What They Say:
Not even broken arms can stop Asta! But when his injuries are beyond healing magic, this could mean the end of his journey. Except his magic is never giving up! Together, with his friends, they head to the Witches’ Forest to find a cure—or more trouble.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo while the English dub gets a 5.1 bump, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The series works a good mix of dialogue and action to it so that all quadrants are hit with the stereo design while getting a nice boost through the 5.1 where the rears get a bit more action and the impact is greater through the bass. The show works a good design for the dialogue across the forward soundstage with some fun placement from time to time in how it unfolds and the characters interact. The highs and lows are well captured while the action works the full range in a smooth and engaging way. The bigger moments hit well so that the action feels like it resonates, again with the 5.1 mix getting more bass and impact, so that you get more invested in all of it. Both tracks are solid and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing beginning in 2017, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes for this set are spread across two discs in a seven/five format with plenty of room. Animated by Pierrot, the show has a really good look to it with a lot of detail in both character and backgrounds and some big action moments throughout. The show is not working on a budget design considering the number of episodes in the run and that definitely helps as the world is more fully realized because of it. These episodes lean more toward darker material in terms of where it takes place so the encoding works well here with the color solidity and keeping the high motion sequences free of problems such as breakup and noise. The vibrant areas stand out very well and the fluid sequences of action, particularly with some of the magic, look great throughout.
The packaging for this release comes in a slightly thicker than standard Blu-ray case that holds the four discs for both formats as well as having an o-card slipcover that replicates the case artwork. The image of Asta this time around is one of my favorites from the Japanese side as it just looks slick as hell and very appealing. The season/part/episode numbers included are clearly shown on the front as well making it so that you don’t have to hunt around trying to find it. The back cover goes pretty dark with the same color used for the small summary of the premise while also showing off the extras and technical grid. It makes it a bit harder to read in a lot of lighting but everything is there and clearly laid out accurately. The shots from the show are kept simple but add a nice bit of color to it. While we don’t get any show related inserts with it, the reverse side artwork has a nice two-panel spread that showcases Yuno and his group in battle which looks great from the perspective used.
The menu design for this release goes for the clip route that has several good pieces playing through the loop that shows off the characters, the world, and some of the magic. It has a nice bit of intensity to it with what it wants to do to set the tone and ease you into the show itself. The logo takes a largely center placement to it where it dominates but it fits well with the material being looped. The navigation covers the bottom segment of the screen where it has a kind of leathery approach with a good font for the script that provides us with the standard menu selections. It works smoothly both as the main menu and as the pop-up menu during playback.
Funimation once again has loaded up nicely with the extras here for dub fans as there’s a fun and engaging chat between some of the actors as they talk about their characters. The main one here runs about seventeen minutes and brings in three actors to talk about their being part of the main arc of this set. We also get a new audio commentary with the cast and this volume brings in the clean openings and closings that are relevant to these episodes. The inside the episode pieces are cute as well, clocking in at about three or four minutes and highlighting a few episodes at a time with some colorful commentary.
The Black Clover series really did surprise during its broadcast run that at the end of its four-cour run that it was getting another four-cour run. That the show is running past that as well is a real rarity as few series make it past a single cour in general and certainly those in the last decade that go above a hundred episodes are few and far between. The series is definitely popular, the manga is making out well by the popularity, and the goods are moving. The only thing it’s really lacking are feature films but I suspect we’ll see those eventually. With this set, the show brings out twelve episodes taking us from episode 52 through 63, which aired just about a year ago in Japan. As I expected from the rollover to a new season, there are a couple of big moments within context but a lot of what we get is just moving forward after it deals with the initial holdover material.
Rounding out the events of the previous arc at the start here is a bit awkward since it’s been several months since the last set and I’ll admit to not remembering it all that well in the time since. Still, it’s good to see solid action playing out and there’s a lot to like with Vangeance’s abilities and how he operates. Yuno gets some solid time in as well, showing some superior abilities in his fight against Ragus but in the end everyone gets their good bit of quality time as it things wrap up over the first couple of episodes. The epilogue aspect of it is where I found it to be more interesting as we get a little bit of background here and there but also learn that the whole event is being seen as a feint by the Diamond Kingdom in order to get on the territory and search for something. As I’ve said before, I’m not too trusting when it comes to the Wizard King but he generally does make sense.
With this initial event out of the way, one of the things that the group has to deal with – amid having a spot of fun here and there – is getting Asta healed. With his arms pretty much not in top condition anymore after what happened, Yami is intent on getting him back up to proper condition but it’s not going to be easy. I like this as a subplot as it runs for a little bit and puts Asta in a position where he can’t be as brash and reckless as he usually is, or at least that’s the hope. He’s still got that spirit that will carry him forward but I liked having Yami watching over him and getting some time with a new addition in the form of Fanzell, a solid swordsman. Fanzell’s got his own past, which is dealt with easily enough, and his ties to the Diamond Kingdom adds a little complication to things. The grizzled and worn warrior that teaches the youngster things is always enjoyable and unfolds well here for both their advantages amid the stories that we get from Fanzell.
Like past sets, there’s a good story arc that comes into play as the set moves forward and I like that it focuses a decent bit around Fanzell as he has just enough personality to present something a little different. And with the slight grizzle to his personality it’s a nice contrast with Asta and Yami since it’s not the usual elder members of the Bulls that are giving him grief. The dynamic is different and with Fanzell having lived some real life experiences that factor into how he handles things here, it definitely connects well for viewers. Balancing that with the story of Fana and Mars along the way, it has all the right makings of a happy fairy tale piece that will be told as time goes on.
I continue to enjoy Black Clover but recognize that it is, to some degree, a superficial enjoyment. The characters have not really become meaningful to me but I enjoy the adventures and the fun of it all, especially as it is a show that has managed to make it as far as it has and given me more time with them than most shows do. This set moves us into the second season and keeps on doing much the same thing but it has a lot of fun in doing it without, in my opinion, overstaying its welcome with the arcs. It’s avoiding some but not all of the traps of the weekly shonen jump style and that’s keeping it a few notches above the rest. This set gets us moving with twelve more episodes of fun, a great looking encode, and a solid dub with a cast that’s having a blast. Fans will be pleased.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Black Clover: Fan Questions Answered by Cris and Dallas, Inside the Episode, Episode 56 Commentary, Episode 62 Commentary, Clover Clips Special Edition, Textless Songs
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: October 1st, 2019
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.