GOLDENAGATO

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Once you've heard this show call its big end-game ranking the "Wizard King" enough times, you start to grow numb to it. Maybe one day it'll sound like the most normal thing to me. The pirate what? Sorry, the only king that Irecognize is that of the freakin' wizards.

Jokes aside, my biggest disappointment with the show so far has been its filler-heavy episode three, so just getting back to the really basic shonen tripe is much more exciting. Asta and Yuno arrive to try their hands at the Magic Knights exam, and the main fantasy hook this week is quantifying how much magic each person possesses. There are birds that flock to you if you have low magic, and you're expected to make yourself fly on a broom right away, which is considered an entry-level skill. Obviously, Asta fails at both of these while Yuno exceeds. Making our hero the scrappy underdog is expected, although it's not so much that Asta has low-magic keeping things interesting, it's that he has none at all.

I found the final scene, where the exam turns into a one-on-one tournament, to be surprisingly effective. Asta's up first, and his opponent is a snob who spent the whole episode pretending to be nice. Our expectations for how Asta might handle this betrayal and how much work he still has to do to compensate for his lack of magic are undercut really well. He just smashes the jerkwad's magic shield in an instant and tells his enemy to shut up. However, I'm unclear how much of this is Asta's physical training put to use and how much of this is his Black CloverGrimoire. Asta spends so much of this episode getting picked on and humiliated, but in this moment we see how little it's been getting to him and it's pretty satisfying to see him put the smack down on this chump in response. Yuno's prideful smile on the sidelines is also pretty good. Hey, I'm starting to like these kids!

After picking on this show's clichés and then heading right into an exam of all things (our manga-reading teenagers sure seem to be cool with stories about exams for some reason), I still feel I can't hold that stuff against it for too long. Maybe it really is that easy to win me over in this genre, but this was an enjoyable episode with a solid ending. We get a lot of world-building with the mage captains who are closest to becoming the next Wizard King, and it's hard to know how invested we'll be in that stuff as the series goes on, but we're slowly expanding the cast beyond Asta and Yuno, and I'm already seeing a lot of cool faces I'd like to see more of.
 

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