Asta and the others arrive at Saussy Village, having slain the troublesome magic boars plaguing the city! But why is the village drenched in a thick cover of mist? Uh-oh! Remember, if you like this article and 5 Point Discussions, please share it on Facebook or Twitter! It really helps. And if you’ve got any comments or questions, please hit me up @SageShinigami.
1. Well, it took nine episodes but they finally did it. Studio Pierrot’s been kinda dancing on the knife edge of adapting as little of the manga as possible per episode while adding in tons of filler (for literally NO reason since it’s only supposed to run a year) to offset that, with most or all of the filler being reasonable. Most of it consisted of extending scenes that were already present in the manga, or showing parts of Asta’s home life to make the emotional connection stronger with viewers, so I didn’t have a problem with it.
But this episode finally goes over the edge and gives us filler that’s legitimately a waste of time, as we get Magna’s non-existent backstory on how he was a punk kid that used to terrorize Saussy Village and the town mayor was the only one who could keep him in line. Magna’s whole “cool delinquent” gimmick is precarious to begin with, but this episode kind of obliterates whatever cool he does have, down to showing him getting literally spanked by the Mayor after he loses a fight. It’s all to make the viewer care about the fact that when the team gets to Saussy, the Mayor’s been killed by a bunch of hooded mages, but the whole point of the arc is that they didn’t NEED to know them to care about innocent lives being threatened, or downright taken.
2. What works about this episode, though, is that Asta actually gets to be the ace of the team for once. This is all stuff that should’ve happened back during the first three or four episodes, but constant delays have put this off and made the main character of the series look like a magicless putz. Which is exactly what he is, but the manga goes out of its way to help you forget that as early as possible and help him seem like an actual protagonist, while this adaptation has spent a lot of time dealing with a lot of excess comedy nonsense. This entire mini-arc is Asta’s coming out party, though; both Magna and Noelle have their own brief crises of conscience due to being suddenly tossed into unexpectedly terrible situations, but Asta doesn’t falter even for a second, both believing in himself and displaying incredible strength and abilities necessary to protect this village of common folk.
3. The enemies Asta, Magna, and Noelle face this episode are what immediately set this series apart from it’s big brother Fairy Tail, and it’s why I wish we’d gotten to this point in the first month rather than waiting until well after the point where most people drop a series. Saussy Village is in possession of a magic stone, an item that can vastly amplify one’s magical abilities, and that’s what gets them attacked by this group of masked mages. But what makes their leader so eager to wipe the village out is their lack of power–claiming their inability to use magic at a high level makes them no better than beasts.
Whereas the “rarity” of magic in Fairy Tail makes it possible for plenty of people to be “normal”, the ubiquitous nature of powers in this world have led to their use in social stratification: in this world, the greater your magical abilities the more opportunity you have to ascend through the classes. Even the royalty have taken advantage of their impressive powers to amass more resources, meaning that even money and being of noble birth all comes down to how much magic power your family has.
It’s a significantly darker world than Fairy Tail, one crying out for people willing to bring change…even if they’re shrill-voiced idiot teenagers.
4. To be fair, they kinda botched this moment. In the manga, Noelle realizes her inability to control her powers and actually help against the enemy mages makes her a liability. Growing self-conscious, she remembers that she’s royalty (which, if you’re like me you’re wondering how she ever forgot something she brings up so much in the first place) and decides she’s too important to die in a place like this. I told you early on that Noelle was trash, and the proof is here: briefly she thinks about abandoning her team and the village, until a young child begs for her help. Now time constraints in the anime mean Noelle goes from “I’m going to run” to “I’m going to protect them!” much quicker than she should have, but it’s still a key part of her development, and a key moment for how powers accumulate in this universe as well.
Much like in the shonen classic Zatch Bell, magicians are granted new spells during moments of crisis and emotional growth. Noelle, largely useless up to this point, is granted a water shield spell that allows her to protect the village while also giving her fellow teammates a respite from the growing attacks of her enemies. This is the first time she actually has confidence in her abilities, helping to play just as big of a role in saving everyone as the rest of the team.
5. Next Episode: The team has managed to protect the villagers, but only for now! Will they be able to overcome these mages and make their way back to their castle safely? Expect a lot of undue flashbacks to Magna’s non-existent time with the chief of Saussy Village, because this fight actually shouldn’t take that long. Despite them nearly laying waste to this village, the truth is they’re a bunch of scrubs that judging from this preview won’t even last the next episode.
Black Clover is available for streaming on Hulu and Crunchyroll.