Thank You, Black Clover

by Rachel Trujillo,

Since 2017, Black Clover fans all over the world have accompanied Asta's journey towards becoming the next Wizard King by watching the anime produced by Studio Pierrot. Some fans have devoutly followed the release of each episode since the very beginning. Others dropped the series before even making it to the Magic Knights Entrance Exam, but returned to it later. Some might have only started watching Black Clover for the first time within the last year as its increasing fame is reflected in social media trends worldwide, even catching the eyes of celebrities. Whatever or whenever your entry point to the series is, Clover Kingdom and its inhabitants offer very real lessons to reflect upon. Apart from the more standard elements of shonen power levels, rivalry, and teamwork, Black Clover highlights the importance of mentorship, family, and loyalty and how the characters depend on those connections to bring about change in the face of inequality and discrimination within the Clover Kingdom society.

The clearest instance of mentorship in Black Clover is the relationship between Asta and Black Bulls Captain Yami Sukehiro. Since day one, Yami has not regarded Asta's lack of magical powers as an obstacle to his big dream. Yami's tough personality and unforgiving teaching style stemmed from an unfortunate and difficult childhood. His journey from being the son of fishermen to Captain of the Black Bulls did not come by as easily or quickly as he made it sound like when he was telling Patry about his life story. Estranged from his homeland, Yami has been living in a new world where he suffered continued discrimination and prejudice at the hands of Clover Kingdom commoners by virtue of his race, culture, and magical powers.

In his early days in this new world, Yami roamed the shores alone until the curious Magic Knights Squad Captain Julius Novachrono approached him with a simple dinner invitation and completely changed the trajectory of his life. Although Yami is notorious for playing by his own rules, he greatly trusts and respects Julius, and he continues to be loyal once Julius becomes Wizard King. As Wizard King, Julius appoints Yami and William to form their own squads. Yami then invites the magical misfits of Clover Kingdom into his squad, giving each of them a chance and being there for them in the same way Julius had been for him. Yami is in a unique position to help his Black Bulls squad recruits as their mentor because he himself has gone through something almost everyone in his squad has experienced to a certain degree: loneliness and alienation. Sometimes the breakthrough in one's life or career is a result of someone giving you one chance to show what you can do or what you're determined to accomplish. Yami doesn't care about outward public appearance or criticism from other squads, he only wants to help all of them go outside their comfort zone and allow them to be the strongest people they can be both physically and emotionally.

Yami values Asta's determination and ultimate desire to become the Wizard King and wants to see Asta continually surpass his limits, fighting alongside him through serious battles in order to teach Asta new techniques or support him. The defining moment of their relationship comes when Yami passes Asta his katana during their battle against Dante, which represents not only a culmination of their time spent together as mentor and student, but also the ultimate sign of trust from a captain to his subordinate. The values instilled into Yami can also be traced back beyond his mentorship under Julius to Zara Ideale, the first peasant to be selected as a member of the Magic Knights. Julius was touched by the way Zara prioritized the lives of the people before his own, which taught him what it really means to become a Magic Knight. After Zara's death, Julius vowed to carry in his footsteps, which ultimately motivated him to become the Wizard King of the Clover Kingdom. Therefore, Asta is not only gaining Yami's knowledge and strength from his mentorship; he is also receiving the wisdom instilled into Yami by his mentor Julius, who was inspired by Zara, who himself was encouraged by his father's exemplary behavior as a Magic Knight. Those among the younger generation of the Clover Kingdom, such as Ina and Nash, are already being positively influenced by the current generation of Magic Knights, which ultimately contributes to the vision that the first Wizard King shared with Nero.

Nero and the First Wizard King, Lumiere Silvamillion Clover, had a vision to create a peaceful and equal world through the use of the Swallowtail, a magical storage device they created together. The device could help close the gap in magical ability for those not blessed with mana and end widespread discrimination in their magic power-based society. Lumiere, Tetia, and the elves unfortunately fell for the Devil's plot, so Nero and Lumiere never got to see their idea come to fruition. After Lumiere defeats Demon Licht, Nero seals Tetia and Licht's twins, Lumiere, and herself, awakening years later in the form of an anti-bird.

Nero always believed her sealing magic to be unimpressive and insignificant, but throughout her time with Lumiere, he always reassured her to the contrary. Sure enough, Nero's magic proved to be essential to the plan of saving her new and old era friends. The Devil worked hard, but Nero worked harder: she patiently waited through difficult and lonely years just for the right opportunity to go against the Devil once more 500 years after being separated from Lumiere. Thanks to Nero, Lumiere and Licht were able to reunite and fight against the Devil together in a beautiful example of a friendship that transcends time. During the final battle against the Devil, Asta also had the honor of fighting alongside the first Wizard King and having his greatest inspiration witness him surpass his limits.

