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1. “Capital Riot” kicks off with a slight recap for the tail end of last episode, where Asta proudly proclaims his intention to become the next Wizard King. Though they laugh it off at first, the nobles quickly turn to being insulted Asta would speak, or have aspirations at all. One by one, several royal members attack him with the intention of shutting him up, but Asta’s ability to negate magic spells make it a lot harder than you’d think.
Nevertheless, they ratchet up in intensity several times, and eventually it’s hard not to wonder just who’s the child in this situation. Asta’s a teenaged boy who’s simply asking some rich snobs not to insult his friends and is defending himself against their attacks. He doesn’t go on the offensive even a single time the entire fight. Meanwhile, a group of fully functional adults that are part of the upper crust of society all find it acceptable to bully a young child, with several of them indicating they would like to maim him as an example to other peasants.
If you were wondering what the key difference of this versus Fairy Tail was, here it is. In Fairy Tail, guilds have friendly rivalries that at best resemble Asta’s relationship towards Yuno. In Black Clover, royals view commoners as literally insects. This makes it hard to root for Clover Kingdom, as you’ll see later on.
2. Of course, not all royals are horrible people. Just as things seem like they’re going to get out of hand, the Silver Eagle Captain, Nozel Silva, arrives. Unfortunately, his behavior isn’t much better than the rest of them–he breaks up the fight, but still suggests Asta needs to be taught a lesson. He’s really close to being in trouble, as not even Yuno, Klaus. or Noelle are able to save him from the power of the Captain of the second strongest Magic Knight guild. At least, not until Fuegoleon Vermillion shows up.
Leon points out the royals have been quite disrespectful to guests invited there by the Wizard King, but it doesn’t quite diffuse the situation, and he and Nozel wind up in a tense staredown as they manifest their abilities against one another. This obvious dichotomy in their abilities belies a deeper one not just in their characters, but in the way their family works. The Silvas and the Vermillions are two halves of the same noble house. Essentially…
The Silvas are very traditional royalty, the kind which shunned Noelle for having to work hard to learn control of her power, and believe all peasants should live out their pathetic lives far away from proper humans. The behavior is so deeply ingrained that even after being rejected, Noelle still exhibits the same haughty traits from time to time towards the other Black Bull members.
The Vermillions on the other hand, respect only one thing: power. Nozel calls Fuegoleon “soft”, but it’s actually the opposite–all the noteworthy people in the Vermillion family respect strength, regardless of where it came from or how you attained it. It’s subtly shown in how Mimosa fell for Asta after he proved himself in battle against Mars. It’s shown in how her cousin Leopold immediately views Asta as his rival this episode after he defends himself against multiple royals. And it’s displayed in how Leon respects both Asta and Noelle for attempting to transcend their limits. It’s also shown elsewhere in an incredibly awesome character, but who knows if the anime will ever get that far.
3. This entire episode is a twenty minute thesis on how and why the noble society and the noble system of choosing Magic Knights suck. Before Leon and Nozel can get into a proper fight, they get distracted when a mage breaks up the lunch unexpectedly. These idiots are so busy arguing over a fourteen year old kid having dreams and using words in their presence they don’t notice their capital city is literally on fire until one of the mages watching over the city reports it to them.
Now admittedly, someone is supposed to be taking care of security and a barrier normally guards the city to protect it from spatial magic that causes people to teleport in. But for them to be so overconfident and sure of themselves, it’s hilarious how quickly they let their guard down and things go awry. They start looking into the state of things using an advanced version of Mimosa’s real time mapping system, and they immediately disperse in order to bring peace back to the city, but it still feels like it never should’ve gotten this far.
4. When we finally get to the capital city, things have gotten about as bad as they can get while still having anything you could classify as a city. They’re being attacked by an army of zombies the remaining mages can barely distract, let alone defeat, while innocents are being assaulted with no one to protect them. The Magic Knights arrive to calm some of the trouble, but that only solves part of the problem.
At the start of the episode, we get to see the Magic Knight responsible for all this insanity. Prior to the assault on Clover Kingdom’s capital, he’s some weirdo opining about how much it sucked to be kicked out of the Magic Knights. He brings up how he had more power than the royals and that they told him power was all that mattered, and while there’s a bit more to it, there’s still an issue here: this entire mess is the fault of the current system within the Clover Kingdom. It’s inherently fascist in nature, believing “might makes right”, but even that’s a lie because the nobles find any commoners with abilities akin to theirs distasteful. They’ve in effect created their own destruction, which is sad but deserved. Fortunately for these townspeople though, Asta arrives in order to put this weird zombie mage kid down.
5. Next Episode: First off, if you haven’t seen it you should absolutely go watch the Petit Clover this week, where Mimosa imagines her crush Asta as a variety of pets she could take care of. It’s adorable. But anyway…
Asta gets into it with the vanguard of this invading force, while the other royals try quelling the danger in the rest of the city. But will that be enough, or does the plan to destroy the capital run even deeper?
Black Clover is available on Crunchyroll and Hulu.