English Dub Review: Black Clover “Special Little Brother vs. Failed Big Brother”

Turnabout is fair play, even among siblings.

Overview (Spoilers Below)

Perhaps the most important fight of this tournament has arrived. Finral is set to face his brother Langris, who is one of the most negative influences in his life and has lorded his magical talent over him since they were children. Yet, Finral doesn’t despair, he remembers the trials he’s overcome in the Black Bulls and all that he’s accomplished, which gives him the courage to face his brother in combat.

The fight begins and Finral and his teammates immediately begin working out a strategy to defeat their foes. All the while Langris pairs up with Sek, who uses his magic to create a flying bike of sorts that Langris rides around on. However, Finral uses a combo move with his teammate Hamon that gives them time to figure out where Langris’s team’s crystal is.

While this is happening, we see a flashback to Langris and Finral’s upbringing. We see that Langris was always more magically talented than his brother, which earned him the praise and affection of his parents. Finral, however, was far kinder and more personable, and earned the affection of those around him. When Langris’s arranged marriage bride ended up liking Finral more than him, he developed a superiority complex in thinking he had to be better than his brother in all things, all the time.

In the present, Leopold and Hamon make a move on Langris’s crystal but find the last member of Langris’s team guarding it with ice magic. Her magic induces sleep in her opponents, but Leo is able to stay awake using mage armor and his own willpower. Elsewhere, Finral is fighting his brother head-on, who is increasingly growing more frustrated with his inability to beat his brother. Finral is able to knock Sek out of the battle by using his teleportation magic offensively, teleporting Sek into Captain Yami’s bathroom.

Both Finral and Langris then use all their power to attack each other, but Langris reveals that he is indeed far more powerful than Finral is. He overcomes Finral, leaving him helpless on the ground and destroys his crystal. But Langris, in his rage, isn’t done there. He makes a move to kill his brother once and for all but is stopped by Asta and the other Black Bulls, who step in to protect their comrade.

Our Take:

This is a battle that has been built up for a few episodes by Black Clover now. In the backdrop of other battles, we’ve been seeing a little bit of how Finral and his brother interact. Despite its lack of subtlety, these moments did provide some good context for the fight at hand, which is usually better than having nothing at all for a fight to work with. I’m happy to say that this buildup has paid off in spades and has delivered what I believe to be the best fight Black Clover has done so far. Now, relative to other shows, I still think that Black Clover doesn’t really compare, but given the story elements that it has in play, this was a great fight to behold.

Finral’s character is really what makes this work so well. He began as a joke, constantly getting pushed around by everyone, but over time has developed his own confidence in the absence of his psychotic brother. It’s great to see that pay off here and in such a satisfying fashion. Finral’s adaptation of his teleportation magic into an offensive form was a surprise, but one that made sense, and I actually burst out laughing when I saw that it placed Sek in Captain Yami’s bathroom. That’s a punchline that’s been a whole series in the making, and was quite well done.

Though the art is not striking and still in some degree of disrepair, the visual setup of Langris fighting Finral is satisfying to behold. Langris looks and feels truly wicked, which plays well into the audience’s empathy for Finral. I’m not typically a fan of flashbacks, but this was the first one in Black Clover that I actually enjoyed and felt played well into the fight at hand. Langris’s anger towards Finral is the result of his spoiling by his noble parents and the conflict it has towards the opinion of normal people. Though he is still not as complex as I’d like a villain to be, Langris isn’t just one note. His anger is born of an internal conflict that actually makes some good sense. When one is made to believe they’re amazing, jealousy can take a grip of their arrogant hearts.

As for the ending, having the rest of the Black Bulls step in to stop Langris’s final attack was a great way to finish things up. It simultaneously reinforces the bonds the Black Bulls have made with each other, one of the major themes of the show, in a striking way, and ends things with a bang. Well done, Black Clover, you have defied my expectations, which are pretty damn high.

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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