Black Clover
Episode 48

by Sam Leach,

How would you rate episode 48 of
Black Clover ?

Great news, everybody! It turns out that Black Clover just might never end! Hahahahaha! (Sobs.)

Okay, I'm mostly being sarcastic, because the Black Bulls vs. Vetto fight has absolutely been my jam. This show has tapped into possibly my all-time greatest shonen weakness: crazy endurance rollercoaster fights. Vetto's new third eye and increasingly bloodied look makes him seem more deranged than ever, and he just won't go down for the count. I also love how the large cast of heroes has kept the fight from getting too repetitive, which I think this arc would be risking if it went on much longer.

Most importantly, this week we get glimpses into Vanessa and Finral's backstories. Vanessa's is the most esoteric, showing her locked in a giant birdcage under the thumb of the Queen of the Witches, talking to herself through dolls she made of string. Finral's story is similar to Noelle's where he's the outcast of a powerful family, with his younger brother even becoming the vice captain of the Golden Dawns. These flashbacks feel like they're telegraphing events to take place in later arcs, and I kind of like how the Vetto fight has unearthed them so unexpectedly. They contrast really well with Magna and Luck's much simpler and humble backstory, and it retroactively makes me like that flashback more. (Though I still think it would have had more impact if it came after Vetto had established himself as a genuinely rad villain.)

On that note, I'm also softening on Yami's more passive role in the story, especially now that he's demonstrating more concern for his squad, as opposed to just hanging back and laughing. He can still broadcast advice from the "intercom" of sorts, but you get a better sense of his hands being tied. The only thing really holding this episode back for me is the animation quality; the off-model drawings are much too intrusive, and a significant percentage of the action is conveyed through cheap motion tweening. I like the scenario where Vanessa and Finral are continuing to use their magic to toss Asta around the battlefield, and Vetto having his own plans to circumvent Asta's fighting style, but the better-looking material clashes with the weaker stuff too noticeably.

When reviewing this show, there's always been an awkward mixture of things that I actively like or dislike about this series, and things I just sort of put up with. The Vetto fight has turned into something I actively like. I think Black Clover has successfully told a story about heroes teaming up to take turns fighting a single villain, harboring compelling hooks and ideas that support the overall flow of the narrative, and executing them in a (mostly) successful manner. It's not without its hiccups, but I'm really vibing with what we've got here so far.

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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