by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 79 of
Black Clover ?
You know the tournament has truly begun when a fight takes more than a single episode. With Kirsch momentarily out of the picture, Asta has to fight his own Black Bulls comrade Magna, and Mimosa has her hands full with Sol Marron of the Blue Roses. Team B has already hashed out their teamwork deficiency with Zora letting his partners in on his pranks, so now it's the opposing team who has to figure out how to work together, which is easier said than done when you have a narcissist like Kirsch sitting in a pit and feeling sorry for himself.
We get a couple of flashbacks this week, one for Kirsch and one for Sol. Kirsch's is pretty brief; he and Mimosa were young watching peasant children steal bread, which bolstered Kirsch's disdain for poor people. By the end of the episode, we revisit this flashback and see that the children were actually stealing bread to feed their loved ones (the oldest ethical dilemma in the book), and Mimosa uses that memory to make a point about inner and outer beauty. Kirsch is very focused on his looks, so this whole "people can be beautiful on the inside" thing is new to him.
Sol's flashback, on the other hand, shows her life as a commoner. She's always been a tough kid, but even when her male friends would acknowledge that she's stronger than them, they'd still be weird and sexist about it by insisting that it's a man's job to protect women. Sol doesn't appreciate this, but then bandits attack their village and she finds herself in trouble, which is when her friends show their true colors and run away scared. This is when she met Charlotte Roselei, who appeared to save the day and inspired Sol to join the Magic Knights. Much is being embellished from the manga here, to my knowledge. There's some additional wholesome girl power solidarity to appreciate, along with Sol's dauntless lesbian affection for Charlotte, however that stuff still coexists with Charlotte's "tragically hetero" backstory, so take it however you will.
Among the royals vs. peasants talk, there sadly isn't much that goes into connecting these fairly obvious ideas. Sol slaps Kirsch awake and they just sort of agree to disagree. She doesn't want to fight alongside a self-absorbed man just like he doesn't want to fight alongside a commoner, so that's the closest thing they have to common ground. Once Team C has finally lost, Kirsch is able to acknowledge the inner beauty of poor people; a pleasant conclusion that I wish felt more earned. I think on some level we're supposed to juxtapose Asta and Magna's fight—the down and dirty delinquents with oodles of enthusiasm—with Kirsch's desire for meticulous artistry, but it never quite lands. "That was beautiful," Kirsch admits while staring wistfully at the sky and remembering the scarcely animated battle between two characters who were barely in the episode.
Overall, this was a serviceable installment, and I'm happy that these tournament matches are finally about something, but as usual Black Clover has a lot of difficulty getting any substance out of its good ideas. It rarely seems confident in its emotional through-lines, so character arcs unfold quickly without the bare minimum finesse it would take to make them shine. It's an acceptable outing where it matters, but I beg for the show to offer me more.
Black Clover is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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