Asta and Yuno were abandoned at the same church on the same day. Raised together as children, they came to know of the "Wizard King"—a title given to the strongest mage in the kingdom—and promised that they would compete against each other for the position of the next Wizard King. However, as they grew up, the stark difference between them became evident. While Yuno is able to wield magic with amazing power and control, Asta cannot use magic at all and desperately tries to awaken his powers by training physically.
When they reach the age of 15, Yuno is bestowed a spectacular Grimoire with a four-leaf clover, while Asta receives nothing. However, soon after, Yuno is attacked by a person named Lebuty, whose main purpose is to obtain Yuno's Grimoire. Asta tries to fight Lebuty, but he is outmatched. Though without hope and on the brink of defeat, he finds the strength to continue when he hears Yuno's voice. Unleashing his inner emotions in a rage, Asta receives a five-leaf clover Grimoire, a "Black Clover" giving him enough power to defeat Lebuty. A few days later, the two friends head out into the world, both seeking the same goal—to become the Wizard King!
#1: "Haruka Mirai (ハルカミライ)" by Kankaku Piero (感覚ピエロ) (eps 1-13) #2: "PAiNT it BLACK" by BiSH (eps 14-27) #3: "Black Rover" by Vickeblanka (eps 28-39) #4: "Guess Who Is Back" by Kumi Koda (倖田來未) (eps 40-51)
Let me preface this pre-review by saying this, I am in love with this series, but for all the wrong reasons. Black Clover, or, Black Clover as the gringos say, is the sophomore effort of mangaka Yuuki Tabata, and it is a far cry from his debut work, Hungry Joker. Hungry Joker had the unfortunate fate of being axed by the higher-ups at WSJ, thus is the fate of most new kids on the block who don't have a proper sense of what they are doing or are given little time to spread their wings.
I'm not attempting to white-knight Hungry Joker or anything, but the politics at WSJ are as murky as the Academy Awards Committee. While it wasn't exactly a Dostoyevsky or Hemmingway, Hungry Joker on a conceptual level at least had a fun gimmick to play around with. Couple that with some pretty unique character models and a good sense of panel-work, it easily had the potential to grow into something much greater than it ever did.
I imagine Tabata's frame of mind when conjuring up the idea for his follow-up was one of both pragmatism and...a cheeky disregard for creativity. Black Clover is one of the most creatively bankrupt series I have ever had the pleasure of watching or reading. I am utterly convinced that Tabata wrote this as a cheeky retaliation/statement against the higher-ups at WSJ, and no amount of rationalizing or fanboying can change that perception for me. Black Clover is terrible, it's like the shonen equivalent of The Room except it gets away with convincing people that it's good. The only thing Black Clover is good at is highlighting how by-the-numbers this style of series can get.
Briefly touching on the technicals of this series, the voice acting is god awful. Asta's voice actor has one setting and one setting only, although that has been covered ad nauseam. He makes Junko Takeuchi's work as Naruto seem warm and inviting like Morgan Freeman. It is probably the only time watching a series that it actually elicited a physical reaction from me. Although, as a small caveat, if you attempt to watch this series from the perspective of someone knowing what they are signing up for, the subbed version adds an extra layer of grease to this disgustingly satisfying sandwich. I.e. if you want the genuine Black Clover experience, the voice acting is like icing on that cake.
The animation is in a middling ground of both extremes. It can be good when it wants to and it can also skimp on its budget when it needs to. I feel that Tabata's art style wasn't properly translated from panel to screen. I have conflicting feelings on the animation though. Had the source material been in more capable hands like Bones or Madhouse, I feel that it could've been leaning more towards "beautiful spectacle" territory as opposed to "beautifully terrible". So despite my compliments to Tabata's art style, the mediocre animation mostly serves to its benefit.
Now that the technicals are out of the way, I feel I shouldn't even have to harp all that much on the story and characters. If you've watched Naruto, if you've watched Fairy Tail, if you have even a basic knowledge of writing propensities when it comes to shonen and fantasy, you've already gotten a taste of Black Clover. The story is bereft of shallow gimmicks and instead opts to stuff itself full of cliches and archetypes. The overarching storyline and subplots all have parallels to other works and the characters all have doppelgangers floating around in some other manga.
So why the 10? Honestly, I'm not even really sure myself. They say that there are certain series that require you to take a step back or a dumbed-down open mind to enjoy. I don't even really feel either of those things are required to watch and enjoy Black Clover. I've seen what it looks like when it earnestly feels like Tabata is trying, and he has a lot of genuinely good qualities to the way he draws and writes his manga. In fact, I have no doubt that this series has the potential to grow into something greater than the sum of its parts considering that it hasn't been given the axe at this stage. Black Clover was not a labor of love or a passion project, that is apparent to me. From my perspective, Black Clover is a frustrated and rebellious statement on the current status of shonen manga and the politics that goes into publication. Because honestly, it takes a real genius to write something this stupid. Or perhaps I'm just reading too much into it?
