This episode betters no one.
Overview (Spoilers Below)
Asta, Mars, and friends have defeated Fana with the power of friendship. After receiving a hug from Mars, her childhood companion, she has calmed down and dispelled what appeared to be some kind of magic control placed onto her by the Order of the Midnight Sun. Fana explains to everyone how she doesn’t have any memory of her actions past a certain point where she became controlled by Licht, presumably.
Things are looking peachy keen for the Black Bulls until Ladros, despite all expectations, returns. Apparently, the powerful attack Fanzell used to knock him out wasn’t strong enough, and only made it appear that Ladros was actually defeated. Asta steps up to fight Ladros, who immediately starts mocking Asta for not having real magic. He even goes so far as to try and tempt Asta into joining him, but Asta refuses.
Things look bad for Asta. With his allies out of commission and Ladros keeping his distance and assaulting Asta from long range. Ladros goes into one of those long-winded villain speeches that always go so well, but his speech gives Asta a golden opportunity. With a precise throw, Asta chucks his sword into Ladros, which immediately robs him of his magical energy. Ladros collapses to the ground. Ladros tries to trick Asta into sparing him, but Asta doesn’t take the bait.
Asta is about to knock out Ladros when Ladros manages to use some magic to pull the sword out of his body. He rushes over to Fana and threatens to kill Mars in order to get her to use her magical power. She does, and Ladros is immediately able to absorb that sweet, sweet fire magic, which transforms him into a monstrously powerful fire mage. It looks like Asta has no chance, and is immediately felled by Ladros. However, the Queen of Witches, watching the fight magically, uses some kind of magic to unleash a demonic force within Asta. A black aura manifests itself out of Asta; something wicked this way comes.
This here is one of those episodes in a long line of Black Clover episodes that seem to “Pull back” on quality so they can save up for next week. To those not in the know, next week’s episode of Black Clover is set to reveal the long-awaited power-up that reveals a more demonic form of Asta. In an effort to save on cost, this episode cuts corners basically all around. Whether it’s on animation, plot development, pacing, or any other number of vital storytelling attributes, from start to finish things feel half-baked. This is a 22-minute episode that could be told in ten minutes, but for the sake of that sweet, sweet anime money, we’ve got to endure an episode that offers little save for a transition into what will hopefully be a better episode.
Let’s talk about filler because this episode has more of it than a twinkie has hydrogenated preservatives. The first eight minutes or so of the episode is dominated by the trademark unfunny dialogue that has plagued this series since its first episode. Your mileage may vary, but I can’t say that anything Asta and his droogs say to each other is particularly funny or charming. Then, when Asta is fighting Ladros, we get a 2-3 minute flashback sequence where Asta just recites how he learned to fight. It feels out of place and unnecessary, and only serves to remind me of the lukewarm story that has brought us to this point. On a lighter note, the best filler of the episode came in Ladros’ weird narration over how shitty it is to be stabbed in the chest. This is the kind of goofy dubbing that’s reminiscent of watching a 4kids dub on Saturday morning. It would be great in an abridged series, but it doesn’t work here.
There isn’t a terrible amount to say about this episode because not that much happens. Its a bland, awkward assortment of scenes that don’t really get us anywhere except to the end of the episode. I don’t much care for Ladros as a villain, either. His silly, overdone voice just makes him too laughable to be actually threatening, and his powerset is the kind of overpowered garbage you expect to see out of a Naruto fanfiction. I predict the next episode will be much better animated and decent enough to watch, but then the attention to quality will fall off once again, continuing the endless cycle of Black Clover that eats at my very soul.