Black Clover: Sword of the Wizard King

Black Clover: Sword of the Wizard King

I should be clear about this upfront: I am not a hardcore Black Clover fan. So while I know the basics of the setting, the main characters, and what drives them, that’s the extent of my knowledge. That said, this film is an enjoyable watch regardless for one reason: its villain.

Original films of long-running anime series (i.e., movies not adapting the source material) tend to feature forgettable villains. The villains in these films tend to come out of left field and be completely unrelated to the main plot of the story, although they usually make a strong or threatening impression during their brief stint antagonizing the characters. However, Black Clover: Sword of the Wizard King does a great job of avoiding this trap by using its villain to expand the series’ lore and world—and, even more importantly, explore the series’ main character.

Simply put, the film’s main antagonist, Conrad Leto, mirrors the dark potential within Asta. While they differ greatly in terms of magical abilities—Conrad possesses the ability to wield any magic while Asta lacks any magical power—their ultimate driving goal remains the same. Both have witnessed the injustice inherent in the kingdom’s class system and aim to create a world where equality, regardless of birth, wealth, or magical aptitude, reigns. This is the very reason why Asta aspires to become the next Wizard King.

The intriguing twist lies in the fact that even with his overwhelming magical prowess—especially after ascending to the position of Wizard King—Conrad could not bring about meaningful change in the kingdom. And he is not alone in this endeavor. The other three resurrected Wizard Kings—Princia, Jester, and Edward—all attempted to reform the system but were met with failure. Consequently, they believe the only remaining hope lies in wiping the slate clean and starting anew—eliminating everyone in the kingdom and resurrecting only those who conform to the new world order.

These four Wizard Kings are living proof that Asta’s dream is doomed to fail, yet he refuses to give up. Their initial failures have left them jaded—resorting to the most extreme possible option to gain the equality they seek. Asta, however, still believes in the best in people and thinks he can truly change the kingdom through his friends and adventures. In other words, this film is really about the cynicism of adults versus the optimism of children.

The interactions between Asta and Conrad are exceptionally well done, as the similarities between the two are not lost on them. Conrad wants nothing more than for Asta to join his side. Because by doing so, it’d be like convincing his younger self that he is in the right—even though he knows his younger self would oppose him just as Asta is. It’s a solid conflict and gives the film some serious emotional weight. Conrad and his companions aren’t some “evil for the sake of evil” villains. They’re just disillusioned people who want the world to be better, no matter the cost.

Outside of the main themes and conflict, the film is weaker. None of the other (dozens upon dozens of) characters get anything beyond the most trivial of arcs, and most are just relegated to a line or two in battle—and let me tell you, there are a lot of those.

Simply put, the vast majority of this film consists of fight scenes. The film’s entire second half is a single, ongoing fight across several battlefields. While Asta facing off with Conrad is exciting and thematically important (and filled with vital dialogue), the additional battles feel like they are just there to give the other characters something to do.

That said, it’s not like the fights aren’t visually interesting. The characters tend to use their powers creatively, both alone and in groups, and the animation is well up to the task of keeping things fast-paced and dynamic yet easy to follow. It’s the kind of step-up in quality you’d expect when going from a weekly animated show to a feature film. As for the music, I am hard-pressed to remember any particular track from the film. However, the action scenes were tense, and the pivotal character scenes were emotional—so the music was doing its job well.

Black Clover: Sword of the Wizard King is an enjoyable anime action film. Even if you know next to nothing about Black Clover, the film’s central theme—cynicism versus optimism—is well explored in the interactions between the heroes and villains. That said, the fights can drag on at times as every character gets their moment in the spotlight, and there isn’t much character development for anyone outside of Asta and Conrad. Still, I have no doubt fans of the series will enjoy this film greatly. If you’re on the fence about Black Clover or are just looking for a reason to get back into it, try this film. It might turn out to be exactly what you’re looking for.

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