by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 133 of
Black Clover ?
Episode 133 marks the return of Black Clover after taking nine weeks off due to COVID-19-related production delays. So what do we get for the wait? One of the more lackluster non-recap episodes of the past several dozen.
In fairness, this was probably the exact episode that was originally planned to air the first week of May, so the delay presumably had nothing to do with why it is a bit of a disappointment. Besides, the series is hardly deviating at all from its established formula. It features lots of action and flashy power use, a fair dose of silliness, and characters both progressing in their powers and being recognized by their superiors for doing so. Various established characters also get ample opportunity to play up their personality quirks. So why doesn't the episode work better than it does?
Part of the problem is who the episode chooses to feature. Though the viewpoint jumps around a lot in who it follows, Leo gets the most attention. He declared himself to be Asta's rival back during the post-awards ceremony gathering in episode 21, and has popped up occasionally since then to keep himself established in that role. Asta's simple enough that, even if he does not necessarily see Leo as a true rival, he can still feed off of Leo's competitive streak. However, Leo has shown little sign of being anything beyond competitive and loud, and that does not make him interesting as a character. The episode does at least get one thing right about him: showing how he progresses to discovering a new level to his power, one seemingly associated with his namesake. It may be a staple scene of both this series and shonen action titles in general, but seeing how a character develops a new power or spell, rather than just suddenly having it, can make those scenes more fulfilling.
The other problem is that the whole dungeon exploration thing does not seem to amount to anything of consequence. Yes, there's treasure, but the magic item which transformed the spider was severely damaged. I never much cared for the way the setting uses dungeons, as they feel like a concession to fantasy game mechanics that the series otherwise avoids, so the prize proving anticlimactic is just a further letdown. Nothing was especially interesting about the spider, golems, or traps as foes, either.
The episode is not entirely without plusses beyond Leo's new spell. I always appreciate Asta and Noelle getting more screen time together, and the vice-captain figuring out while Mereoleona dragged the Black Bulls along on this training assignment was a nice touch. So is the way Mereoleona speaks to Noelle about her mother. She delivers her comments about Noelle not quite being up to her mother's level yet as a statement of fact rather than as criticism or belittlement, but even the acknowledgement that Noelle is on the path to achieving what her mother did is still strong recognition coming from her mother's rival. “Petit Clover” is also back for the first time in a while, and it is rather funny.
On second consideration, the episode has just enough merits to warrant a slightly higher grade than I was originally intending to give the episode. Still not a success, but not a flop, either.
Black Clover is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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