5 Point Discussion – Black Clover Episode 4: “The Magic Knights Entrance Exam”

by Sage Ashford

Asta and Yuno begin the trials to become Magic Knights!  But can Asta really succeed with no magic?  As always, if you’re enjoying this 5 Point Discussions, please remember to share it on Facebook and Twitter.  And hit me up @SageShinigami if you have any questions or comments.

1. After an episode of filler, Asta and Yuno finally arrive in the capital of the Clover Kingdom, Kikka. And now we finally understand what the villain from the first two episodes meant when he said Asta wouldn’t even be able to get a job. Every artisan they run across is utilizing their magical abilities to help them with their jobs. They cook, clean, and craft weapons and clothing, all with magic. If Asta couldn’t make it as a magic knight, he’d essentially be stuck trying to create a craft for himself whole-cloth. Fortunately he’s got a big honking sword that cancels out magic energy.

2. This episode introduces all the Captains of the Magic Knights. Though there’s eight in all, this episode only goes into minor detail on a handful of them, and in the end only three of them really get any importance this episode: William Vangeance of Golden Dawn, the greatest and most important guild of them all, the battle-hungry Fuegoleon of Crimson Lion, and most importantly….Yami of the Black Bulls.

Asta runs into Yami and two of his subordinates, Finral and Gordon…and nearly gets killed by Yami after his abrasive manner of joking pisses Yami off. The Black Bulls are the lowest ranked of the Magic Guilds, not out of a lack of power, but because their powers are so destructive that they end up doing more damage than they actually fix. Looking at Yami, a guy who nearly kills Asta just for bumping into him and making a funny joke about it, you can see how that’s probably true.

3. I’d been wondering how this series would handle the fact that they’re only covering the manga one chapter at a time (for whatever reason), and this episode is giving me more of a clue. Generally, series that stretch the manga out like this rely on a lot of “scene-lengthening” techniques, such as tense staredowns and as many repeated actions as possible. Occasionally, some will get fancy and weave in a lot of filler in the middle of the important manga bits.

Black Clover goes for more of the latter than the former, showing us quite a bit of Clover Kingdom’s capital city at first, but later actually doing a bit of foreshadowing regarding a character we shouldn’t know about yet. In the middle of this episode’s magic tests, we see a young silver-haired girl attempting to take the magic test before being stopped by the Captain of the Silver Eagle, Nozel Silva. Eldest son of the family of House Silva, he quickly informs the young girl that there’s no purpose in a royal girl taking a test for peasants, and says her guild has already been decided.

This threw me off a bit, as this girl is a future member of Asta’s group, but she actually pre-dated Asta’s joining the group, so this is a minor but crucial change to their team dynamic when everything’s finally decided.

4. As expected, Asta manages to spectacularly fail a rather wide variety of tests while being subtly encouraged by a new friend, Sekke Bronzazza. Not quite as talented as Yuno, Sekke is far more informed, and serves as an exposition dump for most of the episode while explaining the identities of the various Captains to Asta. You almost fall for him being a decent guy, until you recall that in most shonen series they usually aren’t your best friend unless ya’ll have saved each other’s lives a few times or kicked the crap out of each other.

So when the tournament finally comes down to the requisite 1v1 that any proper shonen fan saw coming a mile off, it’s no surprise when Sekke turns on Asta, claiming that he’ll be an easy victory for Sekke to show off with. To his credit, he actually has a pretty unique magic spell–encasing himself in a giant shell of blue magic that can fire energy from cannons made out of the shell, allowing him to attack both offensively and defensively. This is something that could’ve been a threat further down the line, but this early on Asta just smashes right through that magic and knocks him clean out in a surprisingly overwhelming victory.

Arguably, one could say that Asta should still be forced to leave since he failed every other test, but Fuegoleon makes a point just before the matches start: as Magic Knights, the most important thing they do is fighting. They’re the frontlines of Clover Kingdom’s elite defense force. Everything else can be taught, but if one can boast overwhelming magical abilities in battle, that’s enough to be recruited.

5. Next Episode: This week’s Petit Clover features a skit between Asta and the Anti-Magic Birds. Early on in the episode, we learn about these weird, crow-like creatures that pick on people the less magic they have access to. Since Asta has zero magic, he has to chase off several birds in the main episode…but since this version of Asta is much tinier and more defenseless, they actually carry him out of Kikka and off elsewhere into Clover Kingdom!  Guess it’ll be a lot harder for mini-Asta to become a Magic Knight…

The actual preview gives us a glimpse at the rest of the fights as they wrap up, and from the looks of things, who gets pulled into what guild. Gee, I wonder what group Asta’s being recruited for…

Black Clover is available for streaming on Crunchyroll and Hulu.