5 Point Discussions – Black Clover 16: “Friends”

by Sage Ashford

Golden Dawn and the Black Bulls face off against two of the Diamond Kingdom’s strongest mages? Will either team be able to survive? 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. So Luck’s backstory is told in a brief flashback, and it’s…yikes. Okay, the recap part of it is that Luck is yet another commoner with rather incredible levels of magical ability. He comes from a broken home, and while they never explain why he smiles all the time, we do learn that because his mother doesn’t quite understand her son, she’s turned physically abusive, smacking her son around. She’s constantly disappointed in him, until one day he defeats a noble in combat. Shocked at his battle prowess and that he’s actually good at something, she urges him to keep on winning. Then she dies because “reasons”, and the last thing Luck remembers is her insistence that he beat everyone he battles, and so Luck views winning as a way of keeping in contact with his mother and making her proud.

Of course, the story leaves a lot of that unsaid, and there’s a lot of subtext that you have to make an effort to read into. Which would be acceptable, except Black Clover has been a fairly surface-level series up to now, so this feels more lazy than anything else. And it doesn’t help that the animation quality of this episode takes a massive nosedive–the flashback scenes that I’m guessing are supposed to be minimalist in style wind up just coming off like a slideshow.

2. The beginning of the episode sees a flashback to Yuno and Asta as children, where an oddly reflective Asta points out that since both of them were born without blood relatives, the family they have will be one they create of their own choosing. This comes into play this episode for both of them, as their guilds approach dire situations without their help. With Mimosa damaged, she’s forced to spend time hiding behind Klaus and Yuno while she recovers her own energy. Unlike the enemy Black Clover’s facing, Golden Dawn’s enemy is a mage with diamond powers that’s more of the strong, silent type.

He starts a relentless attack on Klaus and Yuno, but seems to be expending no magic. Because of this, Klaus suggests that Yuno retrieve the treasure and come back, but a momentary slip in attention leads to him nearly getting pummeled by the diamond mage as well. Fortunately, Yuno disobeys Klaus’ orders in order to protect the people that have become his new family. This is a cool moment, especially when Yuno powers up and “gets serious”, sending some high-level spells at their opponent with the intention of ending things quickly.

…Unfortunately, their opponent shrugs the attack off with ease, placing the team in a real bind! After fifteen episodes of seeing Yuno basically deal with everything with zero trouble, it’s nice to finally see his back against the wall. Invulnerable characters can be fun, but not when they’re as stoic and serious as Yuno–he needs to come up against a challenge or two to keep things interesting.

3. Aight look. There’s no excuse for this. In the middle of the episode, Noelle and Asta arrive to help Luck out. Luck talks about how he wants to beat his opponent in a one-on-one fight, but Asta ignores him and teams up. Then with literally no other urging, Luck just decides that he’s had friends all along! This isn’t even something that was better handled in the manga, the manga’s pacing is just so much faster you don’t really think about it. Really this whole scene should’ve happened about eight episodes ago, but if Studio Pierrot is going to animate things so slowly then they could’ve at least given this bit more time. Every episode they use up a whole minute and a half for the Wizard King’s origin story, why not toss that this week to stretch Luck’s learning to accept his friends?

4. Luck manages to accept the Black Bulls, but that doesn’t automatically result in a win for him. Lotus at this point finally starts taking the battle seriously, covering the field in his mist and leaving the team in a race against the clock. With his mist draining the team’s stamina, and even Asta’s sword unable to break it down, they’re forced to come up with a plan and fast.

They come up with something that involves Noelle generating just enough water to force Asta through to Lotus’ location, while Luck keeps him off-guard with a barrage of lightning attacks. Since Asta has no magic, he manages to nail his opponent with a decisive blow, giving the team what seems like their first big win.

5. Lotus is defeated, but that still leaves the Diamond Mage that even Golden Dawn can’t overcome. What’s his secret? And why is he able to use such powerful magic without a grimoire?

The pacing of these episodes has increased, but the animation took a nosedive this week so it kind of evens out. It feels like Black Clover is destined to be a middling shonen anime, even if the manga deserves a bit better than this. There’s another major flashback story next week and hopefully they step it up, because that one’s going to be quite a bit more substantial.

Black Clover is available on Funimation and Hulu.