The promise of things happening…
Look, I let last episode’s continuing buildup slide because there was still a major character to set up, and throwing important events at the screen before then would probably have overshadowed her significantly. And at least there was a little bit happening in the episode that warranted attention. This episode, though, really has no excuse. The show has effectively set up literally everything it needs to and then some.
Don’t get me wrong, the episode admittedly has a few funny moments I can’t deny. The opening bit was perhaps the one and only time (in eight episodes, which is a problem on its own) that I found Asta’s yelling genuinely amusing. If only because of the punchline. But the rest of the episode is just not that entertaining, and once again has that issue of not really telling a story with a comprehensive beginning, middle, and end. There isn’t really a “problem” in the episode. In fact, the episode’s title is even a bit of a lie because, Spoiler Alert: They don’t actually leave for the mission until the very end.
A fair amount of time is spent on a bit with Yami and Magna going on their own “mission.” Unfortunately, this turns out to be a gag with an incredibly lazy setup. The fakeout is that it’s supposed to be a “mission,” but they’re just playing cards with someone (and losing). It might’ve worked if they didn’t actually show us the location and table before we saw Yami and Magna’s worried and overly serious expressions. They ultimately wind up still losing, and this is where the mission for Asta and Noelle comes in. The other party’s win condition was that Yami would have to do something for them if he lost. So Yami’s making Asta and Noelle do the mission in his stead. The following joke is admittedly funny, but it really wasn’t worth the mess it took to get it.
This pacing problem is not something that’s gone unnoticed by others. I understand that this is a Shounen. By that fact alone, one expects it to be very slow in pace. But the thing is that even other Shounen, while slow, still have things happening. Dragon Ball Z, the granddaddy of Shounen could stretch things out for several episodes, but at least things were happening (most of the time), meaningful or not. A mentality that’s doubly true for Dragon Ball Super, particularly in its latest arc. Naruto was ridiculously slow, but things were happening. And that’s really why the pace is typically so slow in Shounen, to begin with. There’s always so much going on that things are slower to allow some breathing room. And all of that is leaving out the rampant usage of filler throughout the genre to let the manga get ahead a little. This series doesn’t yet have the benefit of there being enough going on to warrant that slower pace. And it’s far too early for the show to be indulging in filler when the manga is several story arcs along, at this point.
Look at Boku no Hero Academia. Its pace is (for a Shounen) relatively brisk. Why? A few reasons. One, there’s a surprising amount of stuff not going on because it focuses far more on character over action, unlike a typical Shounen. And two, it’s seasonal. Black Clover could very probably benefit from being seasonal because it’d likely force them to “cut out the fat.” Like, for example, having the Black Bulls sit around at breakfast, explaining what a Magic Knight is to Asta and Noelle. That scene was entirely unnecessary. Why? Because for crying out loud, the title has the word knight in it. What do you think they do? I know Asta’s kind of an idiot, but he’s not a complete moron. And why would Noelle not know this? If the scene had been a character-revealing moment in any way, I’d have let it slide. Maybe one of the characters had a genuinely profound thought process on the matter (Having researched the manga: Yes. Many of them do). But the scene does nothing more than delivering a few gags, ranging from mildly funny to completely flat.
Most of the episodes (though oddly enough not this one) begin with three or so minutes of recap. And really that’s one of the biggest problems. If you can get all of the pertinent information in the previous episode from just the recap at the beginning, you’ve effectively found a superfluous episode. This show is honestly coming across as a lot of buildup to things happening, with only a few instances so far of any payoff. The last episode, however you may feel about its generic-ness, was a payoff to something they’d been building to. But look at how long it took just to get to the Chuni- I mean, Magic Knight Exam – something they could have done in episode two.
Honestly, this is an episode you could very probably just give a Pass to. It doesn’t really tell a real story of any kind and isn’t really entertaining enough to excuse that. It’s a bit sad to get something like this. To my understanding, the manga actually doesn’t suffer from the same sluggishness. Its pace is apparently blazingly fast. So here’s hoping that once things finally begin happening in the next episode (at least things better happen, given the teaser), we’ll get to see some of that fast-paced style that fans of the manga are familiar with. What do you think? Is the show suffering the same issues for you? Maybe you’d prefer something with less padding? Maybe we’ve covered something else you’d be more interested in. We’ve got plenty to look at.
Or if you’re still morbidly curious, Black Clover is Simulcast on Crunchyroll, Tuesdays at 6:25am EST