by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 89 of
Black Clover ?
On one front of the ongoing battle with the Eye of the Midnight Sun, we have the Royal Knights on the offensive, taking the fight to their enemy's turf. On another front, we have the Midnight Sun specifically targeting the Black Bulls' hideout while Asta, Yami, and others are away. Specifically, this episode is about the baddies Rades, Sally, Valtos facing off against Gordon, Gauche, and Grey as they defend their home.
Black Clover's ensemble cast is fairly large, so there are many opportunities for certain members of the Black Bulls to fall by the wayside. It certainly doesn't hurt to have episodes like this that put the spotlight on its less focused-on characters getting the chance to strut their stuff. There are two pretty distinct halves to this episode, the first of which almost could have tricked me into thinking it was filler since we're cutting away from the main action with the Royal Knight's to chill out with these uninvolved characters back at the hideout. This brief aside disrupts the general pace of the new arc, but I found myself enjoying it quite a bit because of how it spins the Black Bulls' proclivity for found family/power-of-friendship stuff. Gordon and Grey are probably the most shy members of the team, with Gauche being equally anti-social—though, that's more of a preference in his case. At least two of these three characters would like to forge deeper bonds with their friends, something that seems to come much easier for the spunky Shonen Jump heroes they've surrounded themselves with.
When the enemy starts attacking their hideout, a number of things are being accomplished at once. Obviously this is a great time for these less-popular heroes to show the world what their made of and deepen their friendships with each other, and it breaks the action up between multiple locations that we can cut back and forth between as the arc goes on. Normally, the villains in an episode like this likely wouldn't impress much, but it helps that all three of these Midnight Sun members were important characters in past arcs so we're bound to remember them from back then. They're enough to put up an interesting fight, at the very least. By the end of the episode, Rades' zombies are offering a unique obstacle in the form of "Number Zero", a zombie made up of multiple Magic Knight squad captains' corpses.
I wouldn't call this an especially ambitious episode, but it succeeds at everything it reaches for. The downtime at the Black Bulls' hideout is enough to remind you that even the easily forgotten characters are still pretty likable (expect Gauche, who's still kind of a creep), which sets the emotional stakes up perfectly for when the action hits and Gordon and Grey are making their big heroic speeches. The cliffhanger is also pretty interesting, where the hideout itself seems to wake up in response to the attack, and a strange blue-haired Cousin It looking young man emerges. Through general fandom osmosis, I believe this character is supposed to be a new member of the Black Bulls? The others don't seem to recognize him, so I take it we're going to be in for a few swerves in the coming episodes.
I'm never the type to demand that every single character in a show gets a chance to shine, but it's always reassuring when fringe characters can surprise you like this. It can add an element of newness that keeps the story fresh—something that isn't often a strength of this series. So far I'm way more invested in this subplot than I am in the main story with Asta, and I hope we can continue to juggle this increasingly large swath of side stories and peripheral characters because stuff like this is as close as the show gets to harnessing its overwrought shonen energy.
Black Clover is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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