by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 63 of
Black Clover ?
I don't think there will ever be a point where Black Clover "gets good" in a traditional sense. It's not climbing up some big hill, waiting to hit its stride. It's a fundamentally busted-up story that mostly succeeds in perpetuating the hollow fantasy that you can create a popular shonen hit by recycling the same reliable elements over and over. I think it sets an extremely low bar for itself, and even then it only reaches that bar about half the time.
But that's not entirely fair of me.
Immediately this episode looks like it's from a completely different show. As Asta confronts his inner
nine-tailed fox demonic entity, he transforms to promptly kick the crap out of Ladros in a trippy surrealistic smackdown with some of the coolest and most interesting animation I've seen in ages. The environment vanishes, the music is dark and sinister, and not a lick of the Black Clover we had been watching for the past sixty episodes seems visible. Asta's not the only one who's possessed; the episode itself seems to be channeling another spirit.
I think the Vetto finale will forever be the best articulation of this series' strengths—even with the evil demon stuff going on, the victory was ultimately hopeful and uplifting—but this is an incredibly interesting beast all its own. It's crazy to think that for ten minutes, Black Clover managed to be an episode of DEVILMAN crybaby. The animation is weird enough that I've seen fans complaining about it, but I think it's absolutely wild and exhilarating—just what the doctor ordered.
It's like I'm getting everything that I want all at once this week, since even when the action finally cools off, the Witch Queen steps in and plays her proper role as an antagonist. It was her blood that allowed Asta to transform, and now she feels a sense of ownership over him. Her time as an ally was just a momentary curiosity, and now our heroes are paying the price for working with her. I hate how good this show gets in these short bursts compared to the dumb nonsense that leads up to them. That's just what you've got to put up with if you want the series' blunt relentlessness to finally give way to its more vibrant colors.
I dream of a world where we get a version of Black Clover that's just the pros and none of the cons. I really think this show has something going for it with the "evil but in a good way" concept, and I wish it was the central focus of the story more often. Plenty of shows have played with that contrast before, but there's a distinct duality in having a squeaky clean protagonist, someone who's just a shallow checklist of heroic traits, being underscored by a monster that wants to eat everyone.
Once again, Black Clover earns its time in the spotlight. It won't last forever—I'm sure I'll be unimpressed again in an episode or two—but I do relish these moments when they arrive.
Black Clover is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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