Hello again, dear readers. There was a brief delay in posts due to a convention and then illness, but now we are attempting to get back on track. As such, this and last week’s post are going to be combined into this one. For the first week, many of the shows did not start particularly strong, but there is no point in judging a series with only one episode, so this week should hopefully give more insight into just what is to be expected from the season to come. To review, the series that have been carefully selected for review are The Ancient Magus Bride, Black Clover, Dies Irae and Sengoku Night Blood. All four of these series have a supernatural feel to them, though beyond there is little that they share. Black Clover so far feels as if it will be a very generic shonen series, but the concept behind it all seems interesting so hopefully, it finds a way to shine in a sea of mediocrity. The Ancient Magus Bride seems to be something of a magical slice of life series, with intriguing characters and a very interesting premise so far. The biggest hope is that there is not too much focus on the heartache in the past and more focus on the journey towards a better future. Dies Irae looks to be a violent series with some focus on immortality, but it is really hard to say with just the episode 0 seen so far. Hardly any actual information was given, but visually it was very nice. One hopes there is some direction and information given soon. Lastly, Sengoku Night Blood is an otome series, which means it is all about a bunch of vampire guys throwing themselves at one woman. With the advent of time travel and the setting during the Sengoku era, hopefully there is something to enjoy for people who hate otome and harem series, otherwise, it is going to be a long season. Now that there has been a little recap it is time to jump into the reviews.
The Ancient Magus’ Bride Episodes 2 and 3
Episode two opens with Elias taking Chise to meet some of his friends, all of which are unique in their own way. First is Angie, another mage who also doubles as an inventor. Their meeting is amusing, as she is curious what nefarious means Elias used to acquire Chise, to which Elias assures her that he paid for her fair and square with his own money. Despite this answer, Angie decides to show Chise a little bit about magic and allow her to try and cast her own for the first time. Chise loses control and overdoes it, getting overwhelmed by her memories which leads her magic to bubble over. Elias reveals that this is because she is a Sleigh Beggy, an exceptionally rare magical person, whose magic could overpower her someday without the proper training. Shortly after this meeting, another acquaintance of Elias makes himself known, a priest named Simon. The two do not exactly seem close, with Elias giving the priest a lot of insults and the priest seems mostly just to be asking Elias for a favor. Elias agrees, and he and Chise set off for the land of dragons, Iceland. While Elias is showing Chise around, she is suddenly swept into the mouth of a dragon and flown off away from Elias, and that is the end of Chise’s miserable existence. Actually, it is just the end of the episode as we are shown that a man is riding the dragon and takin her deeper into the land of Dragons.
Episode three centers around this man named Lindel, who is actually another friend of Elias. Elias had been sent to see why the dragons had been more on the move lately than they normally were and it turns out he had actually been meaning to meet with Lindel to discuss this, as Lindel is actually the man who watches over the dragons. While he looks quite young, apparently he is even more ancient than Elias. While Elias and Lindel wander off to discuss the problems with dragon migration, Chise is left with a group of baby dragons and a very old dragon named Nevin. Nevin is on his last days and is quickly approaching the end, and the dragons all discuss how when they die they become part of the earth and sprout as trees, returning to the earth they once flew over. Dragons do not fear death, Nevin explains to Chise, who has had many experiences with death in her own life considering her mother’s suicide and other deaths only hinted at so far in the story. The dragon can see into her mind and sees that Chise had once attempted to jump to her own death as well, much like her mother, and scolds her since she has no wings that would have carried her into the sky. Nevin says that he is no longer strong enough to fly, but wishes to show Chise the sky in his mind, and the two share what will be his last dream, allowing Chise to see what it was like for him when he could soar through the skies. This whole scene is beautiful, and extremely touching to witness as Chise is shown another perspective on death rather than it just being a terrible end we all must come to eventually. After the dream is finished, Nevin begins to sprout into a tree. As he does so he tells Chise not to be sad, and to use one of his branches when she is ready to make her own wand, which Elias agrees is what they must do. Chise is blown away by the experience, confused as to why a stranger would give her such an act of kindness even though he was almost done living his life, and the episode ends with her collapsing. So far this series has been quite enjoyable, each episode offering emotional scenes as well as humorous ones, all tying together nicely to tell the story of Chise and her new life.
