From Full-Metal Alchemist to Naruto to Fairy Tail to Bleach, we’ve encountered many shonen shows over the years. Each shonen story has its own unique-yet-not-so-unique protagonist, and the storytelling formula is almost the same as its predecessor.
With My Hero Academia‘s recent success, there is major pressure for BLACK CLOVER to perform well as it makes its anime debut this week. Does Black Clover have the potential to surpass previous shonen favourites?
In our first Off the Record corner, we discuss our first impressions of Black Clover based on Episode 1!
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BLACK CLOVER revolves around two orphans, Asta and Yuno. Raised together from birth in a church on the outskirts of Clover Kingdom, this is a world where everyone has unique magical powers. Like every other individual in the village, it was the boys’ ambition to become the Wizard King aka Clover Kingdom’s strongest Magic Knight.
Yuno, a prodigy with immense powers, is admired by those around him. On the other hand, Asta was born without any powers. But with Yuno so far ahead of him, how can Asta possibly become the Wizard King… without magic? This humiliation worsens when Asta does not receive his grimoire at the public ceremony, and again, Yuno outshines Asta and everyone else around them.
As much as we hate to make comparisons between any shonen anime show, we simply cannot help it. The introduction of two orphan babies? A priest? Black Clover immediately gets a strike against its name for being too similar to Blue Exorcist. When you think about it, Yuno is a replica of the well-liked Yukio Okumura — tall, handsome, talented, and rather silent. Asta is pretty much Rin Okumura’s clone — chaotic, annoyingly loud, and an absolute troublemaker.
As we venture through the episode, there is nothing particularly special about Black Clover. There were some well-animated scenes plus a few humourous moments featuring Asta.
And while we attempted to put aside the cliche shonen aspects, there was one factor about Black Clover that did not impress us. Asta’s voice. Voiced by Gakuto Kajiwara, we must commend him for bringing Asta’s over-the-top personality to life. For a newbie voice actor, he sounded good. But after a few yells here and there, Asta’s voice began to be extremely annoying — and this is a ~first for us to say about any anime character. If you ever thought Naruto was annoying with his ‘Dattebayo’ and shenanigans, think again. Asta’s voice is probably 1000x worse than Naruto.
Speaking of Naruto, when it comes to shonen rivalry, no-one can compare to Uzumaki Naruto and Uchiha Sasuke’s rivalry. Black Clover is trying to recreate this rivalry through Yuno and Asta, and at this point, our interest in Black Clover is waning.
Hang on your horses though! Our perception of Black Clover soon changes when we reach the climactic end of the episode. In a death-defying moment where Yuno gets caught in a bind and Asta gets beaten up by a mysterious sorcerer, we randomly see Yuno acknowledging Asta’s rivalry out of nowhere.
And it is because of this acknowledgment, we finally see what could potentially be the selling point of Black Clover — something we won’t spoil. In a thrilling animated display with operatic music, we must admit that the episode’s cliffhanger was on-point. Not only did the cliffhanger give us goosebumps, but we finally felt the thirst to learn more about the characters. This is a shame because Black Clover literally took the whole episode to impress us.
First Impressions Rating: D
Black Clover is a very generic shonen story that appears to have stolen a bit of personality from its fellow shonen rivals.
(To be quite frank, to regard classic shonen examples e.g. Blue Exorcist and Naruto as Black Clover‘s rivals is an insult.
With no distinct qualities under its belt, we wonder if Black Clover is worth continuing to watch. We want a new shonen anime that will blow us away, and unfortunately, this pilot episode was quite lacklustre despite its amazing cliffhanger ending.
Yet …What could the future hold for both Yuno and Asta? Who will ultimately become the Wizard King? Guess we will have to find out!