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!
My first impression of Black Clover was that it was some typical shounen fare, though this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. To me, it’s components were very similar to well-known shows of the same genre and I could make plenty of comparisons. Two young boys being taken in by a priest? Sounds a bit like Blue Exorcist to me. The main character is seemingly lacking superpower in a world where superpowers are commonplace, and the protagonist is determined to get said powers? Sounds eerily like My Hero Academia. Then the boys grow up, are startlingly different, yet have similar goals and yet regard one another as rivals? It’s Naruto and Sasuke all over again.
But things didn’t seem repetitive regardless of all this similarities, which is obviously a good thing. Asta and Yuno come into their own quickly and though the situations and settings feel like other shounen anime it’s not tiresome – it just feels familiar enough for me to know instinctively that I’m going to enjoy this one. Asta is an amusing character. His constant competition with the gifted and handsome Yuno and his infatuation with the unobtainable Sister Lily is entertaining, but on a deeper level he establishes himself as a convincing character with his struggle to learn magic even though he was born without an ounce of it. His determination to become the Wizard King despite his shortcomings indicates his shounen indomitable spirit at an early stage. And Yuno is a good complement to fiery Asta – a cool, level-headed character with a gift for magic, but he can’t help but admire Asta’s tenacity and never-give-up attitude and his rallying cry of “Not yet!” every time he is knocked down.
When they come of age, Yuno is granted the power of wind magic and his grimoire is marked with a clover, indicating that he is special, whilst Asta receives nothing, but refuses to give up the idea that he’ll become the Wizard King. After the ceremony, when a thief tries to steal Yuno’s grimoire to sell on the black market, Asta gains the power to summon his own grimoire that contains the rare and mysterious Anti-Magic, which makes him able to negate magical skills completely. It is here that they acknowledge one another’s fighting prowess and agree a race to see who can be the next Wizard King between them. The end of the third episode shows Asta and Yuno hitting the road to head to the city, grimoires in-hand, for the chance to try out for and become Magic Knights, which serve the Wizard King.
With visually ambitious scenes and some kick-ass battles, you’d hope that Black Clover was consistent in its animation quality. For the most part it is, with its detailed and diverse character designs as well as its impressive backgrounds, but as is often the case with action scenes in anime, the sudden use of CGI sometimes can be a bit jarring to the eye and cause a loss in fluidity. Even so, the scenes still remain dynamic and visually impressive for the most part thanks to innovative camera angles and the way the characters summon their magic from their grimoires.
The one thing that does take some getting used to is Asta’s rather obnoxious personality. Although he’s made to be an underdog and you are really made to feel for him and the disadvantages life has already thrown at him, his personality does start to get irritating after a couple of episodes. Hopefully after a few more episodes, Yuno’s calming influence and the introduction of more characters will dilute him a little and enable him to become more palatable. There’s nothing worse than an annoying anime protagonist.
So far, Black Clover isn’t offering anything new to the shounen genre, but it is entertaining. It’s like it can’t decide what elements to use in its story, so it’s just gone for all of them. However, Asta and Yuno’s relationship and its potential developments has me planning to see this one through to see if things finally settle into a solid story.