With this post, the middle of the season is marked, and there are many things to discuss in the week of anime. The fate of many shows, at least in how good or bad they will end up being, can often be known by the third episode. Sometimes, however, it takes at least half the season to determine if a show is really worth watching. having already dropped one show from the list due to it being horribly boring and accomplishing nothing. Will the rest of the shows manage to continue to be at the very least watchable? The remaining shows are The Ancient Magus’ Bride, Dies Irae and Black Clover. Black Clover had a very rough start but has since managed to at least become enjoyable to watch as it slips into the regular shonen path. Dies Irae has not really done much of anything, but it has interesting characters even if the story is basically nonexistent at this point. The Ancient Magus’ Bride is the only show that has managed to be interesting from the start and remains so week to week. With the midway point upon the season, the chance for all three to shine has come.
Dies Irae Episodes 4 and 5
Episode four starts out with much of the same, at least at first. There is some drama between Ren and his classmates, nothing that matters all that much, and then he is approached by one of the people that have been harassing him this whole time, one of the two girls that joined his school. For the first time, the show actually spends some time explaining things, breaking down some of who the villains are and what their purpose is, as well as Ren’s new power scheme. As it turns out, the villains just so happen to call themselves the Knights of the “black round table” and that he has been chosen to help them. She explains how they each have a power, and the stages of power, and a little bit on how to unlock the power. The basic description is that with each person he kills, he gains the power of their soul, and so the reason he got destroyed so badly against the last guy that he fought was that the man had already absorbed several thousands of souls over the years. It would seem that the knights have something of an unfair advantage, having been at the soul gathering since World War II, but regardless Ren must work to become powerful if he wishes to stop these people, even though him becoming powerful is what they want for some reason. It is still confusing all around, and there is still much that needs to be explained, but it does at least feel like the show has left the “prologue” stage and is ready to explore the things that are actually happening. After the explanation of power, Kasumi is looking all around the school for Ren, and when Ren is finally found he says that he is dating one of the Nazi girls, the one that was explaining his power. This obviously destroys her world for a moment as she walks off but Ren is clearly trying to protect her. Either that, or he is still scared of the fact that she murdered so many people to power up his weapon for him. Shortly after in an obvious turn of events, Ren gets a phone call from one of the Knights claiming to have captured Kasumi. Ren rushes to her aid without thinking and is caught in a magic Nazi spider-web, while the man taunts him and says he plans to test him. The first stage of the test is cutting a red-headed woman whose body resembles Kasumi into several little pieces, which sends Ren into a fury and somehow manages to unlock his second stage of power, something the Nazi girl had said would take lots more souls to do. With his newfound power, Ren decapitates the man easily (after the priest, who is watching the whole thing from a rooftop far off, stops the actual Kasumi from being attacked) and Ren finds Kasumi is still alive and well and once again invading his room.
Episode five opens up with the backstory of the blonde girl that has been showing up since the first episode, who looks to have a scar on her neck as if she had also been beheaded. It appears that she was born under the guillotine, while everyone was singing a song to the executioner as he beheaded someone. As a result of this, she was apparently created as some sort of magical being instead of a regular child, and her first words were the song to the guillotine. Due to the circumstances of her birth, anyone who touches her is immediately decapitated, their head rolling off and falling away like the cork to a champagne bottle. The real episode opens with Ren waking up in bed after his long night of ordeals to find this murderous blonde bombshell in his bed, naked and putting the moves on him, as she is relieved to finally be able to touch someone without their head exploding off of their body. Kasumi breaks through the hole in their room and discovers them like this, freaking out and assuming that they did bad things, of course. She goes to her room and finds a cosplay outfit for the girl to wear. After a series of misunderstandings, Kasumi dresses her up and is determined to help her out, and they set off for a day on the town exploring the sights. after the long day, the boy that Ren fought within the first episode sends one of his lackeys to contact Ren. Apparently, he has been hanging out at a dance club since they fought, and now he wants to work together with him. Ren does not want him to die facing the monsters he has been facing the whole time and so refuses.
Black Clover Episodes 5 and 6
The fifth episode opens with an extended section that sort of recaps the moments leading into the end of the fourth episode. Once again it shows Asta failing everything and being challenged by the man who pretended to be his helper the whole time, only to have him turn on him at the last second. Asta was already shown to have destroyed his opponent in a small handful of seconds once he was finally allowed to use his grimoire, proving to everyone there that even without any inborn magical potential, his grimoire gives him some significant power. That, paired with his own physical strength from years of training with his bare hands since he had no magic to use, has given him incredible strength and speed, to the point where everyone present believes he must be buffing his physical attributes with magic. Everyone except for the leader of the Black Bulls, one of the knight groups, who can tell his strength is all his own. Yuno has his fight next, and he too destroys his opponent easily, though it is more impressive when he does so because his opponent is the son of royalty. Afterwards, everyone is told to come forward one by one and if a captain is interested in them he will raise his hand. One after another, people are turned away slowly, building up the pressure as Asta and Yuno wait to be chosen. Yuno is chosen first, and to the surprise of everyone there, every single captain raises their hand for him. Wanting the fastest possible path to becoming wizard king, Yuno chooses the Golden Dawn, as they are considered the best of the best. When Asta is called, not a single captain raises his hand, but Asta does not walk away, not wanting to leave until someone chooses him. Tha captain of the BLack Bulls jumps down, asking what he could possibly accomplish in a world where your own magical power is all that matters, to which Asta replies that even without magical power he will one day be wizard king. Liking this answer, the captain offers for him to join, and tells him that he will make his life hell, but he will help him become wizard king. The tournament structure of this current part of the anime is familiar to anyone who has ever watched a shonen, but it still manages to be interesting and worth watching, introducing all the different groups of knights and a handful of young newcomers as well.
