Can Asta and his teammates stand up to Langris’ overwhelming ability? Remember, if you like this article and 5 Point Discussions, please share it on Facebook or Twitter! It really helps. And if you’ve got any comments or questions, please hit me up @SageShinigami.
1. Despite Zora being well outside the age group for it, he is absolutely the most angsty teenager this show has. Last episode we left off with Asta leaving things to Zora and his trap magic to allow him the time to go into his powered up form, but Langris’ magic manages to go past the trap circle he creates. It almost hits Zora, until we learn Zora drew trap circles on his own body because he’s an edgelord who would take the chance of casting magic on himself constantly. If you’ve got any doubt of Zora’s status as an angst-ridden dork, the picture above should dissuade you–who but the edgiest of edgelords would refer to themselves as “hopeless rage incarnate”?
That said, Zora’s very much still a Good Boy. To begin with, you could easily replace all these recaps at the start of the episode (more on that later) with Zora roasting everyone like he has been every episode. After every victory, he’s pointed out the flaws in his opponent’s mindset and strategy, and this episode even sees him go far enough to lay into his own teammates…and in a moment of self-reflection, he even talks about his own flaws and how he could’ve helped the team more. It’s this kind of careful pragmatism that’s going to be helpful in the coming battle with the Midnight Sun.
2. Man, this fight really should’ve lasted longer. In the end, despite all the strategizing, it all comes down to Asta va. Langris, and while Asta finishes him off in a pretty decisively, it’s not what it could’ve been. The animation is a bit more static in the first half of the episode, and the fight lacks the feeling of a satisfactory “impact”–pretty important considering Langris goes down in a single hit. Asta goes into his Dark Asta form, and we see him remind Langris–and everyone–what the tournament is supposed to be for. How this was meant to teach them how to work together to protect the nation, rather than bolster their egos and how special they are.
What is frustrating is that shonen isn’t really built to handle the premise put forward by Langris in the previous episode. “The strongest person, the one who wins the most, is always right.” It’s an inherently fascistic view of things, yet in shonen literally the only way that can end is having the hero win, proving himself the strongest and thus “right”. Now of course, the context is that Asta’s way of doing things is kinder–people want to believe in him over Langris’ “no one else deserves to stand on this stage” beliefs, but it still feels like one point is undercutting the other.
Before anyone thinks I’m complaining too much for this though, this scene above? Beautiful. Asta obliterates Langris’ crystal, but since his crystal falls apart as well, they’re both disqualified, ending their match in a tie. Realizing all his bravado, all his words, still resulted in him losing? It still feels like failure to him. He’s laid everything on the line for his comrade, and to prove Langris wrong, and after a day of pushing himself to the brink he literally can’t keep himself up anymore…but everyone else is there for him. Not just the Black Bulls–all the fighters watching rush to him. He’s that kind of person–he inspires people to want to work with and alongside him.
3. We’re somehow both stalling and in a rush this episode, so we get the second match in the second round of the tournament, where Luck and Klaus wind up fighting the Captain of the Aqua Deer squadron. It’s over in a flash, as Luck comes up with a technique to win the match in one shot…and Rill outsmarts him to redirect his own technique for the instant win. What’s noticeable here is how both Luck and Rill put into practice things they’ve learned from seeing other people fight. Luck realized he could combine his magic with his teammates to create a giant lightning arrow, the way Asta’s opponent’s did in the first round. Rill realized he could redirect magic like Zora did in the second round. Both have become better strategists, if not outright stronger, thanks to this tournament.
4. The best part about Asta and Yuno’s rivalry is how seriously Yuno takes it. He’s cold to Asta, but no one notices Asta’s growth more than Yuno–arguably no one believes in him more. That’s why he keeps trying to prove he’s better–because he knows if he lets up for a second, Asta will blaze past him and there’ll never be any catching up. It seems absurd, but he might have the most logical stance on his childhood friend. Asta wasn’t even supposed to have magic, yet he has something close. He wasn’t supposed to join the Magic Knights, but he has. He’s fought beings powerful as Magic Knight Captains, succeeded multiple times in the worst scenarios. Even here, he crushes the Vice Captain of Yuno’s squad in a single blow. It’s that kind of motivation that leads to Yuno being motivated enough to wipe out their enemy all on his own.
They’re the last scrub group standing so it’s an easy victory, setting us up for the last match: Rill (and his scrubs) vs. Yuno’s team, which the Wizard King proclaims as the finals.
5. Next Episode: If you’re following along with these episodes, you’ll notice they’ve started to add longer and longer recaps to these episodes. With another 20 episodes to go, expect things like that to fill out certain episodes, and filler like last week’s to try and make the episode count equal out, especially since after this arc comes what’s currently happening in the manga, a story that hasn’t even wrapped up properly yet. This is noteworthy because as of next episode we will be looking at the finals of this arc–Yuno and Noelle’s team against Rill and his group of scrubs. How are they going to handle what comes next?
Black Clover is available for streaming on Funimation, Crunchyroll, and Hulu.