Warning: Portions of this review contain plot spoilers.
When we left the last volume of Black Clover, we were approaching the end of the tournament to determine who would be the Royal Knights and Asta was just about to finish his fight with Langris. In the opening pages of Vol. 15 we find out they both accomplished the goal of destroying the other team’s crystal and the match is a draw. This seems like it would be disappointing, but it’s actually an interesting turn of events because it means the remainder of the arc isn’t about Asta but rather his best friend and rival Yuno, who we absolutely don’t see enough of in this comic.
Asta and Yuno are an interesting combination because they represent two different archetypes of hero characters. Asta is a traditional shonen manga hero who starts with a real disadvantage as someone with no magic in a magical world, and his strength is gained through rigorous training and hard work. He recalls recent heroes like Midoriya from My Hero Academia but also classic characters like Joe Yabuki from Ashita no Joe. Yuno, by contrast, is a sort of fated hero like Luke Skywalker whose immense power is basically just handed to him with no effort on his part at all.
Despite his seemingly immense advantage over Asta, Yuno never stops seeing him as his equal and still tries to improve himself to keep up with Asta. It’s a nice change of pace from the typical arrogant rival like Vegeta, Gary Oak or Bakugo. Yuno never evens pretends to have an air of superiority, instead being given to the same enthusiasm as Asta. It’s nice to see him have a more prominent role in this volume. In the end both Asta and Yuno become Royal Knights along with Noelle, which seemingly sets up a new group of main characters for the next arc, the showdown with the Midnight Sun.
I mentioned in my review of the previous volume that Black Clover feels a bit generic as a shonen action series, which it does, but that sometimes works in its advantage with the art. A lot of a the character designs fail to distinguish themselves, and especially with the size the the cast has grown to, it can be hard to tell a lot of the minor characters apart.
That said, Yuki Tabata does some great things with characters’ expressions. I mean, he goes way over-the-top in a way that would make Hiro Mashima blush, but there’s a real charm to it. As a side-effect of this art style, Black Clover tends to be good at landing its more humorous moments and making its most ridiculous moments seem like natural parts of the story.
It’s a good thing because this volume ends with one of the series’ coolest and most ridiculous moments: the Black Bulls’ home base coming to life and attacking the Midnight Sun. Kind of. It’s actually the magic of Henry, a frail noble and the owner of the base who is kept alive by all the energy of the Black Bulls who live there. Because of this he considers them his friends and the base itself rises to defend them. If you thought a house turning into a minotaur wouldn’t look cool, you were dead wrong.