Black Clover – Episode 23 and 24 Review (Flash Anime-tion)
T’would seem the battle continues.
I think it really says something about this show that even covering two episodes, there’s just not a lot to say. This isn’t to say nothing’s happening. Quite the contrary. There’s a fair amount going on. But not much of it is all that big a deal and it can all be boiled down into a few basic core aspects. There’s Asta’s direct fight with Rades, Noelle and the younger Crimson Lion kid (Leo) fighting off one of Rades’s stronger zombies, the Crimson Lion Captain stepping in, and the rest of the magic knights fending off his hordes in the streets. Then, episode 24 introduces another element in some sort of youth-stealing witch that Yuno has to fight. When you get right down to it, that’s honestly a lot. But here’s the thing. Surprisingly little of it is all that interesting. Except…
Beginning with episode 23’s fight between Asta and Rades, it’s just not entertaining to watch. It’s marred by very bland animation and is pretty much completely devoid of any kind of “wow factor.” Rades can summon magical zombies. That should be incredibly cool. But what he does with them just negates that entire idea because they’re pretty static and hardly do anything but float there and shoot obligatory elemental attacks of one form or another. This, by contrast, makes Rades seem like a weak, underwhelming opponent. More interesting in character than the last guy, but far less engaging in terms of what he brings to the show’s action. And this is a Shonen battle anime. People are here for the action.
Noelle and Leo have their own problems at the moment as Rades sends one of his zombies out to deal with them. But they don’t seem especially bothered by it. And, true to form, it’s just kinda boring. It just stands there, occasionally swinging whips of muy water at them. It’s not really threatening and hardly adds anything to the conflict. Just before it happens, Noelle is trying to figure out a way to help Asta, even thinking back to how her powers combined with his new sword, back in the dungeon. And… that’s it. That train of thought leads absolutely nowhere and nothing comes of it. The Crimson Lion Captain steps in to help him. She and Leo are left to deal with this Humpty-Dumpty-looking thing, which they do with relative ease in the very next episode. So any semblance of peril is almost immediately cast aside and we’re left to wonder if they were only there because the creator realized he’d thrown a lot of bodies at this battle and didn’t have anything for some of them to do.
By far the most interesting (and amusing, if I’m honest) part of episode 23 is the interaction between the Crimson Lion Captain and Asta. It’s dialogue almost reminiscent of a student-master relationship, but not quite there. In act, in a pretty neat twist, the Captain acknowledges Asta as a rival. Of course, this motivates Asta even more. But subverting the typical Shonen determinator trope yet again, the Captain completely denies Asta and tells him to cool his jets, giving him genuinely good advice about keeping a level head and approaching these problems with more than just raw tenacity. The exchange was just genuinely great growth for Asta, provided he doesn’t immediately forget the lesson in the subsequent arc. We’ll see if they actually let him learn from this.
The Captain also has an interaction with Rades that doesn’t directly involve fighting. We learn a bit more about Rades’s backstory. He was apparently a top candidate some years ago for the magic knights, joined a squad, but was kicked out of both it and the country. Honestly, there’s not much to say on this. The Captain calls Rades out on his reasoning and criticizes him for his lack of a righteous spirit and you get the idea. As much as that’s definitely a problem with Rades, I’m not really certain the problem could be boiled down to that, alone. It sort of undercuts the wisdom he provided before because this really does strike me as just an inclusion of an obligatory (and vague) stock Shonen Aesop that you’re liable to see after watching enough of them. If “hard work” or “friendship” isn’t the answer for them, it’s usually something along the lines of “a righteous spirit.” Not a bad thing. Just underwhelming.
Episode 24 somewhat steps things up. Some witch who showed up at the end of the last episode starts terrorizing the town because… reasons. The magic knights, with the exception of Yuno and everyone there to fight Rades directly, are transported elsewhere by some unseen spatial wizard, leaving Yuno to fight the psycho witch, obsessed with youth. She goes on what I have to assume is a killing spree, just murdering dozens of nameless characters by stealing their mana and draining their youth for herself. They may not actually be dead, but if they’re not, I’ll be surprised. Especially since, unlike, say, Dragon Ball, death isn’t cheap in Black Clover. Oh, and on that note, since this is the case, if they are dead, f–k her, I hope she’s slowly, painfully disposed of.
I’m not compelled to want to keep her around, frankly. She doesn’t strike me as a villain I’m going to “love to hate.” She is, at the moment, just a cackling psychopath that runs down a checklist of tropes without really doing anything with them. So showing off how much of a complete monster she is by letting us watch her presumably murder dozens of people isn’t negated by a desire to see more of her. She’s not the Joker, she’s not Loki, she’s not Frieza or Perfect Cell. She’s just a nuisance I’d like to be rid of. And, by the looks of things, so would Yuno.
Speaking of Yuno, his role in episode 24 is easily the most engaging aspect of the whole thing. If only by virtue of him being the majority of the episode’s driving force. Unfortunately, this is marred by, again, incredibly stale animation that does make the action all that fun to watch. The witch’s magic isn’t really all that interesting either. So what’s left is me waiting for Yuno to figure out what’s going on and own this woman. Which happens in the end, after he’s taken on a barrage of curse magic from her. The removal of his senses was interesting in theory. And the payoff was neat, seeing the return of that “Sylph” spirit he was able to summon before to defeat her while she just hovered there, talking about how she should defend herself… without actually… you know… defending herself.
The Crimson Lion Captain is revealed to be the actual target of this assault. And, frankly, now I’m of two minds on him. He’s the only one who’s seen the face of the orchestrator behind this incident. Literally. Even we don’t get to see their face. There are a few ways this can go. On the one hand, it’s both possible and likely that the person behind this is a presumed friendly. Maybe another Magic Knight Captain or even the Wizard King, himself. If that’s the case, then this guy is either going to turn traitor or very suddenly bite the dust. Because if neither of those things happens, he’ll be able to return and tell the others. Another option is that this isn’t a friendly, and he just recognizes this person for some other reason. Maybe an enemy of the kingdom or someone from his own past. Either way, we’ll have to wait and see where that goes. But few of the routes would turn out great for him.
Overall, these episodes were both Harmless. Nothing about this was all that great. Some neat scenes and cool shots, but overall not much to write home about. If you want to check out something a little more interesting, last week’s Bulletoon Weekly revealed some cool news about Dragon Ball Super and Cutie Honey Universe. Check it out if ya feel like.
Or if you wanna keep following Black Clover with us, you can find it Simulcasting on Crunchyroll, Tuesdays at 6:25am EST. That’s all I’ve got for ya here. As always, thanks for reading, folks. Keep up the awesome.