Black Clover
Episode 40

by Sam Leach,

How would you rate episode 40 of
Black Clover ?

A new cour calls for a new opening, and this time it's 'Guess Who Is Back' by Kumi Koda. This is an interesting one, because I find it really cool and hypnotic, but I don't know if it keeps my attention for a whole minute and a half. It has a thumping atmosphere and attitude that makes it endearingly 2 Kewl 4 Skewl, so I'm going to lean positively overall. It's not animated enough to live up to 'Black Rover,' but I doubt anything from this show ever will again.

In time for the newest arc to begin, Black Clover is finally fulfilling the oldest rite of passage in all of anime: the beach episode! Raquey is the home of the underwater temple that houses the Eye of the Midnight Sun's coveted magic stone, so that's where the Wizard King has instructed to Black Bulls to scope out. Normally, the place is sealed off by powerful mana, but during a full moon that mana weakens and, in theory, Noelle should be able to part the water with her magic. Noelle still doesn't have fantastic control of her water spells, however, so it's a sexy beach vacation in the meantime while she powers up.

In proper beach episode fashion the animation quality takes a notable dip, so there isn't a whole lot to get excited about. It's filler hijinks abound as characters splash each other with water and pull off pranks with their unique abilities. Noelle spends most of this episode trying to get Asta to react to her bikini, but Asta keeps getting distracted by something else and making Noelle angry. It's Black Clover's weakest aspects all rolled into one episode. Stalling, unfunny humor? Check. Dumpy animation? Check. Charmless tsundere antics (with hoo-hah man inexplicably present as well)? Check. Check. Check. It's kind of astounding how many of my usual issues are present.

And yet, I don't hate this episode. The change of scenery is nice, and it never occurred to me that this cast might have never seen the ocean before, so there's a glimpse of genuine marvel there. The framework of the story does a lot to keep things feeling active, even when there isn't technically much going on in front of the screen. The fact that the Black Bulls are the only squad capable of doing this job comes up again in this episode, and it re-contextualizes the goofing off quite a bit. Yami's taking this new mission very seriously, and Noelle's going to have to get stronger to help him. I'm hoping something cool gets to come of that.

We only have this final cour of Black Clover left, so it'll be interesting to see how satisfying of a cap this will be on the show. The end of this episode offers the tiniest tease of a new character, but it's so brief that I can't comment on her yet, and that's generally where this episode leaves me cold. I wish I could have some kind of impression of what's to come that wasn't already fed to me last week. I don't hate the padding, but I wish we could have progressed a little further in the story so we at least had a solid hook.

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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