by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 31 of
Black Clover ?
How would you rate episode 32 of
Black Clover ?
We're kicking off a new story arc that sees Asta teaming up with Gauche Adlai to rescue Marie from a duo of child kidnappers. Right off the bat with episode 31, Black Clover seems to be entering some rough waters. Not only is the show already facing an uphill bale by focusing on Gauche, probably my least favorite member of the Black Bulls, but his story starts out almost inconceivably boring. If things didn't pick up with the following episode, I would find this adventure impossible to separate from filler.
Episode 31 in particular has the show's production values completely bottoming out, with virtually zero animation and all the characters' faces looking weirdly flat and detached from their bodies. The villain's snowmen end up being the most expressive aspect of the episode, but all other action is unmoving or incomprehensible. Thankfully, as is often the case with these kinds of shows, a bad episode usually just means a good one is right around the corner. Episode 32 is a significant improvement, looking much nicer and finally moving the story in an interesting direction. If this was just a review of 31, I would say we had reached a low point for the entire show thus far.
Since the villains are all about stealing magic, that ends up serving as the backbone of these episodes. One of the evil brothers, Baro, even straight-up has a DBZ scouter for detecting magic, so he gets to be extra surprised when Gauche busts in with an abundance of it, and Asta arrives with none. Gauche's role at the moment is to be the guy you don't want to admit is cool. We've only known him as the siscon pervert up until now, but when he's angry and serious, he's got some moves. Even better is that Theresa, the old nun who looks after Marie, turns out to be a badass with flame magic and gets the flashiest attack out of these two episodes. Not only is she rad, but it's revealed that she actually mentored Fuegoleon, so I guess the fire people are just unanimously my favorite characters in this show.
Up front, these villains are unfathomably bland and indicative of why it took a couple episodes for this new arc to stop feeling so filler-y, but quickly enough Sally of the Eye of the Midnight Sun shows up to hijack the story. Even though Baro and Neige are in cahoots with the Midnight Sun, once they've failed their mission you see their misdeeds as an extension of a greater evil and start to feel bad for them a little bit. There's the occasional mention that Neige was looking to befriend the kids he was kidnapping, but so far any deeper pathos is landing with a benign thud.
Episode 31 is just a straight up bad episode, one of the worst victims of this show's pacing and production shortcomings. Even with the much better episode 32 following it up, it's still incredibly boring and empty. But I can conceive of a world where that wouldn't be such a bad thing if that content was just the first half of a more dense episode, but as it stands I found myself kind of angry with the show. As of 32, we're connecting the child kidnapping storyline to the Midnight Sun and now it feels like there's an earnest chance to actually go somewhere with the plot again.
Episode 31 Rating: D
Episode 32 Rating: B
Black Clover is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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