuits. You know, like a storyline.


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Knight’s & Magic Episode 12: Are We Sure Ernesti Isn’t a Villain?

Review:

I had a lot of time for thinking while watching this episode, mostly because other than super dramatic music and various bits of magic zipping across the screen not a lot was going on in the first half. The fights may look visually impressive for the first two or so passes, but as Ernesti circles the ‘Drake’ and we get the same animation of its lightning defense etc, it all just starts looking a bit samey and I kind of tuned out what was going on until Ernesti hit the ground. Points for the ‘villains’ for finally knocking him out of the sky.

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What I started thinking about was Ernesti’s character and how he pretty much exhibits every characteristic you would expect of a B Grade villain. He chuckles gleefully when he destroys his enemy or creates a new machine designed to kill. He has no qualms about stealing his comrades machines if it is convenient to him. He has no loyalty to the actual rulers of his country and really would sell his loyalty to whoever would give him the access he wants to innovate with his robots, and don’t threaten the future of that robot design or he’ll take it very personally.

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That made it much harder for me to actually care about the villains and their actions given I don’t know enough about them to care personally, and their actual fighting style has been practical and not as underhanded as Ernesti’s.

Anyway, there’s one more episode of this and it is another show I’ll be glad to see off my watch list. The narrator of this show is getting my vote for most annoying character of the season.


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Knight’s & Magic Episode 11: It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, No… It’s a Giant Mechanical Dragon?

Review:

This show was definitely written by a bunch of people sitting around saying “You know what would be cool…”

“Yeah, giant robots that fight with magic.”

“Totally.”

“Wait, what if they had like four magic wands?”

“Too cool!”

“And then what if some of them looked like horses?”

“That’s fantastic!”

“And we’ll paint some red. Everyone loves red!”

“Awesome!”

And then the conversation starts to devolve and eventually we get to…

“And then the enemy just builds a freakin’ dragon and it burns the whole city down!”

Stunned silence for a moment.

“Woah! That is amazing! Write it! Write it!”

So yeah, that’s how I imagine the planning meeting for this story going and to be honest watching this show is rather like being a fly on the wall for one of those conversations. The participants look like they are having fun, but it isn’t fun.

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We had one antagonist in the prince who was dispatched almost without a second thought but that kind of left room for the designer guy from the supposed bad guys to become an antagonist. Only we know absolutely nothing about him other than he is on a serious ego trip, which more or less puts him on par with our apparent hero, Ernesti, that we know nothing about other than he is good at everything because he was a programmer in a previous life.

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And all this leaves me asking what the point of all of this is for the audience? Maybe the writers are having fun. Maybe Ernesti is having fun somewhere. But for the audience we are continuing to watch a series of events strung together only through narration about characters we know literally nothing about and have little reason to care.

Maybe I could just shrug and agree that a flying mechanical dragon is cool. Okay, it is cool. I love dragons. This one burnt a whole city in one breath and looks pretty awesome. Only, I know how this will go already. Even if I choose to buy into the cool factor this week, next week or the week after, Ernesti will tilt his head, come up with some weird idea and laugh as he rushed into battle and that dragon is going to end up either a flaming mess of scrap parts or Ernesti is going to take control of it. Either way, I’m pretty sure I am not going to be satisfied with how it goes.


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Elegant Yokai Apartment Life Episode 10: An Attempt At Darkness

Review:

If this show wanted me to take the supernatural seriously and think that there was any kind of threat coming from that perspective, it really needed to do something earlier. So far this show has delivered nothing but the occasional thug as a potential issue as almost every situation has been dealt with in an almost non-event fashion.

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On the bright side, at least as we approach the end of the season, the show seems to be trying to step up its game. The issue is, they’ve given no precedent for the emotion they are trying for and so – like a lot of other things in this show – it is a poor fit in a show that has no idea what it actually wants to be.

