Black Clover
Episode 45

by Sam Leach,

How would you rate episode 45 of
Black Clover ?

Something that had become confusing since the beginning of this arc was the true nature of Grey, the transformation user of the Black Bulls. Grey has the ability to take on other people's likenesses, which they had been using to be fun and mischievous, but it just seemed odd that this person, who had always defaulted to the form of a big vacant-eyed scary dude, was now suddenly taking any shape but that one. We learn this week that Grey's actual true form is a blue-haired young woman. Okay yeah, I can roll with that. It just seemed really unmotivated for the show to highlight her constantly changing appearance as a limp joke before the final reveal. The setup is a little messy.

Leaving off from last week, it's now up to Asta and Kiato to fend off Vetto (a.k.a. "The Despair") in Luck and Magna's stead. This fight is pretty straightforward, with at least one stellar cut of animation between all the stiffness. I think my toughest times with Black Clover are when it feels like it actually does have a pulse beyond the generic shonen clichés, but can't successfully rise to meet its own ambitions. Within a single arc, this show can range from exciting and incoherent to bland but functional. This week is bland but functional.

I think I enjoyed the Gauche/Charmy/Grey side of the episode most, as they pick off a few of the Midnight Sun's henchmen. I always like being reminded that the Black Bulls are some of the strongest magic users in the Clover Kingdom, and that the only reason they don't get to be a part of more prestigious squads is because they each have some kind of crippling attitude problem. It's an underdog-but-not-really scenario, which I eat right up. It also feels natural for Gauche and Grey to use their powers (mirrors and transformations, respectively) in tandem, since the villains will have no way to keep track of who's who. Seeing these doofuses bounce off each other proved mildly entertaining.

The cliffhanger is also solid this week. Just as Asta is starting to lose his fight, Noelle and Kahono arrive to save the day. Vetto can't understand Asta's mumbles while the poor kid is chewing on his arm, but the girls hear him and emerge to declare his shonen protagonist speech on his behalf. It's a cool final shot with the two confidently teaming up after their non-fight, and I'm eager to see what happens next. This is overall not a great episode, but it gets the job done. It's still pretty flavorless, but it has just enough strong points to keep its head above water.

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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