by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 39 of
Black Clover ?
Round one of traitor vetting is complete as Marx's memory magic is able to get vital information out of the Midnight Sun thugs, who point to Gueldre Poizot, the captain of the Purple Orcas, as the traitor. William Vangeance struck me as the obvious suspect, so it was a solid left turn to find out the traitor was actually one of the nobody captains that I didn't think about. Very little has actually been solved, since the Wizard King suspects another traitor is possible, and the show teases us with the reveal that Rhya of the Midnight Sun was using copy magic to impersonate one of the other captains this whole time, but which one he was remains to be seen.
Apparently the other squad captains already knew Gueldre was pretty shady, so it doesn't come as a huge surprise to them. Gueldre's magic is permeation, so he becomes invisible and impervious to other magic. This is a useful power for trying to run away, but who's this coming up behind him? Why, it's Asta with his freshly developed Ki-sensing skills, ready to smack him with an anti-magic sword. I'm down with the idea of Ki, a tangible method for sensing other people's presence without magic, but it is kind of silly that Asta's gotten the hang of it so quickly. From there, it's the squad captains' job to take turns laying the beat down on Gueldre, getting retribution for their spoiled trust.
It's the scene after all the action that ends up being the best piece of the episode, with the Wizard King talking to Asta and Yami in private to set up the next big arc. As stated before, the Wizard King suspects another traitor, but for now our sights are on a magic stone that needs to be secured before the Eye of the Midnight Sun can claim it for their collection. This is a troubled time for the Magic Knights as an organization, so faith is being put on Yami to carry out the next mission. Since this magic stone is within a "strong magic region", the Black Bulls are the best group for the job by virtue of having no social or familial baggage holding them back. Also, anti-magic is good for basically every occasion in this series.
There's something genuinely sweet about the relationship between Yami and the Wizard King. Yami's been living as an outcast foreigner his whole life, so he's grateful toward the Wizard King for seeing past that back in the day. Yami might be intensely aloof, but he respects the responsibility that his friend is putting on his shoulders. His choice to salute at the end of this meeting is recognized, and to punctuate the moment Asta tries to repeat the same gesture, but gets so worked up he knocks the wind out of his chest on accident. I honestly found that pretty funny.
Part of me is still hesitant to give Black Clover too much credit, but I think the emphasis on class structure is its biggest calling card. The Clover Kingdom is a nation built on injustice, with good guys and bad guys and everything in-between propping the whole system up as they fight off terrorists. In this episode, the emphasis is in equal parts on Gueldre, a traitorous merchant figure, and Yami, a poor ruffian who never fit in until another person saw something special in him. There's some solid exploration of what people are inclined to do based on their upbringing and social status. This has always been the case with this show, but it stands out in some episodes more than others. When it manages to jump off the screen like that, I like what I see.
Black Clover is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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