Black Clover
Episodes 59-60

by Sam Leach,

How would you rate episode 59 of
Black Clover ?

How would you rate episode 60 of
Black Clover ?

With the Eye of the Midnight Sun and the Diamond Kingdom attacking the Witch's Forest at the same time (seemingly by pure coincidence—a fact that wasn't super clear up front for some reason) our heroes have to break their available fighters into two groups. This splits these two episodes pretty evenly, since each episode gets a chance to focus on each respective enemy, the first being Asta's group vs. Fana of the Midnight Sun and the second being Fanzel's group vs. the Diamonds.

There's clearly something going on with the higher rung members of the Midnight Sun. As villainous as Vetto was, his fight ended on a fairly sympathetic note. Now we're meeting Fana, a.k.a. "The Hatred", who looks like she's teetering on the verge of a mental breakdown at all times. There are a lot of disparate elements keeping the Midnight Sun mysterious—What are they trying to exact revenge for? What's up with Licht and Vangeance? Why does Fana look like the girl from Mars's backstory?—to the point where Asta feels the need to cut straight to the chase: "Can't we just understand each other?!"

It's a potentially interesting angle. The strength of having a really blunt protagonist is that he can cut through increasingly complicated political strife when necessary by speaking directly to the heart, but as usual the pacing and structure is just too bizarre. It takes about five seconds into the battle for Asta to get right up in her face and make his big heroic proclamations. It doesn't work, it ultimately just unravels her and makes her even less stable of an opponent to fight, but it's still emblematic of how this arc jumps straight to really big emotional beats without any meaningful build-up. Snappy plotting may be the thing that sets Black Clover apart from its brethren, but a lot of really basic stuff gets left out as a result.

I like Fana because there's a sense that she's trying to meet an expectation, like she's been inundated with all this anti-Clover hate and now has to play the part of vengeful terrorist despite the transparent emotional disaster beneath the surface. It makes me wish that this arc could be about just one or two things that get properly fleshed out as opposed to the five million things that force us to move on from each subplot so quickly. Between Asta's arms, Vanessa's tragic backstory, the Midnight Sun's issues, and now the Diamond Kingdom, we have a plethora of subplots that all have their own distinct through-lines being cycled through at a rapid clip.

The second of these two episodes is where we focus on the Diamond Kingdom. This is where the previous Fanzel flashbacks almost become important, since this is where Fanzel's worth as a teacher comes into play. I say "almost" because even all that considered the fact that Fanzel happened to be the instructor to our main Diamond Kingdom antagonists, Ladros and Mars, is just sort of dropped in our laps. Thankfully, Mars is a Good Boy and betrays Ladros, and the day is saved thanks to the efforts of Mars and Mariella, two former students who couldn't let a crisis of conscious keep them down long.

These are back-to-back action episodes, and overall they look solid for what we're used to seeing from Black Clover. The Fana episode especially is full of variety in terms of how many different attacks our heroes have to throw at her, including a big clash between fire and water dragons. It's certainly acceptable, though I hope we get to see some of that A-game material before the arc is over. In the meantime there are plenty of team-up attacks, which has generally been the series' strong suit.

One of the downsides of dissecting a long-running show like this week-to-week is that you never know if all the different pieces eventually come together or not. As I am now I feel like I can understand the story to the best of my ability and still be left confused because the past three episodes may as well been cherry-picked from three completely different arcs. It's both the speed at which it changes gears and the sheer number of coincidences that need happen so that these unrelated events can coexist. Cohesion has always been Black Clover's biggest failing, but now we're looking at numerous subplots that show plenty of promise individually, and they're being stretched so thin by the aimless mechanisms of the plot.

It just seems odd to me.

Rating: C

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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