Something Special – Black Clover Anime Review

“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!” – MAL Synopsis

Episodes 170 – Dub/Sub – Aired from Fall 2017 – Finished – MAL Rating: 7.94 – Genres: ActionComedyMagicFantasyShounen

Black Clover has had a wild ride. From shaky production circumstances that resulted in a sub-par product in the beginning. To the Immense hate for Asta and the whole show in general. But through all the turmoil Black Clover has managed to rise to the ranks and surpass its limits. Becoming a beloved anime that fans tuned in to every Tuesday for 3 1/2 years. For me, Black Clover holds a very special place in my heart. At a not-so-great time in my life a few years ago. I found great pleasure and ease when I got to chance to watch two particular anime. Those being Black Clover and One Piece. It was late 2018 at the time and Black Clover had almost about 50 or so episodes under its belt. Those first 50 admittedly had very rough patches. But there was always a bright spot among them. Yeah, Asta’s screaming was annoying but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t understand why he does it and eventually love how much he pumps himself up. Yeah, the animation was/is real rough a lot of times. But when a big fight comes up. It is always some of the best animated and hype scenes of whichever year it airs. Under all the bad, this show from the beginning has been something special. I say all this here to preface the rest of this review. I’m going to be kind of harsh on a fair amount of things about this show. But this show will always be special to me. So much so I can easily look beyond those flaws and love this show regardless. But flaws are flaws and they should be talked about so I will nonetheless.

Black Clover’s story mirrors its shounen contemporaries to a tea. Everything about this show is typical shounen stuff. Magic Kingdoms with a Wizard King who our main character aspires to be one day. An underdog main character who has to work harder than anyone else to achieve his goals. His rival is the complete opposite. The magic kingdom is very classist, and wait what’s this? The main character has some super special unique power to him that helps him through his journey. Then you got the power-ups, the friendship stuff. You get the point. On the surface, nothing in Black Clover is anything that you probably haven’t seen before if you watch shounen or action anime. What makes Black Clover special is that it embraces all of those tropes and plays into them heavily, for better or worse.

Royal Capitol

With about 170 episodes there are a bunch of different arcs throughout the show. The show is basically divided into two major arcs with some buffer and filler in between. The first major arc was really good and well built upon and it flowed into the next major arc well. With a long-running show that’s something, you need to nail. The story flows really well and there’s some amazing foreshadowing all throughout the series with great payoff. And I’m expecting an even more amazing payoff whenever this show continues, as the last arc is basically the beginning of the next major one and it has Black Clovers best moments. not only from an animation standpoint but also from the story, emotional, and character point too. The last episode hit me and a lot of others differently and it really showed the impact this show has. It was excellent and single-handedly raised this show’s score for me. Only 10% of the story being filler is shocking seeing as how the show was on the heels of the manga up until its ending. The filler isn’t bad. I honestly couldn’t differentiate it from the rest of the story it flowed well. Some of the individual character episodes can get a little snoozy. But it’s all for a great purpose and they add a lot to the whole cast which pays off massively when they get their moments to shine.

The Clover Kingdom and its surrounding kingdoms

There are always hints towards the bigger world and more so the surrounding kingdoms during the first major arc. So after that concludes the world opens up a lot. While it is nice, it feels as if the Clover Kingdom is super isolated from the rest of the world. Magic techniques and ranking systems that every other Kingdom uses are completely foreign to the mages of Clover Kingdom. Which doesn’t make much sense at all. But it’s nothing that really bogs the showdown in any way, just a bit jarring. What does grind my gears is how a lot of villains seem to get off scot-free after the major battle. Not all of them, and the ones that do, do get redeemed in a way. Or at least through dialogue and backstory, their motivations make sense and you can empathize with them. But at the end of the day, a lot of them killed/injured people or were directly the cause of many people getting killed/injured. For them to just be forgiven and let go doesn’t fully sit well with me. But as I said the villain’s personal stories are really good and some get what they deserve.

There’s a lot of comedy in the show and it can be very hit or miss. Some moments genuinely made me laugh out loud. Most of those moments are the nicely timed one-off jokes. But the show has a tendency to be really repetitive with its comedy. A joke will be beaten over your head over and over again. To the point where it’ll happen so much, it becomes funny, cause there’s just no way the show is still running with this gag. This is a flaw that coincides with the characters having a handful of personality traits that mostly define them. As most of the jokes revolve around those traits. It’s an annoying thing about the show but it’s not the end-all. Another repetitive thing is in big moments when there’s more than one character on screen. A lot of the time they will say the same thing at the same time, and more often than that characters will finish each other’s sentences. Sometimes it adds to the hype but it happens so often it gets annoying very fast.

The Magic system in this show is bonkers. Literally, anything could be magic. Of course, there are basic elements like water, fire, earth, wind, etc. But then you add the interesting stuff like fate, dark, time, anti, compass, and many more. Even within all of those magic types, there are different ways to wield them. Luck (one of the Black Bulls) uses lightning magic but unlike a character introduced later in the series that uses projectiles and can summon natural lightning. Luck uses lightning magic to equip it and wrap it around parts of his body. It makes it so that even if more than one character has the same magic type, the way they use it is specifically unique to them. With the possibility endless it makes meeting new characters more fun than it is in any other show. Later in the show, they introduce a new technique to use magic called mana words. It’s cool but it kind of comes out of nowhere and every other kingdom uses them besides the Clover Kingdom which is weird. They seem so oblivious to its existence which is very jarring. Something that’s done well here is the concept of pushing past your limits. If you where you put a magic knight on a stat sheet it would be one of the more important ones. And that concept as a whole is the main theme of the show. Working had, pushing past your limits, and exceeding your potential. It’s woven so naturally into the story. So when a character pushes past their limits during battle and unleashes some new grand attack. It doesn’t feel like a forced power up and its enjoyable every time. The magic system as a whole is very fun and it had me wanting to know what everyone’s magic is and how they use it. The sky is the limit and in a show all about surpassing your limits well I think it works quite great.