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Perhaps the lesson is simple: figure out whether you want to slice of life, emotionally resonate, be a supernatural investigation show, or a comedy and actually commit to something. While there is nothing overly bad in this show, the elements have never come together and I have no idea what tone they were even attempting at this point. I’d have to say they missed the mark but maybe they were going for unsatisfying meander.


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Knight’s & Magic Episode 10: Who Needs Characterisation and Motivation When We Have Narration?

Review:

Once again this show has a general lack of respect for narrative as we gloss over huge problems of resourcing the build of new (or upgrades to) existing robots, cram in a Princess rescue, a cheer up the Princess date episode, and the thief from earlier comes back with the potential to actually be a character but then gets cut down in about two seconds. Because, hey, why actually make any one of these things a focus or give it the time it needs to be interesting when we can gloss over events and trample on our characters and just have the narrator fill in the blanks with a few lines of inane dialogue.

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It is kind of a shame because Kid finally got to do something other than be Ernesti’s hanger on number two and they still just kind of glossed over that fact. Given he so far hadn’t done a single actual narratively noteworthy thing and his existence was fairly pointless other than rounding out the screen when Ernesti and Ady were there, is seems kind of mean to give him a moment and then just glide right past it.

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Not to mention we finally met someone kind of smart on the other side and the narrator tells us he’s important and his meeting with Ernesti (kind of) in this episode is important, but you wouldn’t know that from watching the show given he’s there and gone.

This show is making a good run for most flawed show I’ve watched to the end this year and that’s in a year when I watched Hand Shakers.


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In Another World With My Smartphone Episode 8: Bicycles, Dates, and a New Spell

Review:

It seems very strange that I would still find this entertaining when absolutely nothing is going on. I mean, we have the nearly requisite boy walks in on harem of girls preparing for bath scene as an opening, followed by some random bike building and riding contest, before Touya rescues some random pickpocket who he ends up hiring as a new maid and that’s all before the halfway point this episode.

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Yet none of this is actually purposeful action. It’s just stuff happening. For all that this is an isekai story, it is definitely becoming just a slice of life that happens to be set in another world with a character who just happens to have a weird device that he combines with magic to make stuff happen. And rather than being bored I’m finding the whole thing oddly relaxing. I never have to worry about the main character because there has literally been nothing that can come close to stopping him and he gains more powers every episode, the girls are all perfectly fine in their own way so the harem set up isn’t actually annoying even though it isn’t going anywhere, and there’s enough small events occurring each episode that it feels like things are going on even when we don’t seem to be getting anywhere.

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There was a slightly more serious note toward the end of the episode but I somehow doubt anything major will come of it. I could be wrong but I guess we’ll find out next week.


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Witch Craft Works Series Review: Witches, Medusa, Giant Robot Bunnies, Oh My

Overview:

Takamiya is an ordinary guy but for some reason the most popular girl in school, Kagari, is always by his side. Then he gets attacked by witches and learns that Kagari, also a witch, is going to protect him. His quiet school days just came to an end.

Review:

Part of me realises it is really unfair of me to review this series given it is a comedy set in a high school so I’m automatically inclined to either be bored by it or to just find it utterly stupid. And yet, while I will say it really is completely stupid, I wasn’t bored while watching this. A little bewildered at times and wondering if any kind of explanation would ever come to make sense of anything (and they do attempt some explanations but I don’t think this series ever gets to a point where the audience actually knows the story – we just get to a point where we know enough to stop asking questions), but it was never boring. Of course, it would be very hard to watch a school building get blown up, a tower dropped on an unsuspecting kid who is rescued by a witch wreathed in fire, before they are surrounded by a robot bunny army which then also gets blown up and still be able to say you were bored. Annoyed by the lack of sense in that scenario, possibly, but not bored. And that’s kind of the introduction into the series where Takamiya first learns he’s being targeted by witches.

