by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 123 of
Black Clover ?
How would you rate episode 124 of
Black Clover ?
How would you rate episode 125 of
Black Clover ?
Recap episode are almost always a disappointment for fans, but hectic production schedules sometimes make them an unfortunate necessity even for single-cour series, much less long-running ones. Black Clover has used them at least a couple of times before, and not always with good timing, but I can't make that complaint this time. If a series is going to spend two straight episodes on recaps then doing it following a 120+-episode climax and right before the series transitions into a new phase is the ideal time to do it, as it gives the story a chance to contemplate where it comes from before heading out on the next big quest. That the series didn't come back from that with something stronger than episode 125 is a little disappointing, however.
Episodes 123 and 124 constitute a recap from Nero/Secré's perspective (I am going to hereafter call her just Nero unless the writing clearly indicates that she's retaining her original name), which features about 10% original animation and 90% previously-aired clips. Episode 123 leans most heavily on events from episodes 117 and 118, while episode 124 focuses on Nero's observations of Asta's earlier days and progression through the rest of the storyline. Hearing more commentary on Nero's thoughts about Asta might have been nice, but this is a minimal effort and produces wholly forgettable results. If you're catching up, watch the first couple of minutes of each episode and the last couple of minutes of episode 124 and you can otherwise skip the rest without feeling like you're missing anything.
Episode 125 is where the new content finally begins again, but it's what I call a “goof-around” episode. That means that it exists primarily to allow everyone in the Black Bulls to get a chance to show off their personalities while otherwise doing little of greater consequence. The big actions here are Henry's redesigning of the Black Bulls' former base and the three monsters that Yami had been keeping as pets having escaped and needing to be retrieved before they did harm to surrounding villages. Of those two, the base redesign looks like it's going to amount to something, with Henry not remembering how the base was structured (perhaps because he kept having to adjust it to account for damage done) and everyone giving him requests for features that they would like to have. Predictably, that doesn't come together well, so a reversion to the original base design happens. Familiar, but not exciting.
The business with the escaped monsters has a bit more substance to it, but only a little. Yami has never, that I can recall, explained how he came to have those monsters as pets, and this episode finally lays that out. The story is in line with how Yami gathered the rest of the Black Bulls: he found them in distress as the equivalent of pups and took them in, and they love him for it, to the point of being over-affectionate, as multiple Black Bulls find out the hard way. (And honestly, did anyone really believe they were harmfully attacking the Black Bulls at any point?) The hunt for them is mostly just a chance for everyone to show off their personality quirks and revert to form now that the life-or-death circumstances are over; Noelle is back to full tsundere mode, Magnus and Luck have resumed their competitive rivalry, and so forth. Nero shows that she can now seemingly revert to bird form at will, which could be significant in the future, but the equally big development is that Gordon is now talking at an audible level (even if still on the soft side).
On the artistic front, things are par for the course except for Noelle getting some really great expressions; I chose my favorite from the episode for the screen shot. The other interesting development is a wholly new prologue, replacing the one that's been used (with slight variations) for nearly ever previous episode.
Based on the Next Episode preview, looks like the story is going to piddle around a while longer, but with no major sense of urgency at the moment, that's okay. The series has had its day in the sun for the year, so let it piddle for a while.
Black Clover is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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