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Black Clover [Season One, Part One]

In the Kingdom of Clover where "magic is everything" two orphans are raised by a kindly priest. Yuno and Asta both dream of joining the Magic Knights and becoming the Wizard King, but there's only one problem- Asta is one of the few people in his world without any magical ability at all.

At the annual Grimoire ceremony, he is the only one to go home empty-handed. It's only when protecting Yuno from a thief that Asta summons a strange Grimoire of his own- that gifts him the power of Anti-Magic.

Black Clover is adapted from the Shonen Jump manga of the same name by YĆ«ki Tabata, which began serialisation in 2015. The anime is produced by Studio Pierrot and began airing in October of 2017. The first Blu-Ray/DVD combo volume from Funimation and Sony Pictures UK contains the first 10 episodes of the series.

Black Clover is a Shonen Jump series through-and-through. Although their settings and characters vary, many of the series that have become popular via that magazine follow a certain formula. The set-up here is very familiar- take One Piece, My Hero Academia or Naruto and swap pirate, superhero or ninja out with wizard (generally referred to in the series as mages) and you have Black Clover. With a wizarding Academy the eventual setting for much of the action, Harry Potter comparisons are hard to avoid too.

Which is not to say that the series should be dismissed outright, however. No, it's not exactly original but none of the previously mentioned series were the first to follow the formula either. Unless you are just completely sick of the Shonen Jump stick, there's still a lot of fun to be had. Sometimes there's pleasure to be had from just seeing a series do what it does well.



While there's not really anything on offer here that you won't have seen before (if you are familiar with shonen anime) Pierrot knows just how to do this kind of thing with style. It's slickly produced and well animated. Although it's very early on the series, this looks better than a lot of other long-running anime series (particularly Toei productions). The only real negative in the visual department is some occasionally iffy CG in some of the action sequences.

Plotwise, the first few episodes move along at a decent clip, introducing us to the world and the characters without too much fuss. Again, there are few surprises but it does a decent job of setting up the elements of the series.



Although Asta may get the bulk of the screentime and is the de facto lead,  Yuno comes a close second. Although not blood related, their brother like bond mixed in with rivalry has the potential to be one of the most interesting elements of this show. Whether it will turn out to be the case, remains to be seen.

The series, like most popular anime, deftly mixes action, comedy and more dramatic material. So far it doesn't especially excel in either one, but there is some promise here of better things. On the strength of these opening episode, Black Clover is off to a solid (if hardly spectacular) start.




FORMATSBlu-ray/DVD Combo pack,
Streaming
FROM Funimation/ Sony Pictures UK
RATING12 [UK]
RUNNING
TIME

10 Episodes




IN A NUTSHELL: Original it ain't, but Black Clover has enough of that old Shonen Jump magic to make it worth a watch.