by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 120 of
Black Clover ?
Some clean-up undoubtedly remains, and the effects of what has transpired here will be felt for a long time to come, but episode 120 officially marks the conclusion and final resolution of the mega-arc concerning the elves. The result is possibly the most effectively emotional episode in the entire series to date.
First the climactic battle from last episode and its immediate consequences has to be wrapped up. Emo Devil's encounter with the devil in Asta's sword was an interesting one, which clearly indicates that devils aren't all of the same mind or spirit and makes me wonder if the devil in Asta isn't going along for the ride because he's getting his jollies out of how much Asta shakes things up. That quickly becomes an afterthought as everyone has to escape the Shadow Palace, with those deeper in getting surprising help from the Spatial Magic user Valtos. Once outside, the other elves have to be given the message to stop, and the way it happens is sweet: Patry departs Vangeance's body so the latter can use his World Tree magic in conjunction with Licht's power to allow a conduit for Asta's reincarnation-busting to spread to everyone. Hence the matter of the elves is solved for good, with everyone but the three who can't depart due to the bodies they inhabit – Raia, Vetto, and Fana – being left behind along with, surprisingly, Patry.
Although this process extends over nearly the entire episode, it never feels rushed because of the emotional beats it strikes. For me, at least, shonen action series have always struggled to hit strong emotional impact beyond a potent sense of achievement, partly because they rarely invest deeply enough in their emotional cores to achieve more than superficial impacts and partly because they much too often force the issue when setting up theoretically emotional scenes. Various titles over the years have proved that it can be done – the “Tragic Love Song of Destiny” mini-arc from Inuyasha (episodes 147-148) immediately springs to mind – but major successes have been few and far between. This episode does better than most as it plays out its assorted meetings and partings, and the gentle touch of the musical score is a key part of that.
Maybe the most poignant part of the episode involves Patry and Vangeance (hence my choice of screen shot), both in the way Patry willingly asks Asta to excise him from Vangeance and in the later face-to-face meeting between the two when the former is pulled back into Licht's artificial body by Rades. There's a deep level of understanding between the two, a stronger connection than maybe any of the other possessions, and that can be felt here. The departing conversation between Charla and Yami was also a nice touch. The other big moment is the end of Lumiere, which became inevitable once his body started to crack. Though the connection between him and Secré wasn't a long-developed one, it was established well enough to have impact and make her emotion appreciable. The way it fed into the closer was also done very effectively, and I now have new appreciation for the appropriateness of the current closer.
That ending also makes clear in the main episode something that has been suggested by both the opener and closer since Secré first appeared: that she, at least, isn't going anywhere. I'm betting that she is going to officially become part of the Black Bulls, and she'll make a fine addition. She provides additional variety on appearance and temperament, would give the group another rare power niche, and should bounce off of everyone well. The big twist at the end is, of course, that Julius seems to be back in a younger form, which somehow makes sense given his time magic. Still, the explanation for how he pulled that off should be interesting.
So now we're shifting into a new era for the series, and I like how that is setting up. Patry being forced to make living atonement for his actions seems fitting in a lot of ways, neither Lumiere nor Licht nor most of the other elves belonged in the modern era, and Charmy is back to being Charmy. It's a great finish to the arc and a promising arrangement for the future.
Black Clover is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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