Black Clover: Sword of the Wizard King was released on Netflix today, after what was undeniably the best marketing campaign the Black Clover franchise has ever received. The hype surrounding the movie led to it trending on Twitter and a month’s worth of illustrations and trailers leading up to its release. After being two years removed from the (hopefully temporary) ending of the anime series and a delayed release for the movie, Black Clover: Sword of the Wizard King recaptured everything we love about the series backed by stunning high-quality animation.
(WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD)
If there was a fanbase that was laying in wait for the day their favorite series received the stunning animation it so rightfully deserved, it’s Black Clover fans. For years, the anime series ran into unprecedented production issues that series and movie Director Ayataka Tanemura described as less than favorable. But after two years worth of work, the production staff can finally see the fruits of their labor with positive reactions from everyone that has been lucky enough to witness it so far. This movie wasn’t set out to be a defining work of storytelling. On the contrary, Black Clover: Sword of the Wizard King was a heavily focused action-packed battle shonen film from beginning to end that leaves its viewers in awe.
In a sea of action-packed shonen movies that have been released over the past few years including big names such as Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, Jujutsu Kaisen 0, and My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission, Black Clover: Sword of the Wizard King solidified itself in the top percentage of its genre putting the Black Clover anime back on the map after all this time. In the moment of being engulfed in my own goosebumps the moment I hear the original theme song of “Harukamirai” start playing at the end, I catch myself almost shedding a tear to myself as I think, “Black Clover is finally back and damn it feels good!”
While it’s upsetting to know that Black Clover: Sword of the Wizard King didn’t receive an international theatrical release, the feeling of inner happiness couldn’t be greater knowing the movie turned out the way it did in the first place. So let’s get into the nitty gritty of Black Clover: Sword of the Wizard King and what made this movie one of the best in recent anime history along with its flaws.
Black Clover: Sword of the Wizard King – Biggest Strength
Maybe a lot of anime fans wouldn’t expect to hear this about a Black Clover-related project, but the overwhelming number one positive for the movie was its high-quality animation and composition, more importantly its consistency. From opening up with the fight against Conrad in the past with younger versions of the current captains, along with King Julius, all the way to the final fight between Asta and Conrad in the film’s present time, every single fight in the movie is wonderfully choreographed and animated.
Many of the fights give us that glorious nostalgia with certain characters that touched my inner Black Clover fanatic. Whether it was Noelle using her original Valkyrie form or Mereoleona simply throwing hands as she did in her fight against the elves, every single fight gives the viewer a little tribute from the television anime series. Not to mention the new ways each of our favorite characters’ magic was used, especially Yami using his dark dimension slash fused with Fuegoleon’s fire magic and Nozel’s mercury magic which is a sight to behold.
The way the final battles were set up was also as on-point as it could get. Leaving Asta and Mereoleona as the soul fighters each facing a respective former Wizard King proved once again the two are on their own levels of battle prowess. There was no shortage of jaw-dropping moments during the battles that took place during the movie and it’s undeniable that each fans’ favorite battle that takes place will vary from person to person. In short, Black Clover: Sword of the Wizard King is a battle-action movie that gives fans spectacular displays of battle animation and camera work.
Conrad – Black Clover’s Next Great Villain
One thing Black Clover isn’t short of is amazing villains. Whether it’s Patry, one of the Dark Triad members, or one of the many more introduced for those who are reading the manga, Conrad adds to that growing list of series creator Yuuki Tabata’s genius work with villains. A former Wizard King with the same mantra as Asta about never giving up being their magic was brilliant. Furthermore, involving previous Wizard Kings in his plan made for a unique villain — one who was supposed to be a defender of the Clover Kingdom ended up becoming one of its greatest threats.
Having a Wizard King as an opponent also gives way to incredible magic. Even after all of this time and all the new characters introduced, Tabata still manages to wow fans with new types of magic and their abilities. Conrad’s key magic is one of the most unique forms of magic in the series and arguably the most broken next to Wizard King Julius’ time magic. Not only is Conrad’s magic used simply in the heat of battle, but his magic alone furthers the plot and even character development for some. And I think that’s where his magic really gives the way to a more diverse movie.
