by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 138 of
Black Clover ?
Just an episode or two ago I was commenting about how we have seen very little of Zora during this run of character-focused and training episodes. This episode clarifies why: he went off on a training journey of his own because he decided he didn't want to interact with the other Black Bulls. The resulting exclusive focus on Zora here partly makes up for his dearth of recent appearances so far and suggests that we may see a bit more of him down the road.
Whether that's for the better or not depends on how much you like Zora as a character. He is, I think, a necessary presence for the Black Bulls; in a squad full of hyperactive optimists, lazy bums, and glum characters inwardly lacking in self-confidence, he stands out sharply as the resident cynic, the one who can blast through all of the crap and get most directly to the heart of the matter. He also represents the most world-wise viewpoint of all of the Black Bulls (Yami might have seen as much or more, but he doesn't act like it) and the one with the most open disdain for nobles or anyone else who arrogantly looks down on others. If you need someone to make viciously cutting remarks, he fills that role better than anyone else in the series could. That can be refreshing, although such a character also must walk a fine line to make sure they do that without becoming unlikable. Zora has, for most of his appearances, teetered on the edge.
That being said, his appearance here is more appreciable than his other ones, primarily because the chip he wears on his shoulder about nobles does not guide his actions here. Instead, this is a simpler and more straightforward tale about his encounter with a commoner boy who is aware of his father ultimately succeeding in joining the Magic Knights despite being a commoner and takes that as inspiration to try to become one himself. This is significant because, even though he and the other boys are aware that other commoners (most prominently Asta and Yuno, but also Magnus) are currently in the Magic Knights, none of their names come up, nor does Zora bother to mention them. His father's example is good enough.
This episode is also better than other recent efforts because, unlike the norm for the series, it implies more than directly states one crucial thing that goes on here: Zora's realization that his father's success at becoming a Magic Knight had more impact than he may have previously appreciated. Asta and Yuno have certainly had their impacts as well, but Zora's father came first by several years. We also do not need to be told here that Zora may be seeing a bit of himself in the boy; that is evident. His increased inclination at the end to make more effort to work with his squad mates is directly stated, but with only the implication that the encounter with the boy and his father led him to that. The theft accusation and battle between the boy's father and the rich guy is practically an afterthought by comparison. The other revelation to come out of this is that magic items are not to be trifled with; actual skill is required to use them properly.
“Petit Clover” also pops up again for the first time in a while and, among other shenanigans, reveals that Zora is 25 years old. That makes him probably the oldest squad member after Yami (and Nero, of course). That isn't really important for anything, but it still contributes to this being the most satisfying episode in a while.
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