Review for Black Clover - Season Two Part Two
I’m still doing it. Every time I hear Asta’s name, my mind fills in the blanks with a “La Vista Baby”. I may have made a few criticisms about Black Clover in the previous review, about how it was just spinning its wheels, stuck in a rut, but we didn’t have to wait too long for Season Two Part Two, and it looks, at least according to the title of episode 66, that it will be addressing those criticisms to a greater or lesser degree. That’s the thing about long running shonen shows; they take their sweet time when it comes to actually dishing out on the meaningful story beats.
Asta and Yuno are both orphans, abandoned on the same day, found, taken in and raised by the church in the village of Hage; in a mediaeval world where magic is a commonplace reality. They could have been brothers, only they grow up as totally dissimilar. Yuno is calm, and level-headed, while Asta is brash and loud. Everyone has some magic in this world, everyone that is except Asta, who has grown up unable to conjure even the smallest spell. This wouldn’t be a big problem, except that both Asta and Yuno have sworn to become the Wizard King, the most powerful mage in the land, by becoming Magic Knights and distinguishing themselves.
No one expects much from Asta, and on their coming of age ceremony, where they get awarded Grimoires matched to their ability, it’s Yuno that gets the rare four-leafed clover Grimoire that the legendary first Wizard King had. But when it comes to Asta, he receives an unprecedented five-leafed clover Grimoire, a power that isn’t exactly magic the way everyone recognises.
9 episodes are presented across 2 Blu-rays from Manga Entertainment as follows.
64. The Red Thread of Fate
65. I’m Home
66. The Secret of the Eye of the Midnight Sun
67. A Fun Festival Double Date
68. Battle to the Death?! Yami vs. Black
69. The Briar Maiden’s Melancholy
70. Two New Stars
71. The Uncrowned, Undefeated Lioness
72. Saint Elmo’s Fire
Black Clover gets a 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer. The image is clear and colourful, and brings the anime across with no visible compression or aliasing, and with no sign of digital banding to my eyes. The animation is smooth-ish, although that is down to the source rather than the transfer. This is one anime where frame rates drop to single digits at times. The character designs are pretty generic, and it seems that the majority of the budget went on the digital effects applied to the magic sequences.
You have the choice between Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround English and 2.0 Stereo Japanese, with subtitles and signs locked to the appropriate track. I watched Black Clover in English. Yes, you read that right. This inveterate subtitle fan chose to watch an English dub of an anime. That’s because the Japanese voice actor behind Asta, Gakuto Kajiwara, has a quality to his performance that I suspect can only be elicited by genital torture, and Asta’s Japanese voice inflicts that same torture to anyone who hears it. Give Dallas Reid credit, the English voice of Asta, for trying to match the same ‘cat through a mangle’ quality of the original in terms of loud and screaming, but he can’t even manage to be a tenth as annoying as the Japanese. The rest of the dub is passable; Black Clover is a long running show which doesn’t really shatter the budget in terms of production values, and the repetitive nature of the dub translation is typical shonen, and quickly gets tedious. The audio is fine, without any glitches or dropouts, while the subtitles are accurately timed and free of typos.
The discs boot to animated menus.
Disc 1 autoplays a trailer for Funimation Now and there is a commentary on episode 64 with ADR Scriptwriter and voice of Dominante, Katelyn Barr, Jamie Marchi (Queen of the Witches), and Lydia Mackay (Vanessa).
There are more extras on disc 2.
Black Clover: A Chat Among Kings (15:32) is a featurette with Sonny Strait and Rob McCollum.
There are four Inside the Episode featurettes with a total run time of 19:11.
Episode 72 has a commentary from Dallas Reid (Asta), Austin Tindle (Leopold), and Monica Rial (Mereoleona).
Clover Clips Special Edition lasts 3:29.
You also get the textless credits.
I thought that this was the part of Black Clover where we’d get some idea of where the show is going. I was wrong. The title of episode 66 is a complete misnomer. It’s actually a filler episode, a recap episode going over what we have learned about the series villains so far and it offers no new information. Add to that, this collection has only 9 episodes, the lowest episode count of any Black Clover instalment thus far. We’re also in a lull between serious story arcs. The first episode in this collection polishes off that Forest of Witches story arc, and what follows are a series of light episodes with the characters just having fun, no heavy drama. They’re the kind of episodes that you’d expect to be filler, anime original episodes made to fill gaps when manga storyline isn’t forthcoming, but it turns out that in these nine episodes, only two are anime original, and the Yami vs. Jack episode isn’t as out of place as the recap episode.
When we last saw Asta, he had just accessed his inner nine-tailed fox, and unleashed a new bad-ass power. The Queen of the Witches took advantage of this, and turned Asta against his friends, and that was the cliff-hanger that gets resolved pretty quickly here in the first episode. Then it’s back home for the Star Festival. When the show began, and Asta and Yuno got to the capital, and put in the proverbial Sorting Hat to get assigned to the Magic Knights, the various Knight orders were introduced according to their rankings, which had been determined by missions accomplished and stars awarded. The Golden Dawn that Yuno joined were top ranked, and The Black Bulls, which Asta joined, were way down at the bottom. The Star Festival is where the Wizard King announces the new results, the stars awarded over the previous year, and the highest scoring mages. The episodes that fill most of this collection follow the celebrations, and the awards ceremony.
This concludes with the announcement that the hideout of the Midnight Sun has been discovered, and there will soon be tests for the Magic Knights to see who will be part of the squad to deal with the villains. Naturally Asta wants in, but for the last two episodes he gets dragged into training with the Crimson Lions squad on a volcano, along with Yuno, Captain Yami and Noelle. Alone without any magic to protect him from the lava, Asta has to figure out quickly how to access and use that power that manifested by chance in the Forest of the Witches. This all sets up the next arc of episodes, which we’ll no doubt get to in Season Two Part Three.
Black Clover is still fun to watch, but you can’t get away from the low episode count (for ages Funimation have been sticking 9 episodes on just one disc and here they are on two), and you can’t deny the inconsequential story at this point in the series. The quality is still up to the Black Clover standard set by the earlier releases, however.