by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 41 of
Black Clover ?
This week we're formally introduced to Kahono, the mysterious singing girl from the last episode's cliffhanger. Her song magic can heal a fatigued person and she's got a really fun outgoing personality, but right away she seems a little too nice. It becomes clear by the end of the episode that she's connected to the water temple that the Black Bulls are trying to enter, but whether she's truly a friend or foe remains to be seen.
It's a shame that not much happens in this episode (it consists of essentially two long scenes and nothing else) because I rather like what's here. Kahono's an entertaining presence and the show goes out of its way to point out that she's the first female friend Noelle's made who's both her age and not her cousin. These beginning episodes of the arc are very much the Noelle show, and I think that's proving to be a strength. She's still trying to tame her water magic, and Kahono's the one to suggest she "let it go", so to speak. But letting go is difficult for Noelle. Concentrating and trying to keep her heart relaxed only brings up bad memories about her family. Someone like Asta has no problem turning his brain off, because he has nothing but gentle memories to guide his feelings.
The next big scene comes with Noelle's training attempt the night afterward. Asta and Kahono encourage her to let loose and not worry about the damage her uncontrollable power can cause. It's one big trust fall, just to see how far she's come. In pure power-of-friendship fashion, she manages to pull off something amazing once she sees all the Black Bulls gathered to cheer her on. It's heartwarming to watch everybody come together to support Noelle. They're all a bunch of misfits anyway, so they totally get it. On one hand, I wonder if could have been more impactful if we had more concrete examples of her bonding with her teammates throughout the show, but I also think there could be a benefit in doing it this way. It's important that Noelle doesn't recognize how much she's found a home in the Black Bulls until now. Relationships that she assumed were just a passing phase in her life perhaps turn out to be the healing that she's needed for a long time.
This episode goes right up to the line between shonen cheese and something a little more special. The material is spread a little too thin pacing-wise, and I couldn't blame somebody who didn't think the show earned the saccharine bombast that it builds to, but this kind of moment further endears me to the cast. These characters offer each other a sense of belonging without missing a beat, and that's a really nice sentiment. In a lot of Shonen Jump, you have to build to the point where that's what all the characters expect out of each other, but for Black Clover that's been the status quo since day one, and it's up to the few stragglers to recognize that.
If you've been waiting for Noelle to become more important to the story, this looks to be the arc where that finally happens. This is her episode through and through and I'm fairly happy with the result. It's not the most elegant power-of-friendship story in the world, but it's one that got me to feel something nonetheless.
Black Clover is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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