by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 87 of
Black Clover ?
It's finally time to hear the results of the tournament and find out who's made it into the Clover Kingdom's Royal Knights. Miss Mereoleona has barged into the Black Bulls' headquarters to snatch the lucky winners away and prep them for the upcoming battle.
So who was fortunate enough to make the cut? The answer is everyone, kind of. The tournament was more of an exhibition than an indiscriminate pass/fail exam, so of the Black Bulls who participated, Asta, Noelle, and Luck have joined their ranks, as did many familiar faces from the rival squads, regardless of how far they made it through the tournament or how much they contributed to their respective fights. It makes me wonder why we even needed a tournament in the first place if the story was just going to liberally pick whichever characters it wanted to move forward. It reminds me of the time that I took an acting class and at the end of the semester, the teacher gave us all A's because he was too embarrassed to actually evaluate us.
At the same time, that's not entirely accurate. There are two Black Bulls being left by the wayside, Magna and Finral. Finral's absence makes sense since he's still healing from his injuries, but who knows what Magna got disqualified for. It's not a question anybody is curious enough to ask. So I repeat: why was there a tournament?! Does Yuki Tabata even think tournaments are cool? This episode has a throwaway joke where Rill, the runner-up in the exam, is shocked to learn that he didn't have to participate in the tournament in order to join because he's already a squad captain, which just about sums the whole thing up perfectly. Events happen that are neither interesting nor necessary, and then the characters jokingly acknowledge that their adventures were pointless. It's almost poetic in its meaninglessness.
There's a setup and payoff in this episode regarding a mysterious fourth Black Bull who passed the exam, but Mereoleona can't find him at their base. Later in the episode, we find out she was talking about Zora, who in a bizarre retcon is revealed to have been a member of the Black Bulls this entire time. At some point in the past, he bumped into Yami, who liked the cut of his jib and gave him a Black Bull robe to put on any time he felt like it. Zora ignored this invitation, then later joined the Royal Knights exams pretending to be a Purple Orca, and now that he's grown up a little, he's he's ready to be a proper Magic Knight this time. I always enjoy it when you get to see the main group of heroes grow and add more regulars to their cast, and I already like Zora a lot. The random swerve the story pulled to get him into the Black Bulls ASAP is weird, but I don't mind it in this case, because at least something novel came of it.
This would be a much more mediocre episode if not for the final stinger where we dive into the dreams of Raia, the last surviving member of the Midnight Sun's Third Eye trio. He's remembering an idyllic time when he, Licht, and the other Midnight Sun members were a part of a white-haired, elf-like race. At this point in the series, I'm a tad rusty on these characters, but I remember that they're on a vengeful mission against the Clover Kingdom because their people were wiped out unjustly. There's a lot packed into this dream sequence, and as always we're left questioning who the real villains are. It wouldn't surprise me if the Clover Kingdom had some blood on its hands, but the elves' immaculate purity also raises some red flags. Then again, a central piece of this flashback is how Licht was in love with a human woman and they were going to have a baby together and bridge the races before tragedy struck, which reminds me a lot of the Espers from Final Fantasy VI. Where will our sympathies lie when the dust clears?
The plot maneuvering that got us to the new Royal Knight ranking was as slapdash as they come, but it looks like we're on the verge of a much bigger arc. We're slowly cutting deeper into the background story connecting the Midnight Sun to the Magic Knights, so hopefully we're in for an emotional rollercoaster ahead. The bulk of this episode, where we establish who's made it into the Royal Knights and then get everybody into their new unflattering purple robes, leaves a lot to be desired, but there managed to be a few nuggets of material to keep us going for the time being. I just wish I was more invested in the current story than whatever's up ahead.
Black Clover is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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