Black Clover
Episode 18

by Sam Leach,

How would you rate episode 18 of
Black Clover ?

It's frankly impossible to predict the trajectory of a story arc, especially if you're still getting the feel for a new series. I had assumed we were more or less done with the Mars fight and that we were going into pure falling action, and now I'm honestly impressed by how much can change so quickly. This episode sees the Black Bulls and Golden Dawns charging into the dungeon's treasure room after a battle well-fought, but just as we're being treated to gold and exposition, Mars unexpectedly makes his return to keep the Dungeon Exploration arc going a little longer.

It's the exposition that I think made this surprise effective, however slight it may be, because we get a little rundown on the different kinds of Grimoires with Klaus inspecting Mars's, which has a mysterious stitching along it that seems like it's two books sewn together. I usually assume this kind of post-battle info dump is going to be free of drama, but this time it was just a setup before Mars breaks in and reveals that he was able to get himself back into fighting shape with his second type of magic, flame recovery, and we're assured that this is supposed to be impossible. You can get a sense of how the status quo of magic and Grimoires is established so the series can build off it with new discoveries as the story goes.

There's still a lot about Mars that we don't know that's being teased through flashbacks, though I've learned not to get my expectations too high for that stuff. The most significant flashback material this week actually goes to Noelle and Mimosa, while Noelle is beaten and bloodied and Mimosa tries to heal her with plant magic. What ensues is pretty straightforward: Mimosa grew up admiring her cousin, but due to their differing proficiency with magic, she was the one who found success, despite Noelle's constant effort to get better. Already the show's goal to validate hard work comes in much more clear than it did last week with Asta, because the circumstances are more relatable and we see Mimosa wondering if she could have kept trying if she were in Noelle's shoes. So that works.

None of the action this week especially pops, and Mars's clunky CGI diamond mech still isn't a pretty sight, but there's a simplicity to this episode that I think gets us back on track. Within the treasure room Asta finds himself a new sword, and the twist is that it seems to have the ability to borrow other people's magic, so while Noelle is in the process of being healed, she can give hers over to Asta for a moment. This raises some questions, like whether there would have been a difference between Noelle's magic on her own and her magic funneled through Asta's sword. It's a little lame that Noelle spends this entire episode on the ground playing support, but the cliffhanger that sees Asta taking significant damage is solid.

I'm back to wanting to know what happens next, and I appreciate the tiny pieces of world-building we get this week, even if most of it raises more questions than answers. Asta's new sword definitely seems designed to open new doors in battle, but the only application we've seen for it so far comes as a result of Noelle getting taken out just to create this moment. Black Clover has been in the clear as far as unwanted padding goes lately, so it's been interesting to try and take this arc as it comes. This episode falls firmly into "basic children's action show" territory as opposed to the messier past few episodes. Still not great, but I can live with it.

Rating: B

Black Clover is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Sam Leach records about One Piece for The One Piece Podcast and you can find him on Twitter @LuckyChainsaw

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