Wednesday, December 23, 2020

#IReadsYou Review: BLACK CLOVER Volume 20


MANGAKA: Yuki Tabata
TRANSLATION: Taylor Engel, HC Language Solutions, Inc.
LETTERS: Annaliese Christman
EDITOR: Alexis Kirsch
ISBN: 978-1-9747-1017-1; paperback (March 2020); Rated “T” for “Teen”
200pp, B&W, $9.99 U.S., $12.99 CAN, £6.99 UK

Black Clover is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Yuki Tabata.  It has been serialized in the manga magazine, Weekly Shonen Jump, since February 2015.  VIZ Media has been publishing an English-language edition of the manga as a paperback graphic novel series under its “Shonen Jump” imprint since 2016.

Black Clover focuses on a boy named Asta.  He and his friend, Yuno, are found abandoned in the village of Hage of the Clover Kingdom.  Both Asta and Yuno dream of one day being the “Wizard King,” the greatest mage in the land.  Asta has one big problem; he can't use magic.  When he is 15-years-old, Asta receives the rare “five-leaf-clover grimoire” (a book of magic), which gives him the power of anti-magic.  Can Asta become the Wizard King without being able to use magic?  Is he worthy of being in the “Magic Knights” squad, “the Black Bulls?”

As Black Clover, Vol. 20 (Chapters 184 to 194; entitled “Why I Lived So Long”) opens, that battle between the Magic Knights and the reincarnated elves rages on.  The souls of vengeful elves that claim to have been killed long ago by humans have taken over the bodies of members of the Magic Knights.  Now, these elves are going to use their new bodies and enhanced powers to kill humans and then, to reclaim the Clover Kingdom as their own.

The Black Bulls find themselves trapped in the magical dream world created by Dorothy Unsworth, the captain of the Magic Knights brigade known as “The Coral Peacocks.”  Dorothy is currently possessed by an elf, and she has complete control over the space she has created.  Escape is impossible, and once the trapped Black Bulls fall asleep, they will never awaken again!

Meanwhile, Asta has fallen under the “mirror magic” of a former ally.  Can outcast Black Bulls member, Henry Legolant, save the day?

[This volume includes bonus material:  “The Blank Page Brigade;” an “Afterword;” and sketches.]

THE LOWDOWN:  The Black Clover manga is certainly one of the best shonen battle manga available to English-speaking audiences.  Because I have read ten volumes so far this year, I believe that I have read enough to say that.

Black Clover Graphic Novel Volume 20 continues the push into this shocking and edgy elves-possession story arc.  Nearly five volumes and 40+ chapters in, creator Yuki Tabata focuses on intense battle manga to settle this war.  Tabata has also been using this story arc to showcase the prowess of Black Bulls members other than Asta.  They are all actually quite talented, and Tabata surprises readers by giving these characters interesting backgrounds and personal stories.

It is Taylor Engel's English-language translation that captures the interpersonal character drama that Tabata squeezes into the battle scenes.  It is Annaliese Christman and her lettering that pumps up the volume on the volatile magical battles.  That is more than enough reason to keep reading.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of the top Weekly Shonen Jump manga will definitely want to try the “Shonen Jump” series, Black Clover.

9 out of 10

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

The text is copyright © 2020 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for syndication rights and fees.


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