This week, uh… this week’s gonna be a tough one to judge, innit?
Action! Action! And… well… Build up for Action! This week was all about getting our blood pumping… or boiling, in one case. Clearly, this was the week of intensity.
How Not to Summon a Demon Lord
I’m getting kinda tired of being wrong about this show. So Alicia does wind up going through with her super evil plan. And not only that, it turns out she’s basically a death seeker. Given how absolutely insane she clearly is, I have to believe there’s more to her motivation than the downright petty stuff we learned about last week. Because if it was just that and she’s this deluded, then… she instantly goes from being a genuinely interesting and fun character to… well… honestly one of the more irritating villain archetypes with a lot of wasted potential. Though it seemed to be briefly implied that she’s not a completely lost cause. Something Rem said registered with her on some level. Though since she’s functionally the cause of all this, I can’t say I don’t expect there to be some sort of consequence for her, down the road. Be it death or just being stripped of her title or whatever. Though if she does wind up sticking around, I get the impression her whole Yandere mode is gonna become a thing.
That aside, though, this episode served as the setup. It’s the beginning of the climax and the penultimate episode of the season. As such, it spent a lot of its time just getting us ready for the final showdown (that I kind of already know bits of the outcome to, unless they deviate from the source material). And in doing so, it pulled it off quite well, without the usual pitfalls that such a thing falls into. It was engaging and quite dire, which is something this show does quite well – knowing when to buckle down and take its story seriously. There’s genuine peril and the situation seems rather intense. I’m looking forward to the conclusion. This episode was, meanwhile, Super Effective.
I’ll just preface this with a tweet that I made after watching this episode of Black Clover.
I am extremely critical of this show, but with good reason. I see its potential. I love Shonen as a genre and I think that once any Shonen hits its stride, they can tell some of the most emotionally engaging and fundamentally entertaining stories out there (more on that in a bit). Of course, there’s so much of it out there that it’s easy for them to just slip into cruise control, riding the coattails of other, more popular things. It’s easy for them to just be generic and dull. I don’t eviscerate this show on a regular basis because that wouldn’t really contribute… anything. But also because the show has the ideas. It wants to be great. And, if nothing else, this episode proves it.
There’s not a ton to talk about. It’s basically an action scene, a brief pause, then another (short) action scene. But what happens outside of that incredibly oversimplified description? For one, the animation quality jumps way up. A term I see thrown around a lot is “sakuga,” which is basically a word used to describe spikes in the quality of a show’s animation. Mind you, this is relative to each show. There is no way anything seen here will revival visual masterpieces like All-Might vs. All-For-One, Goku vs. Jiren, or any action sequence from a hyper-stylized show like Mob Psycho 100. But compared to what the show has delivered thus far, the action is great. Well animated with a lot of action back-and-forth in who has the upper hand. I especially love whenever they transition to a sequence of just the line-art. It looks really cool. I dunno if there’s a term for it, though.
The break between the two action scenes was a bit… meh. Basically just several of the characters praising Asta or acting out their surface level tropes (reeeaally hoping that doesn’t become the default of this show. I’d like them to start using downtime for minor character development, on occasion). But when things pick back up, Yami gets involved (again) for a brief but awesome action sequence that furthers his own arc a little. That and it looks cool. It’s been a while since this show got a Super Effective episode, like this.
My Hero Academia
…so this episode was basically perfect. If I were afforded more time, I could probably come up with some sort of ridiculously in-depth breakdown of everything this episode’s tagline fight represents and how the minutia of it all makes it incredible. If I had the time to watch it back several times, I could probably analyze the entire thing, frame-by-frame, just to explain why I loved every single piece of it (obviously a vast exaggeration, given how amazingly animated this fight was, but the point stands). But the fact is that I don’t have that kind of time (currently) and, at the moment, my mind is still processing what I experienced. But I can confidently say that all of it was absolutely good.
For now I’ll ignore the fight. Because what I was most looking forward to was the thing that easily makes this one of the best Shonen in years – characters. I love Deku and Bakugo. Both individually, and the dynamic between them. And one thing I was looking forward to was this fight between them. I never really considered them to be rivals. At least not in the typical Shonen-style of what that word means. They never really seemed to be competing with one another in the most direct sense of the word. But this fight solidifies it and creates some perspective on that rivalry through some wise words from All-Might. And speaking of All-Might, can we please talk about how the adults in this series don’t just dismiss these types of situations as petty beef between the students and acknowledge their own responsibility for them? Because that’s something we don’t see often.
All in all, I’d say this episode delivered exactly what I want in a Shonen – well-written characters with a strong emotional core and some insanely entertaining action. And it delivered even more than I expected. Where else could it rank but among the World’s Finest?
Overall Episode Medalists
There really is no competition, this week. When My Hero Academia if firing off on all cylinders, it blows the others out of the water. Case in point – this week’s episode. So it obviously takes home the Gold.
The race for second place was a lot closer, this week. But it may come as a surprise that I honestly think Black Clover deserves the Silver, this week. Not that How Not to Summon a Demon Lord was unsatisfying in any way. Had Black Clover delivered an episode more on par with its usual status quo, it probably would’ve gotten third place. But it didn’t. It stepped up its game for the finale of the fight. Meanwhile, as good as this week’s penultimate episode of How Not to Summon a Demon Lord was, it was still ultimately just setup. So it goes home with the Bronze, for once.
Apparently, it’s a controversial opinion to believe Bakugo is a good character. But he is. Make no mistake. He’s an arse. But that’s the point. That’s the arc. A character being arrogant and irritable doesn’t make them poorly written. The emotional impact that Bakugo brought this episode carried the whole thing. Without it, the episode would’ve been just another fight to simply prove that he was stronger. And that, on its face, while not particularly boring, is nothing special. This episode really allowed us to see more of the nuance to his character and explore his mind a bit. He’s one of my favorite characters in the show for a reason. And the episode was helped by an excellent performance from his VA – Nobuhiko Okamoto – who really captured the pain Bakugo was in. While none of the three core characters of the interaction could be removed, taking Bakugo’s characterization out of the fight removes pretty much the entire emotional context of the episode. So he’s this week’s MVP by a longshot.
Unique Achievement: Most Satisfying Death
As glad as I am to see Vetto finally dealt with in Black Clover, that’s just because of how much they dragged out the fight. The actual more satisfying death is this deluded bastard from How Not to Summon a Demon Lord. No, but seriously. This dude had to go. Though… I think it would’ve been even more satisfying if Diablo had gotten to be the one to finish him off. And given what this guy put Rem through, Diablo may have made it very slow and very painful.
Unique Achievement: Most BAMF Scene
It was simple. But it was just so friggin’ cool. The music probably helped, though. Real talk – Black Clover’s music is legit.
And that’s that. A really good week with some really solid episodes across the board that I couldn’t really complain about too much. What do you think? That’s all for me, folks. Thanks for reading, as always. Keep up the Awesome.