In a world where everyone’s insane is the one sane man really the crazy one? In much the same way, in a world where everyone can use magic is the person born without an affinity for it the abnormal one? To us that might seem ridiculous. However think about it for a second outside of what you consider ‘normal’. In a world where our fantasy is their reality a puzzling situation like that can make quite the adventure. Black Clover is an anime that gives us a scenario like this among others but is it worth watching? Let’s learn some more about it and hopefully find out.
Two boys each born around the same time and raised together. They are Asta and Yuno and though they grew up with one another, sometimes your birth can drastically change your life. In Clover Kingdom being born with magical abilities is the norm. The king (or Magic Emperor) of the land is even chosen according to how powerful his magic and skills are. It was only through magic after all that the first Magic Emperor saved the land from destruction at the hands of demons. However Asta turns out to be an exception to this standard. Instead he isn’t born with some unique magical power or ability and is, by our standards at least, ‘normal’. Imagine not being like everyone else and facing pressure each day to compete with standards beyond your ability.
To drive home this stark contrast, Yuno is virtually a natural at magic with skills beyond compare. Asta is a frequent source of laughter and mockery whereas Yuno receives perpetual praise and admiration. Though put down by his peers, Asta will come to realize he has a unique power of his own. With both of them vying to become the next Magic Emperor, these two opposites, best friends and most importantly, rivals, have quite an adventure ahead of them.
Black Clover actually begins on quite a promising note. The first episode quickly sets things into motion, gives us some backstory of the two main characters as well as the world and begins developing them. However despite this lofty start things don’t go quite smoothly after. It stutters and falls short further on. The pacing with which it was introduced simply isn’t always recaptured. At times it can feel as though Black Clover is trying to fill the shoes of too many beloved anime all at once. In so doing, it has not only set itself up against very high standards but shortchanges itself of potential opportunities as well.
This isn’t to say the story in this anime isn’t good, merely that it didn’t live up to what it could have been. As such, go into this one with modest expectations as you may like it or leave disappointed. Further, there’s still room for improvement to be observed throughout the rest of the season as well. If anything, patience is recommended more than anything else with this anime.
Asta is loud, boisterous and compensates for his lack of magical prowess via constant physical exercise. Either with the intent of portraying his insecurity or just emulating other anime like Naruto or One Piece, he just can’t shut up. In fact the majority of the first episode might just be him yelling constantly about not giving up. That and how he’s going to be the best one day. Ash from Pokemon’s and other famous anime monologue givers would be hard pressed to compete. On the plus side all of this ranting can at times make the audience feel for him. This applies especially at his lowest points. Thus, the character development of both him and Yuno take center stage here and is generally done quite well.
We get glimpses into their troubled past and why, at present, they go from close friends to rivals and frienemies in the blink of an eye. In contrast Yuno is quiet, reserved and generally keeps to himself. Though showered with praise for being a prodigy in magic he doesn’t seem to pay much attention to his fame. Instead he has his goals and sticks to them. At the same time he respects Asta greatly. A generally good foundation for their rivalry is set up with some emotional aspects to it. However the way these themes are explored aren’t always as good as they should be.
This is one thing Black Clover does quite well. From the get go you see vibrant, sharp colors which beautifully illustrate the kingdom. It looks like something right out of a pure fantasy hit. The world itself is beautifully displayed and animated. In fact, one of the most memorable sights is that of the giant demon skull looming on the kingdom’s borders. The result of the first Magic Emperor’s fight to save humankind. Sound as well is of good standard, even during the most annoying moments.
Weighed down by the expectations it set for itself Black Clover is still a good anime beneath it all. Its strongest point is its setting and the world it builds so don’t write off this new anime just yet.