Let’s talk about: Black Clover

My housemate recommended Black Clover to me. I bought the first volume in July and fell in love with it. But since reading the next one I’m beginning to see the series isn’t as polished as most Shounen Jump titles that get a western release.

So what are the good and bad points of the series?

Its strongest points, and the reason why it’s had a good reception is the world building. Yuuki Tabata, the mangaka, has loads of amazing ideas when it comes to his settings and the overarching plot.

His scenery is stunning.

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The magic system is a good twist on a traditional troupe. In this world, people use grimoires, or spell books, to cast magic. Your grimoire chooses you at a ceremony thing, and they float in front of you while you cast a spell. From what I can tell, different grimoires have different specialties.

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And Tabata comes up with some really cool ideas for magical powers.

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Overall, he’s created a really rich world and a story I’m looking forward to seeing progress. There are a lot of mysteries that are hinted at in the first chapter, which I’m sure will expand to form the overarching plot.

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However, I feel his writing style and characters need a lot of work.

The writing in the first volume is really good, especially the first and second chapters. It flows well and there are some really funny moments. But by the fourth chapter I felt the quality had dropped off.

I think he was lazy when he created his secondary characters. The Black Bull lot are unoriginal.

You’ve got the guy who is obsessed with his sister:

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And the woman who drinks a lot and wears very little clothes:

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Tabata sank into a lazy, telling writing style in chapter 4 when Asta had a match against Manga Swing. One thing I feel manga should never do is fall into this kind of writing style. I hated it when Togashi went down that route at the end of the Chimera Ant arc in Hunter x Hunter. I think it’s sloppy, and it’s a style you should never revert to when writing manga, because you don’t need to tell with the writing – the drawing does the telling for you. Instead of having lines like “But his body hadn’t given up” and “His body that he trained into a second brain threw caution to the wind”, Tabata should have had Asta’s thoughts has he went through the motions of realising this new move he could perform with his anti-magic sword.

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To add the shounen-ness of the series, Tabata tried to have a moment between Asta and a kid from a village. He was trying to create a relationship similar to Naruto’s and Konohamaru’s. But it meant to be poignant because the kid was mourning over his grandpa who had died in the previous fight scene, but it didn’t work because Tabata didn’t show the grandpa fighting and dying. If he had done that – if we had cared for the grandpa and shared in the sadness of his death – when the scene would have worked. As it is, it felt forced.

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One thing Tabata does superbly in the first two chapters is humour, but even that started to fall flat in the later chapters. An example is the scene when we first meet the Wizard King and his attendant scolds him for running off. So much more could have been done with that scene. Tabata was trying to tell us the Wizard King is a bit of a quirky guy, but he could have done it a more effective way.

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Overall, I would recommend Black Clover (vols 1 & 2 are out now, and vol 3 is being published in English in October). It has so much potential – I just hope Yuuki Tabata gets an editor who can help him polish his writing style, and help him come up with some good ideas for characterisation, because I feel those are the two major let downs for the series.

What do you all think of Black Clover so far?

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