Anime Review: Black Clover Season One Part 3

By Justin Prinsloo 26.08.2019

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Black Clover Season One Part 3 (UK Rating: PG)


With the Dungeon Exploration arc fully wrapping up in a single "part" previously, the story here is moving on at a decent pace. Asta and Yuno both received a major power up after their showdown with the mages from the Diamond Kingdom, and now they're back at the capital ready to report back to the Wizard King, but they may find the capital is even more dangerous than the dungeon they've just returned from! This latest collection comes courtesy of Manga Entertainment and is available from July 1st.
 
So, Asta and Yuno's Dungeon Exploration teams have been summoned to meet with the Wizard King after their successes within the dungeon, well, almost all of them. Captain Yami realises that sending the psychopathic Luck off to meet with the Wizard King would be a terrible idea, as he obsessed with fighting anyone powerful, and he would definitely try to pick a fight with his magical monarch.
 
They're not just heading to the capital to report, though, they're also receiving a special honour, the chance to attend the Distinguished Magic Knight Ceremony. This event, hosted by the King himself, recognizes Magic Knights who have achieved the most in this period, in particular, gathering stars from their missions. Those being honoured get to advance through the rankings of the Knights, there are five classes to each level, and this latest ceremony showcases some of the most powerful Knights in the Kingdom receiving their latest commendations.
 
The duo gets a surprise welcoming committee as the King himself is on hand to meet the Knights he's been watching from afar. The Wizard King, Julius Novokono, is a hardcore magic geek, always hyperactively eager to see any new magic, and the chance to see Yuno's new wind magic along with Asta's mysterious, magic-removing swords, were just too tempting. After meeting the King, there's a host of other powerful knights introduced. It helps to establish the royal families of the Kingdom that had been glimpsed in previous arcs. The fiery redheaded Vermillions, the snooty and arrogant Silva family, members of the all-female Blue Rose Knights, and finally numerous members of the Golden Dawn. Each of these guilds does not exactly get on. While they kept their tongues and their decorum during the ceremony, at the feast afterward they aren't so friendly.
 
The verbal jabs are constant as these powerful warriors flex at each other, but those comments turn nasty when they're turned on the newcomer guests to the event. The thought of commoners is disgusting to these royales and Yuno and Asta are soon the butts of everyone's jokes. While their new comrades feel uncomfortable, it's something both Asta and Yuno are used to, and something they can easily ignore. What Asta can't ignore though, is his friend Noelle being treated like trash by her siblings. Things start to escalate and it seems there may be a fight between allies, especially when two of the most powerful captains face off. Nozel Silva and Fuegoleon Vermillion. A flaming lion and a silver eagle are preparing to tear each other apart, with the tension in the room resting on a knife's edge, but before violence erupts, said tension is broken by a sudden emergency outside. The capital is under attack by some crazed mage; a man summoning zombies throughout the city.

 
...But it soon transpires that there's more to these enemies than just a lone rogue mage with the ability to summon the undead. There is a grander plan at play. A new group is emerging known as the Eye of the Midnight Sun, and its members are able to stand toe to toe with the best the Clover Kingdom has to offer. This gives a chance for the high-class Magic Knights to face off with some powerful enemies, and gives the series a chance for some big bombastic action... which it pretty much ignores, and instead, settles for mages shooting different coloured projections at each other.
 
The entire arc begins and is all wrapped up within the course of this collection, and there are even two episodes left over - although, they're not used for the best reason here. While they could have been used to extend the battle somewhat, and make for some more epic throw-downs, instead, they're used for some slower moments. The first of the two sees Asta heading out on a group date or mixer with some friends from the guild. It's not filler, it's actually worthwhile as it sets up some more relationships for Asta, but it's so dull considering it's the closing of the season. Even worse, the very final episode sees the Black Bulls' own Marilyn Manson lookalike 'Gordon,' retelling the story thus far as a clip show. Awful.
 
There have been numerous issues with the series since the first part, and they've still yet to improve. The majority of which lay with the presentation of the anime. The art and animation have tons of flaws. The combat here is filled with static frames, with effects overlaid atop them. It's most noticeable around Asta himself. He is often seen standing there frozen, his blade held out ahead of him, while white slash marks fly around the scene. It looks very poor. It looked much better, and delivered its own style in the first few episodes, as opposed to the generic shonen it has become in recent episodes. It's even more annoying when compared to the opening animations that show just how good this show could look. It's had a handful of moments, but they're few and far between. There is a significant lack of Sakuga here. The dub makes everything worse too. Asta is still absurdly obnoxious in both English and Japanese.
 
As with the last collection, the first disk comes with two episode commentaries, while the second disk packs in lots more. This includes "Inside Studio J: The Technical Team" - this time the feature is looking into the people who bring the Black Clover dub to life, though not the voice actors this time, but the guys behind the scenes. Cris George the ADR Director, Bonny Clinkenbeard the scriptwriter, Nathanael Harrison the Lead Mix Engineer, and Chris Han the Brand Manager. They talk about the process of bringing the original Japanese to an English version, the steps for each person, and where they need to work together for the final product. There are more "Clover Clips," where chibi versions of the characters have little comedic skits, more clean opening and closing themes, and finally more Inside the Episode highlight reels that summarise the big moments of the collection, mashed up with voice actor footage and the odd social media reaction splashed over the top.
 
6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Black Clover continues to disappoint. This isn't a bad series, by any means. It's fine. It's just… fine - but it should be so much better. There are enough elements here to make a wonderful shonen, and the manga shows that, but between the poor dub - in both languages, but much worse in English - along with the low-quality presentation, it's just adding up to a sub-par product. Sadly Black Clover is quickly getting closer to being the next Fairy Tail rather than the next Naruto.

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