Whatever the case may be, Black Clover is my ultimate guilty pleasure and I wave that 10 with pride.
Are there many shounen clichés here? Yes. Is it a groundbreaking anime that will have the anime elitists praising the very ground the characters walk on? No. Is it still a fun, comedic, action-adventure/magical-fantasy and enjoyable shounen? Yes. I give this anime a 7, good on the MAL scale, because it is.
To start: Personally I don't think that cliches are all that bad if done right. There is a reason that cliches, or as we call them in the business "genre stereotypes" exist, and that reason is because they work, they are enjoyable, and people
generally like them when done right, and Black Clover does it right. It is true that it's nice to see something break the mold from time to time, but without a mold to break in the first place, then nothing would be ground breaking. In this way, not everything is meant to push the boundaries of the anime elitist's groupthink (ironic I know), some things are simply meant to be fun, easy, enjoyable, and follow our expectations. Again, there is nothing wrong with a "mold" a "cliche" or "genre stereotypes" when done right and Black Clover does indeed do them right, so far. And finally TO BE CLEAR! In my reviews, I never judge an anime by another anime, I never compare the anime I am reviewing to other anime, and I immediately disregard ANY REVIEW that does so. Period. I always judge an anime on it's own merits as I see them. Anything less, to me, would be disrespecting the time, energy, and effort that the creators put into creating a TV show to entertain us, as well as disrespecting you, the reader, as you are looking for a review on THIS anime and not a list of my favorites, as you can check out my profile for that should you so choose. To put it quite simply, you, the reader, deserve an impartial analysis of this anime based only on this anime, and not how it compare to others.
Story 7, good: Interesting world and magic mechanics. I am eager to see how it plays out given the backstory about the wizard king destroying the demons and how it resolves itself with the fact that Asta (one of the protagonists) utilizes a demonic grimoire.
Art 7, good: Nothing really more to say here, it's pretty standard for a 2017 shounen.
Sound 7, good: Enjoyable opening and closing songs. The foley sounds are well done, and voice acting is good. Regardless of what the haters say I find Asta's voice and antics amusing rather than annoying (though this is just opinion, cannot be objectively verified, and thus everyone is entitled to their own. So I hold nothing against those who do find it annoying). Asta is a good counter point to his more serious brother/rival which brings us to. . .
Character 7, good: There is character development in this show, and the characters have a good motivation for doing what they are doing. The only reason that some don't like it is because it's been done before, but that doesn't make something bad. There is nothing wrong with a good underdog story when done right, and when you realize that they (Asta and his brother Yuno, the two protagonists) are not simply fighting for themselves, but fighting for their class of people (the poor peasants vs the rich nobles) their character motivations are very clear. I really do think that the reason the elitist haters hate this is because they are comparing Black Clover to other animes instead of on its own merits, because this character motivation is a very honorable one that makes sense given where our heros Asta and Yuno come from and the world they find themselves in. In other words, the world, story, and characters are all internally consistent which is exactly what you want to see in any work of fiction. You see, there is a reason that the underdog story and fighting for others is a genre stereotype. It's because people like it. The final character (and third protagonist) we will talk about is Noelle. Her story is different and interesting (minor spoiler), as she is a noble who (presumably) chose to join the worst/lowest of the magic knights squads. Unlike Asta and Yuno, her character and backstory is not completely revealed yet, but it appears that she too has something to prove, untapped potential, and may just end up developing into a noble who is worthy of the title unlike so many other nobles in this series, who seem to be just horrible.
Enjoyment 8, Very good: I give the enjoyment an 8 because all of these other good factors come together to craft a story that I can't wait to see the next installment of in the coming weeks.
Overall 7: No, this anime isn't going to be a game changer, or win any awards, but it is a fine addition to the shounen genre and if you like magic action adventure comedy fantasy shounens that are light and don't try to hard to be something that they're not, then you will likely enjoy Black Clover as I am.
Black Clover Review Episodes 1-20.
When Black Clover anime was announced in 2016 I was personally excited because I wanted to see another series from shounen jump get adapted into an anime. Psyern, Black Clover and The Promised Neverland were Shounen Jump Mangas that I wanted to see get adapted. However, as I looked deeper to the Black Clover announcement I started to get scared because for starters it going to adapted by Studio Pierrot who is notorious for having bad filler. The worst example of this was in Naruto Shippuden or as I now like to call it Naruto Fillerppuden wherein 2015 only 8 episodes
were canon and the rest of the episodes were pointless filler to a point where main people such as self-dropped the series until the god-awful filler was done. Because of that, I lowered my expectation for Black Clover because it may end up being Naruto 2.0 in terms of filler.
