Black Clover
Episode 161

by Theron Martin,

How would you rate episode 161 of
Black Clover ?

This episode is titled “Zenon's Power.” While that only comes into play in the last third of the episode, it is nonetheless the episode's defining story element and something that will shake up the setting in a big way. Actually, pretty much all of what happens in this episode could shake up the setting in a big way.

Before that comes, Yuno – in the most enraged form he's been up to that point – takes on the devilishly-boosted Spade Kingdom underling. Between the flashbacks to when Yuno was more formally included amongst the normally-elitist Golden Dawn and his acceptance that protecting the world from menaces (whether it be Clover Kingdom or Spade Kingdom) means that he may sometimes have to kill, Yuno goes through maybe the biggest chunk of character growth that he has seen all series. That this development is only happening now, when he must ponder where his allegiances must lie in light of recent revelations, is just an indicator of how neglected his development has been in favor of the show's more dynamic personalities. Seeing Klaus also get a modicum of development there is a nice bonus; I did not figure him to be a classic “I'm not as talented, so I have to work harder” type.

As chilling as this episode can be as things get deadly, “classic” is also the best word to describe how things went down this episode. This is classic shonen action fare all the way, with most of what transpires falling into familiar, long-established shonen action patterns; anyone who ever watched Dragon Ball Z could not help but see echoes of it in this series. Zenon in particular, and the Dark Triad as a whole, are stereotypical examples of shonen action power creep: once one foe has been triumphed against, an even more outrageously powerful foe must step forward to beat the good guys down again and once again make things look hopeless. Allies will be laid waste to, and even a protagonist will be knocked down to within an inch of his life. The protagonist will be left to stew in his helplessness (even though he defeated powerful minions) until he can figure out how to get stronger. Oh, and of course the villain was not using anywhere near his full power yet.

Not deviating from that set-up at all dampened the caliber of the episode a bit. Still, seeing Yuno going into rage mode almost single-handedly balanced it out, and the Golden Dawn ultimately did take casualties beyond just William being captured; and not just that, but in one or two cases they were named casualties rather than just unnamed peons. Yuno laying on the brink of death until William's World Tree spell saved him and everyone else was also sobering. Next episode is advertising the formal beginning of the coming war, but as a first blow, decimating one of Clover Kingdom's strongest and most respected Magic Knight squads makes for a very effective welcoming to the party.

Rating:

Black Clover is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and FUNimation.


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