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)

They’re sure honest about their humble location.

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.

Who said words can’t hurt you?

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.

Meaning that in this show, it’s magic not money that makes the world go round?

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.

Maybe it’s because you scared it off with that weird pose?

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.

 

“Take it or Leave it: Black Clover introduces us to the story of Asta, but it feels a lot like the story of Naruto.”

“Take it or Leave it: Black Clover’s adherence to shonen tropes could be its blessing or curse depending on the audience.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Clover is available for streaming via Crunchyroll and will be receiving a simuldub at Funimation.com

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5 comments

  • I don’t think the Naruto episode 1 comparison is that correct other then on a surface level. Asta isn’t hated by anybody, he actually already has friends, he doesn’t have this father figure that Iruka was and he isn’t mischeavous whatsoever. The only thing that they have in common is an enemy coming and triggering something for the MC. Also ep.1 Naruto was shown talentless and good at nothing. Asta is not weak. He’s alrealdy super strong physicaly and above average. The book come and actually just gives him a way to fight other magic users. The rest is all Asta. The speed, the strength, everything. At least you didn’t compare Yuno to Sasuke. Nothing else triggers me more then that lol.

    But beyond that I agree that BC is very shonen in it’s way to do things.

    Other comment. I actually really liked that they didn’t cram the first chapter in 1 episode like the OVA did. It just didnt work and felt really off and rushed. The fleshing out, like you mentionned, made things much better.

    I’m happy with this episode and I feel like I am one if the few who wasn’t actually bothered by Asta’s screaming. I actually really liked the performances of Yuno and Asta. They really succeeded at bringing the charactera to life like I imagined them.

    Though, I suppose you two won’t keep up with it. Am I wrong?

    • So, I think a lot of your points are more superficial, nuanced aspects to the story. Sure Asta isn’t hated by anybody, but he is mocked by his peers, as seen at the Grimoire ceremony or the younger kids at the orphanage. While he may not have a father figure like Iruka (And Iruka himself becomes near irrelevant in Naruto eventually) he is, in fact, weak. Sure he’s got physical strength but that doesn’t matter until it matters. Without magic, or a way to trul make use of his skill, he’s as nothing as Naruto was in his story at the start. It’s not to say Black Clover is a carbon copy, but it does follow a very similar path for its introductory story. I also want to make it clear I don’t think Asta = Naruto, rather that they go through similar troubles.

      Yuno fills a Sasuke, rival type role, but yes, as characters I agree they’re nothing alike. Anyone making that comparison need only watch Episode 2 to see that their relationship and dynamic is very different.

      As for Asta’s VA performance, I don’t think he does a bad job. It’s more the character’s naturally screamy nature, from the manga itself, that’s divisive once realized with the audio. I think the VA does a fantastic job with what he’s given, and people will likely warm up to him should Asta calm down (I don’t remember when he starts getting less screamy.)

      As for sticking with it everything is still up in the air. I think the only thing we’re for sure sticking with is Juni Taisen: Zodiac Wars, as we were both very positive on it. Black Clover will entirely depend on how we come to feel about the rest of the season. It’s still just Linny and me here, so it becomes difficult keeping up with more than 10-15 shows a season lol.

      • But the people isolating him are more or less doing it at all the poor peasants present. Asta just happens to be more targetted because of his lack of magic. Its a recurring theme in BC. Hence why I think comparing their situation really isn’t much accurate. Its generalizing too much. The context is pretty different. Of course it’s pretty much the underdog trope(the best trope)and of you want to stop at that then I agree that their similar.

        Also I really disagree on the Asta is weak point, but that’s not covered yet in the anime.

        Anyway its cool if you cover it or not. Its just that I remembered that you stopped reading the black clover manga(you should give it another chance ;P) and I was wondering if it meant it was dead on arrival.

        • Well, I’d still say you’re more talking nuance, rather than the basic structure/flow, but I could agree that it’s the usage of the underdog trope that sets the two as so comparable. I wouldn’t agree that underdog is the best trope however 😛

          As for Asta being weak– My comparison to Naruto only really has to do with the first few chapters. Asta does indeed grow much faster, since he’s not trying to learn magic as Naruto was ninjutsu. I think Black Clover gradually finds itself and moves away from the similarities it holds with Naruto, although I’ve never thought that was particularly strong either. But that’s a discussion for later in the season 😛

          • What I mean by Asta isn’t weak from day 1 is that his magic is calling out a sword. That’s litteraly all it is. He doesn’t get any other kind of boost. He needs to get close to hit his foes. He needs to swing the damn thing around. It’s kind of not mentionned now, but all the physical training Asta did to compensate for his lack of magic puts his physical prowess in a tier of his own. Naruto on the hand is pretty much nothing without the Kyuubi(at least early on). That was my point. Just wanted to clarify.

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