Respect the Underdog: Asta's Appeal
Well readers it’s time for another Black Clover piece, but this time I won’t be writing about why Black Clover is such an amazing show. I’ve already stated that in my last Black Clover article. No, this time I will be writing about one of the many characters of Black Clover that makes it great and what better person to write about than it’s main character, Asta.
He is an unique character regardless of what mainstream manga readers and anime watchers say. As the manga enters its 200th chapter and its anime adaptation is up nearly 80 plus episodes this seems like a good time for me to explain why Asta is the badass protagonist fans knows he is and why all the haters need to think twice about him.
One of the most notable things about the Black Clover world is it’s a society where magic is everything and everything is done using magic. Therefore, when you’re the only person in your world without magic, you’re pretty much the definition of an underdog. Asta is constantly picked on and belittled by nearly everyone he meets because of his inability to use magic (…and his height as well as the fact he is also a peasant). Underdog characters are some of the best type of characters in pop culture and there’s a reason for this. There’s a reason underdog stories resonate with us to this very day. Sometimes we all feel like underdogs in our own lives and watching and listening to another ‘underdog’ story helps people as those stories give us hope and inspiration. For someone like me who has been an underdog my entire life, I can say that watching Asta constantly prove his haters wrong motivates me to do the same.
Asta has many positive traits that makes him a great role model to people. He’s kind, loyal, strong willed and smart in his own way. Although he’s not an academic, he does have a keen sense for fighting. He’s learned how to use KI instantly from his captain, he is able to adapt to any opponent’s magic in a matter of seconds (such as the case in his fights with Valtos and Ladros) and he is able to use his physical strength to overwhelm his opponents. He is also a hard worker, which is something unheard of in his world. Since everything is done with magic, the concept of doing anything with physical labor doesn’t register. Nobles in particular are said to be naturally good at everything because they possess high amounts of mana.
People who are looking for someone to teach others about the importance of working hard can look to Asta for those lessons because he proves that hard work does pay off. One example of this was at the Star Rewards Ceremony and Asta’s squad the Black Bulls placed second after always coming in last place, with him contributing to that level increase.
(Reflecting, one thing I hate about people in general is that some people are always looking for instant results. Today, a lot of people don’t want to work for anything.)
Asta here serves as the exception to easy labor as he spends his days training and developing his skills and the results are astonishing. Not only is he the second strongest character physically, his use with his swords have saved the lives of many people time and time again when magic was no good. Because of his efforts and commitment to his squad, the Black Bulls are no longer the joke squad of the Clover Kingdom. Furthermore, after this achievement, Asta has motivated his squad members to do the same amount of hard work he’s been doing since his inauguration.
Due to his upbringing in the Forsaken Realm and the constant criticism he receives from everyone in his village, most people would expect Asta to have a negative outlook on life, but to the contrary, his continued positivity followed by his belief that life is something that should cherished by everyone is ongoing and heart warming in the series. For people who may have low self esteem, Asta, teaches us to not let fate decide your destiny and that you are always in control of your own future; Something Yuno continues to mention in the series. Additionally, he never plays the victim and he never wants people to feel sorry for him. Asta has accepted his fate of having no magic and he still continues to move forward in hopes of becoming the Wizard King. That is honorable.
Asta relates to anyone who feels like they are not successful in their lives, but has the strength to keep going and this is made known as he continues to battle mages, thieves, and magic users all without any magic. What is also important is that in Asta’s world your worth is determined by the amount of magic one has, yet Asta continues to move forward as he stays positive and sees things in a positive light.
Another great trait of Asta and this is common in a lot of Shonen protagonists is that he doesn’t give up. He earns the respect of everyone he meets as he continues to strive to be the Wizard King, the strongest and most respected Magic Knight in the Clover Kingdom. This is a near impossible goal for anyone who has some magic, but for Asta, this is considered ‘wishful thinking’ since he doesn’t have any magic whatsoever. Whenever Asta proclaims this goal nearly everyone laughs and mocks this seemingly impossible dream. Most people I know would probably give up on that sort of goal if enough people put them down, however, when it comes to Asta, with every new enemy and challenge he faces, the general respect for him grows and he is slowly starting to prove to the ‘wizarding world’ that he is capable and worthy of the title of Wizard King.
Lastly, he tries to see the good in everyone including his enemies. Notable examples include Patolli, Ladros, Mars and Rades who were all antagonist at some point and all have done terrible things. Always seeing the positive, Asta believes that they are still capable of doing the right thing. Most of the series, through his words Asta is able to convince his enemies to turn over a new leaf and take responsibility for their actions. One example from the manga was after Patolli was tricked by the Devil and fell into a state of depression, Asta was able to convince him to face his mistakes head on and not run away from them. This proves that Asta is able to solve problems with not just his swords, but with his words and that goes a long way when you want to create a world where everyone can live in peace.
Now I’m well aware Asta is not perfect and I understand why Asta would get hate from people. Yes, there have been times Asta has come off as annoying to others. He can be loud, obnoxious, simple minded and an idiot most of the time, but in all fairness doesn’t these traits describe other popular shonen heroes like Goku, Naruto and Luffy. It’s unfair to single out Asta for these traits when other characters copy those aspects as well.
Anyone who bothers to actually watch or read Black Clover knows that the reason Asta yells is so he doesn’t give in to the ridicule he faces on a daily basis. In other words, his yelling is a coping mechanism from being bullied and as for him being a ‘Naruto clone’, well until Yuno decides to abandon the Clover Kingdom and Asta becomes obsessed with bringing him back, I personally can’t see the similarities. If anything, Asta and Yuno’s dynamic is healthier than Sasuke and Naruto’s rivalry. Both characters are friends and that friendship has been shown in the series as they push each other through positive reinforcement in hopes that one of them will be the Wizard King.
Since the conclusion of Naruto in 2014 and Bleach in 2016, as well as One Piece entering its final arcs, I’ve been looking for a new long-term manga/anime to read and watch for the next several years and I have found that in Black Clover. Yes, it has its clichés like a lot of anime and manga these days, but when you’ve been watching anime and reading manga for as long as I have, eventually everything will come off as a throwback to another anime or manga. Regardless of its clichés, I don’t see that as a bad thing. In fact, for a lot of the Black Clover’s series, its has references to Dragon Ball Z, Naruto and Fairy Tail , but seriously, almost all anime is a throwback to the early days of some anime before they reached their top tier status. Am I right? Regardless of the animation, story or characters, I’ve been enjoying Black Clover for sometime now and I especially enjoy seeing Asta grow as a character as he continues to change the views and mindset of everyone he meets. I have no doubt that Asta’s character will gain mainstream fame and eventually people will start cosplaying Asta for any upcoming comicon or anime festival. Until then, I’m going to keep watching Asta swing his anti-magic swords, yell his beliefs for the whole world to hear as he moves closer to becoming the Wizard King.