When I first began Black Clover I did not take to it right away. The show is a 2016 anime based on the manga by Yuki Tabata. I found the main character to be rather obnoxious while the other characters were ridiculous and over the top. However, I will say that over time it grew on me. As the story progressed I found myself more and more engaged.

Black Clover falls under the category of Shonen Manga or Manga made specifically for young boys like other popular shows Dragonball, One Piece, and Naruto. Usually, these anime and manga focus on elaborate fight sequences and action paired with boisterous displays of masculine grit. And in many ways, Black Clover is no different. Accept for one, throughout the whole story there is an underlying theme about classism and social discrimination. So to me, Black clover is unusual in this regard. Don’t get me wrong, It does not shy away from the violence, but neither does it avoid trying to say something about it. 

 Set in the fictional fantasy kingdom of Clover, where all humans are able to perform magic, we are introduced to a society with a very distinct class separation.  At the top are the royalty and noble class. We have the king followed by lords and other nobility. Below the nobility there is every one else, the craftsmen, laborers, and peasants. Policing the kingdom, there are the magic knights and sorcerers sworn to protect the citizens of the Clover kingdom. They are headed by the wizard king. Even though theoretically the role of magic knight can be achieved by any one, it is often a roll given to nobility, it isn’t a role a lowly craftsman or poor orphan can easily achieve. Even those who are able to crawl there way up from humble beginnings to magic knight are not viewed as highly as the nobility and are often seen as weaker.

Enter our protagonists Asta and Yuno, two orphans from a  small village out in the sticks. Asta has no magical power. Yuno on the other hand is extremely skilled in the magical arts. The two children have grown up together as friends and rivals. Yuno shares Asta Both share the dream of wanting to become magic knights as well as the one day becoming wizard king. They both share a deep friendship fueled by the fact that they are both orphans and have had to face adversity. 

 The two children were found together and brought to the orphanage and have shared a deep bond ever since. Yuno, who has always looked up to Asta, mirrors his ambition. Despite his talent in magic it has always been Asta who has looked after him, and Yuno has grown up feeling somewhat inferior to Asta. He is driven by a deep desire to prove himself to his friend and surpass him. It is there friendship and rivalry that drives them both to overcome the adversity they each face.

Despite Asta having never shown any magical prowess he has never let this get in the way of his dream of becoming a magic knight.  He trains by pushing himself physically. He goes into lengthy extreme physical work outs hoping this will awaken his magic. 

When the children of this world reach adolescence they undergo a coming of age ceremony where they each summon there own personal grimoire. The grimoire enhances the individuals magical powers, which they use in there daily profession be it Cook, farmer, etc. During the ceremony Asta is not able to summon a grimoire and it looks like he is going to be sent home humiliated. However, Asta is able to conjure his very own Grimoire threw sheer determination when his friend Uno’s grimoire is stolen by a petty thief later on in the episode.

Yuno, on the other hand, is naturally gifted since a young age and has shown exceptional magical skill. He finds it easy to pass the coming of age ceremony and is gifted an extremely powerful grimoire. He then is invited to joint the Guild of the Golden Dawn, one of the most prestigious guilds. However this does not mean that things are all easy for Yuno. 

 Yuno is constantly struggling to prove themselves in this harsh society where he is judged solely on where he comes from. He is constantly looked down on,  despite his magical skill, because he decide to join the golden dawn guild, the most prestigious guild where most of it’s members are members of noble families. Yuno is judged because of his humble origins despite being more talented then most of the members of the guild. In fact his magical talents are looked on with jealousy by his pears instead of praise. And although he is talented and a vital member of  his guild, his fellow guild members struggle to accept him because of his seemingly inferior past.

Asta on the other hand feels fully accepted and respected in his guild. His fellow magic knights, the Black Bulls are considered the worst guild. It would seem it is this very reason why he is so accepted by his peers, They are all outcasts like him. They are rough around the edges in many regards. They all have troubled pasts, coming from abusive homes or criminal pasts. Despite this, they are shown to have good hearts. With the Black Bulls we are shown that even someone with the most troubled past can  have useful skills. It shows that even someone can be reassimilated into society if their said skills are put to good use. The Black Bulls do not condemn each other, they do not judge each other. It is from the outside world that Asta and his friends face discrimination. They are looked down on by the other knights because they are seen as the worst guild. They are looked down on by the society of the Clover kingdom in general because most of them, like Asta, are peasants and criminals. However, as the show progresses, they are each shown to have special talents that are invaluable when it really counts. Black Clover strives to show us that it does not matter where you come from, but what you do with your powers, your own unique set of skills.

It does not condemn or vilify all the nobles. There are good and kind members of the nobility in the Clover kingdom as well as some truly vile and lazy ones. The king of the Clover kingdom (not to be confused with the wizard king) is a prime example of this. He is cowardly and lazy, yet needs constant praise to stroke his ego. Then again there are also truly vile and horrific individuals who are peasants, Who have similar origins to Asta and Yuno. They wish to overthrow the kingdom. Angry at their lot and position in the world, angry at the nobility who wish to hold them down. There is no black and white, good or bad, and it is certainly not restricted to poor or underprivileged people. It is up to Asta and his comrades to fight for a fairer and just world that is blind to whether you are of noble birth or not. This is an ideal that Asta fully embraces and shares with many of his fellow knights. He is idealistic and naive almost to a fault. He believes in fairness, and equality. Yet, many characters who first appear hostile towards Yuno and Asta slowly grow warm to him when they realize he is a hard worker. The show seeks to break down barriers, to  dismantle a society that bases itself on prejudice and stereotyping. Not all nobles are jerks and not all peasants are incompetent or unworthy of respect.

The show does not kid itself or its audience into thinking the fight for these ideals will be easy. Despite Asta’s many good deeds his actions are plagued by misunderstandings, mostly brought about by the fact that he is a peasant. Despite the fact that he is able to save the kingdom several times, he is often blamed, or even accused of being one of the very invaders he just fought against. His magic is seen as evil because of its unconventional origins. However Asta never lets these obstacles bother him. He remains ever optimistic and believes he can achieve his goal, And I think that the show is encouraging us to do the same. No matter how bad the situation gets, no matter how impossible our goal may seem, we should not give up, we should keep fighting the fight. 

I would not call Black Clover a particularly sophisticated show. It does not really explore anything new through its subject matter. But it is a show that is trying to say something. It is a show that is trying to teach young boys something while also entertaining them, and for this, we should be glad for its existence. It knows who its target audience is. So it tackles the subject in a simple manner that children can digest easily. It tells its audience that the world is not as black and white as we think.