Sengoku Night Blood Episodes 2 and 3
This series is… hard to follow, to say the least. Every episode introduces several characters that get only a few seconds of screentime each for the most part while following a select few central characters on their journeys to do… something while trying to also find love… or something. The first episode was your general context dump, trying to explain the setting as best as it could while also introducing about a hundred characters whose names are not important beyond the main couple, but even that did not do a good job of clarifying exactly what was happening. The second episode is not much better, beginning where the first left off with Nobunaga attacking the main vampire clan, but not actually chasing them down for some reason even though it would appear he has the advantage and instead telling them to attack him if they really think they can take him down. This leads to a scene where the main leader of the clan decides he will wed the girl from the future, who is not so keen to marry someone she just met. Instead, she takes the opportunity to spend the episode flirting with a few more of the members of the clan, all under the guise of “helping” them with their duties. One is a strategist who sits up all night making battle plans, and she “helps” by falling asleep in his room and distracting him to the point of him getting all blushy and weird. That is pretty much how the whole episode goes until the end, without much actual planning or story given beyond more character names that do not matter.
The Third episode is once again more of the same, with a message coming from the Takeda Army being in their borders and the boys of the main troupe running along to meet with them and see what brought them so close. Upon being introduced to yet another large cast of people that do not matter, it is revealed that the Takeda clan are all “werewolves”, but really they are just boys with dog ears and tails. More eye candy for the ladies, less character development overall as each member of the clan effectively mirrors one of the members of the main clan other than the leader, Takeda, who it seems is suffering from some chronic illness that he is trying to hide. Yet another situation happens that leads to Yuzuki the female lead falling into one of the men’s arms, but in doing so she breaks the medicine meant for Takeda and then helps to recover more. The reason that the clan was present was of course to propose an alliance between them where they could share Yuzuki and her blood between them all. Takeda is the first who could actually benefit from her magic blood, but he refuses to drink it which shows that he has a little more character than the rest who most likely will have all taken a drink of her before the show is done. The episode ends with a small attack that leads them all to run away to protect Yuzuki but there is no real threat as the villains disappear as soon as everyone starts to talk about Takeda’s illness. No alliance happens by the end of the episode but the clans do seem to be amiable enough with each other so maybe they will work together to do nothing in later episodes to come.
Dies Irae Episodes 1 and 2
Having started with an episode 0, there was every opportunity for this series to fall behind, or to slack with its opening. Thankfully, the series starts off rather strong after the episode 0, introducing a few main characters right out of the gate with two boys getting into a fist fight on the roof of the school. Ren and Shirou are fighting for what they both say is no reason other than that Shirou likes to fight and takes it out on him, and the scene ends with them both getting knocked out. After a strange dream, Ren wakes up in his hospital room and walks out of the hospital room, apparently fully recovered. His friend Kasumi chases him down, and she screams after him for leaving the hospital without waiting for her even though she visited him every day. They go home and it is revealed that they live together, with apartments that are connected by a hole that Kasumi put in his wall so she could pop in whenever she wants. Surely this never leads to any embarrassing moments. The next day at school another of Ren’s friends is introduced, an upperclassman named Rea. She discusses the church she lives at with a nun and how there have been murders in the area with no witnesses. During the introductions, Ren has flashbacks to memories of what appears to possibly be Kasumi covered in blood with a knife at a much younger age, but not much is revealed beyond that. After all, this happens and the day seems to be winding down, Ren has a vision of some French girl singing about a guillotine, and then has a dream about himself or someone like him getting beheaded. This is enough to drive anyone mad clearly, but he handles it pretty well regardless. The episode is a little slow, but at least it is finally on track to reveal what the main plot will be one hopes.
The second episode follows a lot of the same plot lines but does not really reveal much still. There is a visit to the church where Rea is with the nun, and along the way, Kasumi and Ren bump into a blonde haired priest who seems to be headed to the same place. He claims to have named Rea and that he has been protecting her all of his life. The way he talks about her toes the line between overly protective father and possible child molester with dark purposes in mind, but the exchange between them all is amusing enough when they finally arrive at the church and Rea tells him to die. After the silly exchange between all of these characters and the nun, Kasumi and Ren head off to go home. While home, Ren has another strange dream and when he wakes, he is in front of a dead body that has been dismembered. He freaks out, which is understandable, and then is approached by the white-haired man and the short redhead girl from the episode 0 as they begin to “test” him. The father from the church had sent them to do so as well as a purpled haired girl who he put in charge of the testing. Every time Ren tries to land a blow on the white-haired guy it appears to break his limbs, and the man hits him with blows that should kill a normal person. The action is decent and easy enough to follow, but not much is really explained as to why any of this is happening. After the brawl, the redhead touches Ren’s forehead and he wakes up back in his bed as if it had all just been a dream. Much to his displeasure, he meets the group once again at his school and they say they are his new classmates. So far this series feels a little confusing, as no real clear story has been put in place as to what the overall goal of the series will be. It is only 3 episodes in including the 0 episode so there is still time for this, but the pace it is revealing things seems a little slow for a series slotted for only 12 episodes. One hopes they kick things into gear with the next episode.
