English Dub Review: Black Clover “A Fun Festival Double Date”

It’s a festival, but I’m not sure I’d call it “fun.”

Overview (Spoilers Below)

Every year, a festival takes place in the capital to celebrate the magic knight squads who have received the most golden stars from the Wizard King as recognition of their good service. This festival is creatively named the “Star Festival”, and though the Black Bulls are nowhere near the top in terms of stars, they’re still invited.

Asta and the other Black Bulls arrive at the festival and immediately set to their individual desires within the festival grounds. Asta, however, has some extra company, Kiato and Kahono from the Underwater Temple, who have made it to the festival courtesy of Finral’s magical portals. Asta surprises them both with a bottle of the Queen of Witch’s recovery magic, which he uses to reattach Kiato’s foot and heal Kahono’s voice. The two are extremely grateful, and eager to celebrate with a fun day at the festival.

The four of them go about their day while Kahono tries to hook up Asta and Noelle, knowing full well that Noelle has a huge crush on the boy. To do this, she puts them in a series of comedic situations that are bound to bring them together but ultimately end up going haywire. They play some games, go to a haunted house, but it still isn’t enough to attract Asta’s attention. He is a bit dense, after all.

Eventually, the four of them come across a young crying girl, and in order to cheer her up, Asta does some juggling while Kahono sings. This cheers the girl right up and Noelle gives an impassioned speech about how royalty should take care of the peasantry which earns her admiration and the cheers of the crowd. Furthermore, Asta begins to notice her, but Noelle ultimately gets too embarrassed to confess her feelings and ends up insulting Asta instead. As the episode comes to a close, Asta sees Captain Yami and the leader of the Green Mantis squad, Jack the Ripper, facing off against each other.

Our Take:

Black Clover is embroiled in the doldrums of the in-between arcs filler valley, and continues to push out another pointless and boring episode. These kinds of slice-of-life mini stories are well known to anime viewers as being the “skippable” episodes, and this one certainly lives up to that reputation. By the end of this uninvolved 22 minutes, you’ll have witnessed an episode that offers nothing to no one. Though it attempts a romantic subplot, it doesn’t go anywhere new or exciting. It’s the same kind of contrived hullabaloo that every festival episode has offered a thousand times before, complete with Noelle going full tsundere at the end just at you might expect.

The only surprise to be found here is how cringy this episode manages to feel, with several moments that are not only boring but painful to watch. Kahono’s singing has never been top-notch, but the impromptu song she comes up with for Asta’s juggling routine made me want to turn off the volume before I cringed so hard that my ears fell off. Not to mention the awkward emotional turn where Asta magically heals Kahono and Kiato through “bottled magic”, which I didn’t even know was a thing that could happen. It’s a development that is totally out of place at the beginning of the episode, and only serves to undercut the tragedy of both of them suffering from their losses at the Underwater Temple. Maybe if they had spend the episode developing Kiato and Kahono’s friendship with Asta and Noelle in a more meaningful way, they could have had a payoff at the end of that with Asta’s convenient plot device magic. But I guess that would get in the way of such treasured moments as “Asta and Noelle’s shenanigans in the haunted house.”

These kinds of episodes are expected, but definitely not encouraged. Even in series that I’ve enjoyed very much, episodes of this type do nothing but annoy and signal the beginning of a few boring weeks of filler. The obsession that anime seems to have with “Beach episodes”, “Festival episodes” and the like only serve to remind me how troubled a medium it really is. Tropes are one thing, but cliches are never acceptable, and doubly so here. Black Clover already has a lot to prove, so wasting its time on episodes like this is not what the show needs to be doing right now.

Score
3/10

Erich Hau

Erich is a northern California based writer on the front lines of the nerd frontier. When he's not burning the midnight oil he enjoys musicals, smooth jazz, and a good cup of dark roast. Cream and sugar not included.

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