FINALLY some context!
At last this anime starts to actually deliver on its premise with some actual information. Hey, it only took three episodes for it to grab me with… anything. Opening the episode the way they did, with a little world building was sorely needed. Not only do we get to see what that giant skull in their village presumably belonged to, but we even learn more about this whole “Wizard King” deal. On top of that, we’re treated to what’s actually a pretty visually great action sequence… albeit one that doesn’t feature any of the main characters and has a foregone conclusion. Still, it was fun to look at.
For all that being said, the episode did a little more with its runtime, but not much. It shows off a little more of Asta and Yuno’s drive to become the aforementioned Wizard King, training themselves for the occasion. In order to become a Magic Knight, they’ll have to pass an entrance exam, after all. And I’m sure we all know what that probably means…
(Gigguk is a legend) But really. Pls. I needs mah tournament arcs ;-;
Anyway, beyond that, we’re treated to a few minor character building scenes. The Father of the church reacts to Asta potentially leaving along with the certainty that Yuno will likewise succeed. It’s actually both funny, and a little sweet. Though one could argue that they over-dedicate to the funny bit, so the sweetness of the moment is lost.
There’s also a nice bit of character out of Nash. Previously, Nash was just… annoying, really. A naysayer for the sake of naysaying. He came across as nothing more than a snide little brat. Yes. Asta is kind of an idiot, and his eccentricities are very apparent. But Nash almost seemed to revel in putting Asta down, which is pretty much never an appealing character trait unless it’s being played for humor. And Nash wasn’t. This actually gave us a little bit of an understanding of Nash’s outlook. And I also appreciated seeing how Asta responds to it. It was pretty funny, and I also think it actually fits pretty well with his headstrong character.
After that was a bit that had me concerned because the narration made it seem as if they’d make an entire arc out of just them getting to the royal capital. But nope. They just montage through it all. It’s fairly quick, though it doesn’t seem to serve much of a purpose aside from padding out the episode and drilling it even further into our heads how much more useful Yuno is any situation that isn’t a straight-up fight. The episode probably could have cut that, done a little more character building somehow, then ended with them leaving for the royal capital. Then they could have arrived at the beginning of the next episode. As it is now, it sort of plays mix-and-mingle with a lot of the basic rules of storytelling flow. Things that should be in the middle of an episode essentially happen at the end. There isn’t a clear “problem,” nor even an escalation to anything, even just a tame escalation to them leaving. Things just happen. But what’s done is done.
Also, the running gag of Asta pining over Sister has returned. Three times, in fact. Twice the joke just ends in a physical repercussion, which gets less funny as it’s repeated (unlike the more subtle and polite repetition of just saying “No” a different way each time, from the last episode). There’s also a scene of Asta fantasizing, which I’m actually kind of amazed it took them that long to get to.
The artwork, particularly on the characters themselves, still isn’t exactly great. Facial expressions (especially on Asta) have this tendency to come with a really vacant stare at times, looking straight through everything. Also, the animation seems to just choose when it wants to fully detail anyone’s features. But not in a cool, stylistic way. It’s more like it’s choosing when it can afford to be lazy. It’s not really anything too bad, but it’s noticeable at times. It’s far from the worst, but it’s also not especially aesthetically pleasing. The world design and color palette, though, are still very captivating and save the series from being a visual chore to behold. Also if the opening is any indication, action scenes are probably going to be pretty sweet.
Overall, it’s still not a very eventful episode. Nor is it going to win any awards for standing out in the ocean of Shounen competitors. But it is at least a satisfying follow-up to the previous two. Giving it another episode was the right move, I think. So fine. Will it ever not be a generic Shounen? Probably not. But every anime is someone’s first, and there are far worse things out there than generic. It’s harmless, at the very least. Be sure to check out our other reviews! Some of them are actually pretty good!
Black Clover is Simulcast on Crunchyroll, Tuesdays at 6:25am PDT