by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 106 of
Black Clover ?
How would you rate episode 107 of
Black Clover ?
How would you rate episode 108 of
Black Clover ?
Wow! I've got three episodes to review! Let's get right into it:
Episode 106: Of course, Black Clover wouldn't qualify for the genre that it belongs to without some bad guys turning into good guys. You may have forgotten about Rades, Valtos, and Sally this late in the game—I nearly did—but rest assured, they're still alive and kicking. Or, um, maybe they did die, but got brought back to life? Something about Rades' wraith magic leveled up just as he was about to pass into the great beyond, and now he has the power to save human souls from vanishing in the elf reincarnation process. Characters getting new powers at the most convenient possible time is a trope that Black Clover's committed to, so I'll take our new batch of half-baddie allies as a win for now. There's an interesting scene where Asta chews Rades out for being motivated by revenge instead of helping people, but they seem to resolve their differences pretty quickly.
We've also got William Vangeance to think about this week, as we spend a little time in his mind as he fades away and Patry completely takes over their shared body. Is William dead for real? This strikes me as the sort of thing the story will eventually reverse, although I suppose it's important to have at least one example of the elven reincarnation actually extinguishing a human soul, letting us know there is a time limit on getting our human friends back.
Episode 107 and Episode 108: These episodes work as a pair, so it makes sense to talk about them together. This being Black Clover's first properly “epic” arc, it's teeming with characters and match-ups happening all across the country, and I'm really starting to get fatigued by how most of the villains blur together. Unless a major character has been possessed or the fight involves Licht or Patry, the various elves seem to exist mostly just give our heroes something to fight against, and that's no exception here.
The focal characters this time around are the Silva family, as Noelle must team up with her abusive siblings in order to fend off attacker in their family home. This beat would land a lot worse if Noelle hadn't gotten the opportunity to trounce her brother Solid in the Royal Knights exam recently, though it still feels grossly undercooked. Protagonists dealing with and eventually overcoming their crappy family members is a theme as old as time, though it's been been coming up with startling frequently in Shonen Jump as of late. Trying to comb through the minutia and weighing the pros and cons of each series' approach is starting to feel like its own spectator sport. “Does this manga author earn the redemption arc they've set up for their anti-hero? Find out on the next episode of Dragon Piece Academia Z!” Of Noelle's siblings, Nozel comes out looking the best, having been more emotionally distant than outright malicious. We learn he intentionally paired her with the Black Bulls thinking they would keep her out of harm's way, and he apologizes for underestimating her after she comes in clutch in the battle against the elves, which is something, I guess.
In Noelle's most grand shining moment yet, she adopts a transformation called “Valkyrie Armor,” a water-themed homage to her late mother's famous spell. On a storyboard level, this plays out like one of the show's flashier, more choreographed fights, though the animation remains pared back. The emotional catharsis rests on Noelle finally honing her naturally strong magic, which she always had trouble controlling. It's a hard work/natural talent one-two punch, and her siblings are forced to watch in awe after they spent years taking their frustrations out on her.
Black Clover fights routinely feel off because they behave like standard shonen battle manga fights, but the story is wound so tightly and snappiness is prioritized over giving us any chance to marinate. A problem will arise, a character will pull a new attack and solve it immediately, and then we're onto the next thing. Nozel's change of heart happens before we even know where his heart even was to begin with. There's no push and pull in the drama, and major character development plays out too smoothly. This may be a good batch of episodes for some Noelle ass-kicking, but the Elf Invasion arc could use a new shot of energy before we get bogged down any further. The human drama is wearing thin, and the villains haven't been interesting for a few months now.
Black Clover is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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