English Dub Review: Black Clover “Mage X”

More like “Mage Why.”

Overview (Spoilers Below)

The next round of the Royal Knights Exam is ready to begin, and tensions are running high between Finral and his brother, Langris. There’s some beef between them, but it’s pretty clear that Langris is the antagonistic force in their relationship. The next fight is about to start, but one of the mages isn’t present, a mysterious figure known as “Mage X.” Everyone starts looking for Mage X, only to find that Mage X is a creepy painted figurine with pointy hair and a square jaw. This figurine explodes into a burst of paint to reveal that it’s merely a creation of Rill Boismortier, the captain of the Aqua Deers. Rill apparently wants to participate in the exam, even though he’s already a captain.

No one is excited at the prospect of facing a captain, but the Wizard King tells them to try and see it in a positive light. Rill’s butler, Walter, thanks to everyone for being kind to Rill, and offers Asta tea as thanks for being his friend. The match begins and immediately Rill begins horsing around and getting into trouble. His carefree attitude motivates his desire to just enjoy using his painting magic to make something beautiful.

We then see a flashback to Rill’s past, which is surprisingly sordid compared to his jovial self. As it turns out, as soon as Rill received his grimoire, he was far too powerful for his own good. His painting magic was as destructive as he was hot-tempered, which caused great pain for his family and, in particular, his mother. It wasn’t until his loyal butler, Walter, slapped him across the face to teach him pain that Rill was able to calm down. Walter then recommended that Rill join the magic knights, and he soon became the youngest captain in the Magic Knights to date.

Back in the present, Rill uses his painting magic, which can replicate the core element of another mage’s magic, to great effect to defeat his foes. He earns his team the victory without much fuss. Afterward, the next teams start to get ready, in particular, Klaus, who is partnering up with Luck for the next fight.

Our Take:

This is a screwball episode, to be sure. A strange deviation from the story that I doubt anyone asked for and doesn’t do much except to introduce a character who may or may not be important in the episodes to come. It’s rare in Black Clover that we get an entire episode dedicated to one character, and even rarer that it’s dedicated to a character just introduced in the same episode. So how does this expose on Rill Boismortier, holder of the series’s strangest name, fare? I know this may come as a surprise but, not great. Mostly this episode just feels strange, like there’s very little rhyme or reason to it and it doesn’t progress the story in any significant fashion. This particular arc has been pretty lacking in stuff for the characters to do other than fight. Usually, a tournament arc will have some larger plots moving along with each episode to add complexity and keep things interesting, but I guess that would be too much work for Black Clover

Rill Boismortier is the driving force of the episode, so whether or not I’m having a good time watching it depends almost entirely on him. He is, unsurprisingly, annoying. The kind of coocoolander annoying that like to masquerade as charming because of “random” and “kooky” he is. But without a personality to speak of, Rill just seems like another time waster in a series full of time wasters. I think putting his flashback here was also premature. Flashbacks should usually be saved for an important moment relevant to the present for maximum emotional effect. Having his flashback here is thorough, for sure, but it doesn’t have any bearing on what we’re watching. Rill wins the fight, he wins by a mile, and there aren’t even any named character for him to fight that makes the battle important or have tension. His flashback is okay; the episode does an adequate of getting the pain of his family across, but his personality doesn’t get a lot of development and the reason for why he’s such a problem child isn’t revealed to us.

There’s just this feeling of “Why” that accompanies this whole episode from start to finish. Why are we introducing Rill here, in the middle of an exam? Why does the Wizard King not step in and not completely imbalance the exam results by putting an obviously overpowered entrant in? Why does it feel like this entire affair is run by children? Black Clover always fills me with questions that I don’t have any instinct to answer other than the usual way. It’s lazy writing, uninterested in challenging itself to be better or make something worthy of the art form. What’s worse, the audience of Black Clover just doesn’t seem to mind.

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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