Black Clover
Episode 30

by Sam Leach,

How would you rate episode 30 of
Black Clover ?

The day has finally arrived to discuss Gauche Adlai, the little sister enthusiast of the Black Bulls. Even as a one-note joke, I find his presence unpleasant. It feels weird to embrace his particular archetype as just another arrow in the quiver of your shonen anime cast. A wannabe ladies' man with boundary issues is about where my line for tolerance lies, but so far Gauche's entire character has been constant nosebleeds at the mere thought of his (very young) sister Marie.

I'm not aware of what's to come for the guy moving forward, though this episode does give me reason to suspect that maybe I'm supposed to be creeped out by him and that I'm not expected to just laugh it off. It's Marie's birthday, so Gauche is taking advantage of the Black Bulls' recent payday to purchase as many gifts for his sister as he can carry. The cold open before the theme song gives us a hint of how powerful and sadistic he actually is, and the episode follows that up by framing Gauche as unkempt, unwanted, and—wait a second, that's what "gauche" already means. Dammit! The show's way ahead of me! The tough old nun who looks after Marie during the day also doesn't seem to like him, so I'm going to defer to her judgement.

The conflict this week starts with the fact that Marie, like every girl in this series, has developed a crush on Asta while Gauche wasn't looking. It's a simple innocent little kid thing where she claims she's going to marry him and Asta's just playing around with her like a big brother, but Gauche takes it personally and vows revenge on Asta, going so far as to sneak into his room at night and try to kill him with his mirror magic. Gauche definitely feels like the villain of this episode at times, but I can't tell if this is meant to be a dark subversion of a joke character, or if this is a temporary turn before everything settles back into the status quo. This mini-fight between Asta and Gauche leads us into a larger conflict where an outside force is hypnotizing and luring the kids in town while the adults sleep, so it looks like the two of them will have a common enemy to team up against soon enough.

Rebecca from the mixer episode is sticking around, as she and Asta have been really hitting it off. She's got her own younger siblings that Asta gets along with equally well, and they're starting to egg her on to make a move on our hero. Oddly, the will-they-won't-they stuff manages to be a breath of fresh air in this episode, which is otherwise pretty bland when it isn't giving me Gauche-related whiplash. We're beginning a new storyline, but the cliffhanger about the missing kids screams two-parter rather than a new major arc. I'm not very invested yet.

The idea to spin Gauche as an evil villain who's been waiting in the wings this whole time gave me a twinge of excitement, but I can't imagine that's where this is actually going. Siscons are a thing now, and the way they've snuggled themselves into media so easily does manage to be kind of fascinating. I'm not nearly as judgmental of run-of-the-mill pervert characters, even though there are plenty of gripes to be had about the message we send when we treat their antics like inconsequential jokes just because we're used to it. I don't think characters like this inspire copycats or anything, but I do expect the traditional pervert to be the kind of archetype that will gradually fade away or mutate into something else. This siscon archetype may just be a new mutation of deviancy we've added to popular culture.

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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