21st Aug2018

‘Black Clover: Season 1, Part 1’ Blu-ray Review

by Xenia Grounds


Years ago, we had the big 3 of Shonen anime. Naruto, Bleach and One Piece. Now there seems to be a new big 3 for the new generation of anime viewers and that would be One Piece, My Hero Academia and the subject of this review: Black Clover… or at least it hopes to be.

Black Clover takes place in a world full of magic and in this world, we focus on two characters: Asta and Yuno. Asta is the hyperactive, head-strong and passionate character but has no access to any magic…at least not in the traditional sense. Yuno is cool, calm and collected and is practically an ace magic user who only seems to excel at whatever he does. However, they both share a dream of becoming the Wizard King so they’re rivals as well as childhood friends. Judging from the 10 episodes I’ve seen, the premise is that we follow their individual journey towards that goal.

There isn’t much else to say about the plot at this point. It may be unintentional but there are aspects of this show that remind me of My Hero Academia in regards to the ‘powerless’ main protagonist, the childhood friend turned rival and the practical magic exams. However, I can’t say this show is in the same league as My Hero Academia. One of the reasons of this lies with the main character, Asta. He’s annoyingly hyper and while there is a good heart underneath that which can make people root for him, the hyperactive nature of the character goes from being comedic to tiresome if you watch several episodes at a time.

I personally prefer Yuno because even though he fills the emotionless character role, he’s much more interesting as he is very cool, strong and badass. Whenever he wasn’t onscreen, the show becomes less enjoyable. His reasons for being the way he is are understandable even if I think he didn’t need to go the extent that he did to be the character we meet at the beginning. Sadly, I can’t say much about the other characters because they don’t get too much attention (other than Noelle) and they aren’t very memorable either. I’m hoping this might change further on in the series though.

As far as the animation goes, it’s pretty good. The animation comes from Pierrot Studios who have done work on previous Shonen animes like Naruto and Bleach. The environments are beautifully animated and a majority of the character models are pretty distinctive. The magic spell effects can be a little over the top for my tastes at times and can clash with the animation but when it is done right, it’s done very well.

Black Clover is dubbed by Funimation and there are some talented voice actors involved in the dub like Chris Sabat, J.Michael Tatum, Collen Clinkenbeard and Ian Sinclaire to name a few but they mostly play the supporting roles. The weakest parts lie with the main cast. As mentioned above, Asta is very hyperactive and it’s played up to the point of annoyance with the high energy and pitchy voice. Yuno is meant to be a deadpan character but he does have comedic moments and he’s probably performed with the most subtlety which stands out more in a larger than life cast of characters. It can verge on being too emotionless as most of his lines are delivered in the same tone and showing a tiny bit more emotion probably would make it better. There isn’t much to say about Noelle as she’s passable and I’m not sure if the problem lies in the writing or the performance as this character is not very likeable. She’s not essentially meant to be but I can tell that this show wants people to emphasise with this character which is hard as more often than not, Noelle comes across as spoilt and while it’s supposed to be funny at points, it’s more eye-rolling than anything. It’s one of the weaker Funimation dubs I’ve seen recently but it may be the case that the actors are still finding their way with the roles and it could improve over time.

Overall, Black Clover is a mixed bag. If you’re a fan of the fantasy genre, then you will find something to enjoy in this anime when it comes to the world of Black Clover. The characters are passable but most of them either need more screen time, better writing or better performances. If you want to see if Black Clover is for you, watch the first four or five episodes and then decide.

Black Clover: Season 1, Part 1 is out now on DVD and Blu-ray from Funimation/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.


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