He deserves his spot beside Goku, Luffy, Naruto and the rest
In 2017, two cries could be heard across the anime universe. The first was that of Asta, the constantly loud protagonist of Black Clover, shouting his ambitions to anyone that would listen and even those that wouldn't. The second were the cries of some anime fans, wondering why this dude had to shout everything. It quickly achieved meme status, which is the #1 sign of popularity in the 2010's, and even though a decent number of shows, from Dragon Ball Z to One Piece, feature lead characters that scream their dreams, Asta was just too loud. For a second, we all became stuck-up anime parents: "YOU TURN THAT ASTA DOWN THIS INSTANT, CRUNCHYROLL. I'M TRYING TO NAP OR WATCH DARLING IN THE FRANXX OR BOTH, POSSIBLY."
Luckily, this meme has died down, but there's a stigma around Asta that hasn't fully left. Maybe it's because, around the same time, we got sweet young Deku from My Hero Academia, a boy that only yelled when he was about to be murdered by a villain or break his own arms in an attempt to punch said villain. Or maybe it's because, after so many loud heroes, we figured that we were too self aware to enjoy one that wore his voice on his sleeve. (Side note: This is not a diss on My Hero Academia. I love MHA, and I believe that Deku and Asta would be great friends. Heck, best friends.)
Regardless of why, it wasn't because Black Clover wasn't popular in the first place. People have a tendency to remember the things that they don't like as failures (It's why we count Spider-Man 3 as some grand cinematic disappointment when it was the top grossing movie of 2007 and the highest grossing Spider-Man film to this day), and the most dramatic minority tended to imagine Black Clover, not as a hit, but as a wart on the side of Weekly Shonen Jump. But it's the fourth highest grossing anime for TV Tokyo. Peopld are definitely (and consistently) watching Black Clover.
But if you think that Asta isn't qualified to stand beside Deku or Goku or Luffy or Edward Bleach (that's the protagonist of Bleach, right?), I have some news for you: You're wrong. Asta is a great anime boy and he exemplifies a lot of what I want out of a hero from this genre. And I think it's awesome that he yells. Heck, he has to. A lot of people in the show don't believe in him, or didn't believe in him when they first met him and you know what? Sometimes ya gotta yell if you wanna be heard, especially in the world of magic. His bro Yuno has obvious powers from the start of the show. How are you gonna compete with that if you're not down to raise your voice a little bit. "Speak loudly and carry a big Demon-Slayer Sword" is what Theodore Roosevelt always said.
Also, Asta's enthusiastic. I enjoy a strong, silent type every once in a while and I dig that Asta is contrasted to Yuno. But if they were both brooding, reticent types, I'd have quit watching by episode two. Plus, I don't need Asta to be typically aloof and cool. I think it's fun that he tries so hard, and that he's not an instant prodigy. Sure, he'd be better for wish fulfillment if he said all the right things and didn't really have to work to be talented, but that's just not what my dude Asta is about.
This need to work has built a sense of determination into Asta, which makes his fights and struggles more interesting. I love watching characters power up in big fights. It's a trope that I will never get sick of because I will never stop cheering whenever someone releases their GUMGUMBEASTBOMBEHAMEHA. And Black Clover does a great job of making these power ups feel earned, and if they seem to come out of nowhere, at least they don't feel like unnatural progression. I'm not saying that other shows don't do a good job with this. I'm just saying that I get hyped when it happens with Asta, which is the mark of a character that I actually care about. He has given me a reason to be invested in his battles.
Plus, I'm always down for any character that has a seemingly impossible dream. Asta wants to be the Wizard King, and while it'd be super easy to say: "Well, he'll probably accomplish it in the end because typical Shonen formula dictates that he will, and btw I'm joyless," I'm not gonna be that jaded against Asta or anime in general. Like his "power ups" in battle, it's not like he's completely undeserving of it. He was chosen by the Black Bull, the squad that a lot of people considered trash. So he's had to struggle, not only to gain the respect of the Bulls, but to gain respect for the Bulls. Again, he didn't show up in Kikka to hear: "AH, YES. THIS IS THE BOY THAT WILL ONE DAY PROTECT US ALL." No, they thought he was a loud weirdo. And man, Asta. I've been there.
Finally, Asta gives me a beautiful vision for the future of fighting games based around Weekly Shonen Jump properties. Jump Force was definitely a mixed bag, but one of the best parts was learning that Asta was my favorite character to play as. I've been entrenched in One Piece for years. It's fueled my existence. And so I imagined that when I started Jump Force, I'd create my Grand Line-oriented team and wreak havoc on the plot. But Asta won me over and now I hope that he shows up in more games. Fingers crossed for a Dragon Ball FighterZ-esque game featuring Black Clover characters. Fingers reeeeeal crossed.
In short, if you still think Asta is a stain on the side of his genre, I think you're missing out. Black Clover is not only a really fun, really watchable show, but it's also got a great anime boy at the front of it. He may be loud, but he is mine. You go, Asta.
Are you an Asta fan? Think he's a little underrated? Let us know in the comments and keep watching Black Clover on Crunchyroll!
Daniel Dockery is a writer and editor for Crunchyroll. You can find him on Twitter.
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