Fast forward to October 3, 2017, I watched the first episode of Black Clover and HOLY SHIT Asta voice was so ear-bleeding annoying to a point where I had to turn off my computer monitor after 10 minutes because I couldn’t take it anymore. So I dropped the series until I saw a dub trailer for Black Clover on Funimation Youtube Channel and it was great. The voice acting was top notch and Asta sounded like a human being instead of a fucking car engine and a parrot. When the first two dubbed episodes of Black Clover came out I was happy that I can now watch this show more seriously but at the same time, I started noticing a lot of problems with this show. Many of them were fatal to a point where all my excitement for this show was thrown out the window where in the end Black Clover is a horrendously made shounen and am going to tell you why.
The story of Black Clover follows Asta who is an orphan who got abandoned at a church orphanage on the outskirts of the Clover Kingdom. Another boy named Yuno was also abandoned at the same time as Asta. They both got raised in the church orphanage however as time went by the stark difference between theses became apparent to a point where they don’t get along with each other compared to the childhood years where they were always together and this due to Asta not having any type of magic while Yuno is able to use magic with amazing power.
When they turned 15 Yuno received the four leaf clover grimoire from the grimoire acceptance ceremony while Asta didn’t get one. After the ceremony, Yuno was attacked by a person named Lebuty who want to takes Yuno grimoire. Asta tries to his hardest to fight Lebuty he was ultimately outmatched. When all hope was almost lost he finds strength by hearing Yuno voice and by unleashing his emotions and rage Asta receives a five leaf clover. He quickly defeats Lebuty and a few days later Yuno and Asta head out into the world, where they separate squads in the magic knights as well building a friendly rivalry to see who can become the Wizard King first.
This show as of right now is absolutely horrendous in every way possible.
Let’s start with the introduction to the story and world because episode 1 is the worst first episode I have ever seen in a shounen period.
Instead of establishing the world as well the story itself like every other shounen ever the first episode wastes its times with unfunny gags that introduces the two main characters as well the world in the worst way possible. It doesn’t help the show like info-dump information instead of you know SHOWING US the information visually. The worldbuilding kinda gets better as the series progresses but for the first couple of episodes, the worldbuilding was Akame Ga Kill levels of bad.
Also, I don’t think the director for this show understand definition of the word pacing because as from episode 20 this show has some of the worst pacing I have ever seen in anime. Almost every scene/fight in this show is dragged out to a point where it becomes boring to watch. As much I despise Fairy Tail with a passion the first 123 episodes had good pacing until the show stat itself with the filler arcs and the whole 2014 anime where the pacing became utter shit.
As the story itself, it’s very poorly written that is filled with tropes and clichés to a point where it becomes annoying.
Overall as of right now, the story is pretty shit.
If you thought the story is was awful than the characters are even worse as they almost all of them are bland, unreliable and unlikeable idiots.
Asta or as Noelle likes call him Stupidsta is a horrendous protagonist who is annoying and likes to scream a lot for no reason. As of right Asta barely has any character development apart from his sword getting new abilities. Asta is basically Naruto gone wrong. Screw this characters and his god awful screaming
Yuno is your Saskue clone of the series expects his bland and boring. Not much to say about this character, to be honest since he's about as interesting as watching grass grow.
The only character that I liked in this show is Noelle. Unlike Yuno and Asta she’s an original character that at the moment get’s actual character development. She may be bitchy at times but least she’s funny and pretty likeable.
The rest of the characters are all generic and as of right now not worth mentioning.
Overall apart from Noelle, the characters in Black Clover are a complete dumpster fire.
Clusterfuck is honestly the best way to describe the visuals of Black Clover. The show can be visually good at times with some good looking fight scenes but at the same, the show can be incredibly inconsistent and downright ugly at times to a point where it becomes visually unpleasing to look at.
It doesn’t help the fact that the show uses CGI which is eye-bleeding to watch due to poorly animated the CGI stuff.
I honestly wished the show simply had consistent production values.
As for the background scenery, its pretty decent and the use of colour palette for the character designs is okay at best.
Overall like I said this show is a clusterfuck visually and it ultimately mediocre at best.
The soundtrack is generic shounen music that you all heard before.
All the opening and ending themes at the moment are pretty decent.
Now here comes the fun part of this review. The Voice Acting.
When people say that the worst thing from Black Clover is Gakuto Kajiwara as Asta in the sub. I mostly agree on that because it was honestly dreadful as most of his dialogue is yelling out loud like a freaking car engine. However, I don’t think it just Asta as I feel most of the voice acting in the sub from other characters feel rather bland and unnatural. The only seiyuu that did a good job is Yuuki Kana as Noelle. I hate to say the sub is pretty bad overall as most of the Seiyuus did a bad job here especially Stupidsta.
