Anime Review: Black Clover Season Two Part 1

By Drew Hurley 25.04.2020

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Black Clover Season 2 Part 1 (UK Rating: 12)


As the first season of Black Clover concluded a new threat had arrived in the Clover Kingdom, the neighbouring Diamond Kingdom. The two sides have long been at war, with regular skirmishes upon their borders, but here they're trying for a full-on invasion as the strongest of the Diamond Kingdom are heading up an assault. It's up to the Golden Dawn and the Black Bulls once again to repel the invasion. Then, a simple trip to research some healing magic culminates in one of the most explosive showdowns yet. Coming courtesy of Manga Entertainment, this first part of season two is available from April 6th.

The Diamond Kingdom has already been showcased somewhat in earlier collections, but as the Clover Kingdom Magic Knights have gotten stronger and stronger, they'll need a higher class of enemy now. After all, they've taken on the unimaginable mages of the Eye of the Midnight Sun. Fittingly, now the strongest of the Diamond Kingdom are on deck. These are the equivalent of the Magic Knight Captains, and it takes the best of the Golden Dawn to be able to go toe-to-toe with them. This battle gives a chance for some interesting developments between the Dawn and the Bulls. Finral's brother is revealed to be the Vice-Captain of the Golden Dawn, his magic an example of the power Finral could hold, instead of acting as the guild's taxi. Meanwhile, Yami finally confronts the Captain of the Golden Dawn, Vangeance. You can rarely trust an overpowered monster who likes to wear a mask after all.

The heart of this part of the story is Asta's injury from the conclusion of the last season. Even after being taken to the very best doctor in the Clover Kingdom, the prognosis is not good. It's not just a physical injury, it's a curse. A powerful one, and one that has guaranteed that Asta will never be able to wield a sword again. It should be heart-breaking and character-defining. This Shonen hero will need to find another way to fight, or perhaps this will break him. There's a moment after a party at Bulls HQ where Asta creeps off alone. It seems he'll finally have some real introspection, and struggle with how his dream may be over, after fighting through the cards he'd been dealt all his life. But no. He doesn't. He just screams at the sky, at some imaginary fate that he'll never give up. It's disappointing. Though, completely in line with his character thus far.

Asta's plight inspires his fellow Bulls to save their friend, and each embarks on a quest to find some way to heal him. Noelle heads to the home of a certain red-haired man, following which, two episodes flashbacks are spent introducing this man as the swordsman trainer of Asta with a shady history. His name is Fanzell Krueger, and he was also an officer in the Diamond Kingdom until he defected and fled with his Fiance. This man and his Fiance offer a potential method of healing Asta within The Witches Forest.


 

This is the next big arc, and sees the Bulls head into a closed society of Witches where men are forbidden, in hopes of enlisting the aid of the Queen of the Witches. Her legendary Blood Magic rumoured to heal anything. Once again, the Diamond Kingdom and the Eye of the Midnight Sun are walking the same path, and soon enough the Forest becomes a battlefield between the mages. The Bulls' resident alcoholic and hedonist, the mage Vanessa has a history with the Forest, that is glimpsed here and sure to be fully explored in the next collection. The Queen of the Forest and Vanessa have quite the history. Leaving the Forest is forbidden, and Vanessa was of particular interest to the Queen. Vanessa's thread magic had the potential to control destiny itself, something the Queen was eager to control.

There are some huge revelations in this collection. Old enemies becoming allies, glimpses at the truth of the lineage to the Eye of the Midnight Sun in the history of the Elves of the continent, and finally, some truth to Asta's abilities are revealed. Like Ichigo embracing his Hollow, Naruto using the Kyubei chakra, this latest Shonen Hero turns on his dark side momentarily, and some exposition from the Queen starts to explain his strength and his swords.

From the very first episode, the presentation of the series has been full of flaws and those flaws are just as evident here in the second season. Occasionally, there will be the odd scene that really stands out. The most impressive to this point was the phenomenal battle between the Bulls and the beastly Vetto, and here the series finally delivers a second battle on the same level as Asta faces off against Ladros. The studio desperately needs to deliver more moments like this.

As with the previous collections, there is a substantial amount of bonus features on deck here. First up the director of the dub Cris George and English voice actor of Asta Dallas Reid are on hand to answer fan questions submitted via twitter. The same "Inside the Episode" features as per the previous collections showcase some of the episode's highlights. There's a single episode commentary track. More of the short-form comedy of the "Clover Clips," and, finally, the omnipresent, textless opening and closing of the new themes.

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10
While series like Demon Slayer and Dr. Stone go from strength to strength, Black Clover is struggling to step beyond this generation's Fairy Tail or Blue Exorcist. There's the odd moment like at the tail end of this collection where it shows it could be something truly special, but those moments are too few and far between. Manga readers know there are some exciting things just on the horizon, and should Studio Pierrot put the effort in, it may finally step beyond its solid, but unremarkable status.

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