by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 85 of
Black Clover ?
With the conclusion of the Royal Knights exams, Black Clover is taking yet another chance to chill with a low-stakes filler episode. The Black Bulls are waiting for the exam results to find out who passed and who didn't, and to kill time they all decide to take a hot bath together and listen to a story from Yami's early years in the Magic Knights.
There's really not much to say about this episode, since it's as benign as they come. Once upon a time, Yami was a member of the Gray Deer squad, which is what the Aqua Deers were called back when the Wizard King was their captain, and he found himself on a mission where he was asked to protect a village from bandits in exchange for food. In the middle of this fight, he met William Vangeance for the first time, and they developed a friendly rivalry. This episode is all padding, so story and spectacle are as thin as they come. The most potentially interesting element this week is getting a closer look at the salad days of William's time in the Magic Knights, since we're all waiting for the shoe to drop when he turns out to be evil or possessed or something in the present-day story. This is ye olden days, so it's remarkable that a guy like William and a foreigner like Yami could work together so effortlessly, but that also means that conflict in this episode is nonexistent.
In the present day, Asta's depressed about not getting to fight Yuno in the tournament, so he's zonked out and drooling all over himself while his crew tries to cheer him up. Surely, the eventual results of the exam will get him out of his funk, but until then he'll have to settle for a nice bath. Surprisingly, it's possible for an anime episode to strip its entire cast naked for a bath episode without being even remotely fanservice-y. (Though maybe that would have left a bigger impression on me.) I noticed the voice cast this week were hamming it up extra fierce as well, like they knew the visuals weren't going to bring any energy, so the performances are picking up the slack. I'm not sure I like it, but it stood out.
There was a time when it looked like this show was only going to run for a year, but now it's clear that it's just going to keep going without breaks like its shonen brethren before it. Episodes like this are part of the territory with long-running series, so I'm not surprised that last week's crazy fight is getting followed up with something of this nature. It's not a particularly good or interesting episode, but it's not insulting either. It just sort of exists, and hopefully we're not in store for more stalling before we change scenery for the next arc.
Black Clover is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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