Black Clover
Episode 86

by Sam Leach,

How would you rate episode 86 of
Black Clover ?

ALAS. We're not out of the filler weeds yet. Yami's flashback continues as he and William reconvene with the Wizard King, who has a new mission for them. This mission deals with yet another wave of bandits, but this time they're suspected to be in cahoots with a traitor from the Magic Knights, using rare magical artifacts that they wouldn't be capable of acquiring on their own. I gotta wonder what's up with recent Shonen Jump series and their fixation on traitor subplots. Black Clover already had one not too long ago.

The action is a little more impactful this time around, but the substance of the story is still thin. The boar-riding bandit from last week has returned, wielding a powerful new weapon, and it's revealed that he's being aided by not one, but two Magic Knights. (They're a pair of filler characters we've never heard of before.) Why a Magic Knight would work with bandits isn't really clear. Perhaps working for the Clover Kingdom just doesn't pay good enough. In any case, Yami and William are strong, and sometimes the people who are supposed to be the good guys aren't all they're cracked up to be.

This story concludes with the creation of the Black Bulls and the Golden Dawns. The Wizard King, pleased with Yami and William's successful mission, appoints them as captains of two new squads that they get to name for themselves. Yami wants to create a squad where misfits can belong, so he chooses the color black to represent mixing all the colors into one. This is the most significant thing we learn throughout this entire flashback, but I'm not sure I'm pleased with this take. It was more fun to think a crew like the Black Bulls could exist thanks to Yami's laziness—the fact that he doesn't care about class or blood-relation being the positive upside of his callousness. Hearing him flat-out say that he wants to bring people together because of his personal origin as a foreigner in the Clover Kingdom takes some roughhousing charm away from the Black Bulls. Of course, that can still be a subtextual element that explains why he's drawn to the Astas of the world, but sometimes stuff like that is best left unspoken.

William, by contrast, decides to call his new squad the Golden Dawn to represent hope in dark times, as well as shining excellence. The "hope" angle will likely prove to be a tragic irony, I'm sure. Overall, this is a weak way to explain the beginning of these two major squads. Those bandits seemed like small potatoes compared to the massive adventures that Magic Knights are known for getting into. I think this two-parter could have been more interesting if we had more than two characters to spend our time with. What were the other squad captains like when they were younger? That's the challenge of filler like this, where the show isn't allowed to flesh the story out too much, lest they trample over the intended canon in some way. The best you can usually hope for is something mild and disposable, and this certainly fits the bill.


Black Clover is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Sam Leach records about One Piece for The One Piece Podcast and you can find him on Twitter @LuckyChainsaw

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