If you do not know it already, Black Clover is one of the newest manga that came out of Shonen Jump in 2017 and has gained increasing popularity in both Asian and Western audience. Preceding the end of two of The Big Three of Jump Comics– Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto in November 2014 and Tite Kubo’s Bleach in August 2016– Black Clover shows its promising future to become one of Shonen Jump’s cornerstone, alongside the longest-running manga, One Piece.
Well, that’s debatable. Let’s examine the manga some more, shall we?
!!! SPOILERS AHEAD! DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE NOT UP-TO-DATE WITH THE MANGA!
The Ultimate Dream
This is the main protagonist of Black Clover. Much like every main character of shounen as a genre, we are introduced to a young adult character who is loud, righteous, forthright with excessively huge appetite for self-improvement and competing with his/her rival. But of course, there is the dream– the bread and butter of every shounen manga plot– and this is for Asta to become the Magic Emperor.
You guessed it right! Right off the bat, we see the striking similarities of Black Clover with Naruto serialization. I grew up reading and watching Naruto that Naruto’s line: “I’m going to become Hokage!” has become unique to the character. To see an iteration of that line in another serialization somehow feels like I am reading just another Hokage-wanna-be and it doesn’t feel right.
Asta repeats over and over again that he wants to be the Magic Emperor to a point that it’s just exhausting and makes me want to skip a page where he says it. After all, fifteen years of Naruto shouting “I’m going to be a Hokage!” has shot my apathy meter through the roof.
As a result, Asta’s dream becomes just another mundane goal of another main character of a shounen manga. There’s no “punch” to it at all because Naruto’s serialization has exhausted all of that.
The Most Generic Main Protagonist
Yuki Tabata is like Professor Utonium– the mangaka just puts sugar, spice, and everything nice, and BAM!– the main protagonist is born. We see Naruto’s dream, Natsu’s strong sense of camaraderie, and the magic-less underdog mindset of Izuku. Put them all together and we see all these traits in Asta. Pretty cool, right?
Sadly, not really.
Just because we see these traits that made us love (and hate) other main protagonists from successful manga, that doesn’t equate to making Asta relatable and likeable. It’s actually the opposite. I’m up-to-date to the manga, and I actually enjoyed Asta in the manga, however, the voice acting fails to capture the MP. The animation has made Asta the most annoying and loud character ever made. The first ten minutes of the anime is nothing but this raspy yelling that makes me want to rip my ear out, Van Gogh style.
The theme of friendship is not uncommon for shounen manga ever written. In fact, shounen manga is not shounen without it. However, the concept of “friendship saves the day” is another aspect that’s completely drained by many other shounen manga that came before Black Clover such as One Piece, Hunter x Hunter, Fairy Tail, Dragon Ball and many more!
Now, I’m not insinuating that Black Clover is unoriginal for using friendship; Black Clover is just another shounen manga who utilizes the most common theme because of its genre. In other words, it’s not special.
But this daunting question is: what makes Black Clover so popular to the masses?
Well, it is the unison of all things we love to see in a shounen manga: the adventure, different groups and diversity of characters, FRIENDSHIP, super power and different levels of villains, hot babes and boobs, and rivalry. These are the ingredient of every successful Shounen Jump comics ever published. It’s as if Black Clover ripped apart bits and pieces of past manga and pasted it onto Black Clover.
I’m not going to lie, I like Black Clover. But I think I’m going to stick to the manga for now. After all, Studio Perriot is not doing so hot with it.