by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 70 of
Black Clover ?
At last, it's finally time to get a whiff of what the Star Festival was supposed to be about in the first place, which is recognizing the Magic Knights for their accomplishments throughout the year. That clip show episode from a few weeks back starts to feel more appropriate now, since the Black Bulls' adventures starting with Asta's recruitment have earned them second place in total star counts. They're normally in the negative, so being right behind the Golden Dawns in achievements for once is a big upset.
I've been thinking lately that I'm not a huge Yuno fan. The real heart of this series is with the Black Bulls and how absurdly powerful they are despite their unseemly reputation. Asta's rivalry with Yuno has felt peripheral so far, like maybe the beginning of the series should have been about Asta joining the Black Bulls and then he develops a rivalry with the coolheaded kid from a competing squad. Their relationship has been set up as the core emotional thrust of the story, like we're supposed to measure their growth against each other as the series goes on, but most Black Clover arcs have nothing to do with that. The "scrappy underdog" stuff just feels more natural, and the respectful rivalry feels tacked on by comparison.
That's where my mind wanders during this episode, as Asta and Yuno are brought on stage to represent their squads in front of the kingdom. The difference in composure between the two is clear, but they're both capable young lads so they both get to stand as a united front against Clover Kingdom's sovereign ruler—unlike the Wizard King, he works in tandem with the vanilla-brand regular king—who doesn't appear to have the nation's respect. The king seems to represent the worst of privilege. He's whiny and selfish, lacking what the rest of the cast value in each other so much. So far he's portrayed as too ineffectual to be outright evil, because even when he acts malicious and terrible, everybody just brushes him off without any fear of repercussion. Even the Ultimate Good Guy Wizard King doesn't seem to have any misgivings about working for him. He's like a benign tumor everyone expects to get removed sooner or later, so it'll be interesting to see if his character actually goes anywhere or if what we see is what we get.
We're also introduced to a few new characters this week, since several of the Magic Knights squads have been in need of new management. Kaiser Granvorka is taking over the Purple Orcas because Gueldre Poizo turned out to be a traitor, and Mereoleona Vermillion is taking over the Crimson Lions because her brother Fuegoleon ate shit a few arcs ago. I was hoping we'd see more of Mereoleona, because I know she's supposed to be a lot of fun, but for now she's just hanging out in the background.
This wasn't a particularly exciting episode, but it isn't really trying to be. This is more a moment of reflection where Asta finally gets some public recognition for all his hard work, and it's nice to see his squad so eager to let him take the stage on their behalf. Since Asta and Yuno were both born peasants, they're the kingdom's primary chance to validate the Wizard King's meritocracy, and most importantly this is a transition episode as we gear up for a Magic Knights exam to determine who will be among the "Royal Knights," mages picked by the king himself to lead the attack on the Eye of the Midnight Sun. As a heartwarming celebration of our two main characters, it's a little underwhelming, but this is also as clear as the story has gotten about its themes and desired trajectory, so I'd say it did okay.
Black Clover is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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