Although Nero puts forth a veil of indifference in both her human and bird forms, she truly cares for the Kingdom and desires a world where everyone, no matter their background, can live as happily and peacefully as possible. All of her selfless actions and sacrifices are in service of the future she envisioned with Lumiere. As a testament to her limitless devotion, she now lives with a weg curse after being willing to dabble in forbidden magic in order to protect their shared dream. Now a significant icon of the entire series, Nero has come a long way from her initial role as a comic relief towards the beginning of the anime.

Another significant mentorship relationship in Black Clover would be between Mereoleona and Noelle. As the Uncrowned, Undefeated Lioness, there is one person that Mereoleona Vermillion hasn't been able to defeat: Noelle's mom, Acier Silva. Despite having an elemental disadvantage as a steel magic user, Acier never once lost to Mereoleona, which in turn pushed Mereo to work harder. Mereoleona was very close with Acier, so she is able to share personal stories about her and use them to encourage Noelle to strive to be just as powerful and graceful as her mother and to never give up. Mereoleona supports Noelle knowing all that she went through growing up with her siblings and having to continuously prove them wrong. And despite sometimes using her royal status to get out of sticky situations, Noelle and Mereoleona align in their ideologies of desiring equality among different Clover Kingdom classes.

Apart from highlighting some of the many of the grand lessons that one can take away from the story, it is also worth acknowledging the ambitious animation efforts throughout the series and the love, patience, and dedication from the directors and staff who worked hard to realize and enliven the magical world of Black Clover. Even aside from all of the spectacular battles throughout the Spade Kingdom arc, there are some iconic episodes that will be fondly remembered, most notably Episodes 63, 92, 93, 100, 119, 151. The directors' and staff's willingness to regularly interact and involve fans is also very sweet. They enrich the lives of fans all across the world through direct responses, promotional posters from animators before episodes, and many more kind gestures that go beyond what is required of their busy schedules.

Seeing Asta's VA, Gakuto Kajiwara, make his musical debut with Ending 12, "A Walk", was another shining moment for Black Clover fans to reminisce on, as well as his participation in the opening of Squishy! Black Clover along with Yuno's VA. The opening and ending songs used throughout the series have in general been excellent matches. Most notable are the two OPs performed by Vickeblanka and the two other OPs performed by Snow Man as well. It was very cool to see Snow Man's Daisuke Sakuma appear in both the anime and the manga as researcher Makusa North. Both J-Pop and K-Pop stans have greatly contributed to Black Clover's success on social media due to their ability to mass organize and support their music fan bases around the world. One of the greatest moments to experience as a Black Clover fan was seeing Opening 13 trend at #1 worldwide on Twitter and YouTube and showing anime fans around the world the scope and depth of our love for the franchise. The songs performed by K-Pop groups TOMORROW X TOGETHER and TREASURE brought the best of both the anime and K-Pop worlds into the fan community. It was very fun to celebrate the song releases with MOAs and Teumes and welcome them all into the Clover Kingdom.

Black Clover initially intrigued me due to its beloved bird, Nero, since I grew up with two peach-faced lovebirds. I never could've anticipated the life lessons I'd learn or for the community I am a part of to grow to be so big. Asta's trials and tribulations, as well as his rivalry with Yuno, has forcibly driven me to think of my own dreams and inspired me to keep striving for what may seem impossible, to never give up in spite of the things or people causing me to doubt myself or my talents and preventing me from being true to myself. There are times growing up when I've felt alone dealing with life's challenges, and it's thanks to the help of friends and mentors that I'm able to push forward. My time watching the Black Bulls have taught me to appreciate that, and to regard friends and mentors as if they are my family, even if I'm not related to them.

Thank you, Black Clover for teaching us about the strength needed to always keep pushing forward and surpassing our limits. I will miss all of the cute and funny moments throughout the show, whether it was Petit Clover or the subtle use of contemporary memes, such as Salt Baes Yami and Jamo, Nero dabbing, or Clover King incorrectly remembering Sekke's rescue as him sliding his motorcycle AKIRA style. There's also that one time the Matsuno siblings from Mr. Osomatsu appeared in the background of Episode 76.

The Black Clover anime ends with Episode 170, Haruka Mirai, which translates to "Faraway Future" and the title of the anime's first opening song that started it all. Haruka Mirai is also frequently played during incredibly significant moments in the anime to highlight how the characters are continuing to surpass their limits and write new pages of their life stories that they never could've imagined for themselves (as the lyrics allude to). The current opening of Black Clover begins with an animated homage to Opening 1 in order to foreground Asta's tremendous transformation in physical strength and character after many months of training for the Spade Kingdom.

The Magic Knights have started to face members of the Dark Triad, and the fans have all finally met the Vice Captain of the Black Bulls and Asta's inner demon, Liebe. I'm sad that Tuesdays will no longer feel the same without weekly episodes of Black Clover, but I am grateful for the journey and I'm looking forward to seeing which direction the series takes. Black Clover has always made sure to tie loose ends of storylines of even minor characters, so I will continue looking forward to seeing the growth of every Magic Knight on every squad and rooting for their success. “The journey ends. A new era starts…”

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