Everyone wants a piece of the Forest of Witches.
Overview (Spoilers Below)
The Eye of the Midnight Sun has arrived at the Forest of Witches to lay siege to the witches and their home and take one of the magic stones. They’re led by Fana, who, with her powerful fire spirit salamander ally, seeks revenge on the Black Bulls for killing Vetto. If that wasn’t bad enough, it would seem the Diamond Kingdom has sent their own forces to the Forest of Witches to infiltrate the city during the chaos and kidnap the queen. Among their ranks is Mars, the diamond mage Asta fought before, and a foppish general named Ladros.
Vanessa soon wakes up to find her friends standing over her, who explain their desire to see Asta’s arms restored. Vanessa insists on making a deal with the Witch Queen in exchange for the magic to save Asta, but Asta won’t have her sacrifice herself for him. The two argue over it, but Asta reveals he doesn’t Vanessa’s help and pulls out his sword with his teeth. Of course, this doesn’t work and Asta collapses in pain from his cursed arms. Asta’s persistence reminds Vanessa of Captain Yami, and she explains to the boy that she never really intended to sacrifice herself, but rather intended to trick the queen all along.
Noelle convinces the queen of the witches to help Asta so he can assist in the defense of the forest. The queen uses her blood magic to remove Asta’s curse and even make him stronger. Following this, Asta and friends join the combat outside, where a massive aerial battle is taking place between the witches of the forest and the Third Eye. The witches are quickly routed, but Asta arrives at the last moment to save them. The forest burns under the siege, but Asta and his friends do their best to rescue innocents and push the Third Eye back.
Meanwhile, Fanzell and his ex-diamond mages ride out to fight the approaching mages of the Diamond Kingdom. Back at the forest, Asta dispatches the first wave of Third Eye forces, but Fana arrives on the back of her fire spirit to bring her vengeance down upon Asta.
The last couple of episodes have been pretty awkward for Black Clover, which even on its good days can’t seem to figure itself out. This is a continuing trend from when we first met Fanzell, whose strange introductory arc has somehow continued into the next set-piece of the show, where he exists as a character who seems to only fill out space and has already been separated into his own little part of the battle so that he doesn’t bother any of the main characters. Fanzell has felt like an accessory to the plot from day one, and there’s this nagging feeling that he just doesn’t belong here. His story was resolved in two episodes and without some long-term plot threads to keep him around, I don’t know why we’re wasting time with him.
Speaking of wasting time, get ready for a whole lot of that this episode as well. Perhaps, if the writing was a good bit better, watching Asta and his friends go back and forth at each other with their forced and awkward dialogue wouldn’t be so unpalatable. However, as it is, a good 12 minutes of this episode feels like it could have been condensed to 4 minutes if the show would just stop faffing around and get to the damn point already. Black Clover isn’t about to win any writing awards, so if it wants to just be about mages fighting in a big battle then it better hurry the hell up and get to the battle and not waste my time. That’s not to say that Black Clover’s characterization is sufficient enough that it doesn’t need more time with the characters; quite the contrary. The Forest of Witches, as I explained last week, is such an un-involved setting and the Witch Queen such a non-character that I couldn’t care less what happens to her and this new land our heroes have found themselves in. It hasn’t felt like a real place for a single moment, and the Witch Queen seems to have only one defining character trait: arrogance. Which, as you might expect, makes her terrifically boring as a villain. We don’t even really get to know about her mother-daughter relationship with Vanessa, which would at least add some substance to who she is. Right now, she’s just a very powerful, very stoic piece of cardboard who pushes the plot forward.
So far, this arc is a complete disaster. It feels rushed, it feels forced, like the showrunners just want to move through the plot as fast as possible so that they can get to the next arc without too much trouble. However, that makes the chronic issues this show has that much worse. Its animation and visuals are still as weak as ever, so without the plot to compensate, there is basically no reason to bother watching this episode.