By Dustin Cabeal
Classic me, I waited too long to review both volumes apart from each other, and so here we are reviewing them together again. Really they deserve to be reviewed solo, but at this point just read the damn series. It’s one of my favorite current running manga, and while I refuse to watch the show due to the shitty direction the studio picked for it, I still enjoy this manga immensely. It’s the same schtick over and over, and yet it works every volume.
The eleventh volume wraps up the fight between the witches, the diamond group, and the midnight sun. It’s a really important volume in the sense that Astra gets his arms back, but we also see the black goo return which hasn’t been as prominent in the series as of late. I know in the anime they seem to go to it every five minutes, but the build up in the manga has been steady. The witch leader also makes her play at controlling Vanessa, which unlocks Vanessa’s full potential and should make some interesting stories in the future.
With volume twelve, the witch reveals a ton of information about Astra’s grimoire. While its an infodump of sorts, it works because it asks new questions for the story to follow. Then they head home, and all the different groups return, and it’s a gag comic for several pages. I laughed a lot. It was funny and fit the vibe of the story. Black Clover continues to be an amazing story because it can be funny, frightening, motivational and full of action all in the same volume. It reflects the constant swaying moods of life and doesn’t try to stick to one overly serious tone. The rest of this volume is kind of a breather, but it’s a lot of fun as we learn the ranking of the different magic knights. The group is also recruited for a training camp, and Astra is challenged to evolve or die yet again. It’s pretty great.
The artwork continues to impress. The fantasy elements make this story stand out because of how well thought out they are. The cities and places feel like living breathing towns. At times it reminds me of a video game with all the NPCs walking around playing their small role. I will say that Astra’s creepy muscular body is, in fact, creepy, but it’s become a visual joke of sorts so for that reason I love it. It again shows that the story doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is so damn rare in manga outside of gag comics.
At this point, I don’t know what else I need to say about this story to get the point across that it’s amazing. It's not perfect. There’re elements that don’t always work or feel redundant, but it’s as if creator Yuki Tabata is creating this manga with the raw energy that he has on display with Astra. When a creator loves their work as much as the fans, it becomes this circular energy that feeds back into the work. I would love to spoil more of each volume, but that would be self-serving. Instead, I’ve kept this review relatively short. Bottom line, if you like stories about adventure and magic, whether you read manga or not, check out Black Clover.
Black Clover vol. 11 – Score: 5/5
Black Clover vol. 12 – Score: 4/5