Stealing practically all of Noelle’s magic and rendering her useless to only have her come back as strong as ever at the very last second thanks to Asta is one of the shining moments of not just the movie, but the series entirely. And none of that could’ve happened had Conrad possessed any other type of magic. His ability to combine different elemental magic while simultaneously gaining an unlimited supply of mana and stealing magic abilities made him an unbeatable opponent for all but two characters in the movie. While it is predictable who Conrad will be facing in the end, it didn’t take away from how incredible the final battle is due to the fact it still has the element of surprise.
That all being said, the film undoubtedly has its drawbacks and those shouldn’t be glossed over as well. A core problem with a movie involving all of the characters from the series means that some are going to receive less screen time than others and won’t play a significant role in the events that take place. So let’s dive into the film’s two weak spots — side character impact and story development.
Black Clover: Sword of the Wizard King – Two Weak Spots
The first weak spot is undeniably the side characters’ impact. One thing that Black Clover arguably does better than any other series out right now is its development and spotlighting of its side characters, especially female characters. While we see all of the Black Bulls in the movie and all of the Magic Knight Captains, most of their impact is minimal at best. Introducing characters like Dorothy, Rill, and Kaiser at the beginning to end up having them make almost no impact whatsoever was at the very least a bummer.
But when we take a look at side characters among the Black Bulls like Vanessa and Luck, who have arguably the most overpowered magic among their entire group, only have little moments in their fight against Wizard King Edward makes it feel like their only purpose was to stall time until Noelle takes over. Grey had almost no impact at all. And Henry made an F-22 fighter jet out of the Black Bulls’ hideout. It just felt like the movie either should’ve not had them at all or at least give one or two of them a more impactful moment in the heat of battle.
I understand that they were there simply to provide support and that everyone’s contributed effort was key in beating all of the former Wizard Kings. Charmy just being there for making food for everyone was, in one way, a good counter to Conrad’s unlimited supply of magic. But on the other hand, Charmy has proven to be a capable fighter in the past. So having her in combat would’ve been nice rather than her few moments of comedic relief. Mimosa is known throughout the series as a healer, yet we don’t see her magic used at all either.
While I appreciate all these little moments, like Magna and Gordon having a side-by-side attack against Edward, they stack up on screen time. Some of which I feel could’ve been amplified the movie or taken away from in order to give more backstory on each of the newly introduced Wizard Kings. However, being the series’ very first movie with a lot of hype surrounding it, I understand why everyone was involved in the movie in some way, no matter how minimal it was.
That being said, detracting the backstories from the previous Wizard Kings besides very brief flashbacks is a major blow to the story development of the movie. It’s difficult in a way to take a villain seriously if we don’t know what they’re about. Conrad’s story is done with justice in this movie. However, the others’ backstories fell mightily short and that was the movie’s biggest drawback — story development.
By the time it was over, it felt like it was another “job well done” with a copious amount of hype behind it. But the substance in facing the Wizard Kings left some room to be desired and this led to above-average story development. Jester took on the most powerful Magic Knight Captains and Yuno. Yet, we never fully understood his story nor Edward’s or Princia’s. We understood after Princia’s fight against Mereoleona that she battled with loneliness, but that was about it. I think if the movie gave proper backstory on all of the former Wizard Kings, these fights would’ve held that much more meaning rather than clinging to “the fate of the world is at stake” and it would’ve elevated this movie to much greater heights (acting as though the movie isn’t there in the first place).
That all being said, Black Clover: Sword of the Wizard King is one of the best anime movies to release in recent history in terms of both animation production and overall hype. The best thing about this movie is that there isn’t a single dull moment in its almost two-hour runtime. While there may be plot holes in the overall story that takes away from some of the impact the movie could’ve delivered, it still ended up becoming a die-hard Black Clover fan’s greatest dream.
With the use of manga art-style animation sequences for Asta and Yuno at times giving praise to the original moments in the anime series, and a speech from Asta that would make anyone feel like they can take on an entire kingdom by their lonesome, Black Clover: Sword of the Wizard King is a movie that lived up to all the hype and surpassed its limits, becoming a must-watch for every anime fan across the world.
Screenshots via Netflix
© Yuki Tabata/Shueisha, TV Tokyo, Black Clover Production Committee