About bloody time…
Okay. So. This episode is basically an obligatory introduction to the Black Bulls. How well does it work? It’s… fine. Though now we’re facing a whole new set of problems. One that I certainly hope are dealt with, and soon, because otherwise, I’m not overly sure how long I can keep this up. What’s that? …I-it’s listed as having over 50 episodes? Really? This? But Boku no He-… yes, I understand that show’s actually awesome and warrants the time taken on it, but… *sigh* fine… Well, let’s just hope this shapes up and becomes worthy of that number in that time.
Harsh though that may sound, I will at least say that the episode was indeed serviceable. And that’s… about where that train ends. It introduces all the major players in the Black Bulls, though I honestly expected the quirks to go a little farther than they did. I mean, we have a little girl (at least physically small) who eats like her stomach’s a black hole, a sort of creepy siscon type deal, a boozy seductress, the works. Though the emphasis was placed more on this one guy who’s just as loud as Asta, also from “the boonies,” and has magic that’s more or less “baseball, but on fire.”
If nothing else, Asta should feel right at home, because most of these people are… honestly quite obnoxious in one way or another. But I understand at the very least that this was the point. They’re intended to create an environment where Asta fits in, even despite his absolute 0 magic levels. I expect some (if not all) of them will have magic based on their individual quirks. Though I’m not honestly expecting much depth out of anyone except for one particular member who only shows up in the episode for a few seconds and makes… something of an impression.
Well, someone certainly has a high opinion of themself. And considering what I know about her from basic research, that’s quite ironic. I mean… I guess if we can say anything, she’s definitely not a discount Hinata… yet. But that does bring me to my main concern with the episode. With the exception of her Scorching Baseball Man, the quirks of the other members don’t exactly equal character traits. They certainly could, if expanded and explored in some fashion. But I’m honestly not expecting them to. Which leads to my thinking they’re going to wind up just being caricatures, not fully realized characters. And considering this is a shounen, that leaves me wondering just how long they’ll even be relevant.
There’s nothing wrong at all with a character having their quirks. They can speak volumes about a character if properly implemented and explored. If they get into the reasoning of why the one girl eats so much, for example, then cool. That’d be a way to take what is essentially a caricature, and give them more layers. Thus they evolve into a more actualized entity. A character.
Layers of complexity are ultimately what set the two apart. Asta, as simplistic as he is, does have his layers. As does Yuno. Thus they’re both characters. The princess, here, is a character (probably more of one than either of them). But barring Yami, the rest of the Black Bulls are seemingly just caricatures because they lack those layers. The more interwoven those layers are, the more believable the character is. To further the example, if that girl winds up having a fairly fleshed out background and absolutely none of it has to do with the food thing, that’d seem a bit off. Because seldom do people have traits that dominant without there being some kind of logic to it. Some reason. If she were asked about that and she just shrugged, it’d be unfulfilling.
I’m not in any way expecting the series to deliver compelling character drama from side characters his early in the game. That’d be a fool’s wish. I’m simply saying that at the moment there is quite a lot to deliver on in that department. And if I don’t see any signs of development in that category across 50+ episodes, then I’m going to have a problem.
Let’s also stop, for a moment, to talk about this episode’s action scene. See, visually it was fine. I joke, but the fire baseball thing was honestly pretty cool and unique (at least I think it is). It was also decently animated. But I have two problems with it. First and foremost, the man was throwing fire at Asta. Fire. And yet the lighting was still awful. What is with this series and making all of the action scenes look like they were shot in a dark room with a table lamp lighting everything?
But that pales in comparison to my other issue. Halfway through that scene, the entire thing comes to a halt for some sort of omniscient narrator to step in and tell us what we’re seeing. Dude. I know this is a Shounen, but your audience is definitely not dumb. The bizarre thing is that the scene was doing a perfectly fine job of showing, in that instance. Normally I’d have been annoyed at the fade to a white background (talk about lazy), but at least we could see what was going on. Normally I have to tell a series the golden rule of “show, don’t tell.” This is one where I have to actively tell it to shut up and try less than it already is. Which is a paradox because in literally every other aspect it’s very clear that the show isn’t trying very hard at all.
The episode is otherwise completely serviceable. Yami remains the most entertaining thing about the show, so far. However, the remainder of the cast (with a few exceptions) were honestly pretty annoying. The boozy one, siscon, and Scorching Baseball Man were all particularly obnoxious for various reasons. The siscon joke isn’t as funny as they seem to think it is, for example. And the baseball guy is quite possibly just as loud as Asta. Though at least he’s graced with a more tolerable, and fairly standard Shounen-type voice, so it’s nothing I’m unused to hearing. Asta is back to yelling every other word, but if we’re not counting the effect the episode will have on our eardrums, then it’s otherwise Harmless.
There’s still a lot of potential, here. Part of me feels like this series would be best served just throwing caution to the wind, and letting the zaniness fly. In order for this to get away from being a poor man’s (insert Shounen of your choice, here), it’s going to really dive into all of the silly little character quirks they’ve got, and start telling some interesting stories with the members aside from just Asta. We can only hope, I guess. In the meantime, check out some of the other content on the site, like the lists put up by our very own Sharlenne.
And if you want to catch the show to judge it for yourself, Black Clover is Simulcast on Crunchyroll, Tuesdays at 6:25am EST