Black Clover – Episode 18 Review (Flash Anime-tion)

Oh. Guess that wasn’t as over as I thought it was. But, uh…

Black Clover
Studio: Pierrot
Genre: Shounen, Action, Fantasy, Magic, Adventure

I think I called it. They did, in fact, save most of the animation budget for last time. Because the fight actually continued on into this episode and the animation is just inferior. Not bad. There were a few shining moments, but it was otherwise fairly meh. That aside, though, the episode was more or less fine. A little more progression in that the two groups get to the inner chamber. But, shock of all shocks, Mars wakes up. And he’s not happy. He proceeds to beat on Asta and the others and we get more of his angsty background that forced him to kill his childhood friend and yadda yadda.

Noelle gets injured and we’re shown a bit of Mimosa’s perspective, which I liked seeing. It didn’t give her a lot of depth or anything, but did inform the character a bit more, seeing exactly how the two relate to one another. It’s a very similar situation to how Asta relates to Yuno, albeit without the rivalry aspect. I also liked getting to see a bit more of her magic’s diversity. She’s definitely the white mage. And if DBZ Abridged has taught us anything, it’s that no one f–ks with the white ma-

Oh, right…

Well, no one does it twice. And true to form, she was injured, two episodes ago, now’s her time to save someone else and not get hurt. But she has to apparently remain totally still in order to use this spell. And when Mars sniffs out a weakling (roll with it), guess whose job it is to save the day. Yep. Asta’s back. The foreshadowing of how he’d return couldn’t have been any less subtle, but he’s back.

And then the aforementioned fight scene. Here’s the thing. I get it. This scene was really only meant to show off Asta’s new power-up (Yes, I know it’s just a new weapon, but let’s be real. This is a Shonen. It’s a power-up). But if your fight wasn’t over, then you really should’ve saved the better animation for this point. One of the things that really hurts the action in this series is that a lot of the time we don’t actually see motion at all. It’s almost like a comic, where we see snapshots of the fighting, rather than the fight in motion. A character will move then they’ll cut to the motion having already landed.

Black Clover
Again. You mean you messed up… again.

Yes. This is a technique that’s used to save on time and the animation budget, but it’s just so uninteresting to look at. And that’s why, when you want to do an action scene of this nature, you use the good animation for the weighty bits. The last episode did a fair job of that. But this episode? A few snippets here and there but, otherwise, no such luck. In fact, you barely see what Asta does to Mars once he’s able to get close. They linger on the shot, but it’s not even a particularly dynamic image. In fact, it’s a little unflattering. I’m not asking for Kekkai Sensen quality animation or spectacle, here. But something. And that really brings me to a problem I have with the series that I was just trying to avoid bringing up until later.

It just doesn’t look very good. I don’t mean in terms of the show’s quality. I mean the art style, the animation, none of it looks like it could be anything beyond marginally average. The one exception is the amazing attention to background detail. The environments look great. And, in many cases, the magic effects are cool to look at. The character designs aren’t even really the problem. But the overall style is just very flat and uninspired, with the exception of a few admittedly well-done reaction shots and whatnot. Other blatantly two-dimensional shows, like One Piece, can get away with it because it’s a stylistic choice, married with over-the-top and very fluid animation… usually. But here…

Black Clover
“Now that you mention it, I have been feeling pretty 2D, lately…”

Last year gave us some of the most visually interesting and stylistic shows we’ve seen in ages. And even most of the shows that weren’t amazing juggernauts of animation were at least aesthetically pleasing. Black Clover just… isn’t. I’m not expecting it to be amazing to look at. But at least something reasonably comparable to other Shonen we’ve had, recently. The good ones, anyway. It’s a shame that something as easy to make visually appealing is lost in a deluge of mediocre animation and underwhelming style.

As a whole, the episode was fine. Noelle kinda got shafted, but she honestly wasn’t going to do a terrible lot, anyway. She served as a means to motivate Asta. Which I’m only not annoyed by because it wasn’t played as “because she’s a girl.” It was played as “because she’s my friend.” And her words toward the end were a nice bit of mutual character development for both her and Asta. The action scene wasn’t bad at all. It just wasn’t particularly impressive. And no, I’m not going to talk about the ending because he’s going to be fine. We know he’s going to be fine. In fact, we’re so certain he’s going to be fine that he’s in the teaser for the next episode, smiling like an idiot. So I’m really completely unfazed by that portion. That said, the episode was Harmless. Not especially enjoyable, but it did its job. If you wanna see some ways Black Clover could probably improve upon its action, check out my analysis of What’s In A Good Anime Fight Scene. You won’t be disappointed.

Black Clover
Or don’t. It’s not like I’m proud of that article, or anything.

Or, if you think Black Clover is the show for you, then check it out on Crunchyroll. It’s Simulcast over there, Tuesdays at 6:25am EST. That’s all I’ve got for ya here. As always, thanks for reading, folks. Keep up the awesome.

Take care,
C. Voyage

8 thoughts on “Black Clover – Episode 18 Review (Flash Anime-tion)”

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