5 Point Discussions – Black Clover 55: “The Man Named Fanzell”

by Sage Ashford

Noelle tries to visit the one man she knows who might be capable of healing Asta’s arms of the curse inflicted on them during the battle with Vetto. But who is this mysterious nudist, and what’s his connection to Asta and Noelle? 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. Ahhh, something NEW has been added! It seems instead of continuing the current Witch’s Forest story arc, they’ve decided to fold in some of the plot from Black Clover’s first light novel, Stubborn Bull Book. With this series having turned into one of the few remaining continuous adaptations, they’re going to need as many reasons to extend things and not catch up to the manga as possible, so folding this little detour into the current arc works.
I’m not normally a fan of “filler” story arcs as they tend to create loads of new characters which never get referenced again. That said, this isn’t really “filler”, as it colors in the backstory of a character from the manga who desperately needed it. You’ve got this easy extra story material, why not add it?

2. Last week, Noelle went to visit the one person she thought might be able to help Asta. With Finral’s help, she winds up on the doorstep of Fanzell, a strange older man with a penchant for…walking around in the nude? I thought this was a kid’s show. Still, this week gives us a flashback to shine a spotlight on Fanzell’s backstory and connection with Asta.
Set right before Asta joined the Magic Knights, but right after he gained his Grimoire, “The Man Named Fanzell” begins with Asta in the forest learning to use his sword. While he’s training, he gets distracted by an old man running in the nude from a giant boar. Asta smacks the boar out of sight, and learns the old man is a mage named Fanzell. After Fanzell mooches Asta’s food, he offers Asta a place to stay while he continues to train for the Magic Knight Exam.
Asta’s always been portrayed as a natural with his blade, owed to his tremendous strength from the freakish training he’s subjected himself to as a child. But while this episode showed his strength was self-taught, we also learn that Asta was actually taught to use his blade by Fanzell, someone who can craft blades made of pure wind with his magic. He agrees to teach Asta, on the condition he never use his powers to harm the weak, only to reach his goal of becoming the Wizard King. A bit of a weird promise to ask of a kid one barely knows, but it comes into play as important later.

3. So while Asta never thinks about where this talented old mage who likes to walk around in the nude came from (man, clearly no one taught this fourteen year old about stranger danger), the show fortunately doesn’t leave us hanging like that. In the second half of the episode they introduce Mariella, one of the young mages taught by Fanzell. We learn Fanzell is from the Diamond Kingdom, only he got tired of the country’s inhumane military training and quit. Yeah, forcing kids to kill each other in bloody battle royales would probably do that.
Fanzell escaped with his wife Dominante, but they were attacked by assassins and separated. Since then, Fanzell’s relied on Mariella to look for Domina in the hopes he could avoid being attacked by any other Diamond Kingdom people. However, Mariella explains she found Domina’s wand and no sign of her body and assumes the worst. After giving him some time to grieve though, she reveals she’s actually switched sides to defend the Diamond Kingdom. All the other students he tried to save wound up being killed by Diamond Kingdom assassins, and she’s joined them again to bring him back to help put the finishing touches on their latest powerful project, a young boy named Mars.
This is one of two times I had a problem with the episode. Prequels can be good when they have the express purpose of developing one or two existing characters, but they also have a bad habit of getting too cute with their references. The guy Fanzell’s meant to go back for is Mars? There’s something like eight new Magic Knight Generals or whatever, but Mars is the one he’s gotta train? How…unnervingly coincidental.

4. Normally I’m all for shonen series being overtly inspirational, but…I’m not sure the scene here worked as well as it should’ve. Fanzell had every reason to sink into despair. He left everything he’s ever known in terms of his country, then loses his wife in that attempt to escape. Then finally, he learns all the students he tried to save died except for one, and that one is apparently a traitor who’s going to drag him back to the country against his will.
Now of course it’s not the way of most anime series to allow characters to wallow in depression, but there wasn’t any work put into Asta dragging him out of his funk. He’s just like “You can’t quit here”, then Fanzell agrees and that’s that. There’s no call back to something they both experienced together, there’s no moment where Asta shows he’s going through something just as bad to make him realize he’s not as bad off as he thinks, there’s nothing. Fanzell just changes his mind because that’s what the plot needs him to do. But they didn’t show their work, so instead of going from Point A to B to C to D, they skipped steps B and C and it just makes everything come off much worse. Without shonen’s ability to connect to its audience, it really doesn’t have much, so hopefully the rest of the light novel stuff doesn’t fall on its face like here.
Still, we’re at where we’re at–Asta and Fanzell working together gets Mariella and her goons to back off, and Fanzell decides to leave to search for his wife on his own.

5. Next Episode: The story of Asta’s relationship with Fanzell continues. This time they meet again after Asta’s already become a member of the Black Bulls. Will Fanzell ever be able to find his love, Domina? And what of Mariella?
Black Clover is available for streaming on Funimation.

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