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Black Clover [Season one Part Two]

In the Kingdom of Clover where magic rules, two young adopted brothers are in training to be Magic Knights. Accepted into magic academy, Asta and Yuno have been assigned to separate units. But one of their first missions will see their paths cross once again.

Black Clover is adapted from Yuji Tabata's manga by Studio Pierrot. This second volume arrives belatedly in the UK (nearly a year after the first volume) courtesy of Manga Entertainment and Funimation. It contains episodes 11-19 which originally aired between February and April of 2018.

After the Hogwartesque events surrounding Asta and Yuno's qualifying for magic school, the majority of this volume is taken up with a specific mission. Our heroes assigned the task of exploring an uncharted dungeon near the border with a neighbouring, hostile kingdom. The stakes are soon raised when they encounter mages from the Diamond Kingdom and this time their lives are on the line.

Not every Shonen Jump series can be a Dragon Ball or Naruto style megahit. Black Clover is one of those series that has achieved a decent level of popularity but doesn't have quite the cultural impact of the most successful titles from the stable.

This is most likely because in almost every respect- animation, storytelling, world-building and beyond- the series is pretty middle-of-the-road. It struggles to find anything that really makes it stand out from the pack. The only thing that really distinguishes it is its setting, but even then its fairly standard western style fantasy trappings we've seen done dozens of times before. And often better.

Yet, while Shonen veterans may find this to be by-the-numbers, there will also be a whole new young audience that may be finding anime for the first time. Black Clover may well be the series they fall in love with, and become the gateway drug that Naruto, Dragon Ball Z or Sailor Moon was for previous generations. Similarly, if fantasy is your genre of choice, this may be right up your ally.

The magically-flavoured action set-pieces are well executed, and the character development is coming along nicely. Even bit-part villains are given surprisingly well thought out backstories- an often underappreciated strength of this kind of Shonen shows.

Ultimately, whether or not Black Clover proves to be worth sticking with will depend on whether the characters and their stories can hold your interest. Based on this second volume, there is just enough promise here to make me keep watching. But it's going to have to pull off some surprises soon if it's going to want to escape from becoming another also-ran.

The Blu-Ray edition is worth picking up for fans (especially fans of the dub) with a host of extras including commentaries and Inside the Episode featurettes. Each episode is also accompanied by a 'Clover Clips' comedy vignette.

 FORMAT: DVD/ Blu-Ray/Streaming  FROM: Manga Entertainment/ Funimation RATING 15  RUNNING TIME :9 Episodes

IN A NUTSHELL: Enjoyable but unspectacular, Black Clover has yet to really find a voice of its own.

*Review Disc supplied by Manga UK*