As Black Clover progresses into its second cour, let’s look back on some of the animated highlights from the first thirteen episodes. While there are some stiff episodes, the animation delivers for all the important scenes. The fight scenes in particular are consistently creative enough to be worthy of special mention.
Here are some of my favorite moments from the show so far:
Episode 2: Asta First Uses His Demon Sword
This is the first bit of animation that really stands out as unusual. When Asta swings his sword, all the color abruptly goes away, but you can still see all the lines on Asta’s face as he scrunches up his energy. The speed lines in the background also move rapidly, giving the entire scene a building sense of momentum. Asta’s body moves slower, however, which makes time feel dilated. When his blow finally connects, it’s extremely satisfying. You even see it from multiple angles, just for that extra bit of oomph.
The use of impact frames to emphasize a huge collision is a fairly common animation technique, but usually those frames are on screen for a fraction of a second. A drawn-out sequence like this really stands out against the rest of the show, but I thought it captured how special this moment was for Asta. After all, he was a complete weakling until this exact moment.
Episode 3: The First Wizard King Defeats the Demon
This is the first and only epic-scale battle scene to be shown in the anime so far, and it may be the best scene overall in terms of sheer polish. This entire scene was directed, storyboarded, and key animated by Isuta Meister, meaning that every artistic choice was funneled toward a single person’s vision.
The scene starts off with a typical establishing shot of a large demon surrounded by burning towns. It’s effective, yes, but a bit stereotypical. The sequence only truly begins to stand out when the Wizard King appears and conjures his beams of light. The light is drawn with very little line work, making them able to change shape and direction in unpredictable ways. This is what makes the Wizard King take the demon by surprise, even though he’s so tiny in comparison, but it also just looks cool to see beams of light stretch and twist through the air like an Itano Circus.
I especially love the final frames of this cut, when everything turns monochrome and we finally catch a glimpse of the Wizard King’s face. That final humanizing shot of his eyes gives his heroic sacrifice that extra bit of impact.
Episode 6: Magna’s Exploding Fireball
The impact frames are back again when Magna chucks a giant exploding fireball at Asta. This time, they only last for a split second, but it’s still a very noticeable stylization. Mostly, however, I love how the fire behaves in this scene. It darts around the screen in a way very much like a thrown baseball. But it also behaves distinctly like fire too, with sparks flying off the main fireball in arbitrary directions. Even before time slows down and we hear Asta’s thought process, my immediate thought was: “How’s he gonna survive this?!”
There’s another exploding fireball scene in episode 10 that’s animated in a very similar way. I like that one too, but more for the detailed animation before Magna actually throws the fireball. One of the animation principles is “anticipation”, and you can see that clearly on display when Magna moves his arm back and pivots his entire body forward.
The Ending Sequence
Even though it’s not fight animation, the ED may be favorite part of the show. These simple sequences of animation capture Asta and Yuno’s relationship in a nutshell. I love the emphasis on body language here, which you unfortunately don’t see as much of in the show itself. Asta averts his eyes, clenches his fists, and picks himself up from the ground with an unhurried air of gravity that makes me think, “Ah, he’s more than just an annoying brat.”
My favorite part is when he runs and shouts. The pacing of this sequence is perfect. We only see part of his face as he builds his resolve, and when he starts running, only his legs are visible. And then finally, we see his mouth open, shouting something we can’t hear. It doesn’t matter what he’s saying, the point is that he’s found something that will allow him to continue no matter how painful it is. Asta is really a great character when you can’t hear him speak.
So those are my favorite scenes in Black Clover so far. If you’re interested in seeing more cool animation from the show, check out the Black Clover tag on Sakugabooru.
Which parts of the anime have you liked so far?
Kim Morrissy (@frog_kun) is a freelance writer and Tokyo correspondent for Anime News Network.