by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 78 of
Black Clover ?
The first round of the Royal Knights tournament has now concluded, meaning it's up to the winning teams to face off against each other. I'm still really lost as to who all is participating in these exams, because there are so many side characters left watching on the sidelines, and I figured that the first round's focus on weeding out fodder at least made sense considering there's bound to be hundreds of Magic Knights in the running. I've been flipping through this part of the manga every week, feeling like a crazy person for not being able to find some explanation like "you have to volunteer to be in the tournament" or "the Wizard King hand picked his favorite prospective knights" or something. I feel like I'm being told to just go with it after I've ordered chicken and been delivered only bones (and not even all the bones).
Anyway, it's time to commence Round Two, which begins with Asta, Mimosa, and Xerx (henceforth referred to as "Team B") competing with Magna, Sol, and Kirsch ("Team C"). We can even begin referring to Xerx as Zora, since his true name gets dropped in a flashback partway through the episode, so I'll just start calling him that from now on.
Going into this fight, the conflict appears to be between Mimosa and her brother Kirsch, as well as Zora's eagerness to fight a member of royalty, but what quickly takes center stage is Asta trying to get Zora to act like a team player. At the outset of the battle, Asta unleashes his new demon form, but only long enough to release the traps that Zora laid down ahead of time. I really like Asta this week, because he's more cheeky and smug than usual. He's not trying to rat Zora out for being a cheater, he just wants Zora to let his teammates in on the pranks. I think this is a good compromise for Zora's "arc" or whatever he's going through, where teamwork and friendship won't necessarily fix his bad attitude, just coexist with it. I like seeing Asta's enthusiasm as he puts his own team at a momentary disadvantage so they can form their secret prank cabal and make Zora feel like part of the gang. It's an ironic yet positive twist on the purpose of the tournament, which is to measure teamwork.
So far Kirsch and his cherry blossom magic are the stars of the opposing team, though as of this week we don't see him interacting with Mimosa all that much. He's the token snooty royal and the first victim of Asta and Zora's new traps. Kirsch thinks he's got the trap spells covered, but falls into a hand-dug pit on accident because he's so focused on magic that he can't predict a practical trap. Asta takes him out with his anti-magic (still not an interesting way to win every fight), and I hope Kirsch isn't completely out of the fight already, because he's the only thematically compelling opponent on hand right now.
We're getting into the thick of this tournament at last, so every match from this point forward should have something going for it. I'm a little frustrated at how poorly the conceit of this arc has been holding up, since tournaments are already blank slates that you don't have to bend over backwards to explain but this one still feels undercooked. Otherwise, we're getting back to the most engaging aspects of this story, like classism and Zora's complicated relationship with the Magic Knights. I'm fairly happy with where that stuff seems to be going.
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