I’m going to be the Hokage! Wait, wrong manga. I’m going to be Pirate King! Nope, sorry, still the wrong manga. I’M GOING TO BE THE WIZARD KING! There we go. Welcome to Black Clover, ladies and gentlemen.
Yes, Black Clover is your typical shonen manga. Asta, a boy conveniently born without magical powers, wants to become the Wizard King of his Village. He’s an orphan and is being raised at a church. Because he lacks any magical powers, he is often ridiculed, but never phased by it. His rival, Yuna, is also an orphan - they were both left at the church at the same time - and is the complete opposite: loved by all, has great magical powers. Hell, people even claim he’s going to be the next wizard king.
Once a year, a ceremony is held for all the fifteen year olds. At said ceremony, the master of Grimoire Tower awards the teens with a grimoire, a book of magic, so to speak, that increases their magical abilities. Low and behold, everyone BUT Asta receives one. Yuno, in all his glory, received the four leaf clover grimoire, the very same the previous Wizard King had. After the ceremony, Yuno is stopped by someone trying to steal his newly acquired grimoire. A scuffle ensues and of course Asta comes to the rescue; however, as the thief is about to lay the finishing blow on Asta, a grimoire pops out from behind a brick and makes it way to him. The five leaf grimoire, the grimoire of anti-magic: a sword that can repel magic, which is pretty cool if you ask me. It goes without saying that Asta takes care of business and he and Yuno vow to see who becomes the Wizard King. Whew. That was just the first chapter!
Six month pass and all the newly acquired grimoire users are attending the Magic Knights Entrance Exam where they’re pretty much soliciting themselves to the nine squads in hopes of getting recruited. If this doesn’t sound familiar, you must not be acquainted with Fairy Tale: joining a guild,taking on missions, protecting the village/country. Same thing. I will say that this concept is presented a lot better and I’m way more intrigued here than I was with Fairy Tale. That shit got boring, fast. Anyway, our story continues from there after Asta has been recruited, welcomed and accepted by his group the Black Bulls, a lively bunch I might add. A big battle is going down on his first mission and in typical fashion, the volume ends in the middle of it. Damn you!
One aspect that I appreciated was that even though Asta and Yuna are rivals, they’re not of the bitter variety. They actually do care about each other, almost as if they’re brothers or best friends. There have been times when Yuna was in a pickle and Asta came to the rescue, even if it resulted in him getting his ass handed to him. If the opportunity arises, Yuna would do the exact same for Asta. It’s a nice dynamic to see and not your run of the mill forced to work together rivalry.
Enough bashing of the cheesy story (it gets better after chapter 4, I promise!) and let’s get to where this manga is exceptional: the art. Holy shit can Tabata illustrate. His character designs are some of the best I’ve seen. Yes, Asta is doofy looking, but what main character in this type of genre isn’t? There’s even a character, Gordon Agrippa, and he’s a spitting image of Marilyn Manson. Whether that was intentional or not is beyond me, but it just goes to show the diversity in each character and their design. The action sequences in this book are really cool. Action is not something that’s easily to pull off, especially in manga form, but Tabata really knocks it out of the park. It’s something that if translated to anime, would work really well.
Is Black Clover a real game changer? Hardly. Is it bad? Not at all. Although it follows the shonen formula to a T, it’s actually fairly entertaining. And while the storyline is generic, the art is good enough to keep you wanting to dive further into this. If you’re new to the shonen genre, I would definitely recommend you give this a whirl. It’ll take it a step further and say even if you’re not new to this, still check it out.
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Black Clover - vol. 1
Creator: Yūki Tabata
Publisher: Viz Media
Format: TPB; Print/Digital