What They Say:
In a world filled with magic, one boy will prove that real power lies in never giving up! After proving himself on his very first mission, Asta gains recognition from the Wizard King and is assigned a new task – to investigate a magical dungeon! Together with Noelle and Luck, he’ll scout out the mysterious vault only to find they aren’t the only ones sent to explore. Up against Yuno and The Golden Dawn teammates, Asta is even more fired up to do his best and get to the treasure first! But their race is abruptly interrupted when they face mages from The Diamond Kingdom. Witnessing such unbelievable strength and magic, Asta and his companions may have met their match!
The audio has a 5.1 release in English and a 2.0 in Japanese for the series– I watched the first disc in English and the second disc in Japanese to compare, despite not saying 5.1 the Japanese release was high quality to the point there was no adjustment to the volume, there were no other issues regarding sound quality, echoing, synching with subtitles, etc – the quality is high overall. The dub is considered actually better than the Japanese (due to complaints about Asta’s Japanese voice…specifically his screaming) and watching this I can pretty much concur – maybe not as clear cut as other rare shows that English is better than Japanese but it’s definitely in that range.
Similar with the audio, the video is set in 16:9 – 1.78:1 aspect ratio via NTSC transfer to PAL format – with DVD releases nowadays the effect definitely seems more grainier compared to HD and with me doing a ton of Blu-ray reviews recently this is a good way to remind you how the times have changed. That said, the animation was good overall, and despite the use of CGI during a lot of the attack sequences, it isn’t horrendously noticeable compared to other series I’ve reviewed in the past so that’s fine, albeit with the animation style it is a bit more noticeable.
There was no packing for this test release.
The menu on both discs pretty basic – both discs have the same set image of Yuno with his grimoire in an attacking pose on a mystical book like background, a similar menu selection of Play All, Set Up (audio and subtitles), Episodes and on disc 2, Extras. The menus and images are unremarkable and standard, menu is quick and does its job with no glitches and can quickly return back to the main menu when watching the series, just uninspiring.
The only extra is on disc 2 which is the Clover Clips Special Edition – which is a longer clip based on the comic SD style clips before the next episode preview that happens at the end of every episode. It is one of Yuno, Klaus and Mimosa serving introductions to each other…which is quite comic and silly considering the very diverse personalities of all three – yet Klaus being just as silly is strange as they are trying to think of a new surname of Yuno…yeah, not to be taken seriously.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Black Clover continues on its merry way as a continuing series and with me just getting into it, it is one of those series that in the UK would be known as a Marmite series – a.k.a. you either love it or you hate it. Of course, I’m the awkward one and am going to be in between because on one hand, it is very heavy on the shounen clichés that you can predict a lot ahead of time, and when compared to the other big shounen series reviewing at the moment (My Hero Academia) it may suffer in comparison due to the lack of endearment that its main cast gets. That aside, this part manages to get some of that endearment back with the reunion of Asta and Yuno, and whilst there is a lot of predictability, the one thing that the show does good (the fight sequences) combined with some surprisingly fun comic moments doesn’t make it completely a waste of brain space.
It starts continuing after the group has defeated Grice, with the Black Bulls getting a gold star from the Wizard King (amusingly putting them at -30 compared to Yuno’s group which has +70) cementing them as the ragtag underdog group with Asta being the Naruto to Yuno’s Sasuke. It leads to them getting wages which surprises Asta in how much he gets, and whilst he gives most of it back to the orphanage, he, Noelle and Vanessa go to the local market to see if want anything – it is partly a way also to get Noelle out of her haughty attitude, similar to another character in Klaus on Yunos’ side as we discover – again, it is common with the princess needing to realize the pauper is on the same level. A thief steals an old woman’s money and Asta (and a returning HA-HAH Sekke) get the money back, as the old lady reveals herself…or rather HIMSELF as the Wizard King, showing he is keeping an eye on promising new talent…
…and to ditch work occasionally.
We change to Yuno’s point of view as he goes on his first mission with his two squad members, the elite Klaus and the charming Vermillion, both royalty and whilst Vermillion is perfectly fine with being with Yuno, Klaus is very annoyed having to work with a commoner despite knowing how powerful Yuno is. This is something he (and Noelle) will eventually melt off but for now, they return to Yuno’s home town for a mission which strangely was requested by Salim, the noble who Yuno defeated in the magic exam. As it unfolds, it is clear the quest to protect him was just a ruse to try and humiliate Yuno but he and his gang of thieves eventually fall to the group (and amusingly Sister Lily) as Klaus is slowly warming up to him but still won’t shake his commoner prejudice.
