I’ve been wanting to write about Black Clover for a while now. The shonen anime based on the manga by Yuki Tabata has finished already, although a sequel is very much possible seeing that the manga is still going in full swing. I’ve been reading the manga weekly for a very long time now, since not too long after it started publication. I’ve also tried watching the anime when it first came out, but like many others got turned off by the over the top voice acting for Asta. Asta is voiced by Gakuto Kajiwara. Kajiwara has done fantastic work as Shinra Kusakabe in Fire Force, Gobta in Tensura and Tadano in Komi-San. I didn’t even recognize his voice in Komi-San, but it’s very fitting to the character. Having said that, Asta was one of his first, if not his first big role. And I think it really shows in the first few episodes. Maybe it’s the lack of experience, maybe it’s the voice direction, maybe Asta was just supposed to be really annoying in the first few episodes, but it made it so I kind of lost interest. Early this year I decided to give the anime another shot, since the manga is very good right now. And my oh my has it not disappointed.
Let’s talk about it.
For those unfamiliar with Black Clover, it tells the story of Asta, a highly motivated orphan boy who wants to be the Magic King one day. The Magic King is the leader of the Magic Knights and alongside the regular King is the most prominent figure in the Clover Kingdom. Unfortunately for Asta, he doesn’t have any magic. He’s just a peasant orphan boy with no talent. But that doesn’t stop Asta. What do you do when the universe and fate are conspiring against you? You work out. Then you work out some more. Then you get sad, dejected and work out some more. You cheer yourself up and work out even harder. Seriously man, you need to slow down. Your muscles have muscles of their own at this point. When it’s time for the grimoire ceremony, where hopefuls get their grimoire to use to cast magic, Asta is not chosen. Not only that, his brother and fellow hopeful Yuno gets the four-leaf clover grimoire, an extremely rare thing to happen. Down on his luck Asta runs into trouble and soon he gets picked by a completely black grimoire. It has a Black Clover on it and allows him to summon a sword that nullifies magic. Get it, Black Clover, like the name of the series? Ignoring the on the nose title drop, Asta and Yuno both apply to join the magic knights. Yuno is picked by half the squads and joins the prestigious Golden Dawn. Asta ends up joining the Black Bulls, the worst squad. And this is where things get interesting.
You see, Black Clover is stupid. It refuses to acknowledge any responsibility it might have towards improving on the shonen genre. It just sticks it’s heels in the sand and does the same old thing that shonen shows have done for ages now. And my word, does it do it perfectly. Black Clover isn’t reinventing the genre, it’s not making you think deeply about things, it’s not doing anything new. It’s just the good guys fighting the bad guys, or misunderstood guys. The Black Bull Captain’s motto is basically to surpass your limits right here and now. No logical power-ups, no boring training arcs. Just get good. To put into perspective how silly this show is, I want to talk about a scene I just watched the other day. This will contain some mild spoilers and reveal a Black Bull member that only comes into the story later. I’m assuming most of you reading this have seen Black Clover at this point but if you haven’t, just go watch it. Trust me, it’s very good.
Is all of that clear? Excellent, let’s talk about the Black Bull’s base.
During one of the bigger story arcs of Black Clover, where the souls of elves are reincarnated into several of the Magic Knight members, the gang find themselves all converging around the Black Bull’s Base. Here they find out, and in the case of Asta already knew, that there’s a sickly person in their base called Henry, who is also a part of the Black Bulls. Henry has a strange disease that makes him suck up the magic power of nearby people. He needs the power to survive and can’t turn it off. So he stayed in the depths of the base, sometimes taking a bit of magical energy from the other Black Bulls. He uses this power to turn the base into a giant mecha. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried. He is the perfect support character. And just like that there are multiple Black Bulls that seem to be designed to be great utility to move the story forward. Charmy can replenish magic power with her food, Grey can turn materials into others to help the groups. Vanessa can basically change the flow of time and Finral is a fancy uber. It’s genius to make a cast like this but what makes Black Clover even better is that all these characters get their own arcs and are full-fledged members. They’re not just a bit of utility that’s there to use.
Basically what I want to say about Black Clover is that shooting your anti-magic main characters out of a giant mech that’s piloted by a guy who speaks at a rate of four words per hour to just headbutt the crap out of your enemies might be the most stupid thing I’ve watched in a very long time and I love it. As much as I love diving into deeply complicated shows that have important character motivations and deep meanings, very few things beat watching an all out brawl with characters that are just pure fun to watch. Black Clover does this perfectly. If you want a shonen to watch, Black Clover should be high on your list. Thanks for reading!