Black Clover
Episodes 102-103

by Sam Leach,

How would you rate episode 102 of
Black Clover ?

How would you rate episode 103 of
Black Clover ?

Episode 102 was mostly a recap episode (there's been a fair number of those lately, hasn't there?) so let's move right along to epiosde 103, shall we? To start, we have a new opening already, with 'sky & blue' getting swapped out for 'RiGHT NOW' by EMPiRE. I don't have much to say about this one beyond its decision to prominently feature the elves as if they were the new main characters of the show. They're basked in the same dramatic strobe lighting that the Black Bulls were in during 'Guess Who is Back,' which I think is a cool choice. Right now, Black Clover's most appealing aspect is its villains' quasi-sympathetic position. We're gonna be seeing more of them whether we like it or not, so it'd be nice if we got to understand them as characters a little better as the story unfolds.

Speaking of, these two episodes focus on Asta and Yuno dealing with the poison plant-using elf who's been attacking Hage village. I wish they had given this guy a name so I don't have to simply refer to him as "the elf," but we go on to learn the human he's possessing is a man named Digit Taliss. The big action set piece that takes him down is pretty underwhelming, since we're just throwing Asta at the bad guy for the millionth time, but the impact comes from the emphasis on the elf's internal conflict, which results from seeing Asta use Licht's old sword. The elves always seem to respond poorly to evidence that the two races are ultimately pretty similar. Their whole backstory is about trusting the humans and getting burned, so now they're terrified that any vulnerability they show will get exploited. Raia nearly states it outright in an accompanying scene: "Yeah, that pure-hearted shonen underdog is probably right, but that's like, really embarrassing, man." (Raia talks like Jeff Bridges in my headcanon.) The war persists out of stubbornness and the elves' fear of not having conviction.

The only proper story development in the first of these two episodes is the follow-up on Asta's sword situation, with him finally discovering that he's now in possession of the sword that Licht was using. This new sword isn't as intimidating in Asta's hands as it was with Licht, since it's so much smaller than the buster swords our little stinker's usually swinging around. It has the ability to undo magic spells, like the poison that nearly consumes Father Orsi, but it's hard to take an interest in the minutia of each weapon's anti-magic qualities. See, one sword undoes magic, and the other undoes magic effects, so Asta's gotta think strategically about these things! He won't. It doesn't matter. Let's move on.

Compared to the past few weeks, there's at least a healthy amount of variety in this week's episode. We're cutting around to different locations and scenes at a nice pace, and I'm increasingly invested in the elves' self-immolation. They're so captivatingly insecure in as diverse number of ways as the humans we've met throughout our adventures, and figuring them out one elf at a time appears to be necessary in undoing their possession and getting our human friends back. The action leaves a lot to be desired, as does the camaraderie between Asta, Yuno, and the villagers, but the human-elf dynamic is great and I hope the series can mine some good material as we trod along. I'm sure peace and harmony will win in the end and it'll be straightforward and cheesy, but there are nuggets of something a little more three-dimensional every now and then that I can respect.

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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