In February 2022, Yuki Tabata’s original manga series, Black Clover, celebrated the seventh anniversary of its debut and publication in the pages of Weekly Shonen Jump. Since its debut, the series has sold over 15 million copies. Starting in October 2017, Black Clover received a new weekly, episodic anime television series, produced by Studio Pierrot.
At first glance, Black Clover might not seem like the most esteemed of anime shows. But if you manage to stick with it, it gradually becomes a must-see and adored series. In our Black Clover Review, we’ll explain why the Black Clover anime series is great and worth your time if at least a brief look.
Black Clover Anime Review Table of Contents:
- Story Progression
- The Verdict
Black Clover – The Story
Black Clover follows the story of the young orphan teenager Asta. Asta lives in a medieval-inspired fantasy world of knights and magic. In the world of Black Clover, your social status, your upbringing, and general lot in life are all based on the level of magic you hold. Unfortunately for most humans in the world, your magic potential is determined at birth. Those with less or no mana are seen as the dregs of society.
Young Asta was born without the ability to generate magic. Despite this, he still dreams of becoming a member of the Clover Kingdom’s elite Magic Knights, the protectors and defenders of the realm, and becoming the Magic Knights’ highest-ranking commander, the Wizard King. Asta’s young friend and fellow orphan, Yuno, also shares the same dream. Unlike Asta, Yuno was born with incredible magic powers and abilities.
Despite not having any magic-borne powers, Asta’s body somehow responded to a unique Five-Leaf Clover Grimoire. Grimoires are magical tomes that people can use to enhance their magical abilities and cast advanced magical spells. While Asta was not born with any regular magic, he develops a unique ability called “anti-magic.” With his anti-magic, Asta can cancel out almost any magic spells. His new grimoire also grants him access to special swords, enabling him to block advanced magic, deflect it, send it back to an attacker, or dispel harmful spells.
With his unique abilities, Asta is recruited into the infamous Black Bulls magic knights squad; seen as the misfit, worst of the worst squad in the kingdom. Despite their bad reputation, the members are all genuine people with hearts of gold. After Asta joins the team, he seeks to protect the Clover Kingdom from a litany of threats and accomplish his dream of one day becoming the Wizard King; that is if he can beat Yuno to the punch.
Not long after the show started, one of the major sources of criticism was the show’s protagonist, Asta himself. Asta is a veritable spaz. He tends to be very loud and obnoxious. While that’s not inaccurate, that only makes Asta more of an appealing character to me.
Asta is a spaz, but that also makes him identifiable. He’s a person that’s been bullied and looked down upon his entire life. He’s used to others ragging on him, not just for being loud and obnoxious, but also for his lack of magical abilities.
Despite Asta having a very loud, extroverted personality, the series doesn’t shy away from quiet moments from time to time. Asta is more contemplative and wiser than he initially appears. And when Asta is faced with life or death situations, that’s when his true colors truly shine, and he’s a force to be reckoned with.
Besides Asta, Black Clover has an incredibly well-rounded cast of fun, charming and likable characters, especially when it comes to the member of the Black Bulls. Captain Yami is the team’s lackadaisical leader. While Yami is a bit of a lout, you can tell deep down how much he cares about his subordinates.
While other members of the Black Bulls, such Luck Voltia and Magna Swing, tend to get into fights a lot, throughout the show, it’s established that this is more than just a team of misfits. They’re a family. Each member of the Black Bulls is someone who was cast aside or looked down upon by society in some way. Yami is a foreign immigrant as lost at sea and stranded in the Clover Kingdom. Magna is a recovering delinquent punk. Luck Voltia is an awkward kid who is obsessed with fighting. Charmy Pappitson is a glutton. Gauche Adlai is a disgraced noble and ex-convict. Grey is a young woman who is so shy that she’s not comfortable in her own skin and tends to disguise herself as others. Gordon Agrippa has trouble socially interacting and communicating with others due to his background. Finral Roulacase is seen as a perverted coward who was overlooked and cast aside by his affluent family.
While each member of the Black Bulls has some sort of social defect or issue, they all look out for one another and raise each other up. The sense of community and camaraderie among the Black Bulls provides some of the show’s most shining moments. A case in point is the moment in Episode 80 during the Royal Knights Selection Exam when Finral’s squadmates all come to his defense when Finral is mortally wounded by his little brother, Langris.
This was an epic moment that showed how far the team had come and how much their bonds have grown. They reacted on instinct to protect their friend from further attack. These are among the moments that make Black Clover such an epic series.
Throughout our review of Black Clover, we noticed the show’s general story progression is well done. When the show starts, Asta and Yuno are just orphan kids with just fantastical dreams of becoming Magic Knights and the Wizard king.
