Black Clover 1 by Yuki Tabata

One of the benefits of having a subscription to Viz’s Shounen Jump is that I sometimes read chapters from the other series I don’t necessarily follow (it’s World Trigger and Bleach for me!). Black Clover has been one of them – never really hooking me since I pretty much picked it up fairly far along. Now, with this first volume, I have a chance to get to know the story from the beginning and I was surprised – it’s actually decent. Yes, we have your typical shounen trope of boy with mystery (or in this case, 2 orphan boys with mystery) who will learn to use a special ability in order to power up. But like Bleach’s Ichigo and his bankai, it somehow works here without the main character looking too stupid in his single minded ambition.

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Story: Asta and Yuno are orphans left at a hick backwater village. Both have ambition – to become the next Wizard King so they can make life better for the poor. Yuno is quiet, good looking, and very talented with wind magic. Asta is impetuous, full of energy, yet is one of the rare people nearly devoid of magic. When the day comes to inherit their own grimoirs and build their magic, Yuno receives the very auspicious 4 leaf clover book – the same as the previous Wizard King. It looks as if Asta will receive nothing – until a mysterious grimoir finds him and gives him a sword that defeats or deflects magic. As both join the Magic Knights, their journey to becoming the Wizard King is about to begin.

The story pretty much follows Asta’s point of view though clearly we are building up a rivalry for the best friends. Asta ends up in the Knights Squad that are a bunch of ‘losers’ while Yuno ends up with the top squad. Yet clearly this will be about Asta’s unique grimoir and sword and how he learns to use them most effectively.

The series doesn’t shy away from a huge list of characters. But each is drawn in a very unique style so it is very easy to tell them apart. If anything, the illustrations can often feel like they were done by many people instead of one since line widths and styles vary so greatly throughout.

I didn’t go into Black Clover thinking I would like it over much but it surprised me. I find I’m liking it in much the same way I did at the beginning of Bleach. As such, I am looking forward to continuing the story. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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