In the plethora of shonen coming out of the anime industry, “Black Clover”manages to distinguish itself (to a point at least) by functioning as a tribute to a number of titles in the category. Let us take things from the beginning though.
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The story takes place in a kind of medieval world, where every single person is able to practice magic. Asta and Yuno are two orphans who want the same thing: to become the Wizard King. Locked in a friendly rivalry, they work hard towards their goal. While Yuno excels at magic, Asta has a problem uncommon in this world: he has no magic powers, an issue he tries to overcome by training his body excessively. However, on the day they receive their grimoires, they surprise everyone. To reach their goal, they will each find their own path to greatness—with or without magic.
The tribute aspect of the title derives from a number of elements. The magical abilities and the concept of the Wizard King share many similarities with “Shaman King”; the obnoxious and very loud kid who seems to be at a lower level than everyone around him until his secret is revealed is a nod to “Naruto”; the huge sword is inspired by “Berserk”. Furthermore, the friendly rivalry, the initiation tournament, and the first battle against a much stronger enemy are all common elements of the category met in a number of titles, as is the case with the gags and the comic moments, which in this case, border on the extreme.
Tatsuya Yoshihara manages to combine all of the above elements quite well, while the setting of the medieval world where magic is everything provides some social comments about racism, with this element extending to the differences between the nobles and the peasants, with the latter category including our two protagonists. The fact that Yoshihara has given Asta’s arc a comic direction while Yuno’s seems more serious also works quite well, as it keeps the title from becoming leaning overly toward the comic, thus retaining aesthetics that would also make the film appealing to more mature audiences, at least partially. The fact that Asta is always loud though, occasionally becomes a bit tiring.
The drawing of the characters leans towards western characteristics, which suit the general narrative, and the detail is quite significant, while the differences among the various protagonists are more than evident. The background is also drawn in impressive fashion, with the same applying to Studio Pierrot’s animation, which finds its apogee in the various battles, which become more and more impressive as the story progresses.
“Black Clover” does not stray away very much from the rules of the shonen, but the tribute factor and the conception of the characters works quite well, resulting in a title that all fans of the category will enjoy.