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However, this story kind of goes for ‘random’ as its hook. The main characters regularly have random encounters with people who randomly turn out to know all about what is going on and they seem to have random powers that don’t really have a rhyme or reason. About the only consistency is that the Workshop Witches (the ones Kagari technically is a part of even though they also attack the main two at one point) can’t use magic without a contract and they work to protect civilians from magic, whereas the Tower Witches seem to just do whatever they want (though fortunately most of the Tower Witches we meet are underlings and fairly incompetent given even without magic Kagari takes them down on more than one occasion). Anything else seems to be fair game in terms of what the characters can or can’t do on any given occasion. It doesn’t make for a very satisfying viewing experience when characters just kind of do stuff and you have no way of knowing whether a character is actually in danger or not given sometimes very simple things seem to trip them up and other times building levelling spells seem to have zero impact.

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Yet the main point, the contract that protects the city, is actually the worst part of the plot. Until the second last episode you have absolutely no reason to care about any of the school/building destroying encounters because the barrier just fixes everything and the witches erase the civilians memories and life goes on as good as new without any comment by anyone. While they do manage a twist on this during the last arc which does mean you have a few moments of worry for the non-combatants, ultimately you don’t really know enough about the magic itself so you kind of just suspect they’ll find a way around the issue and they do.

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The five tower witches we meet first are the most useless. They are supposed to serve under Medusa (who actually is kind of powerful but seems mostly a peripheral point in the narrative) but after their initial attack on Takamiya they become comic relief. Essentially the plot’s punching bags when things slow down. Their schemes becoming increasingly useless and during the final arc they actually spend what little screen time they get helping the Workshop Witches before Medusa carts four of the five off. It makes it hard to know who the antagonist of the story actually is when there’s just a general sense that Tower Witches want Takamiya and they want him because… He has some super secret power that is sealed only the seals are being broken after he ate a candy he was warned not to eat in order to save Kagari from Medusa, but how he got that power or why and how it was sealed and what happens when all the seals break are all questions this show is not interested in answering.

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Also, after about the first half of the show, even though Kagari continues to insist on the whole school thing, their normal school life essentially ends and the interludes of classes and the like disappear as we just go from one violent encounter to the next with barely any space to breathe. Early on there’s also some attempt at humour with the whole gender reversal thing as Kagari refers to Takamiya as her Princess and insists on carrying him around as such after saving him, but they kind of give up on that line fairly early on in favour of other equally silly gags that get run into the ground pretty fast. There’s basically no chemistry between Kagari and Takamiya either despite Kagari being fixated on Takamiya and Takamiya clearly being infatuated with Kagari. They’ve also had their memories tampered with so who knows what their relationship could have been like but essentially they are both strangers who for some reason insist on risking their lives for one another on a daily basis. It is kind of odd to watch.

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So, the narrative is pretty ordinary to dreadful depending on how judgemental you want to be, the main characters aren’t particularly compelling though they aren’t horrible, the villains are nondescript or enter at the last minute to add som needed tension, and the setting, while it could have been interesting, is insufficiently explained for it to feel like a believable world. All and all, it isn’t exactly something you’d pull out and tell someone they just have to watch.

It also isn’t dreadful.

The bits of the story you actually get given pain a fairly interesting picture with some rich lore and ideas, its just that the show doesn’t take the time to flesh these out. There’s a really wide range of characters and they all have history and connections and again, these just needed to actually be fleshed out properly. The action and the magic are visually interesting and there’s some fairly entertaining music along the way that suits the show.

Pretty much, this could have been quite a good story, if they’d focussed on the story and given it the time it deserved (about 12 more episodes would have helped). Either that, or they could have pulled out all the distractions and clutter and just told the main story but I think that would be detrimental because a lot of the fun of this show comes from all those interconnected ideas and characters and thinning it out would just make the world feel a bit shallow and unlived in.

Overall, I’m probably not going for a third watch. I’d watched this before (I don’t remember when) and I recently finished a rewatch so I could review it, but now I’m pretty sure I’m done with this one.

I’d love to know your thoughts on the show if you’ve watched it.


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Karandi James.

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