When I read the first three volumes of Black Clover last year, I couldn’t wrap my head around how it had become so popular in Japan. The characters seemed unlikable, its ideas rehashed, and I thought it had some major pacing problems. I decided to put the series down after volume 3, I just brushed it off as a fad that would blow over once the series popularity started to decline. Here we are today though with the series still going as strong as ever, as well as finally getting an anime adaptation. It has got me thinking that maybe the series was never even meant to appeal to someone like myself (who has grown up with Shonen Jump since the mid-2000’s). Instead, I think Black Clover is for the new shonen fans around the world who have yet to grow up alongside a hero who never gives in.
Having loved the anime series back in the Winter season, you could say I was a little more than surprised to find out that the manga was already published over here in North America. In fact, the first volume had come out in October of 2016. I spend a lot of time at the bookstore looking at all the manga when I go shopping for a new series, so missing this one really caught me off guard. When I saw it on the shelf next to its other 3 volumes, I just had to buy it. So did it live up to my expectations after seeing the anime? Sort of. It definitely has the charm and goofiness of the anime, but unfortunately this first volume is lacking in other areas.
Smokin’ Parade takes everything from Deadman Wonderland and cranks it up to 11. A main character that is thrust into a world full of super powered monsters, only this time instead of being framed for murder, he is almost murdered himself. Over the top gore in nearly every chapter, as well as bad guys that couldn’t act more evil unless they were going around murdering kittens and puppies. Unfortunately, everything I hated about the Deadman Wonderland has been amplified, and it is missing some of my favorite parts from the author’s previous work. They focused way to much on improving areas that were already fine in Deadman Wonderland, and left their weaker areas to deteriorate even further.
What happens when you put a bunch of rich kids with too much access to their parents money in a school together? Hyakkaou Private Academy is just that, a school for the rich and elite and it is more of a casino than a school. Instead of regular after school clubs like track and field or gardening club, almost all after school activities that the students take part in here involve gambling. Whether its a classic game like blackjack or poker, or some random made up game, the students and Hyakkaou Private Academy spend their afternoons playing against each other gambling away whatever money they can get from their parents. Kakegurui: Compulsive Gambler is a manga that’s all about high stakes gambles, with kids winning it big or going massively in debt by losing it all.
Shonen Jump has been having a rough time keeping new series in their magazine over the past few years, especially series that could replace long-running classics like Naruto and Bleach. Every so often a series like School Judgement will stick, only to be cancelled after a few volumes. The only series to really stick around for the long haul in the last couple of years have been Food Wars, My Hero Academia and Black Clover (with the later two being the more recent additions to Shonen Jump’s catalog of long running series). The Promised Neverland is showing signs of promise as it consistently does well in the weekly rankings (despite some poor pacing) and could be another series we will be seeing a lot of over the next few years.
Despite the relatively low success rate of series becoming big hits the authors keep going to Jump in order to try and hit it big. With the latest batch of new series to be featured in the magazine, one series in particular has been keeping me coming back for more each week, that series being Dr. Stone, a story written by the author of Eyeshield 21 with some crisp and expressive art to accompany it. I think the series has the potential to join the ranks of all the other series I had talked about and become one of Jumps new long running hits.