Black Clover
Episode 52

by Sam Leach,

How would you rate episode 52 of
Black Clover ?

When last we saw our heroes, they were hanging out with the Wizard King, witnessing an attack happening in the city of Kiten by the rival Diamond Kingdom. The Black Bulls are on their way, while the Golden Dawns fend off the Diamond Kingdom's generals.

It's a wonder how much direction and animation can make a difference in a story, since the emptiness of last week's episode is filled in this week with a ton of solid action and variety in its character interactions. The arc's potential for intrigue between its numerous factions is integral to the tension and the stakes, and these elements are thankfully front and center for this week's episode. When the Golden Dawns completely trounce the Diamond Kingdom, you're left not knowing how to feel. The Golden Dawn are supposed to be the good guys in this skirmish, but they're so dominant in battle that they don't feel like it at all. Even Yuno smack talks like a posh villain. "Whoever's strongest wins. That's all there is to it."

And this happens with the constant reminder that there's something fishy about William Vangeance, the Golden Dawns' squad captain. I appreciate that the show isn't trying to hide that he's clearly supposed to be Licht, but there are a few hiccups in that logic if you're watching along and trying to solve the mystery, like the fact that William uses a type of Tree Magic as opposed to Licht's Light Magic, so there must be some kind of other twist coming. The cliffhanger of the episode is Yami meeting him face to face, asking him to remove his mask to confirm his suspicion, so hopefully we'll be learning something soon.

There's an energy to episodes like this that I think is essential in making a show's ideas clear, especially when it wants to toy with audience expectations and sympathies so much. Beyond the rough-and-tumble Black Bulls, we don't really have a reliable point of view for the story. We like Yuno—as do Asta and Charmy—but he seems to be falling into the wrong crowd, and the audience has a minimal stake in who comes out on top between the Clover and Diamond Kingdoms. Everything comes down to whether we think the Golden Dawns are above board, so I'm glad that gets to be the focus.

This is a surprisingly busy episode for Black Clover, not only giving us a multitude of good fights (Yuno's aerial fight was a notable standout), but also managing an above-average amount of charm for its character shenanigans. Asta's still nursing two broken arms, so seeing him flail about trying to communicate with his legs was really funny. This is a good opportunity to see the Black Bulls bounce off of characters they don't cross paths with often, but there's also this feeling like the floor is going to fall out from underneath us after we learn whatever's really up with that Vangeance guy. This episode was fun and dramatic, a massive step up for the arc from last week's venture.

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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