First Impressions – Black Clover

I won’t lie, I went into Black Clover with pretty low expectations.  I don’t know that much about the manga, but I can’t recall an instance where someone talked about it without mentioning how derivative and formulaic it is.  That’s not necessarily all bad, and while it’s hard to find anyone who loves Black Clover, there do at least seem to be a fair number of readers who consider it competent at executing a template very familiar to shounen (especially Shounen Jump) fans.

I guess it’s fitting, then, that the experience of watching the premiere was so… predictable.  This was a pretty competent episode, but I found almost nothing genuinely interesting in it.  Indeed, most of the talk around the first ep seems to surround newcomer seiyuu Kajiwara Gakuto’s performance as protagonist Asta – specifically, the virtually non-stop yelling he does from the start of the episode to the end.  I’m leery of criticism of newcomer seiyuu because it often boils down to anime fans rejecting something that’s unfamiliar or different, but in this case I have to admit – it’s an awful lot of yelling.  I have no idea how much of that is the character as written and how much the actor, but it gets grating pretty early on.

In sum – Black Clover is not for me.  Even if it weren’t for the yelling, it’s hard to embrace a series that so brazenly copies the boilerplate series of a genre without seeming to bring any kind of a fresh or interesting twist to it.  Something like World Trigger, generic as it could sometimes be and always less than spectacular, at least had a quirky narrative style that made it mildly distinctive.  I get nothing like that from Black Clover, so for me it’s going to be a pass.

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11 comments

  1. m

    I am a fan of the classic shounen, even the likes of Fairy Tail, and was pretty exicited on the premiere of Black Clover. It just such a shame that Asta’s VA was so unbearable on the ears that its overwhelmed other aspects of the series and turns off many of potential viewer. Guess I have to find my shounen fix on other places, huh?

  2. What is it about Black Clover that appeals to you? Maybe I just wasn’t looking hard enough.

  3. K

    Asta is not going to get any better. I’ve read two vols of Black Clover and it’s pretty much a “what you see is what you get” thing. It doesn’t have hints of something greater like Hunter x Hunter or great execution of shonen troupes like My Hero. But, like I said, Asta will just keep yelling.

  4. M

    Horie Shun’s voice acting in the OVA wasn’t as jarring. He also voiced Hiyama in 12sai.

  5. Goodness, I didn’t realize Horie Shun was Asta in the OVA. He’s excellent – his character was the best part of 12-sai and he was great as Shiki in Nana Maru San Batsu.

  6. M

    It was definitely an improvement over what we got in the series. I rewatched the OVA specifically because I didn’t recall Asta to be such a yeller and it was definitely more subdued.

  7. h

    I’m too a fan of the shonen advensure genre,and I don’t think there is something really to hate in this premiere except for Asta’s voice and the CGI chains,the production values for the 1st episode were good but that usually changes so I’m looking forward to having a new addition to my weekly shonen fix

  8. Y

    I see a lot of shounen-lovers defending Black Clover, but as someone who loves shounen, I find the world of Black Clover simply just not that interesting. Other shounen have done a similar setting better (Nanatsu no Taizai for example). I actually read the manga for a while since shounens generally take a while to get better (usually past the introductory chapters and into the first arc), but Black Clover never clicked with me: the characters were average, the story was OK, but there’s really no spark that keeps me coming back. Even Fairy Tail with all the flack it gets had some nice character arcs in the beginning.

  9. h

    I for one want to see someone defending BC :D,I’mnt a manga reader but I have never seen any manga getting so much hate,I read the first 10 or 20 chapters back when they were first released and they were pretty enjoyable for me

  10. G

    I wanted to like this but the MCs voice is like nails on the blackboard. Don’t think I have ever dropped an anime just because of the MCs voice. This will be the 1st.

  11. Two episodes in, I feel like Black Clover is horribly formulaic and derivative. The MC’s voice acting seems like it is deliberate direction, because it is not nearly as grating when is quieter. But the yelling does not seem like it will stop, because it seems integral to this series idea of the character. With just that, you don’t even need to find reasons not to watch. And yet… it remains on my watch list.

    And it remains for two reasons: being formulaic and derivative in the beginning can be a way to acquaint audiences with characters by reference. When done well, as in Boku no Hero Academia, it allows you to port entire character arcs through similar acts and situations (like Midoriya/Naruto and Bakugou/Sasuke and Todoroki/Neji). It makes it easier to get an audience up to speed, and allows you to play with or subvert expectations along the way. Black Clover really hasn’t done anything with those expectations because it just finished setting some of them up.

    And the second is that I’m hoping this is an inspirational Horatio Alger-style rags-to-riches fantasy shounen story of persistence and hard work (and a little luck) paying off for our orphans.

    It helps that I like the art style. I may come to regret it, but I’m giving it a chance.

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