Black Clover Episodes 2 and 3
At the end of the first episode, the boys were being attacked by a man who had been fired from the kingdom’s magic knights who was looking to steal Yuno’s four-leaf clover grimoire. In the ensuing fight, Asta finally receives a grimoire, a black covered five-leaf clover grimoire to be exact. Instead of picking up right from this point, the series decides to spend the majority of this episode going over the past struggles of Yuno and Asta as they were growing up. From the flashbacks, it is clear that Asta was the stronger of the two when they were younger, always full of energy and protecting Yuno from bullies who picked on them for being poor orphans. One day, Yuno is sent off on his own to deliver a message to someone in town. After doing so he is assaulted by a drunk who is looking to score something to sell so he can buy more booze. Seeing the special pendant Yuno was left with as a baby, he attempts to attack the child and take it. Yuno fights back, but is small and weak and cannot do much to get it back. After waiting for a while for him to come back Asta gets impatient and goes off to find Yuno being assaulted. He charges in and also gets quite the beating, but the man finally gives back the pendant in the face of Asta refusing to give up. From here the two boys promise to become the Wizard King to prove that it does not matter what origins a person comes from, anyone can be the best if they try hard enough. From here it cuts back to the present and shows Asta thrash the dude attacking them, while Yuno smiles and looks on happy to see his rival finally showing his true power.
The third episode has both boys training for the knight trials, an event six months away that test new wizards to see if they have what it takes to become knights in service to the current Wizard King. The episode actually opens with a glimpse into the past, as it shows the original Wizard King fighting with a rather large demon. The Wizard King wins easily, summoning a massive sword of light that could be the same design as the one that Asta summons with his grimoire, though Asta’s is black and the King’s is solid gold light. Asta spends his training days swinging his new sword, training his body to handle the massive blade that is larger than he is. Meanwhile, Yuno is training his magic to be stronger, both using similar techniques to train, though Asta is clearly more focused on physical training. It is clear that Asta will the typical “never give up” protagonist to the story, relying on his own stamina and dumb brute strength since his bdy houses no magic. Since he still does not know what power the grimoire has given him beyond just a sword, his focus is all on strengthening his own body and building up his stamina to make use of what he does have rather than trying to figure out what else could be there. In the meantime, the man who gave out the grimoire visits the church to say that he is putting his hopes into both Asta and Yuno to become knights since the other people from this province who could have provided that hope have now given up after getting beaten up by the failed mage knight. The priest says that Yuno will probably make it but that he should not put too much faith into Asta. The boy that always calls Asta a failure confronts him and asks how he can be hopeful, saying that no orphan will ever accomplish anything and Asta screams in his ear that he cannot give up so easily. Finally, the time comes for the boys to set off on their journey, and the young boy tells Asta that if he manages to become a knight then he will believe that anyone can accomplish anything and he will allow himself to have a dream. Even the priest, who constantly doted on Yuno and had seemingly written off Asta, tells him that no matter what he has a home in the orphanage. From here is a montage showing the boys training on their journey to the capital where the tests will be, and the episode ends with the kingdom on the horizon, and the boys preparing for what will likely be a tournament to find the best candidates to become knights. All in all, the episodes have improved a lot from the first. There is still a generic shonen vibe but the biggest issues from the first episode are gone now, namely Asta’s constant shouting has been toned down quite a bit. It will be interesting to see the characters they introduce for the first true arc of the story.
With that, we have reached the end of the rather long recap and review of the past two weeks. More to come in the next week, to be sure, stay tuned and see what happens! For now, how are people enjoying the current anime season so far? Have there been any stand out shows? Feel free to answer questions and make suggestions in the comments. For now, thank you for reading and keep on watching.