The dub, on the other hand, is pretty damm great. All of the English actors did a great job voicing each character especially Dallas Reid as Asta who is great and doesn’t sound like a freaking car engine when he screams.
Great job Funimation.
Final Thoughts as from episode 20.
I know it may be too early to judge from only watching the first 17 episodes dubbed from the time of the Funimation simuldub as well the other episodes subbed on Crunchyroll but this needs to be said. Black Clover is a terrible series that is poorly written to the core as well being an unoriginal piece of shit from day 1. The story is boring, badly written and no identity. The pacing was awful, the characters are bland, annoying and downright unlikeable. The visuals are mediocre at best, the soundtrack is forgettable and generic, and the Japanese voice acting is horrible. The only good thing about this show is Noelle and the dub than again having a good dub don’t make a show good. It only makes a beautiful looking piece of shit.
Is this the worst shounen series? As of right now no because Fairy Tail still exists. Black Clover may be a terrible series as of right now but it may have potential to be decent series at best then again Black Clover could betray us the viewers by being more preachy than Fairy Tail with its themes as well as adding bad filler in the second half or last quarter in the series completely butchering the source material. If that happens than Black Clover would dethrone Fairy Tail of the worst shounen series spot.
If you want to watch Black Clover than I strongly recommend watching it with friends for a better viewing experience because watching this show alone is absolutely miserable.
As for right now, Black Clover gets a 2/10.
We used to have Big 3 when it comes to anime including shows like Naruto, One piece, and Dragonball. Throw Fairytail in there also. Now as those shows are going away we look to replace them and this show was supposed to be one of those shows hyped to the point it crashed streaming websites when it released. The thing is all this show has are the bad parts of the Big 3. The story also wants to be compared to them and since it is I'm going to compare them here.
The story is about a boy who can't use magic but through some stroke
of determination and luck gets a powerful magic only he can use. I purposely manipulating this to sound like Boku no hero academia. Both main characters don't have something commonplace in this world just to get one of the strongest options somehow. Now we can compare it to Naruto, where all they did was replace Hokage with Wizard King as that is our main characters main goal to be the one over them all. Then you have Fairytail's magic elements on top of the fact he basically joined the Fairytail guild and yada yada yada. You have probably had these comparisons drilled into your head by now. All you need to know is this show doesn't do any of things nearly as well as the others except for maybe Fairytail that one is being debated by everyone. And before I move on when the second episode is filler that tells you this show isn't going to have good things to come. The pacing of the show is horrendous as it starts off super slow then starts moving very quickly and slows down again. They even negate some things turning some episodes into nothing but filler that added nothing to the characters development. (No saying it won't make you like a character more or not but objectively it adds nothing.)
The art is good. I don't love it but it's not bad at all the magic looks really good but that's the only thing I really like about it everything else I find around meh.
The music is all that special to me either. No songs still out to me as good or bad because I can't even remember them as it really isn't anything special. But there is one thing that I will get into with characters. The japanese voice actors are perfectly cast and that's not exactly a good thing. ( more on that later.)
Time to let loose the characters.
Asta is the main character of this story and like I said before he can't use magic but you need magic to pretty much do anything in this world as people without it are unheard of except for him. Honestly, all he knows how to do is scream at the top of his lungs I mean listening to him makes me want to blow my brains out. This makes Dragonball look tame and people joke about that all the time. You might grow numb to his voice over time or you might not, either way, you might want to seek out the dub instead. But he is determined although he can't use magic he trains his heart out all day working on his physical abilities and ends up with a grimoire something signifying magic in this world. But his is special as these books all have clovers 1-4 usually 4 being very impressive but our magicless protagonist gets a 5 leaf which means he as the power of the devil or something like that which lets him use a huge sword like another story we know that cuts down magic and negates it completely. Overall his character is super annoying and his ability just leaves me bored as this isn't the first useless main character is actually useful story and I would rather watch any one of those at this point.
The other main character I'm going to go over is our token overpower rival character Sauske... sorry I mean Gray, No Yuno, yeah Yuno. Yuno gets a 4 leaf is naturally good at magic and our main character uses him as a motivation get stronger. He is a rather emotionless character that looks up to Asta determination because he saved him this one time. I'm just going to cut it there and say this character means nothing to me.
The side characters (guild members.) can be very similar to fairytail, We have a chick that drinks a lot and wears rather lewd clothing like kana. a overbearing and energetic character like natsu. a powerful and serious like gildarts occasionally can be, etc.
Overall, unless you love shonen anime do not touch this with a ten-foot pole. Watch the shows this wants to replace instead at least you don't have to wait for new episodes. and you have watched them watch them again. This show has nothing redeemable so far maybe it will and I'm going to keep watching because I'm shonen trash. But so far this is a complete garbage can of a show. I'm not saying you can't enjoy this but it's really not good.