This changes when the Wizard King assigns both Yuno’s squad and a squad from the Black Bulls to explore a dungeon inhabited by some rogue Diamond Kingdom mages – he requests Asta specifically (as he is very intrigued by his anti-magic abilities despite not having any magic himself) so Asta, Noelle, and the eager lightning user Luck are hired along with their new bird companion Nero – here we see Noelle clearly has some feelings for Asta but again, her commoner tsundere attitude is holding back, whilst Luck we see seems to be too eager for a fight, and this is actually a surprisingly good development for the character as we see later why he is eager to fight….
It leads to Luck sensing a strong fighter and deserts the two, but Yuno’s group saves them from a plant (leading to Klaus’ anti-commoner stance really took to the limit by Asta’s upfront nature – one of the best sources of comedy in this set) and the respect between Asta and Yuno is still there, and amusingly Vermillion and Noelle are cousins, with Noelle seeing her as a ditz, but Vermillion is very upfront especially with Noelle’s lack of control (albeit she doesn’t intentionally want to upset her, she just is very ditzy, in fact, she’s the sweetest character in the show IMO) but in the meantime, Luck discovers one of the Diamond Kingdom’s best, a smoke magic user named Lotus who totally seems to one-up Luck every time, which seems to incite him even more. This leads to a comparison segment, compared how Asta/Yuno are like family, compared to Lucks’ family being…not quite as secure. Luck consistently smiled no matter what, leading to ridicule and abuse from his mother. However, when his mother discovered his magic and that he beat a noble, it made her affectionate to him again, which in Luck’s mind, meant he had to keep winning to make his mom happy. Even since she passed away, that smile and madness seem to have kept with him.
That is, until his friends Asta and Noelle turn up to save him, as Yuno, Klaus and Vermillion have to deal with a powerful crystal user named Mars (who again, has a surprisingly good character development as you learn his history with a girl named Fana) – it leads to Lotus managing to escape after the trio manage to get back his smoke defenses, whilst they save Yuno’s group (initially to Klaus’ annoyance that the layabout Black Bulls saved them, much less a commoner) – Yuno manages to learn a new spell whilst Asta eventually gets a new sword among the treasures they get which they do before Mars recovers from their initial trap (shounen 101: becoming stronger after having butt handed to you by villain) – however it leads to his defeat (though Lotus saves him, suggesting they may return – Lotus was surprisingly likable as well as a villain and Mars seem to have remorse so can see them coming back), with Klaus also learning about realizing that his grudge against commoners was done so there is development there…and both girls embarrassed over Asta’s physique being blasted a bit – as well as jealousy perhaps?
The show is a very standard affair but does have a few things which make it enjoyable. It is definitely a romp of clichés, and most things are pretty standard. A lot of the characters can be very standoffish (Klaus, Noelle and to a lesser degree Yuno) which can make them hard to enjoy, but at the same time, there is enough development there that it makes you wonder what will happen. For example, Lotus mentions that the Black Bulls boss gave him a scar, so you wonder if they’ll clash…the remainder of the Black Bulls don’t get much time but Luck does get a good amount of development whilst Vanessa continues to be the shameless fanservice girl with a heart of gold in what she saw of her. Yuno’s team as well – the clash between Noelle and Vermillion yet the care is still there combined with potential rivals for the same heart (albeit Asta suffering from shounen hero syndrome probably doesn’t notice this, ironic considering he blushes around Vanessa and clearly has a crush on Sister Lily) – plus the rivalry between Yuno and Asta is a bit different than say Naruto/Sasuke because the two always seem to get on despite being polar opposites, and their contrast of personalities is actually a solid indication of the respect they have for each other despite this. This helps in snapping Klaus out of his prejudice and it makes you wonder how Yuno’s team is going to fair now.
Of course, the fact it is so predictable and the fact the cast are not really completely strong enough to hold the show or are memorable enough compared to say Deku and co from My Hero, it does fall flat a bit – especially considering the Black Bulls do have a lot of interesting cast members. Luck getting development helped and the villains were surprisingly well thought out as well (Lotus being someone who has to loot just to help his family and the kingdom with no other means to do so, and Mars history with the girl Fana makes you feel for him) but the fare is pretty standard. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it though, but it is very forgettable after the initial enjoyment so one I do want to follow through with, just not as much hype compared to Dragon Ball Super, One Piece and My Hero Academia in the current shounen tree.
Black Clover improves a bit with the characters getting calmer, the development being subtle, and the fight sequences being superb. That said, whilst other shows have a similar problem of predictability because the main cast is either not the most likable or memorable, it gives the show a bit of a slowdown in terms of wanting to see more. Ironically the villains in this mini-arc despite their short air time were memorable which helped the fight sequences more, and whilst the predictability was there, I can’t say it was bad and still enjoyable, but not one for the top of the review pile when the next set comes.
Clover Clips Special Edition
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: C+
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: June 3rd, 2019
Running Time: 225 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
PlayStation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.