by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 129 of
Black Clover ?
Decades ago, Dragon Ball Z established the key rule of power escalation in shonen action series: once a major foe has been defeated, an even stronger foe has to be created to keep providing worthy challenges to the protagonist and giving the protagonist a continuing need to push to grow in power. Episode 130 is where Black Clover proves truest to that tradition. The devil behind the elf reincarnation plot is gone, and he was a fearsomely difficult foe that was only beaten with one-shot help, but now this Megicula, who's apparently associated with someone in Spade Kingdom, is even more powerful than that, so much so that even Luck doesn't want to fight him? Since Luck has gleefully faced everyone before – even those who could whip his butt, like Vetto – seeing Luck tremble in fear rather than excitement is probably the most convincing indicator of his threat factor.
Introducing Megicula – and thus the Spade-jacketed guy who was appearing in the previous opener – and confirming that he's the one who both cursed Noelle's mother to death and has cursed the Heart Queen are the big plot-motivating points for the episode, though introducing the clumsy, somewhat flaky Heart Queen is, I suppose, nearly as important. Together those set the plot direction for probably the next few episodes at the least: everybody needs to level up in only six months to be ready for the big Spade Kingdom invasion, and Yami is giving his team free reign for how and where to do it. (I recently rewatched the part of Dragon Ball Z where Trunks first appears and can't help but be struck by this situation's similarities to the three years of preparation the Z fighters took getting ready for the androids, including how mostly pointless it seemed for the lower-rung guys. Given how much this series borrows from DBZ, I wouldn't be surprised at all if that was a direct inspiration for this.) Looks like a Magic Knight Squad Captains' meeting about the whole business is going to happen before any training sequences, and given that this is the first gathering since some of them were possessed by elves, that could also be very interesting.
This episode has some other interesting details itself. After almost 130 episodes of a series where magic is everything, the story is finally getting around to delving deeper into the actual structure of magic in the world. Based on what's revealed here, I must revise one statement I made last episode. Magic is, indeed, more sophisticated in a technical development and classification sense in the Heart Kingdom, with the Clover Kingdom having no equivalent to what the Heart Queen can accomplish – nothing even close, really. However, magic in the Clover Kingdom has branched out into types not seen in the purely naturally-based Heart Kingdom. They don't have things like dark magic, sealing magic, spatial magic, time magic, or anti-magic, and that probably applies to a few other magic types that have popped up in Clover Kingdom over the course of the story. So while Heart Kingdom has the power, it doesn't have the diversity, and it doesn't have game-changers like anti-magic and sealing magic which stand outside of the normal power rankings. The whole business about “divine protections” also sounds interesting, but I'm guessing no further elaboration on that is going to be coming any time soon.
On other fronts, looks like Nero is taking on Yuno's role when it comes to facial expressions, and this episode marks the debut of both a new opener and a new closer. Both are strong entries, with the opener standing out for its color use and the closer for the neat little details in its alternate art style. Given that the story is entering a new stage and that this episode accomplishes more than most, that seems appropriate timing.
Black Clover is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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