Episode six shows Yuno and Asta arriving at their respective home bases, each seeming quite different. Asta is greeted with explosions and the declaration from Captain Yami himself that the Black Bulls are the worst of the magic knights. Yuno meanwhile is greeted with a cold shoulder from one of the other members, saying that he should not belong there. The explosion that greets Asta happens to be an argument between a few of the other members of the Black Bulls, one using a flaming bat and balls as his weapon, the other with lightning feet and flight. Asta declares his name loudly after the introductions of each member of the crew. He also declares that he will be the wizard king, and after is put to the test by one of the embers of the black bulls, the delinquent who uses the bat. He is given several intense physical trials, but since he is all brawn and no brain, he passes them easily. Finally, the delinquent gives him one more trial, throwing his best attacks at Asta and telling him to either dodge or block all of them. Asta manages to dodge almost all of the attacks until the final, an exploding fireball moving so fast he can hardly see it. Asta learns from this attack that his sword can not only cut through magic but can also deflect it with the flat of the blade. After the test is finished, everyone congratulates him and he finally receives his cloak that shows his colors as a member of the Black Bulls. The episode as a whole was pretty good. Asta is back to screaming all the time but this time even the captain acknowledges it and tells him off, telling him he is too loud. It is nice to know the show acknowledges the character’s flaw, but also kind of annoying that they continue to include it.
The Ancient Magus’ Bride Episodes 5 and 6
The fifth episode picks up exactly where the fourth left off, with Chise being held at knifepoint by an evil sorcerer. The two tell Chise that because she is a Slay Vega she is doomed to one day be overwhelmed by her own power and die. They try to convince her that Elias is just using her as a curiosity to study the effects of her condition, and will just let her die someday. They offer to free her from him and say she would be better off this way. Chise allows herself to be injured by the knife, catching the sorcerer holding her off guard as she escapes and frees the Ariel that he was holding. Right around this time, Ainsworth arrives in a storm of thorns, surrounding Chise and the Ariel and protecting them. after she was set free they suddenly remember that they were supposed to be destroying the corrupted spirit in the area, and Chise returns to doing so as if nothing had happened. Touching the corrupted spirit sends Chise, the king of cats and the Ariel into the memories of the spirit, and shows that he approached a sorcerer to try and save his wife’s life since she was always frail and sick. The sorcerer tells the husband that her wife will remain sick, but is clearly trying to trick the man somehow. Once the man says he will do anything to save her, the sorcerer tells him of the legend of cats having nine lives. His wife loves cats, so this comes as good news to the man. Suddenly the village has a huge rat problem, but his wife seems to be getting better, able to walk around and see people just fine. To the surprise of no one, Mina comes upon her husband in a shack full of imprisoned cats, killing them and using their blood to make a potion that will make her well. The sorcerer arrives as if from magic, and the two force the wife to take the drug that is supposed to make her better. Instead, her body disintegrates into a pile of black goo. As it turns out, the sorcerer was just using the man to test his theories on condensing souls for power. The sorcerer thanks the man for helping with his research and then goes on his merry way. Having gone insane, the man is convinced that the reason it failed is that there weren’t enough cat souls, and sets off to get more. Unfortunately for him, the cats have finally had enough, and they come together to tear him to pieces. After living through the memories, Chise meets the wife and says she will help, sending her spirit and her husband’s to where they need to go to pass on. Much like the rest of the show so far, this episode is very dark, but also beautiful in its own way. The story of the cats and their murderer is terrible, but the resolution is a good one in the end. The rest of the show feels like this, and it is great to feel it every episode.
Episode six opens with the end of five, showing the conversation that Elias had with the sorcerers while Chise was in a memory. The cat queen had planned to die so she could show the spirits the way home, and Chise managed to do so without the sacrifice, so they all made it back safely. Renfred, the sorcerer who tried to stop Chise, comments that Ainsworth is not human, and will not ever be, wondering if he even cares whether or not Chise succeeds or is killed by the spirit. Ainsworth says that he does care. Once free, Ainsworth carries Chise to safety, and she asks him if he did pick her just to study her death. Ainsworth tells her that, while he can understand a lot of human emotions and reactions, he cannot empathize with them or make them his own. He purchased Chise to use her to better understand humans and hopefully gain some empathy, and because she had no one and nothing and so would have no trouble leaving with him. Chise is surprisingly okay with this revelation and even seems pleased with his naive nature. Afterwards, the show cuts to two weeks later with Chise still asleep. Simon the priest comes to check on her and Ainsworth and reveals that he was assigned to watch Ainsworth and has been doing so for ten years. After a short conversation, the queen of faeries appears with an entourage of faerie creatures, coming to see Ainsworth and his new bride to be. Upon seeing the priest, she tells him that those who declare the fruit of the tree of knowledge evil are not welcome and sends him away. This episode is more of an in-between it seems, mostly focusing on Chise being asleep and then meeting the queen and king of the fae. It is cool to see more of the faerie world, and as always the animation and music are gorgeous in this episode, making it outshine everything else in the week. With that little bit, we have reached the end of the reviews! So far it seems that The Ancient Magus’ Bride is still the number one show of the season, but the other two are doing their best to be interesting. Black Clover has a somewhat generic story, and the main character is still annoying, but all in all, it is enjoyable to watch. Dies Irae has finally started to explain some things and has tried to include more action, both of which are good things, but it almost feels like too little too late in making this a great show instead of just a decent one. How do the rest of the viewers feel? Leave a comment below and let this writer know! Until next week, thank you for reading and keep on watching.