Spatial Magic

I have mixed feelings on the characters in Black Clovers. Every character has a handful of personality traits that define them. Those traits are amplified by like 10 and it can get grating a point. Some characters are just naturally going to be more annoying based on their personality than others. Which is why it’s kind of weird that I love them all (well most of them)? Well, it’s not that weird. Black Clover can get really intimate when it dives into all of these characters’ backstory, former and current relationships, and overall growth. And yeah these characters do have growth. It’s subtle, no one that gets screen time is truly the same person they were when they were first introduced. And I love that because you can pick an episode early in the series and late in the series and be bamboozled into thinking “well this character still talks the same, wears the same outfit, yeah they might have got a power-up yada yada.” But it’s just not true. The subtly is key. Asta still yells, he’s still pretty dumb and talks about wanting to be the wizard king. Asta in episode 1 is not the same as Asta in episode 170. Noelle still talks about being royalty, she still simps over Asta. Noelle from episode 3 is not the same Noelle from episode 170. Genuinely this is something that took me a while to notice. But it’s amazing how these characters are true to themselves while also constantly growing. A lot of side characters and the majority of the villains get proper episodes and backstories that add a lot to them. If anything, Black Clover’s characters are the shining point of the show. Especially the main character Asta.

Asta & Yuno

Asta got and still gets flak for yelling a lot but I love it. He’s a true underdog through in through. In a kingdom that is heavily discriminatory for him to strive for a goal that in theory is beyond his reach is awe-inspiring. He never lets himself get down and he is the hardest working mc that I think I’ve ever seen. We get to see him put in that hard work and see its massive payoff. Plain and simple I love Asta and he’s one of my favorite characters in anime. That kind of makes it sad that I don’t really like Yuno that much. Yuno has moments where he shows some true emotion and personality. But a lot of the times he’s just so stale and boring. His being the complete opposite of Asta in terms of personality and ability in terms of mana kind of makes me dislike him even more. I understand the parallel but outside of the last arc of the show, I could’ve done without him. It definitely doesn’t help that he has that wind spirit Slyph following him around 24/7.

The Black Bulls

Without going into spoilers two more characters that stood out to me were Yami and Noelle. Yami is very much like Asta in a lot of ways which makes their dynamic and interactions awesome. Out of all the characters in the show, he made me laugh the most. His personality is hilarious and his little rivalries and relationships with some of the other captains were always fun to watch. Noelle is a great character. Her personal growth is the most apparent amongst the cast and really well done and built upon. Her relationship with Asta is cute but the simping can get a little annoying. But who can really blame her? Have you seen how swole dude gets? They are so many characters in this show that are really good but I would kind of be hard to talk about without spoiling. I love the majority of the cast in this show despite their over-exaggerated personalities. The story of this anime is it is greater than the sum of its parts and that most definitely stands when talking about the characters.

Yuno & Sylph

This show has a lot of fanservice that’s always a negative to me but it’s not so as bad as its contemporaries. It’s bearable but some questionable camera angles had me rolling my eyes. And both Asta and Yuno have their little harem. It was whatever for the most part, but Sylph is the most annoying character I think I’ve ever watched and I pray on her downfall every episode. Yuno doesn’t even seem to like her.

There was one trope that really got to me. So many female characters in this show are just completely inept at understanding and articulating their feelings towards their crushes. It’s used as a gag a lot, and yeah it’s funny half the time. The other half it’s draining. I can kind of understand the teenaged characters being like this. But when you have grown women just completely folding under pressure whenever they’re around their crush it just hurts to watch. Then on the flip of things, the male characters are so dense and oblivious. It’s funny half of the time but the other half had me wanting to just skip through the episode.

So this is where I’m going to get harsh. Before I do I’ll say, I’ve watched both the sub and dub. The dub is solid enough. There are some meh performances but overall it’s okay. Meanwhile, the sub is fantastic. There isn’t a weak link in the sub every character is voiced very well. Now the painfully disappointing part of the show. Quite frankly the animation in this show sucks more than it doesn’t. Bad CGI, constant still shots during fight scenes, and sometimes there are some noticeable bad body proportions. The first half or so of this series suffers from this the most but it’s a constant pretty much up until the end of the series. After about episode 118 the baseline for the animation got higher. The lows of the animation weren’t as low and man the highs were fantastic. This is pretty much par for the course for anime that run for years and especially anime under Studio Perriot. Given the production problems, in the beginning, it’s nothing short of a miracle that this show went as strong as it did. While the animation isn’t great most of the time. When it is, it’s stunning. The hype moment and fights are nailed. The animation style used is a personal favorite of mine because of how fluid and simplistic it is. Then the soundtrack, man the soundtrack bangs. The set of 13 openings is among the best. Ever.

Wow, this review is really long but it’s a long series. There’s a lot to dislike or even hate about Black Clover. Bad animation, overexaggerated character personality traits, bad comedy sometimes, some of the shounen tropes, the fanservice, hell maybe even the dub. But to me, Black Clover is greater than the sum of its parts. I will gladly sit through all that bad animation again because of the moments when they nail it? It’s the best out bar none. Yeah, the character’s personalities can get annoying, but the individual moments and subtle character growth pay off so well. I think my point is clear. There was much more for me to love in this show than to dislike. And on top of that, this show has so much heart. You truly never know how much you get emotionally attached to a show until the last episode. The last episode really showcased Black Clover at its best and why so many love it. And it solidified that I love this show and it will always be special to me regardless of its flaws.

Black Clover – 10/10

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