Black Clover: The Little Shonen that Could

In October of 2017, after much promotion, hype, and overselling of the new anime, Black Clover, debuted, and after watching the first episodes, anime fans had… a few things to say about Clover as things stood at that moment.

I had hope for the Black Clover anime. Then I heard Asta’s (Japanese) voice. I had to click off. Some of the worst acting I’ve heard. (@MrBuddyVA) October 3, 2017

Starting watching black clover N ASTA US SO FKN ANNOYING OMG! To add in his voice actor is annoying to me too 😡😤🙄🤦🏾‍♂️ #astaisass (@SirLumpKing) October 4, 2017

Whoever picked the voice actor for the main character of black clover needs to be fired. Never dropped a show for such a simple reason LUL (@ZuccoZK) October 3, 2017

As you can see, the very first episode was derided for a very silly reason. Asta’s voice sounded… really grating on the ears, to the point where people even dropped the show due to it. But seeing as how Asta’s Japanese VA, Gakuto Kajiwara, was a relatively new actor, who was basically learning on the job. There’s nothing wrong with this, considering that Clover has tons of veterans on its Japanese cast, such as Junichi Suwabe, Jun Fukuyama, Nana Mizuki, Nobunaga Shimazaki, etc. It was just glaring to the fact that the main protagonist had the loudest- and thus, most prominent, voice.

The other thing was, when the show premiered, it was endlessly compared to, unfavorably, may I add, the Naruto series, and to a lesser extent, Fairy Tail.

Image result for black clover naruto knock off
These videos were pretty prevalent in the early days of the anime.

But when I read the manga, and blazed through the Dungeon Exploration arc, and I found that, it’s not really like Naruto at all.

Okay the beginning feels a lot like Naruto, except for the fact that Asta’s grown up in a relatively normal home, with a two parental figures, and multiple kids that could be called a non-blood related (that we know of anyways) family. Compare to Naruto, who was ostracized by [most of] the Leaf Village’s citizens, had no family, had the 3rd Hokage take care of him, leading to his wanting to become Hokage, so people would have to respect him, without any sort of effort. But the reason that he was ostracized was because he had the Nine-Tails sealed within him. And apparently, the 3rd was too stupid to tell anyone that Naruto was the 4th’s son and keep it a secret, but hey, whole other bag of beetles.

Asta never had anything sealed inside of him. That demon you saw at the end of the first episode? Yeah, that’s from the Grimoire. Asta’s just a freakishly strong kid without magic in a world filled with the stuff.

Image result for asta demon
Within the Five-Clover Grimore… Lies the Devil.

Something that is also of note: a lot of the fights in Black Clover are team-based. No one almost ever goes into battle alone. Whether it’s just by convenience or necessity, the team based combat is a constant presence in almost any battle of the series, one of my favorites being in the Underwater Temple Arc where almost the entire Black Bulls squadron has to defeat a villain, and it is just the greatest thing. If you haven’t watched or read that fight, go seek it out, please. It will make you a fan of the series.

And quite possibly, the best thing that Black Clover manga had to offer was the female cast. No really.

In many shonen manga, women either serve two functions: stand around to support the protagonist, exist to show that there are females in this world too, or to provide some cheap fanservice.

Image result for kotori mizuki
Just going to place this random gif of Kotori Mizuki here, no reason, just going to do it.

I mean, there are some diamonds in the rough that break the mold, but usually, they end up being upstaged by the protagonist, or end up being nothing more than a one-trick pony, and find themselves in the background, sooner or later.

When Tabata ends up when writing women, or characters in general, he usually ends up giving them a distinct personality, and goals of their own. Let’s take a look at Noelle Silva.

Image result for noelle silva

At the beginning she was discarded royalty who had little to no control over her magic, and over the course of the series, she learns to improve her magic abilities, to the point where in the Underwater Temple Arc, she actually ends up standing up to Vetto, and delivering a substantial blow to the villain. Now, she doesn’t defeat him, but it’s telling that she ended up trying to stop him.

All the pieces were there for Black Clover to succeed. But, due to slow pacing, questionable padding of scenes not originally in the manga, and… CG chains, apparently, it just seems that the world wasn’t ready for Clover in 2017.

But this all ended up changing in 2018.

Many people, including me, ended giving the series another chance. In my opinion, the series ended up being more than a Naruto clone, and, in my opinion, ended up possibly surpassing the series that everyone compared it to. Former detractors ended up turning into supporters, and saw it as the great series that it was, and not for the series that it was copying. The Underwater Temple Arc (which made me a fan of the series for life) got animated, and saw people turn into fans of the series. Even people with large amounts of clout in the anime community, such as Gigguk and YonkouProductions, ended up praising the series, which was surprising, considering the former made a video deriding Clover almost a year prior to him becoming a fan.

Character Development

Even though people have changed their tune over BC, and seen what it had to offer, it was genuinely surprising when fans of the show had began enjoying the show and reading the manga, especially when a post-My Hero Academia Season 3 world. And when Episode 65 hit, the episode with ahem
THAT Asta thing, people were divided over the quality of the animation. Fans either acclaimed the style that was used over the course of the episode, or they thought that it looked too cartoonish, and seemed that it was another case of Pierrot (the animation studio behind Clover, as well as Naruto and Bleach) cheapening out on the animation, but that’s a story for another person to cover.

I think that if there’s a lesson to be learned from when the anime premiered, and now, it’s: DON’T JUDGE AN ANIME BY ITS FIRST EPISODE.

Or something along those lines.

So, judging from the chart, the Fall of Clover was from when the anime premired, and all the screaming memes happened. But the rise came when the Underwater Temple Arc was animated, and people began to change their tones. With Season 4 of My Hero Academia not premiering until Fall 2019, Clover still has a chance to be better than just good. In fact, and this is going to be a scorching take on things, 2019 might just be the year Black Clover will take everyone’s breath away.

Image result for black asta

If you want to watch Black Clover, the show airs weekly on Crunchyroll in it’s native Japanese with English Subs, and likewise on Funimation’s streaming service in English Dub. The show also airs every Saturday Night on [adult swim]’s Toonami.

Until next time, you can follow me on Twitter, Support me on Ko-Fi and Patreon, and follow this website for more articles on anime, video games, and movies.

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