Black Clover
Episode 35

by Sam Leach,

How would you rate episode 35 of
Black Clover ?

Okay. It's finally happened. I've given Black Clover an 'A.' We're still in the midst of Yami vs. Licht, but the hustle on this episode to deliver far and above the best action this show has ever had is much appreciated. My jaw is still on the floor over how good this episode looks.

Not much has changed since we left off last week, with Yami continuing to show his stuff while he encourages Asta to take on Licht's henchman standing nearby, but the visuals are night and day. Basically the entire first half of this episode is one elongated action scene with some theatrical quality animation and fight choreography. The character designs also pop with much more detail than we've seen before. I was ready to believe that Pierrot was just waiting their 50-episode run out, so this is a fantastic surprise. I'm just giddy. I'm really enjoying myself.

Story-wise, we're continuing to revel in what the strongest characters in this series look like, with Licht asking to see a Magic Knight squad captain at full power, and Yami being more than happy to oblige. It's all basic shonen posturing, but it's hard to complain when it's executed this well. Even once the camera shifts back over to Asta's half of the fight, the show still manages to be fun. "I don't give guys jobs they can't do. Do something about him in your own way," Yami says, continuing to be the coolest.

The less action-heavy portion of the episode connects us back to Gauche, who's talking to Sister Theresa on her "death" bed. She's not really dying, but the show leads us down that path long enough to get a somewhat sincere moment out of her and Gauche, and then it's punctuated with a joke where it turns out she wasn't dying at all. (Kind of reminiscent of the scene in DBZ where the Old Kai resurrects Goku, but not quite as funny.) Now that Black Clover's finally gotten good, that old "this siscon guy ain't so bad!" card is even less appealing. I'm more than happy with just Asta and Yami! Nonetheless, this is still a Gauche-themed arc, and by the end of the episode he's returning to the battlefield, now with an added magic boost he received from Theresa, the children, and one of the arc's original bad guys.

For me, Black Clover's aspirations of "generic shonen done well" always rang hollow. I think of shonen as a playground for a storyteller to pour their own heart and personality into; there's nothing inherently romantic about the template itself, and Black Clover rarely even reached the low bar it set for itself. This week's episode finally sells me on its aspirations, taking familiar tropes and ideas and executing them just well enough that it's genuinely fun to watch. For the time being, Black Clover is exciting, funny, and beautiful to look at. It's juggling its multiple subplots with momentum and sticking to a clear emotional through-line that leaves me wanting to see what happens next. This is generic shonen done well.

Rating: A

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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