Black Clover
Episode 97

by Sam Leach,

How would you rate episode 97 of
Black Clover ?

Of all the characters I didn't expect to see again, Revchi—the bad guy from episode one—probably wouldn't have made the list because I forgot he even existed. This episode briefly brings us to his whereabouts, where he is reuniting with his former Purple Orcas captain, Gueldre Poizot, in prison. Revchi was an unremarkable villain in retrospect. I get the impression that pieces of his droopy-haired, manic sadism got retrofitted into a slew of other characters as the series went on. He's the original sin. We'll have to wait and see if his new partnership with Gueldre goes anywhere interesting.

So far the elves' most distinctive quality has been their kinship with each other. They're like old friends who haven't seen each other for a while, which is sure to give us mixed feelings as we have to keep fighting them. We can't help but understand the sense of love and community they've fostered, even if their reunion is at the humans' expense. It's extra weird because they are taking on the appearances of characters we already know. Luck and Ben Benfunk* don't know each other well aside from both serving in the Royal Knights, but their resident elves are buddy-buddy and eager to hug it out. I'm genuinely surprised by how many angles this body possession storyline can take. Sometimes it's threatening, and sometimes it's bittersweet. The world is our oyster in terms of fresh potential character work.

*Wow! What a name!

Just a few episodes ago, it looked like our heroes were ready to win, but now the tides have turned considerably. Raia getting the smackdown was fun while it lasted, but now he's powering up and receiving assistance from friends. As he's preparing his counterattack, he confesses that Asta's heroic speeches were starting to get to him. He's not gonna stop pursuing vengeance, because honest optimism has let him down in the past, but there's clearly room for connection and understanding between the warring sides.

As of this episode we've got 1.) Yami continuing to fight Charlotte, 2.) Asta, Zora, and Mereoleona fighting Raia and Rill, and 3.) Noelle and Kirsch fighting Luck and Ben. This is by far the strongest scenario any Black Clover arc has had to date and the narrative has been moving along at a satisfactory clip where multiple fights and subplots can be juggled over the course of multiple episodes without the usual perfunctory wham-bam-thank-you-maam structure. Lots of moving parts, all competing for dominance in the story. That's how I like my shonen anime. None of this is to say I've been outright blown away by much that's happened in the past few weeks, but the foundation is more solid than usual and I'm plenty interested in seeing how things play out from here.

Rating:

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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