Black Clover ‒ Episode 149

3 weeks ago 13

Given its up-and-down nature over the course of its run, expecting Black Clover to have a strong continuation after delivering maybe its best arc to date was probably hoping for too much. “Two Things We Need to Find” is hardly a total flop of an episode, as its closely-related opening and closing scenes were meaty, but its return to many of the show's normal antics represents a major step down from the quality levels achieved in the last few episodes.

I don't just mean in narrative quality, either. Seriously, did the series switch art directors, or was this episode extra-rushed or something? Throughout the episode I could not shake the impression that the artistry was off. The difference was not huge, but character designs looked a bit rougher and off-proportion in numerous places (especially in the middle of the episode), animation seemed more limited, and colors less vibrant. Eyes seemed to be a particular problem spot, even though they were occasionally supposed to be goofy. The series has seen artistic fluctuations before, but this is one of its lower points on that front.

The episode's good content lies in how it connects the pre-opener and closing scenes. The former flashes back 500 years to a conversation Nero (then Secré) had with Lumiere about a device which would allow those with little magic access to more, as those with limited magic were a recognized problem even then. The grim irony here, of course, is that Lumiere getting caught up in the devil's schemes prevented that design from ever being realized, and so the problem remained unresolved into modern times and led to the incident with the Devil Banishers. (Exactly how that problem did not get examined and addressed in 500 years' time is a matter that the series will likely conveniently sweep under the rug.) That leads us to the scene at the end, where Julius shows Nero the book that Lumiere had been writing back in his time – the same book, incidentally, that she is clutching in the current opener. That Julius is going to make Lumiere's legacy happen is one of the series' more touching moments and a reaffirmation again that all that Lumiere and Nero had endured and struggled against may not have been in vain.

Sadly, the return of Queen Loropechika also marks the turn to abject goofiness, including mistaking a stomachache for a genuine crisis, but hey, at least it gives Finral, Noelle, and Asta an excuse to go to the Heart Kingdom again to get involved in further silliness over there over how clumsy the Queen is, how careless she is with glasses, beaver thieves, and Noelle going all gaga over cute beavers. (Yes, there is a joke to be had there, and no, I won't touch it.) Loropechika being so incompetent physically despite being so potent magically is already old as a running gag despite this only being the second time that it comes up. At least the reason for the contact was somewhat accomplished: the pending training sessions with the Spirit Guardians have now more or less been formalized and will presumably be starting shortly.

“Shortly” could be a couple of episodes down the road, however, as next episode looks like more random foolishness with other Magic Knights squads. At least the good parts at the beginning and end hold up the weak parts in the middle, which is the only reason I'm not giving this episode a subpar rating.

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Black Clover is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and FUNimation.

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