Anime Review: Black Clover Season One Part 1

By Drew Hurley 02.10.2018

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Black Clover Season One Part One (UK Rating: 12)

Black Clover is one of the hot new Shonen Jump properties tipped for big things, with numerous comparisons to Naruto and it's easy to see why. It's about a hyperactive kid that grew up from being an abandoned orphan, a kid with some strange dark power that's on the path to becoming the Hokage Wizard King. He also has a rival who is super popular, a genius, and is massively overpowered. Sounds very familiar from the get-go but can it forge its own path? Coming courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment this collection contains episodes 1 - 10 and is available now.

The world of Black Clover is a classic fantasy one, where most of the population seems to have some sort of magical powers. The story takes place in the Clover Kingdom where protagonist Asta and his rival/friend Yuno have grown up together in an orphanage since they were abandoned as babes. They are now both 15 and ready to take part in the rite of passage all children in the Clover Kingdom get to experience, being chosen by a grimoire.

Asta has grown up with no magical energy and has been eagerly anticipating the day of the grimoire choosing so that he can finally acquire a power all his own. When that day came, though, nothing happened. All his fellows received their grimoires, the source of new magical powers and new futures for them all. These grimoires give the user a huge boost in their magical power, they grow with their users as they develop, and can only be used by the one chosen. Asta's complete lack of magical power, and now no grimoire, means his dreams of becoming a Magic Knight and one day the Wizard King are gone. Someone with the best chance of achieving those dreams is Asta's "Sasuke," Yuno. Yuno receives a special grimoire, the legendary four-leaf clover grimoire, one that belonged to the very first Wizard King.

This makes Yuno a target and soon a rogue mage is trying to steal his four-clover book for the black market. Asta tries to save the day, and in doing so, he finally gets what he wants: a grimoire all of his own. As is often the way in Shonen series, the protagonist gets an even more powerful weapon; Yuno may have gotten the legendary four-leaf clover, but Asta receives a five-leaf clover grimoire! The prospect at first is admittedly quite silly, but it's done well enough to overcome this.


 
They say in the fourth leaf of the clover lives good luck and in the fifth lives the Devil. Asta's lack of magic is personified in his grimoire as a huge sword. This has pure anti-magic properties, giving Asta the ability to slice through any and all magic. A fitting ability for the protagonist of a story filled with mages. Now, with the pair both having their own grimoire, they have a chance to chase their dreams. They head off to the capital to try a join a squad of Magic Knights.

This is where the pair splits. Yuno is wanted by every single squad captain, but Asta is understandably underappreciated. Some bumpkin from the sticks with no magic power to speak of; luckily, though, his unique power is appreciated by Yami, captain of the Black Bulls. These Black Bulls are a ragtag group of outcasts, weirdos, and failures. When Asta joins, there are nine members waiting to meet him, and like all good shonen, now that the groundwork is set, it spends its opening arcs developing this extended cast.

There are two that take centre stage in this collection. First up is Noelle, a member of the royal family of Silva, sister to the leaders of the second most powerful group of Magic Knights. Noelle is a snobby brat that can't control her immense magic power. Then there's Magna, a former street punk with flaming hot magic and a penchant for baseball. This pair joins Asta on a mission to help out a small village in the lower realm and get their own "Zabuza" to develop against.

The manga of Black Clover has been running in Shonen Jump for three years now and it has been getting better and better, slowly developing a solid world, introducing some fantastic, interesting characters into the extended cast. There's a big problem with Black Clover that was only really noticeable after the jump to anime, though, and it's a problem with the main character: Asta yells… a lot - just tons and tons of screaming, over the smallest thing. Revisiting the manga, it's there, too, but it's not assaulting the ears of the reader every two minutes. It's just a bunch of kana in the background of panels. It sounds a small complaint, but it gets so obnoxious it's absurd. There are moments in every single episode, including extended montage sequences of Asta training, or cleaning with just constant screams; it's appalling.

This first collection comes with a handful of special features. There is both an English and Japanese dub. Episodes four and seven both have commentary tracks from the English cast and crew. There are also a series of short comedy moments, entitled "Clover Clips Special Edition" that play out like little, chibified comedy skits. Then there's Black Clover: Inside Studio J, where the series' director sits down with the English voice actors of Asta, Noelle, and Magna to chat about the series and the process of voicing the anime. Finally, there are a series of Inside the Episode: Black Clover Highlights for episodes one-to-nine, which are short montages of each episode, spliced with random user reviews from Crunchyroll.

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Black Clover is the next big thing in shonen anime. There have been numerous "next big things" appear in Shonen Jump over the last few years and very few have stuck around for long. Series like Toriko that failed to capture the audience or like World Trigger that fizzled out. This feels like it's going to go the distance. However, its anime adaptation is off to a slightly rocky start thanks to making Asta so very unlikeable. The screaming is really too much. Hopefully, it will be toned down as subsequent seasons are released. There's plenty still to make up for the annoyance, though, with some fantastic arcs on the horizon and big things happening in the Clover Kingdom.

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