Black Clover – Anime Preview
Synopsis: In a world where magic is everything, Asta and Yuno are both found abandoned at a church on the same day. While Yuno is gifted with exceptional magical powers, Asta is the only one in this world without any. At the age of fifteen, both receive grimoires, magic books that amplify their holder’s magic. Asta’s is a rare Grimoire of Anti-Magic that negates and repels his opponent’s spells. Being opposite but good rivals, Yuno and Asta are ready for the hardest of challenges to achieve their common dream: to be the Wizard King. Giving up is never an option! (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Black Clover is one of Shonen Jump’s up and coming manga. It’s become one of the more consistently popular titles and is just now making its way to anime form. It’s obvious, at least with this first episode, that little expense has been spared in bringing the story of Asta to life. We’re treated to fluid animation and vibrant colors that sell the magical nature of this medieval world. It really does look quite awesome.
Linny: There’s no denying that no expense or effort was spared in order to bring this story to your TV screens as the art and animation leave little to be desired, maybe save for one scene using some CGI which is likely to stand out as a sore spot for those admiring the traditional art. It’s definitely going to be a major plus for any fans of the manga to see their beloved series being turned into such a visually competent and eye catching anime.
Tom: This first episode adapts a little more than half of the manga’s first chapter and primarily focuses on Asta, with a bit of Yuno, his childhood friend and rival, on the side. It’s safe to say Asta is what will make or break the episode for you. He’s loud, crass, and amounts to little more than your stereotypical shonen lead. Even his relationship with Yuno feels heavily Naruto and Sasuke inspired.
Linny: Asta is LOUD. Almost every line of his dialogue is delivered with vocal gusto and screaming. It might get on the nerves of viewers who dislike such crass protagonists. The series also paints him as a lovable and determined simpleton as evidenced by his early efforts to woo a nun into marrying him.
Tom: Asta is voiced by newcomer to the industry: Kajiwara Gakuto. It’s his first major role and boy does he put all his effort into it. In an effort to capture the boisterous nature of Asta, Kajiwara screams near every line out like Linny said. It can get quite irritating in all honesty. But that shonen spirit turned up to 11 is Black Clover in a nutshell. The story itself is basically shonen trope after trope strung together. In fact, the first episode almost perfectly follows the Naruto formula. Asta is a loser with zero ability, even taunted by his peers. Eventually, he’s confronted by a starter bad guy and suddenly showcases massive potential. There’s some minor nuance level differences, but you’re bound to get some kind of deja vu if you’ve seen Naruto.
Linny: If I had to describe the show in two words, they’d be “cliches galore.” Now that isn’t to say Black Clover is a bad show, it’s just that it employs a LOT of classic shonen staples. From the smug, upper class jerks who looks down on our heroes for being penniless orphans, to the bad guy who’s laughing maniacally and acting weird to ensure the audience knows he’s bad from the second he opens his mouth. Black Clover is likely going to feel like a retread and mixture of popular shonen shows from the past. This means if you’re a die hard shonen fan or looking for more recent shonen shows for a young audience, Black Clover is going to be a delight. It has all the classic traits and cliches that made shonen of the past come to be loved by fans. However, if you’ve gotten burned out on those cliches or generally prefer your shonen to be more unique, Black Clover is going to leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Tom: Some props I’ll deliver to the anime are for how much effort has gone into fleshing things out. The anime has added additional scenes, expanded upon others, and even offered up minor changes to try and play up Black Clover’s few outstanding strengths. So much has been fleshed out that they’ve actually cut the first chapter across two episodes, leaving a heavy flashback explaining Asta and Yuno’s relationship for next time, as well as the series’ first flashy fight between Asta and our one off starter villain.
Linny: Are you already a fan of the manga series? Then Black Clover’s anime adaptation is most certainly going to please you. It should be a hit even for those seeking a shonen series that contains all the popular tropes of its genre. The animation and the enthusiastic voice acting, even if a little grating, speak to the care put into adapting the series and do give it some bonus points as well. Unfortunately, there’s also going to be a fair amount of viewers who are going to be unimpressed by those very factors (minus the animation) so unless you’re certain you’re one of the first two previous mentioned groups, it might be best to avoid this series.
Tom: Overall Black Clover isn’t awful, but nor is it great. It hits all the right beats, but offers little that sets it apart. Its medieval magic world is interesting, but rarely gets fleshed out. At least in the manga. The anime showcases that it’s comfortable with shifting things around and that makes me curious how far they might go to flesh out the story of Asta. As it is though, Black Clover is best left to hard shonen fans, or shonen newcomers who haven’t grown tired of the most basic formulas.