Finral faces off against his younger brother Langris in the second match of the second round of the Royal Magic Knight Exam! 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. The Black Bulls are easily the most likable group in anime right now. In the aftermath of the Black Bull fight between Magna and Asta, the team both fawns over Asta’s success while getting Finral’s confidence up to go against his condescending younger brother. They even make time to play with Magna a bit to try and keep his spirits up after losing to Asta. It’s the kind of support we scarcely see even in other shonen series that are supposed to be known for it. It doesn’t matter if you’re a commoner with no magic, a royal who can’t control her magic, or a dejected member of your own royal house, once you’re a member of the Black Bulls it seems like you automatically become family.
2. Don’t ever confuse an understandable background with a sympathetic one. It’s easy to understand Langris’ problem with Finral–because of Finral’s less talented magic and unwillingness to hurt people, the expectations of the older brother are instead placed on the younger. It’s under these expectations Langris excelled, and it’s for this reason Langris has such emnity towards his brother–he’s cracking under the immense pressure of leading his household. But just because that’s understandable, it doesn’t make him much more likable. On the contrary, it makes it all the harder to care about Langris when he was doted on by his parents and given the top spot. He revels in the attention, but needs to kick his older brother around to make him feel truly important, because a big key to making a class-based system run is an inherent sense of superiority over those “lesser” than you, even if only by degrees.
3. Most of this episode is devoted to Finral vs. Langris, but they don’t forget the fact that this is supposed to be an actual match. Leopold and Hamon face off against Team G’s lone defender of their crystal, Fragil. She’s got a pretty neat little snow spell which comes with a sleep status effect, but Leopold uses Mana Skin to deflect the sleep effect and continue his offensive. It’s a small moment, but it shows the growth Leopold’s undergone since we saw him during the invasion arc from the first half of the series, thanks in no small part to his attempts to get better than his “rival” Asta and training from his sister Mereoleona.
4. Ultimately, Finral’s story is one of adaptation. He wasn’t able to be a Magic Knight like his family wanted, he’d lost claim to lead the House Vaude, and so he found a way to cope by turning into the equivalent of the high school quarterback. He made lots of friends, even with the woman Langris was destined to marry, and was just an all-around amiable guy. Langris frustration with his brother stems largely from being raised as this “perfect” child who was expected to achieve everything and did…but it still didn’t make him particularly beloved by anyone outside of his family. His need to look down on everyone became obvious even to outside observers, and by comparison he found himself alone while Finral’s friend group grew.
….However, the problem here is it’s not as if Finral ever left him out. Like in the scene above and several others in the episode, he offers Langris opportunities to make friends pretty much constantly, and was rebuked at every term. Langris’ greed is such that despite winning out over his brother in every aspect, him winning at one was still too much.
5. The other reason this is a great arc is this is easily one of the most hype moments in the series. Despite putting up his best fight against Langris, Finral was never going to be capable of matching up against his younger brother’s vast reserves of magic and years of experience using those abilities in combat. But what isn’t expected is for Langris’ void magic to turn his brother (and the crystal, causing his team to win the match) into swiss cheese…and for him to not be satisfied with this alone. With a flashback to the time the Midnight Sun members were possessed by the elves, Langris goes in for the kill…and nearly gets taken out by Asta, Magna, and Luck. “Forget the match, we’ll kill you.”, was one of my favorite moments in the manga and the adaptation nails it perfectly.
It’s an excellent bookend to an episode that started out reminding us how strong the relationship was between the Black Bull guildmates.
Black Clover is available for streaming on Funimation, Crunchyroll, and Hulu.