Title: Black Clover Vol. 4
Author: Yuki Tabata
Publisher: Viz Media
Genre: Shounen, Battle
Publication Date: December 6, 2016
The previous volume of Black Clover left us on a cliffhanger as the imperial city was under attack. In volume four, we simply get the battle to protect the city. The story elements didn’t come into play until the very end of the volume when the reason for the attack was divulged. Outside of that, we mainly dealt with the battles with Asta as well as the battles with the magic knights. With the battles, though, we did get a bit of character development for Asta.
So I guess to summarize my thoughts on the “story,” I enjoyed the battles, but they just screamed typical shounen stuff. Calling out attacks with most of them named after elements with fancy names is pretty much textbook shounen when it comes to battles. The attacks were pretty cool, but there really wasn’t anything unique about them that you hadn’t seen before. Rades’ Wraith Magic seemed pretty cool by animating the dead and using curses and such, but it’s pretty similar to the Edo Tensei jutsu from Naruto, which is a series that Black Clover seems to love mimicking.
If you like action-packed volumes, then this should satisfy. There is a nice little cliffhanger at the end which will get you to read volume five when it comes out, but It’s not the kind of cliffhanger that you haven’t seen before or can’t predict how it will end up.
As Josh mentioned, as volume consists of mostly battles. It picks up right where we left off in the previous volume and dives right back into the action. Asta really doesn’t get a break in this one. The battles are very formulaic and predictable. The innocent civilians believe themselves saved as the Magic Knights are there to defend. Of course, we can’t forget that one of them cannot use magic at all and another can’t control hers. Naturally, there’s a lot of showing off between magic users on both sides of the battle. Shounen fans will eat this up; however, if you’re into the series for other reasons (like me) you’re going to find many pages that you just want to get past. I’m invested in Black Clover to watch a young orphan filled with dreams rise up against all odds. So for me, these endless volumes of battle aren’t quite my cup of tea. What does redeem this volume for the non-Shounen reader is the development of the characters.
Asta got some development through a lecture from Fuegoleon. He told him that his attitude is noble in spirit, but it would cause him to make mistakes. In other words, he told him to stop being a hothead all the time and to calm down and think about his actions rationally. This comes into play later when Asta takes on Rades and he recalled Fuegoleon’s words. Although I highly doubt it, this could be a turning point for his character where we can see a more level-headed and mature Asta, but seeing how this series has gone so far, the chances of that are slim to none, but maybe Tabata can prove me wrong.
Fuegoleon doesn’t really get much development, but Tabata lets you taste just enough of his personality to begin attaching yourself to the character, but in shounen battle mangas, we all know what happens when you’re given just enough information on a character to start to care about them. If there was a pole, a piece of obvious cloth would be flapping in the breeze right about now.
Noelle looked to have a bit of development as she developed a bit of confidence and determination in controlling her magic, but she underwent this kind of revelation two volumes ago and it amounted to jack squat. Let’s see if it leads to something this time.
The beginning of the volume shows readers the Asta and Noelle as we have known them thus far. Asta is hotheaded and rushes into things, using only his determination to succeed. Noelle is a snooty airhead and it becomes fairly understandable why she’s an outcast from the noble class.
Asta gets his moment to shine towards the end of the volume when he receives that piece of advice mentioned by Josh. Instead of disregarding it like a hotheaded boy would, he embraces it and works on being calm as the battle reaches the next cliffhanger. Yes, we have seen in the past that Asta will take advice, follow it once and then discard. But hopefully we will see a more mature side of Asta as the series continues. While Josh appears to be skeptical, I’m confident that eventually Asta will remain consistent in his development and maturity. He simply won’t be able to succeed in his mission to become the Wizard King if he doesn’t. It’s likely that his inconsistent behavior is residue from being the runt in the orphanage from the poorest part of the kingdom. His mind and soul are noble, but on the outside all we see is a scruffy hothead. I’m counting on Tabata to transform Asta into someone who can be the Wizard King.
Noelle gains confidence in this volume in a serious time of need. This is fairly predictable because she has been helpful in the past, only to revert to her former self. So in a sense, she develops a bit more control over her magic but overall she’s still an unlikable and annoying character. I could definitely go a volume or two without her because right now I don’t feel as if she contributes much to the plot. Perhaps this will change now that she’s getting more control over her magic. I can see her and Asta forming a relationship at some point but I’m going to leave that speculation for later.
It was an action-packed entry, for sure with just the right amount of nakama power to get them through the fight, but in the end, it’s still a textbook, by-the-number shounen battle manga and there really wasn’t much of anything to pull the reader in. The whole reason behind the attack was pretty weak to begin with, but it does raise the question of “why” or better yet, “why him.” It does make you want to know the reason, but if the explanation Rades gave WAS the entire reason, then that was a pretty pitiful excuse to attack a city and made for a very pointless battle. Still a decent read if you like shounen battle mangas, though.
If you like shounen battle mangas, this volume is definitely for you. If you’re like me, this volume is just filler until we get back to the character and story development. I’m definitely into this series because I want to see Asta succeed, which I already mentioned. I truly find him to be a likeable hero who doesn’t care about showing off. He has no interest in being part of the Magic Knights for self-gains like riches, fame, or ladies. He just wants to prove that someone with the most disadvantages can still work hard and see success. I love the moment when Asta tells one of the magicless villagers that anyone can succeed. Asta has a huge heart and works with what was dealt to him. As a result, even magic users in the Magic Knights see him as a rival despite the fact that he’s already out of the running gate last. This volume was a bit of a snore for me, but because I love Asta, I am waiting to see what comes his way in the next installment.
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This item was provided for review by Viz Media