Last week, we saw the release of Kagamigami as part of the Jump Start program from Viz Media. Overall, it was an okay read. It wasn’t doing anything particularly new, but it wasn’t bad either.
This week brings us another new series from the Weekly Shonen Jump series: Black Cover. Helmed by Yusei Matsui, who is also behind Hungry Joker (never got translated over here), another series from a while back. So we have another person with previous manga experience, which could be a good sign. What is he bringing to the table with Black Clover? Is it good?
Black Clover #1 (Viz Media)
Written and Drawn by: Yusei Matsui
Translated By: Satsuki Yamashita
In some medieval time period (when and where is a little sketchy), humanity was nearly wiped out by demons. However, a young mage rose to the occasion and struck the wicked creatures down, earning the title of Wizard King and subsequently creating a legacy. Many generations later, there are still Wizard Kings, the most powerful mages of the world who go about protecting the lands from any and all evil forces. However, our story focuses on a little church in the countryside where the first King struck down the demon leader.
In the church resides two 15 year old orphans, Yuno and Asta. Yuno is a great magic user and shows incredible talent and potential. Asta on the other hand seems to have absolutely no talent or potential, unable to perform even the simplest form of magic (which is a big deal since everyone in the world seems to be able to use kind of magic). Still, that doesn’t get him down, as he claims that he’ll eventually rise to the challenge and become Wizard King over Yuno, who he considers his rival. However, he gets a big wakeup call on the day of Grimoires Awarding (a time when 15 years old receive magical books that’ll unlock more of their magic potential and show what kind of magic they’ll be able to use) that will change both he and Yuno’s lives going forward…
In those days, people used to compare book sizes instead of body parts to show off.
As with Kagamigami, this first chapter had some familiar aspects and elements that we have seen before in a lot of manga. Naruto in particular kept appearing in my head as I read this due to the overly excited orphan protagonist, a similar looking rival character, the main character starting off as a failure, the first page opening up with a huge monster attacking the world, and such. However, Black Clover left a better impression than Kagamigami and has enough going for it that I’m interested in seeing more.
Where I see the most potential is in the world building; I like the introduction to the Wizard King and then seeing how people are reacting to the current one. In other words — this designation is kind of a big of deal. There are nice shots of the setting that provide a good idea of what kind of land we are reading about and also glimpses of how society views the poor and orphans. Most important of all, I enjoyed the ultimate reveal with the Grimoire that Asta gets, which ends up raising a lot of interesting questions. What is anti-magic; what makes it so devilish; and when was the last time someone got this book (it looks so ancient and worn down)?.
The story and the characters are pretty standard so far like I said. None of them are particularly bad by any means, since the setup and introductions to everyone/everything are fine (I like the flashback at the end with the two teens making their pledge) and it gives you a decent idea of what to expect going forward. It’s just that Asta and Yuno so far feel like Naruto and Sasuke at this point (happily though Yuno seems to have more dimension), the story has many of the same opening beats that the first chapter of Naruto had, and it didn’t have too many surprises or good twists to it so far besides one. None of this is bad, but I’m hoping to see more soon.
You think Holy Water only hurts vampires? You ain’t seen nothing yet!
The artwork is one of, if not the strongest part of the whole experience. The characters all look fine and are easy to distinguish from one another, even in the faces department (an areas that I have seen plenty of manga artists struggle with). The layouts are solid and well put together, especially in depicting movement and action. However, the best part to the artwork I found was the attention to detail; Matsui does a great job detailing the characters, the magic, and locations in the book, and it’s because of this that the world and characters really come to life. One of my favorite shots in the manga was early on where some farmers look behind themselves at the giant demon skull that was left behind after the battle with the first Wizard King. It really looks so old, being covered in moss and crack-riddled, and looks downright awe-inspiring considering the scale of the thing. I really like how this all looks and I’m eager to see more of it.
Such a warm and inviting place.
Is It Good?
Black Clover #1 is another good, though overly familiar manga. It’s like Naruto with a wizard theme at this point, but shows potential. The world building is very solid along with some good writing and very appealing looking artwork. Overall, you should vote positively for this book, since there is still plenty to like. Heck, even if it is similar to Naruto in some ways, if you are a fan of that book or fantasies, this is worth voting positively on.