English Dub Review: Black Clover “Mister Delinquent vs. Muscle Brains”

It’s a showdown between “So what” and “Who cares.”

Overview (Spoilers Below)

Though the vice-captain on the opposing team has been defeated, the battle Asta faces are far from over. He still has fellow Black Bull Magna to deal with, who is well aware of Asta’s abilities and knows how to deal with his anti-magic. What’s worse, Magna has developed a new fireball that is able to disappear from sight in mid-air, proving itself a powerful new spell.

Meanwhile, we see a flashback to Mimosa’s past that explains a little bit more about the arrogance of her brother, and a flashback to Sol’s past as well, which reveals how she came into the world of magic after having a close call with thugs that invaded her town. During that assault on her sense of safety, she learned to rely on herself, but also developed her strange love for Captain Charlotte, who ended up saving her.

Back in the present, Magna still keeps lobbing fireballs at Asta. Their standoff echoes that of a baseball showdown, with Asta trying to deflect fireball after fireball lobbed at him like a baseball. Magna keeps up the assault and Kirsch rushes into aid him as well. Magna tries to deflect the attacks Asta is deflecting with his own magic but ends up hitting himself with his magic. Kirsch tries to deliver a finishing blow on Asta, but Zora’s traps deal with Kirsch quite nicely. Just then, Sol and one her earth constructs try to knock out Asta, but Mimosa’s plant magic controls the golem, giving Asta an opportunity to attack Sol’s team’s crystal head on. The fight is over in a moment, and though Magna’s team were powerful opponents, Asta’s team has come on top.

Next up: Finral and Langris, facing off in the battle of their lives.

Our Take:

This tournament arc has been going on for some time now, and I have yet to see an episode that really sticks out to me as being worth watching. Not that these little fight scenes are terrible, but they’re just boring and kind of mediocre. There are certain things that these fights try to do that are interesting, but they ultimately fall flat on their face because of weak direction and visuals. I simply do not know what kind of excitement this show thinks it can drum up when it completely fails to keep up a solid tone and a good pace that allows for the intensity of the battle to take point. This fight simply doesn’t stand up to the other, better tournament arcs you can find in many shounens, such as “Yu Yu Hakusho”, for instance.

As always, the biggest issue that Black Clover has it’s wasted potential. This episode puts the fight between Asta and Magna front and center but fails to do anything with it beyond the typical shounen tropes that are the bare minimum required to make an episode like this work. It’s deeply troubling that Asta and Magna, who should really be considered rivals/best friends, have so little to say to each other than “I’m not as weak as I used to be.” I would love to see some kind of drama or new conflict in the battle between Asta and Magna, but there’s nothing like that here. We just see a plain-jane “Baseball match” between Magna and Asta, reinforcing that lame baseball magical style that Asta has used since the beginning. Kirsch is little more than a footnote to this fight, and Sol shows up just at the end to do…well, nothing really, except lose.

Sol’s backstory occupies a great deal of time in this episode but has remarkably little going on. the flashback doesn’t capture the essence of a good story and just languishes in the most vanilla of plots. Sol has so little going on it’s almost comical, and her flashback has very little emotional weight. Both due to the poor writing and the milquetoast setup that doesn’t even come close to interesting.

There’s just nothing here other than a semi-interesting fight with some backstories revealed that don’t do anything to make the battle more interesting. There’s plenty of great anime out there that use their tournament arcs and fight scenes to great effect, but Black Clover is not one of them. It’s a cheap anime with a cheap plot, and this episode follows that tune without even trying to be different.

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.

Erich Hau has 562 posts and counting. See all posts by Erich Hau