Throughout the show, we see the progression of Asta and Yuno’s journeys at every step. We see them gain their magic Grimoires. We see them take the Magic Knights Exams and get recruited into the magic knights. Both of them get promoted and their exploits grow over time. It’s not just about training arcs and learning new spells.
At the start of the show, the Black Bulls are seen as the worst Magic Knight squad in the kingdom. They are the bottom rung and dirt worst of the knights. Their star rating is in the negatives. For the series, thanks to the help of Asta, and his fellow new recruit, Noelle Silva, they accomplish more missions and improve the Black Bulls’ reputation. By the time it comes for the yearly ranking of the Magic Knight squads, the Bulls have moved up from last place and a negative star rating up to No. 2, right behind the esteemed, elite Golden Dawn squad, which is the one Yuno joined early on.
Seeing the progression of Asta and the Black Bulls is great because the viewers are rewarded with the adulation of Asta’s success. Rather than keeping the Black Bulls as the underdogs that never win and are always in last place, they are given some nice victories and can work their way up throughout the show.
While I very much enjoyed Naruto, it incessantly annoyed me that for the series, Naruto never received any type of promotion. By the time Naruto Shippuden rolls around, Asta is still a Genin rank. Naruto’s friends and teammates get promoted in rank, but we never really see him get promoted until the very end, and it’s tiresome.
Yuki Tabata enables Asta to grow, not just as a character, but in stature and promotion. He gets promoted in rank. At one point, he gets picked for the Royal Knights, which in Naruto, would’ve been the equivalent for Naruto getting picked to be like in the Anbu Black Ops. Like Naruto couldn’t have gotten one promotion at least once?
Besides Asta, the show has gradually progressed the supporting characters as well. At the start, Noelle, despite hailing from a magic royal lineage, had terrible magic control. Thanks to her feelings for Asta and the other Black Bull members, this improves throughout the show. Gordon Agrippa can start talking with his friends. Finral becomes less of a coward and learns to stand up to his brother. Grey starts acting more like her true self around her friends rather than being in constant disguise.
Also, there is no one in this show better than Charmy. She is undoubtedly the star character of Black Clover.
The characters are not just stuck in one pre-established mode in the series. They change and gradually improve over time, and that’s very rewarding to see.
After the initial arcs, Black Clover’s action starts picking up. The major fights have struck a good balance and don’t overstay their welcome, along with the major arcs. This is a medieval fantasy action-adventure show at the end of the day. And while the animation is a bit of a mixed bag, the action almost always comes through for this show.
Black Clover – Animation Quality Review
The animation is where Black Clover likely isn’t going to win a lot of awards. It’s not up to the quality of other Weekly Shonen Jump manga-turned-anime such as Fire Force or My Hero Academia. Black Clover’s animation quality sometimes looks subpar, and there are odd animation errors strewn about.
That said, there are times when the animation team gets to shine with some big action set-pieces. When the fights step up in action, the animation team usually steps up its game as well.
While the animation isn’t grade-A quality, the series does fairly faithfully adapt Yuki Tabata’s great character designs and artwork. And the animation does have its exceptional moments from time to time.
While the animation for the show may not be its strongest suit, the soundtrack for Black Clover is always exceptional. The opening and ending songs and background music are fantastic.
The voice cast for the show is also great, subbed and dubbed. If you are a fan of English dubs, the cast puts in great effort in realizing their characters and personalities, especially Dallas Reid as Asta, Jill Haris as Noelle, Christopher Sabat as Yami, Sarah Widenheft as Charmy and Ian Sinclair as Magna.
Also check out opening three for the show, “Black Rover.” This song slaps as the kids say:
Black Clover Review – The Verdict: 9/10
At first glance, Black Clover may look like a run-of-the-mill, generic story. But as it progresses, it rewards viewers with a charming cast of characters, fun fights and great story progression. Much like Asta and the Black Bulls, not everything is as it seems, and you shouldn’t judge a book solely by its cover. Black Clover is a show that’s worth your time, especially if you like fantasy action-adventure stories.
The anime series is currently on something of a hiatus, ending at four seasons and 170 episodes. The show is expected to return with Season 5 at some point later on, but there still isn’t an official release date as of yet. However, an anime feature film for Black Clover is currently in the works.
If this Black Clover review made you want to give the series a try, all 170 episodes of the anime series are available free and with English subtitles on Crunchyroll. But if you don’t have a Crunchyroll subscription, check out our list of where to watch Black Clover online.
You can also check out the series on Blu-ray wherever anime Blu-ray and DVDs are sold:
You might also want to give Yuki Tabata’s original manga series a look as well. The newest chapters are released digitally for free on VIZ.com.
What did you think of Black Clover? Do you have any personal favorite Shonen Jump anime adaptations? Let us know what you think in the comments below!