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Manga Review: Black Clover, Volume 1

By Rae

Black Clover 01 Rating

Warning: Here Be Spoilers

Black Clover first came out in Japan in 2015, so the North American release isn’t too far behind. I’m always open to a good shonen series (Shaman King is still my favourite). I’m even more open to a good fantasy.

Black Clover 01 001

In a world where magic abilities are commonplace, Asta is both hopeless and completely unable to use magic. Both abandoned at the same church, he and his friend Yuno grew up together. Despite that, their talent levels are clearly very different. In true shonen fashion, Asta’s dream is to one day become the Wizard King – the most powerful mage in the world – and a little thing like no magic at all isn’t going to stop that dream.

At the age of 15, all teenagers receive a grimoire meant just for them. From here, they study for a magic test that determines if they will be accepted into the Magic Knights. From the captains of those knights, the next Wizard King is chosen. It’s easy to slip into the world of grimoires and magic, and the hierarchy of that world. This world in particular is a little reminiscent of Shin Megami Tensei IV’s setup – everyone competes for a coveted spot as one of the world’s guardians. I wonder if eventually we’ll find some disturbing secrets amongst the ranks of the Magic Knights.

All of the young mages have gathered to find out their grimoire, and all of them receive a book chosen just for them. Or… all except Asta, who gets nothing. Meanwhile, Yuno manages to obtain a lucky grimoire that foretells he may become the Wizard King. Soon, things become even more complicated. While desperately trying to save Yuno from a thief, Asta somehow calls forth the Grimoire of Anti-Magic.

Black Clover 01 002

The story fast-forwards to the day of the magic tests, where new Magic Knights are chosen. With the Wizard King chosen from the Magic Knights, Asta is sure he will be chosen. Much to everyone’s surprise, he ends up with an offer to join the “worst” group – the Black Bulls. One other test-taker joins as well – Noelle Silva, the daughter of a royal family that has disowned her for being unable to fully control her magic.

When a commoner village at the end of the country faces danger, these two new Knights have the chance to discover their true abilities.

Black Clover 01 003

Black Clover 01 005

Black Clover has pretty standard shonen art – decent quality, with a wide array of character designs. It also has a good sense of humour and an interesting premise. Yuno and Asta make an interesting pair, with Yuno’s pure faith in Asta’s abilities, contrary to the evidence that he doesn’t have any. I’m interested to see more of Yuno in the next installments. I’m also interested to find out the truth behind Asta’s powers. At the beginning it seems that he has uncovered something rare and mostly unknown. At points, however, it seems that the ability to negate magic is fairly known and understood.

The story of the underdog never really gets old. Asta starts out seemingly hopeless, and immediately starts growing. This is also true for Noelle, who has been told all along that she’s worthless. Before the end of the volume, she is already determined to harness her power and use it for good. The Black Bulls in particular are introduced really well. A group of ridiculous misfits, everyone seems to think they’re the worst of all the Magic Knights. But behind the shenanigans, it’s clear that each member  has some real heart.

Black Clover 01 004

If you liked shonen series like Naruto or Shaman King, Black Clover will probably be a good pick. However, I will caution that it’s a standard shonen series so far. If you’re looking for something completely different, it’s hard to tell yet if this read would pay off. We’ll have to see if it can break out of the shadows left by previous titles.
Volume 2 is slated for release on August 2nd.

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