Oh, wow, who saw that one coming?
Continuing this show’s trend of being about as subtle as a rocket, we have yet more events that anyone with eyes could easily predict. Now, to be fair, this episode it wasn’t entirely down to the series essentially being married to the conventional tropes of the genre. That was certainly a factor, but even a basic understanding of how storytelling works would net you a pretty reliable prediction of the episode’s events, based on what happened last time.
I certainly didn’t appreciate the episode’s opening. It isn’t so much the fact that it was a recap that I minded. Pretty much every shounen ever, even the granddaddy of them all, does somewhat lengthy recaps when things actually happened last episode (and occasionally even when they didn’t). What I didn’t care for was the new information thrown into said recap. Essentially the only thing added to this was even more nameless NPC dialogue about how lame Asta is, and more of them laughing at him. Show. We get it. Asta is bad at magic, and no one respects him because of it. Lay off of that for a bit and use the time to convey other important information. For example, you could be using that time to flesh out Yuno’s character a bit. As much as I appreciate the direction of his rivalry with Asta, by himself, Yuno is about as interesting as a brick.
This is made no better by Yuno’s feature in the episode. See, I have a problem with Yuno. For all the talk there is about how awesome Yuno is… we never really see him doing anything all that impressive. This episode would’ve been an excellent time to showcase that talent of his. But instead, we got what basically comes down to an elemental beam struggle. And it wasn’t even a good beam struggle ala Galick Gun v Kamehameha Wave. It’s poorly lit, and blurry. Ordinarily, that’d be an indicator of something being intense, but Yuno and the other guy are really just standing there on either side of it, so you don’t really get a sense of that intensity.
Some snooty upper-class guy basically tries to pull the same stunt that the guy in the last episode tried to pull on Asta. It goes about equally as well for him. But unlike the guy in the last episode, whose spell actually was a pretty cool concept, this guy just lobbed an Electro-Ball at Yuno. When your most powerful attack is something any Pikachu can do, and better, there’s a considerable problem. But Yuno’s response was equally unimpressive as all he did was deflect it with a tornado. That was it. That was all. Early in this exact episode, we saw a guy making golems of mud. Yuno just made some fast, spinny wind. Gee. I am in awe. Really. But don’t worry. We’ll come back to this.
The episode’s most significant saving grace was also perhaps the most predictable thing to be introduced last episode – Yami, leader of the Black Bulls. Yami is an amusing character. Not one we haven’t seen before, mind you. But it’s a character type I’m generally fond of – the mentor who’s intimidating and seemingly aloof, but showers his juniors in tough love. Have we seen it before?
But I do like the difference in Yami’s being kind of a hothead and easily annoyed, as opposed to the usually calm, cool, and collected attitude of characters like him. One of the show’s stronger points is its comedic timing for reaction humor like that.
Having Yami test Asta’s resolve was also nice. By just jumping down from the captains’ pedestal and getting in Asta’s face, laying out exactly what makes him a bad candidate to the others, he made an impression. Predictable? Certainly. But no less effective, in the grander scheme of things.
Aaand then we’re back to Yuno. Of course, Yuno chose to go with the highest ranking Magic Knight Squad because literally all of them wanted him. But after getting to talk to Asta for a bit, he winds up having to watch Asta’s back against the guy Asta beat in the last episode. Asta didn’t see it happen, or anything, but the important part is Yuno. For starters, this is perhaps the first episode in the entire run, so far, that Yuno has displayed any real emotional response to anything that doesn’t have the word “sleepy” in front of it. I joked about it, but that face he gave above does look pretty genuinely excited to be in this competition with Asta. And now he looks genuinely pissed that anyone would try to hurt him. He was about ready to beat the guy down… with magic, of course. How?
Seriously? Advanced Wind Constructs?! He could do that the whole time, and this is where we get to see it first? Using it to scare off some punk? That’s a complete waste. Prior to now all we’ve seen him do is use wind to move stuff and make something that’s the equivalent of wind moving in a circle really fast. That’s it. This takes some doing. It’s way more inventive and interesting. That’s just a bizarre choice.
All in all, the episode does its job. It gets our two leads to where they need to be, and little else. While it wasn’t exactly an action spectacle, it could easily be said that this is still the early stage of the series, so action shouldn’t be expected to be awesome. But that’s just it. The wordbuilding bit a few episodes ago showed off what was a genuinely cool action sequence. I’m not expecting every single fight to be All Might v Noumu. I’m just asking for the action scenes to be genuinely engaging. Even if they are going to be one-shots (and, by the way, literally every fight so far has been). The interactions between Asta and Yuno were still solid, as was the proper introduction of Captain Yami. So in that much, the episode can be enjoyable. As long as you build up a tolerance for Asta’s voice. Because yeah, it’s still kind of annoying, even when he isn’t screaming at the top of his lungs. The show manages to once again secure itself in the Harmless category. But if you’d rather something else, we have reviews of plenty of other shows, this season.
If you want to give it a try, Black Clover is Simulcast on Crunchyroll, Tuesdays at 6:25am PDT