Black Clover
Episode 136

by Theron Martin,

How would you rate episode 136 of
Black Clover ?

At least actual training transpires in this episode.

Indeed, the series is doing a decent (if also erratic) job of spinning legitimate training and ability expansion into these mini-stories it is using to kill time before the Spade Kingdom arc gets seriously underway. Leo did get a significant new power in episode 133, and here we see Noelle developing her newest trick: using her defensive effects on multiple independent targets at once, rather than just as a group shielding job. The latter has been critically important on many occasions ever since Noelle first developed her water shield back in episode 9, but being able to protect targets independently allows for greater freedom for independent action, especially in an underwater scenario. This should prove to be a quite important power upgrade down the line.

The question, then, is whether Yami took the Black Bulls on a training excursion to Raquey (which they first visited during the lead-in to the Underwater Temple arc) primarily for Noelle's benefit, or whether he had other motives. Yami making this double as a vacation would not be out of character, after all, and he could trust some of his knuckleheads to train anyway; that is, in fact, exactly what happens, as Asta takes to leading some of the male members on endurance training. In a meta sense, though, this feels more like a gimmick to justify bringing a couple of familiar faces back into the picture. Kahono and Kiato have made a cameo or two over the past few dozen episodes but have not had a significant impact on events since the Star Festival (episodes 67-70), so they were probably due for a reappearance.

Seeing the siblings return to action is nice, as they interact well with Asta and Noelle and have a fighting style more complementary than any other duo in the series. Kahono's comment about the “double date” was also quite amusing. However, this scenario is less about them and more about expanding Noelle's power and giving her a sense of nostalgia about her mother, which ultimately proves to be the major clue as to what's really going on: the sea monster at the heart of it all is having anxieties about giving birth, I guess? In an environment of strong and wild magic, something like that manifesting by affecting the surrounding sea life makes a certain amount of sense, though it also feels like the story is stretching for an excuse here. I found myself more interested by the ruins at the bottom of the abyss (which will probably never be explained) and distracted by the vagaries about whether characters are in water or an air bubble at certain points.

Among other random observations, this is the second straight episode that Nero has wound up in a waitress role. Coincidence, or has she found her true calling? On the fan service front, Noelle is the only one of the Black Bulls not shown in a swimsuit; even Grey wears one in her true form, and Gordon shows that he's moderately well-built. She has been shown in a bikini before (back in episode 40) and has had mild fan service scenes on a couple of other occasions, so her being singled out here is rather curious. Also, Henry and Zora pop up for the first time in a while before promptly disappearing again. Henry's case is more understandable, since he is effectively limited to Black Bulls HQ, but Zora seems more like a case of just not fitting in with the group dynamic of the Black Bulls. I suspect that we will continue to only see him irregularly.

Rating:

Black Clover is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and FUNimation.


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