5 Point Discussions – Black Clover Episode 2: “The Boys’ Promise”

by Sage Ashford

Asta’s battle to save Yuno’s grimoire continues! But what secret story from their past ties our series’ protagonists together? Remember, if you enjoy 5 Points Discussions please share it on Facebook and Twitter.  And if you’ve got questions, comments, or just want to tell me how terrible/awesome a job I’m doing, please hit me up @SageShinigami on Twitter.
1. Maybe the series should lay off Asta’s promising to be the Wizard King. As cute as the moment that lead to it was in this episode, it’s only going to help all the people who believe that this show’s a rip-off. Shonen anime is filled with teenaged male characters talking about being the superlative standard in their field. Naruto wanted to be the Hokage. Luffy wants to be King of the Pirates. Now Asta wants to be the Wizard King? The title isn’t even that creative, though admittedly I might be saying that because I preferred the manga translation of “Sorcery Emperor”.
2. The second episode and already I’m concerned for this series. It starts off with Asta losing faith in himself, as the wizard who attacked his friend Yuno tells him he’s got no hope of ever becoming a wizard himself, as he can detect magical potential and Asta has zero potential inside him. Just as Asta starts to drown in despair though, Yuno speaks up–he tells Asta that there’s no way Asta could ever become Wizard King, because Yuno will beat him there first, but that doesn’t stop them from being rivals.
With renewed hope and through the power of his never-give-up spirit, a grimoire emerges from Asta’s own body and if you were thinking this sounds astoundingly similar to the previous episode’s finale, you’d be correct. Episode two wastes a surprising three minutes of its run time on recapping the end of last week’s episode. A reminder: a given episode of anime generally only runs 22-24 minutes in the first place. The OP and ED songs shave off three minutes combined usually, leaving a given episode with 19-21 episodes of actual runtime. That means Black Clover tossed a seventh of its time away to remind us of stuff that we saw only a week ago.
While that’s by no means the most egregious waste of time I’ve ever seen for recaps (that honor goes to History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi, which frequently used half of its runtime to recap the previous ep), it’s still frustrating. Especially since…
3. …Nearly all of this episode is filler. They give us a brief glimpse into Asta and Yuno’s past, where they grew up in an orphanage together. Though Asta is much the same as he is in the present-day, Yuno is…a little different. The now cool, collected genius spent his time as a child constantly crying over everything, until one day the priest over the orphanage he and Asta stayed at asked him to deliver a letter to someone in town. On his way back from the errand, Yuno gets attacked by a drunkard who wants Yuno’s pendant so he can pawn it and pay for more drinks.
Just as Yuno’s about to break down once more, Asta arrives and saves him…sort of. Okay, he actually just gets shoved around a bunch, but the much older man eventually feels bad about beating up a kid and gives up, leaving the pendant and the boys alone. After that, Yuno makes a promise not to be a crybaby anymore, and the two of them together decide to aim at becoming the Wizard King, in order to make the world a better place.
It’s a decent enough story, filling in some of Asta and Yuno’s backstory during their time at the orphanage, but it’s also entirely unnecessary. While it does highlight the difference between Asta and Yuno’s rivalry and nearly every other we’ve seen in shonen anime before, that’s done enough over the course of Black Clover’s actual story that this felt more like a waste of time. After two episodes we’ve somehow only just managed to clear the first chapter of the manga, which is only around 50 pages. This is the kind of move a studio makes if they’re worried about catching up to the source material–but Black Clover is over 125 chapters deep. There’s literally no need to waste time like this, particularly when the brevity of Black Clover’s story is one of its biggest selling points.
4. After the recap and the filler, we close out with a return to Asta and Yuno in the present, where Asta basically uses the first “spell” his grimoire grants him–a giant honking sword–to take out the wizard threatening him and Yuno in a single hit. Asta points out how without magic he had to train his body instead, which means physical weapons like swords are perfect for him, but it really just highlights how strange it is that he doesn’t have magic in the first place. If this world is one where magic resides in everyone, there’s got to be a reason why someone would ever be born without a trace of it.
Still, questions about future plot points aside, the episode ends with Asta mentioning how he was worried that Yuno had thought his goal of being the Wizard King was a joke, only for Yuno to point out that it just wouldn’t do for him to get *too* friendly with the person he sees as his rival, and the episode ends with a mutual fistbump of respect.
5. Next Episode: We’re right back on the filler train, as Asta and Yuno start their journey towards the capital. While I’m sure they could have all sorts of adventures on the way, I’m baffled that we’re still doing filler when the series’ plot isn’t even at the starting line. These two have whole guilds they join–people in those guilds, hierarchies between those guilds, missions they go on–literally tons of story that exists that helps differentiate this series between all the shows people claim it’s a copycat of, and yet somehow the next episode appears to be mostly devoted to the time between Asta/Yuno’s home town and Clover Kingdom’s capital city. Sure. Why not?
Black Clover is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.

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