Did you know Black Clover, the magical fantasy adventure from Yuki Tabata, is my favourite ongoing comic? Not just in Weekly Shonen Jump, but just plain outright? I *love* Black Clover. It represents that perfect mastery of the Weekly Shonen Jump ethos of (yes) friendship, effort, and victory (or triumph if you’re a video game publisher out to ruin my careful choice of branding) that doesn’t necessarily mean success, but does make for a read unlike any other. You’ll see this elsewhere in comics like Buso Renkin (my previous banner example of the perfect WSJ comic book) or… Actually, naming another example is difficult. These two are pretty much at the peak of what I’m going for here, titles that fold in the magazine’s motto wholesale, and incorporate a wide variety of genre into what are honestly just action comics at their core. They’re craft on a visible level, that I can never get enough of, and Black Clover feels like the new king.
It has everything I want: a main character who never gives up, mostly through the sheer inertia of his space cadet-ness, a supporting cast consisting of bombastic designs and abilities informed by their core personality traits (I could go on for days about decisions as simple as making the hot-headed Magna a fire user, or the impulsive, deranged Luck a lightning user, to say nothing of my favourite character, Grey, being a shapeshifter who is incredibly blunt when in disguise, but cripplingly shy and embarrassed the second that her illusion breaks), character evolution based in their trying to support or being supported by the others around them, and a relentless pace that constantly feeds readers new ideas, non-stop.
It’s… It’s my favourite, yeah?
So imagine my joy when pals Colton and Sid had me on Manga Mavericks *again*, this time specifically to discuss Black Clover, along with Annaliese Christman, the letter of the english editions.
- I am definitely the second fiddle guest compared to Annaliese, who is a font of fascinating facts, anecdotes, and fantastic takes on Black Clover, but more than anything I loved getting to hear a lot of the lettering process stuff, especially the contrast in work between the weekly chapters and the collected volumes. Lettering is underappreciated, and I can honestly say I don’t think about it in translated comics enough, so a lot of this chat was a nice wake-up call.
- I think I might actually go a *very* long period of time without really talking at the start of the chat, and I think that’s justified in the face of the stuff being said. Sometimes a crucial part of being on a multi-person podcast is just shutting the f**k up and letting people say their stuff, and I’m happy to have done so for at least a part of the show.
- HC Language Solutions: The company we should have actually looked up.
- In a case of me not looking up someone’s credentials enough, I was genuinely surprised that Annaliese had worked on Ultimate Muscle’s English editions, as a long-time fan of that particular series. I’m glad to say that the volumes she worked on are free from nitpicking in a future FEV article I want to do about the iffyness of bubble-era manga releases. Like for real early volumes of that series have some real weird errors. Thankfully not something I’ve noticed in the later volumes at all, so that bodes well for the earlier days of Annaliese’s career!
- The dive into actual Black Clover talk is perfect, as we hit the nail on the head almost straight away: Black Clover is *incredibly* shonen, in just about every way. It’s the angle I push on the series every single time I mention it, and to hear the others say it before I started rambling on was a big boost. I’m not crazy!
- It’s true: I didn’t like Black Clover’s debut. Check my tweets (don’t check my tweets). I’ve never been happier to be wrong about something.
- BUSO RENKIN! TAKE A DRINK! If I ever start talking about shonen jump-type comics, Buso Renkin will always come up, without fail. I’m going to be revisiting some stuff I said about it in the original run of FEV in the future, but as an actual recommendation it can’t be said enough: If you like Black Clover, Buso Renkin is 100% for you.
- Colton isn’t alone in being sceptical of Black Clover being my favourite Jump series, but that’s not interesting to dwell on so let’s name drop my second choice again; Isobe Isobee Monogatari ~Ukiyo-e is difficult~. It’s currently taking up residence at the back of the magazine, much like Pyuu to Fuku! Jaguar did back in the 00s, and whilst I’m unable to keep up with it weekly I have to mention how fantastic it reads in volumes, as a mountain of rapid-fire gags with an art style that you just don’t see in comics, despite how much Japanese comics in particular owe to it.
- We start talking about how great the opening chapter is of Naruto, and in all honesty I’m struggling to think of a better opening chapter in Weekly Shonen Jump history, regardless of anything that followed.
- Black Clover’s popularity with younger readers is hard to establish from far away, so picking up on the telltale signs, as well as any research I’ve been able to do for future work, is all-important. With any luck the cartoon will broaden the appeal, but we’ll have to wait and see.
- We hit this weirdly noticeable thing with Black Clover’s detractors: That the things they hate in Asta they love in other Weekly Shonen Jump protagonists. He has so much in common with Son Goku and Monkey D. Luffy, but for Asta all the traits are considered negatives? Come on now, get out of here.
- I don’t like slagging off others, but I’m perfectly willing to put people ripping into Black Clover on blast, just because their reasons skew to hypocritical. I mean yeah I’m hypocritical too, because I’m human, but it agitates the crap out of me.
- Hungry Joker is a rip-off of D. Gray-Man in more than a few ways. There’s stuff to love, but its pretty indefensible, and gave people a sour taste going into Black Clover. Super unfortunate.
- Authors wear their influences on their sleeves. This is especially true of Weekly Shonen Jump, which has serialised some 800+ series in its 49 year lifespan.
- I don’t know if I explain how I feel Psyren and Black Clover are similar super well, but if you go back and read how that series unleashes new powers in particular you can really feel it.
- Colton bringing up how classism plays a big part in Black Clover, which I had never given much thought, but it really does inform how I, a working-class sort living in a country lead primarily by people from very well off backgrounds and educations, could find so much to love in the series.
- Nothing was better than hearing Annaliese talk about meeting Tabata and his editor. There’s something so reassuring in hearing that any creative type is pleasant, especially in the relatively secretive world of Japanese comics.
- I really hope Fuegoleon turns up in Black Clover again soon, if only because his name is pretty much one line away from FIRE LION and that’s so on the nose I’m in love with it.
- I underestimated how much the others love Yami. I have no doubts that he’ll come in first place whenever Black Clover has a popularity contest.
- I don’t think I manage to say it in the episode, but I like that with Gauche’s storyline in Black Clover it’s made clear that the series is exploring different types of friendship. You have rivalries, support, sibling-like friendship, and the sort of grudging friendship that you know you can rely on like Gauche realises he has with Asta.
- I’m so glad I got to talk about Grey, who is 100% my favourite, for so many reasons, despite not being super developed right now. She’s perfect. Don’t @ me.
- Hearing me call Colton a disgusting pervert does make me realise that even as jokes I’m mean to him way too often. How he puts up with me I’ll never know.
- That said we all beat him into submission, and now Colton doesn’t hate Black Clover! A victory for the ages.
- Getting to tell a letterer how much I appreciate their work is all too rare an occurrence, but for real, lettering manga in English is a weird challenge when you think about it.
- I love Mars. He is a pure boy who needs love and affection. That is all.