by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 118 of
Black Clover ?
For nearly all of its run Black Clover has been one of the most rigidly conformist of all shonen action series in its structure. Once instituted, the episode-ending “Petite Clover” (“Clover Clips” in the English dub) bits have only occasionally been skipped, skipping the recaps or skipping or altering the opening 30 seconds explaining about the Wizard King has been even rarer, and to my knowledge no previous episode has allowed the action to continue through the closing credits. And yet episode 118 does all of those things. That, more than anything, signifies how important the current developments are in the grand scheme of the show.
The first 11 minutes constitute maybe the most important flashback the series has shown: the full truth about what really happened when the mage who would become known as the Wizard King defeated the marauding demon, the true cost of that battle, and how Emo Demon (that's what I will call him going forward since he doesn't seem to have a name) figures into the resurrection of the elves. It's a spectacular battle whose animation stands only a step below the series' top efforts, one laden with irony (the magic item meant to promote equality instead has to be used to help kill his best friend) and consequences, as Lumiere was left gravely wounded and the demon behind it all still lingered. Even if she was empowered by the magic stones, the potency of Secré's sealing magic, as displayed in sealing the demon and transforming Lumiere, is nothing to sneeze at; in terms of the limits of what her magic can accomplish, she' practically on the level of a Squad Captain.
As welcome as getting those details is, the whole scenario left me with a few questions. Since Lumiere disappeared at the same time the statue appeared, why didn't anyone make the connection that the statue was actually him? Or was it a case of people knowing it was him but being unable or unwilling to release the seal? The latter seems unlikely, since one would think that him being revered as the Wizard King would mean that he would have been moved to the castle. Also, why did it take “a few years” for Secré to appear as the bird viewers have long known as Nero; what was her status in those intervening years? And how did she live for 500 years in that state? Also, how did the magic stones get dispersed across the lands, or was it a Dragon Ball-like effect? (That seems to make the most sense, though it wasn't shown happening when the stones were used in other ways.) This also means that Lumiere never actually served officially as Wizard King and was only given the title (from the perspective of others) posthumously.
All those holes aside, Lumiere's return wakes up Licht and they get to fight Emo Demon together in a much shorter battle that's also part-spectacle. That both Asta and Yuno immediately recognize him is also somewhat of an ironic twist; because they're peasants from the boonies, they grew up near his statue, so naturally they would be among the very, very few who probably would on site. (Asta's observations that Secré's personality hasn't changed much from when she was in bird form are also amusing, even if he hasn't fully put the pieces together yet.) Emo Demon's thought that Asta is a nuisance but not a threat “on his own” seems prophetic; I'm guessing that means that a Licht/Lumiere/Yuno team-up with Asta as their finisher is in the works, much like in the battle against Vetto. The only uncertainty is whether or not the others in the Shadow Palace will get involved; at least we see cameos by some of them here.
On the whole, this is another strong episode. I might have rated it even higher if it didn't get bogged down a little bit in exposition and improbably-long battle pauses, but even so, it's still maintaining maybe the strongest run of episodes in the whole series.
Black Clover is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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