by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 88 of
Black Clover ?
It's time for the attack on the Eye of the Midnight Sun to commence, but not without a little more padding to space out events. Newly christened into the Royal Knights, Asta and friends get to chill out with a banquet where they can let their different personalities bounce off each other a little more. As far as character interactions go, there's not much new this week. Everybody's simply reiterating on their relationships to kill some time.
Looking at the manga, the story jumps into the upcoming battle almost immediately, which allows us to note a few meaningful differences. The manga paints the Royal Knights as a more efficient, brass-tacks kind of organization, but the banquet in the anime makes them feel more indulgent, like they have to celebrate before they've even done anything, as if they feel the need to please the languorous rich people on the team. I don't think think that's necessarily intentional, but given how critical Black Clover is of its royal characters compared to its hardworking underdogs, there's a texture present that's in line with what we've been seeing. The in-story explanation for why our heroes are waiting instead of immediately jumping into action is that Mereoleona is trying to lure Midnight Sun spies into revealing themselves. Once her plan works and they find a spy using magic to hide in people's shadows, she moves the attack up by two days.
Once we start zeroing in on the Midnight Sun's home base, we see the Royal Knights split up into teams yet again. As with the exams, the emphasis seems to be on pairing up characters from different squads for more variety. Though Asta and Zora are still together and being directed by Mereoleona herself. I do like the look of the enemy hideout being a big magical floating labyrinth. I want to see more fantastical locations and set pieces in this series. Since we're splitting up into groups and entering a complexly designed area, you'd figure there'd be some kind of tactical strategy employed by the Magic Knights, but Mereoleona's direct orders to the team are simply, "fight however you want!", and the ensuing battle starts out pretty generic. The most interesting thing to keep an eye on at the moment would be the older characters. Mereoleona is serving as our leader for the time being and she's fighting alongside Noelle's older brother Nozel. They're both equally motivated to fight on Fuegoleon's behalf, and there's always been a ton of unspoken history between squad captains in this series.
We're still only getting started with this new arc, but both halves of this episode leave me pretty unsatisfied between the dull filler and the limp first strike on the Midnight Sun. There's so much that the anime could do to flesh out what gets lost in the manga's breakneck pace, but we so often get the worst of both worlds instead. Right now we're fighting off a bunch of random goons and saving nameless damsels, so the story could do with a more specific plan of action for our heroes. By the end of this episode, Rhya appears ready to fight, which hopefully means we're in for something good. The Third Eye members have been the most interesting villains in the series so far, so I'm counting on next week to bring the meatier content.
Black Clover is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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