by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 139 of
Black Clover ?
The parade of featured characters interacting with individuals from the depths of the series' history continues! This time around it's Vanessa's turn, and her particular training mission involves going back to the place that she thought she had left behind: the Witches' Forest, where she seeks to gain access to more powerful magic from the Queen.
Given that, the supporting character who makes the guest appearance this time is wholly predictable: Domina, the fiancée of Fanzel (Asta's onetime sword instructor), who has apparently formally married Fanzel since her last substantive appearance, back during the Witches' Forest arc (episodes 57-65), as she is now referring to him as “hubby.” As a witch herself who also left the forest, her appearance here totally makes sense, as does her being a magic item dealer to supplement the family income. (She was shown as being money-conscious.) The two do not interact a lot, with her role mostly being to give Vanessa a suggestion or two in the right direction, but seeing previous guest stars being repurposed is always welcome.
The bulk of the episode instead focuses on Vanessa's quest to gain more powerful magic to support her squad. In tabletop RPG terms, she would be classified as a battlefield controller, one who manipulates the circumstances of the battlefield to limit opponents and support allies, and she has performed that function quite well in previous battles. Her cat, Rouge, also gives her a fate-altering ace-in-the-hole. However, the battles against the elves exposed her big limitation: her most potent abilities are mana-intensive, so without Charmy around for mana recovery, her peak combat effectiveness can be limited. The mistake Vanessa makes is thinking that she needs to get more powerful in order to support her allies, when in truth, she needs to get more versatile instead. Most of the episode is shaped around bringing her to understand this lesson, which the Queen undoubtedly had in mind in assigning her to work with two seemingly-useless witches.
And speaking of those witches, the name choices are not subtle; in a setting which freely mixes Western, Eastern, and fantasy-themed names, why wouldn't there be two witches around named Samantha and Elvira? (If you are too young to get these references, try doing an Internet search for them.) I could not pin down if they briefly appeared in the battle scenes against the Eye of the Midnight Sun and Diamond Kingdom forces or not, but I am certain that they were not named before. Both have abilities that are not well-suited for direct combat – Samantha can mimic sounds with her magic, while Elvira can create illusions – which make them seem useless in a pitched battle, but they fail to realize how utilitarian their abilities can be, especially when combined with each other. With abilities like that, they could excel at entertaining others if nothing else (a minstrel would kill for magic like theirs), and as they discover while working with Vanessa, they can be quite effective at misdirection and/or creating distractions.
In other words, everything comes down to a “find your niche” theme, which is arguably one of the underlying themes of the series as a whole. The scenes with Yami and Vanessa at the beginning and end are good, too. In all, not a shining example of quality but not a waste, either.
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