by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 110 of
Black Clover ?
How would you rate episode 111 of
Black Clover ?
How would you rate episode 112 of
Black Clover ?
How would you rate episode 113 of
Black Clover ?
How would you rate episode 114 of
Black Clover ?
How would you rate episode 115 of
Black Clover ?
How would you rate episode 116 of
Black Clover ?
I have been doing reviews for Funimation's physical releases of the older episodes, so I have been asked to replace Sam Leach on the streaming reviews. Since Sam's last review was for episode 109, this will cover episodes 110-116.
Episodes 110-112: Episode 110 shows the Apostles of Sephira gathering for whatever purpose they came to the capital for and most of the rest of the Black Bulls finally arriving on the scene in their transformed hideout, but before the assembled forces can thwart the Apostles' plan to enter the Shadow Palace, two big elf-possessed threats must be dealt with. One is Dorothy (aka the elf Reve), who draws several into the Dreamworld where she is nearly omnipotent. The other is Gauche (aka the Elf Droit) and his sister Marie (the elf Ecra), who battles most of the remainder with mirror magic while Yami and Jack go on ahead into the Shadow Palace. These concurrent battles take up the remainder of episode 110 and all of episodes 111 and 112.
Although this is the first time that viewers have truly seen what the always-sleeping Dorothy can do, and seeing Sally actually contribute positively with her observation skills and strategic sense is a welcome change, both of these confrontations are pretty much run-of-the-mill shonen action extravaganzas. They don't offer much for character/background development or personal drama, either. They are the appetizers which are just stalling for time until the main course is ready, aside from the revelation that Vetto and Fana are back in new bodies.
Episodes 113-114: With these two episodes the action shifts towards the Shadow Palace, though not immediately. It features the return to action of Mereoleona and, more significantly, the triumphant return of Fuegoleon to action for the first time since episode 25 – and this time he's got Salamander with him. Before they enter, Solid is also shown finally acknowledging Noelle and her merits for the first time, which was a minor feel-good moment. After that, several of the Magic Knights head through the portal into the Shadow Palace, though not before passing through a gate which looks suspiciously like an ova being fertilized by sperm. They are flung across the Kabbalah-shaped Shadow Palace into yet another series of individual battles, with Asta ending up with Mimosa. Meanwhile, on the outside, Yuno has arrived with a massive wave of reinforcements before getting into the Shadow Palace himself with Charmy in tow.
Between these two episodes, the story looks like it's just going to be more of the same that viewers have been seeing over the last dozen or two episodes, with occasional flashbacks about the participants; in this case, about Fuegoleon and Mereoleona when they were kids. (As fleshing out of characters and relationships go, this is diet food.) However, this gets spiced up in episode 14 when the big revelations start. Among the first: dwarves also once existed in this setting, and Charmy is a human/dwarf hybrid, which explains her normally-small size. Further, her big sheep instead appears as a wolf when her second magic trait takes over. This has a lot of potential cool factor to explore, but later events wash it so far into the background that it could easily be forgotten.
Those events starts with the revelation that Yuno's locket is the final magical stone, but before the implications about how the stone ended up with baby Yuno can sink in, the much bigger twist hits: one of the elves isn't who he appears to be, and nearly kills Raia for calling him out on lying about being true to the elves' goals before anyone realizes what's happened. It's a massive cliffhanger to end an episode on, since the elves to that point has shown little to no deviation in purpose or spirit, and the first signal that the story is about to hit its biggest paradigm shift since the elven reincarnation. And that mouth that Ronne displays, it looks an awful lot like the demonic figure seen in the most recent opener. So that wasn't somehow part of Asta's demon nature after all?
Episode 115: This is the first of two big ones, easily the most important episode since the reincarnation in episode 96 and one of the most important of the entire series to date. I had long suspected that there was another force in play manipulating the elves into believing that they had been betrayed by the humans, and the episode titled “Mastermind” is where the truth of that matter finally comes out. The culprit, a true demon, finally reveals that all of this was a scheme to ultimately get his true body back for the first time in many centuries as well as a special five-leaf grimoire, and that Patry has been played the whole time. As overly elaborate as the scheme seems, this is a situation akin to what Naraku was doing with the Jewel of Four Souls in InuYasha: a four-leaf grimoire has to be fully corrupted by despair to created a five-leaf one where a demon resides, and this time Patry was the fall guy. That of course raises the question about where Asta's comes from, but this isn't the time to contemplate that. Dark elves – elves who have fully descended into despair – also exist in this setting, and the demon manipulates Patry into becoming one, hence setting up another formidable fight for Asta and Yuno.
The streaming of this episode excited me more than the series has in a long time, even over Noelle manifesting her version of her mother's Valkyrie Armor a few episodes back. Too often in anime, demons look just like random monsters, but this one fully captures the otherworldly feel that they should have, whether it's that emo-look-from-Hell face, the elongated limbs, or the coruscating black energy. Kudos to Showtaro Morikubo (the Japanese voice of Orphen) on the delightfully devilish vocal performance; whoever gets called on to voice that character in English has their work cut out for them. Its Word Soul magic is also suitably intimidating. Its admission that it – not Licht – reincarnated the elves explains a lot of things, including the nasty component to the Evil Eyes, and its comments about which of its compatriots are in Asta are also interesting.
The combination attack that Asta and Yuno make on the demon and their battle against Dark Elf Patry provide tastes of the series' top-level action work but aren't quite full-blown visual explosions. More importantly, this doesn't feel like one of the tedious battles that have occasionally bogged down the series. Oh, and let's not forget the revelation that the elf inside of Yuno is actually Licht's unborn child with the human princess. (At least, I don't think that's been revealed before in the anime?) A story arc that has spanned 80+ episodes is now coming to a peak, and that makes this the best time to be a Black Clover fan.
Episode 116: This episode debuts the newest and most updated opener and closer, which feature a new character who won't appear (at least looking like that, anyway) until next episode. Despite that, this episode is a letdown after the epic game-changer that episode 115 was. About half of the episode gets chewed up by stopping and changing back Dark Elf Patry, with the help of the newly- arrived Nozel, who apparently matches up better against light magic than anyone else. This is all pretty standard shonen fare. The rest explains where the demon got off to and shows his brief battle first with the not-quite-awakened Licht and then later with the team-up of Yami and the elf-possessed Charlotte.
The fight scenes in the beginning show some spark, including the revelation of Nozel's ultimate spell (which isn't all that impressive even though it did work). However, the later fight scenes are merely average by series standard. In fact, for most of the episode the only interesting development is one peculiar comment by the demon to Licht: something about him having expended a lot of energy “spawning a demon.” It's easy to miss that, but that is going to have huge meaning very shortly. For all its lackluster aspects otherwise, however, the episode does end on one jaw-dropping revelation, which comes in a rarely-used epilogue which flashes over to where Finral has been recuperating. The bird Nero has been around practically since the beginning of the series, but while it's always had a personality and seems smarter than normal, it has never shown signs of being anything beyond just a bird. And yet now, finally, Nero talks! So what's up with that? We'll find out next episode, which I will cover separately because of the monumental events it entails.
Black Clover is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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