Black Clover
Episode 165

by Theron Martin,

How would you rate episode 165 of
Black Clover ?

Whereas last episode jumped around a lot, this one focuses almost entirely on the Vanica/Loropechika confrontation – as it should. All throughout this episode, I kept wondering, “if this is the big confrontation against a Dark Triad member, where the hell is Nero?” Looks like the final scene of the episode answered that question.

That does not even involve the episode's truly big twist, however, which comes up before the opener even plays: Clover Kingdom has a spy in Spade Kingdom, and that spy is apparently a previously-unknown Black Bull! Whoever it is has some nasty shadow-jumping abilities and a tad more of a ruthless streak than the other Black Bulls, but presumably that is why this person is doing what he/she (I get the impression of a “he,” but that's not clear) is doing. Waaaay back in episode 6, Yami did say that there were other Black Bulls that were “on some mission,” but that has never been expanded upon since, so this must be who Yami was referring to.

But that person's identity is an issue for another episode. The lesser twist in this episode is that all of the Dark Disciples defeated in the Heart Kingdom last episode are not dead thanks to some curse which causes them to endlessly return to life. That seems like a game-breaker for a devil power unless there are some ugly consequences accompanying it, but the real tragedy here is that it means that Tongue Guy is back in action. Fortunately, Mimosa seems capable of a stand-off with him, hence freeing up Noelle to work with Loropechika and the Undine.

That is a team-up that I should have seen coming, as Noelle's water-based powers make her ideally suited for such a team-up. Brief flashbacks show how they have been practicing so that Noelle can operate even more freely within Loropechika's Mana Zone, and that allows Noelle to realize her newest form: transforming her Valkyrie armor into Mermaid Form, complete with tail. It seems to offer even greater mobility in water, presumably at the expense of some protection. In fact, she's so minimally-covered that she makes Vanessa's normal loungewear look conservative by comparison, giving the series some rare doses of true fanservice. Commendably, Noelle doesn't freak out about this, and even more commendably, she actually is holding her own against Vanica even as the latter powers up. Granted, she has some very powerful support to achieve this, but to see her accomplish something like this given where she started – having so little control that she could not even hit the broad side of a tree – is quite satisfying. The animation effort, while not top-tier for the show, is still pretty good during the battle, too.

The ploy this leads to – forcing all of Vanica's devil power out so that Nero can seal it all – is an inspired one, and of the three major Dark Triad confrontations so far, it has the best chance of succeeding. Nero has successfully sealed a powerful devil before, after all, and that was before she had training in Mana Zones. Just like the Dark Triad didn't know about Asta or what Vanessa can do, they probably don't know about her, either. I don't think it's at all a given that it will fully work, but it might at least force a retreat, and it would be nice to see the good guys have success on at least one front.

As for Petit Clover. . . well, maybe one of these days it will actually be funny again.

Rating:

Black Clover is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and FUNimation.


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