Black Clover Manga Volume 1: Recap and Review

Black Clover Volume 1

Viz Title: The Boy’s Vow

Release date: June 7th, 2016 (US)

Pages: 192


I’ve been pushing off reading the Black Clover manga for years now. It wasn’t until I read the review of Black Clover chapter 279 by Demon God Tadd; I read some of the latest chapters and decided that I should read the series from the beginning. This is important not just to know what’s going on, but also to appreciate the stakes. My initial apprehension with this series was the uncanny similarities that it has with Naruto. Most fans know what I’m talking about (it’s obvious), however, after reading the first volume (Chapters 1-7) I noticed some subtle but important differences.

The series opens with the “Boy’s Vow.” The Magic Emperor defeats a demon that was attacking humankind. Asta dreams of becoming the Magic Emperor, the leader and strongest of Clover Kingdom’s Magic Knights. Asta is like Naruto. He dreams of becoming the leader of the town he’s ostracized in. An orphan like Naruto, Asta is doubted by the villagers and is compared unfavorably to Yuno. This recreates the dynamic between Sasuke and Naruto.

Where Black Clover departs from Naruto

However, here’s where I think Black Clover becomes different from Naruto. Yuno shares Asta’s dream from the beginning instead of towards the end of the series like Sasuke. They cursed Naruto with too much power from an evil source “the nine-tails” and they curse Asta with no magic. Asta compensates for this limit by working out, gaining strength, speed, and stamina. Despite Yuno being rude and condescending towards Asta, he has respect for him. When Yuno is attacked by Revchi Salik, he stands up for Asta’s reputation when Salik calls him a loser. When Asta’s grimoire appears, Yuno is ecstatic. He knew Asta was worthy. This is only the first volume, but the friendship between Asta and Yuno is already superior to Sasuke and Naruto.

It’s too soon to determine if Noelle Silver will become the main female character in this series. If she is, then she’s the biggest difference between Naruto and Black Clover. I’ve explained many times my fondness for Sakura, however, she is poorly written and underpowered. Noelle seems to have the opposite problem: she has too much magic power and no control. Burden by the pressure of her royal family, she is determined to show them how wrong they were to reject her. Asta is impressed and they bond quickly. In chapter 7, Noelle cannot hit the enemy. She doubts she belongs and is prepared to leave. However, when a little girl begs her to save them, she strengthens her resolve. She learns to control her magic and releases a torrent of water magic, Water Creation Magic: Sea Dragon’s Lair.

The Black Bulls and Magic Systems

Asta and Noelle are the newest recruits to the Black Bulls. A group of misfit Magic Knights, known for their “destructive behavior”, and regarded as “the worst squad of the organization.” They’re one of the nine squads of the Clover Kingdom. Squads perform missions throughout the Kingdom and follow the orders of the Magic Emperor. The Bulls are led by Yami Sukehiro, an intimidating, rude, and violent man. He threatens to “kill” Asta for bumping into him. The rest of the squad isn’t familiar yet. We get some information about them. Vanessa Enotecha is a lush that was disowned by a well off family, Lakk Boltia smiles a lot and seems to enjoy violence, Gosche Adrei was a prisoner and loves his sister. Charmy Babinettson loves to cook and eat, Gray is a master of disguise magic. Together they make a unique bunch.

Magic and power systems are important in the shonen series. The magic system in Black Clover hasn’t been explained yet. All characters have magic (except Asta), when the children become 15 years old firefly dandelions fill the air signaling that the Grimoire Acceptance Ceremony is beginning. The crowd of teens receives their grimoires. The grimoire is the primary source of magic in the Black Clover universe.

They contain the “written record for all of a user’s spells.” As the user learns spells and grows, the grimoire develops along with them. So far the typical elements like wind, water, and ice have been used. Other types of magic are displayed, summon magic used by Revchi Salik, Tree magic used by William Vangeance, Cotton Creation Magic used by Charmy, and Disguise magic. It seems like Black Clover is going to go beyond the normal magic types and get a little weird about it. I like that.

Yuki Tabata’s Art Style

I’ve said many times before that I’m a bit of an art snob. If I don’t like the art style, I won’t read the manga. I sure I’m missing out on some good manga series, but I can’t enjoy them if I don’t like the art style. I like Black Clover’s art. Usually, I’m at a loss for words when describing WHY I like a particular art style. Black Clovers characters all look different, even when related like Noelle and her siblings. I think the linework and detail are well done. Yuki Tabata’s use of shadow is dramatic. He renders motion well when depicting action and fluid magic.

In my experience, manga art only gets better. I look forward to it. Overall, Black Clover shares many similarities with Naruto specifically and the typical shonen series. I thought this would be an issue. I was wrong. Asta may not differ from Naruto, but his relationships with Yuno seems more positive than Naruto’s with Sasuke. Noelle promises to be a more sophisticated and powerful female character than Sakura was (at least early on). I hope she doesn’t end up falling behind Yuno and Asta. At worst, Black Clover is typical for a shonen series, but I think it might have some surprises. If not, that’s fine too.

Read Black Clover Volume 1: Viz