Title: Black Clover Vol. 12
Author: Yuki Tabata
Publisher: Viz Media
Genre: Shounen, Battle
Publication Date: August 7, 2018
Volume 12 of Black Clover takes us to the conclusion of the battle between The Black Bulls and the Witch of the Forest. After being bested, the Witch recognizes Vanessa’s power and comes to realize that it is so strong because it’s imperfect. It really made the Witch realize some things she had forgotten over time. After her defeat, she gives Asta the magic stone that they were seeking and even gave them some information about what the stones do, where they came from, and how they are linked to the swords that Asta wields!
When they return back to the Clover Kingdom, Asta wants to thank all the members of the Black Bulls for trying their best to find a way to heal his arms. That’s when Yami tells them about the upcoming Star Festival… a festival in which the rankings for each group are announced based upon the number of stars they’ve earned in the previous year. The Black Bulls were always dead last and last year they ended up with negative 50 stars!!
They all attend the ceremony and The Black Bulls end up placing second for the first time in history! The Crimson Lion was knocked from second all the way down to fifth place and Fuegoleon’s sister, who is the new captain, didn’t take it lightly. She tells them that they are going to a hot spring in order to train and brings Asta, Yuno, Noelle, and Yami along for the ride… except this isn’t your typical onsen… it’s a raging volcano that they need to climb and to make matters worse, the mana in the air is unstable, making it difficult for them to use their abilities.
We saw the conclusion of a major story arc and this volume served as a transitional period until we get to the next story arc which was unveiled to be a raid on the secret headquarters of the Eye of the Midnight Sun. The King wants to form a new group known as The Royal Knights and will be holding a tournament in order to select the strongest members for the raid. We haven’t gotten that far yet but I’m sure we’ll see the beginning of that tournament in the next volume!
We actually had a ton of character development in this volume starting with Mars. Mars decided that he’s going to return to the Diamond Kingdom and use some of the magic that the Witch gave him to trick the King, thus controlling him. Mars wants to usurp the throne and reshape the Diamond Kingdom into a peaceful nation. For now, he’s leaving Fana with the Black Bulls but promises to return when he reaches his goal and bring her back to a Kingdom she can be proud of. Mars and Asta make a pact to come save each other if either one were ever in need of aid. Mars turned out to be a pretty great character in the end. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do. I think the Clover Kingdom and the Diamond Kingdom may become allies in the future thanks to this new development!
Asta did some growing as well but it wasn’t until the end of the volume. He looked for a way to climb the volcano and remembered his form that he took during his fight with the Witch. He thought about it and discovered that through Ki detection, he could control the power of the swords flowing through him. He used that control to activate his form but he has no real control over it just yet but at least he made progress!! I have a feeling that Asta will get the hang of it just in time for the tournament. With a power-up like this right before a tournament arc, there’s no way that this is all a coincidence!
Kiato and Kahono make a return and Asta pulls out a small vial that contains some of the Witch’s blood recovery magic and uses it on the two of them. Kiato gets her voice back and Kahono’s leg becomes reattached! This ended up in a double date with Kiato, Kahono, Asta, and Noelle which further teased a budding relationship between Asta and Noelle. While it was pretty short, it was the kind of nudge that didn’t need a lot of attention drawn toward it. It was a perfect reminder of their little side story all while pushing it forward ever so slightly.
Fuegoleone’s sister is pretty short-tempered but, then again, falling three ranks and being bested by the Black Bulls will do that to you. Once she calmed down and showed her true nature, you could tell that’s she’s a feisty woman with a bit of an attitude. If anything, I’d say she’s a tomboy-like character. She cares about her brigade in such a way that she’s willing to put them through hell in order to get them to become stronger. Despite her harshness, everything she does is pretty fair so while she has incredible brashness, you can tell that her intentions are not misaligned.
We are also introduced to the King of the Clover Kingdom, Augustus Kira Clover. To say that he has a bit of a narcissistic ego is an understatement. While Julius, the Wizard King, is very humble and loved by all, Augustus demands people to glorify him and feels that respect is always warranted when in his presence. He’s also loud and egotistical and pretty much hated by everyone. Everyone in the crowd at the festival even wished that Julius was the King instead of Augustus! In a great moment, Asta called out Augustus on his ego and almost got himself executed before Julius stepped in and got him pardoned! Augustus is going to be one of those annoying characters that you’re going to want to see disappear as fast as possible!
This was a heavy character-driven volume of Black Clover. It kind of had to be since we are in a transitional period between story arcs. One thing I liked about it was that it set up two future story arcs in one volume, those being the tournament to select the Royal Knights, coupled with the subsequent invasion of the headquarters of the Eye of the Midnight Sun. The “take the fight to them” mentality isn’t used enough in manga as most stories often rely on waiting for things to happen before culminating in a decisive battle. Here, we’re actually getting the opposite and I’m pretty shocked that a shonen series that is painting the story by the numbers is doing something to break the stereotypical mold. Maybe Yuki Tabata realized that he just can’t copy Naruto forever? Who knows…
Be that as it may, there were still a lot of predictable elements in here, such as the Black Bulls placing higher than dead last at the Stars Festival to Asta’s power-up while being dragged along on another brigade’s training mission. It’s pretty obvious that he would get another power-up right before the tournament which means he is more than guaranteed to become a member of the Royal Knights. If Tabata really wants to shock me, he’ll have Yuno make it in and Asta fail. Not only would this place a bit of balance on Asta’s character development but it would serve as a great boost to Asta and Yuno’s rivalry.
We’ll have to see if Tabata has the intuition to make things a bit more interesting! Nevertheless, once this training is over we’re going to get a…. #GiggukVoice…. TOURNAMENT ARC!
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