Black Clover
Episode 49

by Sam Leach,

How would you rate episode 49 of
Black Clover ?

Well, now.

I'd be hard pressed to think of a way this Vetto fight could have hit my buttons any harder. It looked like things were wrapping up last week, but it turns out that Vetto let himself get stabbed on purpose as a way to nab Asta's sword, and you know how much I love hearing "one more thing" in my shonen pulp. It turns out there's one more final stretch of the fight, and this week's episode is an immaculately animated climax.

The Black Bulls are at their limits, and Vetto only appears to be growing more and more violent, contorting himself in wild and unnatural ways. Vanessa's still moving Asta around with her thread, but the show is leaning much harder into the exhaustion that our heroes are feeling. Asta's such a doofus that it too easily feels contrived when the other characters pontificate about how inspiring he is, but everything clicks this time around. You've seen these circumstances before, but rarely with this much purity. The "demon" inside Asta's grimoire is summoned, and the show's first opening theme kicks in as an insert song to score the final blow. For a series that so often struggles to feel sincere, this is as good a celebration of the genre you could ask for. It's so close to being Asta's Super Saiyan moment.

And the tables don't turn just enough for the good guys to win, they go so far as to wreck Vetto beyond repair. Asta is "A demon who devours even despair," (I love reminders that Asta's powers are evil, but in a good way) and Yami finally makes his appearance at the end of the battle to one-shot what's left of Vetto. There's a frustrating convenience to when Yami can and can't participate in this arc, but the last scene is so good it's hard to argue. "Consider this my thanks for looking after my squad." What a one-liner.

This is an astonishing finale for the Vetto fight that leaves the audience in awe of what the heroes are capable of. Long, strenuous effort is rewarded with a glorious smackdown. As we're closing out, we get a brief glimpse of Vetto's childhood, his devotion to Licht, and his reason for hating humans. In line with Asta's demonic powers, it does force you to pause and wonder who the real underdogs are. The Black Bulls are scrappy, and that's what makes them pure of heart, but shift the perspective just a little and they become a band of monsters who will crush anything that gets in their way.

For how clunky this arc began, it's turned into something amazing. This is some stellar material. I don't know if the show will ever stop being a punching bag as a messy pantomime of the shonen formula—and it's still really messy—but when it hits, it hits hard. Black Clover pulled out all the stops this week.

Rating: A+

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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