Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Review: BLACK CLOVER Volume 1


[This review was  originally posted on Patreon.]

MANGAKA: Yuki Tabata
TRANSLATION: Satsuki Tamashita and Taylor Engel, HC Language Solutions, Inc.
LETTERS: Annaliese Christman
ISBN: 978-1-4215-8718-9; paperback (June 2016); Rated “T” for “Teen”
200pp, B&W, $9.99 U.S., $12.99 CAN, £6.99 UK

Black Clover is a fantasy and action-adventure manga from mangaka, Yuki Tabata, which began serialization in Japan's Weekly Shonen Jump manga magazine in 2015.  The series focuses on Asta, an orphaned boy who dreams of becoming the greatest mage in the kingdom.

Black Clover, Vol. 1 (Chapters 1 to 7; entitled The Boy's Vow) opens in the village of Hage where we meet Asta.  His dream is to one day be the “Wizard King,” the greatest mage in the land, but he has one big problem.  He can't use magic.  When he is 15-years-old, Asta and fellow orphan and rival, Yuno, travel to a tower full of grimoires (books of magic) where other 15-year-olds hope that a grimoire will choose them.

A grimiore will enhance one's magical power, but what if you don't have magical powers, as is the case with Asta?  Can someone who cannot use magic really become the Wizard King?  A rare “five-leaf-clover” grimoire” will begin to answer those and other questions.

I call manga like the Black Clover manga “magical boy” comics.  These are shonen manga that tell the story of a boy who has great power or has the potential to achieve great power.  That boy goes on a journey throughout his tween' and/or teenage years in which he grapples with learning magic; struggles to grow within himself; learns to depend on his friends or be part of a team; and reaches his potential, all while facing some great evil and/or dark conspiracy.  Sounds like Harry Potter, right?

Black Clover Volume 1 reminds me of some of my favorite shonen manga, including Naruto, Bleach, and Blue Exorcist.  Unlike the young male heroes of those manga and unlike Harry Potter, the lead character of Black Clover, young Mr. Asta, has no innate magical power (that we know of at this early point in the series).  However, his scrappy determination and his willingness to learn about new people, places, and things make him an attractive character.  I think many readers can identify with Asta, who has nothing and comes from nothing, but does not accept his limitations.

Black Clover's back story and internal mythology is intriguing, although (once again) we know very little about these things.  This series has the potential to run for a long time, as it slowly leaks out hints about the way things are.  Black Clover is one of the best new series of the year for young readers.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2016 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


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