Black Clover
Episodes 72-73

by Sam Leach,

How would you rate episode 72 of
Black Clover ?

How would you rate episode 73 of
Black Clover ?

You know, Black Clover has done its fair share of playing around in the shonen toy box, but it's taken its time getting around to a proper tournament arc. We've had the Magic Knights' entrance exam and the Underwater Temple's combat game, but there's a certain purity to good ole brackets on a white board. Per the king's objective, a new exam is being held amongst the Magic Knights to decide who gets to be in the elite 'Royal Knights' to face off against the Midnight Sun, and this new group could be made up of any combination of Black Bulls, Golden Dawns, etc.

We've got two episodes to cover this week, the first of which is a continuation of Mereoleona's volcano training. When we last left off, I was wondering how Asta would make his way through the mountain range without any magic, and the answer seems kind of obvious in retrospect. This new challenge coaxes Asta into figuring out his demon transformation, which he can now trigger by concentrating his ki. If he's going to start using this form with more regularity, then it makes sense to wade into these waters now.

That's about as interesting as episode 72 gets, as the remainder is a fairly terrible hot springs misadventure. Everybody gets naked, the girls have a few moments of solidarity, and the guys argue over whether they should spy on the girls or not. I was surprised that Yami was the one to talk about how "If you're a man, you'll do it." It seems out of character for him to care about that stuff at all. The punchline is Asta boisterously declaring not to peek because he only has eyes for Sister Lily, and the episode hard cuts on that non-joke with a big "TRAINING ARC: OVER" title card. I blinked and the whole thing was over.

There's an ounce more substance to be found as we move on to episode 73, because we have a new major character to meet. Our new monster-mouthed friend is named Xerx Lügner—well no, that's actually somebody else's name and we don't know this new guy's identity yet, but I want it on record that "Xerx Lügner" has two Xs and an umlaut in his name, and you gotta respect that at least a little. Xerx-prime is the snooty vice-captain of the Purple Orcas, and the new guy beats him up and assumes his place in the tournament. I'll call the new guy "Faux-Xerx" so we can have three Xs now.

Faux-Xerx has a really cool look to him. His leather mask makes it look like he's wearing his creepy mouth as an accessory, but that doesn't make sense biologically, so I have to assume Frankenstein-like experiments have been done on him or something. He has an edgy 'tude, as demonstrated by his lack of respect for the Wizard King, but he doesn't seem like a total scumbag, either. There's no way the Wizard King doesn't recognize him as an imposter, and his surprise appearance in the exam is an element of chaos that I'm sure will prove some kind of point.

Episode 73 doesn't have a ton to offer in terms of excitement, but it does have at least one particularly interesting character. The rest of our time this week is spent getting the exam started and establishing who will be teamed up with each other in the tournament. Asta's got Mimosa and Faux-Xerx on his team, and it looks like we're preparing for our first truly competitive encounter between Noelle and one of her older brothers. I'm looking forward to where this tournament could go, even if there's a decent amount of dead weight in these episodes so far.

Rating: B-

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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