All right, Noelle’s been making a lot of waves in the anime/manga community for a while now. I would say this really began to ramp up in the current Spade arc with her multiple battles against Vanica, but even as early as the Undersea Temple arc people started to really see her in a new light. I’ve had this editorial in the backburner for a while but it was buried under a bunch of others. (I’ve got around 20 ideas just hanging out in drafts) When I saw that Noelle won the top spot in the latest Black Clover popularity poll, I knew it was time to push this up and explain exactly why she is such a character. I’ll also answer the question of if she is the greatest main heroine of all time. Naturally this editorial will have spoilers for Black Clover so unless you are caught up through her most recent fight from around 2 months ago then you will want to skip it for now. This was written before the last 10+ chapters though so those won’t be covered here.
So first lets define the terms here. So who counts in the main heroine category? Well, typically there is only be one main heroine in a series so you have to choose carefully who reps the series. For example, characters like Rukia, Yamato, and Hinata may be very well liked but none of those 3 are really the main heroines of their series in my eyes. They would be Orihime, Nami, and Sakura respectively. Rukia would have the strongest case for being a dual main heroine in which case she is a big upgrade from Orihime but won’t affect the outcome here. There are a lot of big characters in any long running series but then you’re going too far into the weeds if you pick out someone who isn’t prominently the main character of importance. Just like how a series can have two rivals although its rare, you can also have two heroines though. Off the top of my head the only action title I can think of with really clear cut dual heroines would be A Certain Magical Index with Index and Misaka. (If you count non-action then there are a bunch) It gets very debatable on who the main heroine is. Misaka has much more story importance while Index has more screen time. If it is really debatable like that were people have discussions online then it’s fair game to count both, but you don’t want to be counting everyone just because they have a decent role as well.
After all there are a lot of categories to rank characters with. Best lead, Best main guy, Best rival, Best healer, etc. So for example, I would have to give it a lot of thought if Slur may be ahead of Noelle. It’s certainly possible since that character is fantastic and would still be around if not for the unfortunate fate of having to face off against Bass Exe 1 on 1. Her character was short lived but I liked her a lot. Still, she would not count in this ranking as that spot would belong to Roll on the Navi side or Maylu from the human side and Noelle stomps both of those.
Now, a big character you may be thinking about here is Medaka Kurokami. Sure enough, she is a character I would put above Noelle. That said, she’s the main character of her adventure which isn’t applicable for the main heroine title. If we were talking about who the greatest main character is then that would be a different story but of course Noelle wouldn’t count in that case. We could ask who the greatest female character of all time is in which case they would both count but that isn’t the prompt here. The best main heroine of all time is the mirror of the best main guy of all time so that would be characters like Tuxedo Mask, The Blue Knight, Syaoran from Cardcaptors, Ray from Neverland, etc. You could use the term “Best hero of all time” but that term is used often for main characters, so I would typically avoid it.
That’s why it’s good to spell out the definitions at least how I understand them to be for the editorial itself. This way you can see how I get to the conclusion of if Noelle is the greatest main heroine of all time. Next, before actually going into if she has earned the title or not, lets quickly talk about what makes her such a great character. Why exactly does Noelle stand out as being a particularly strong character? There have been thousands of main heroines out there after all so clearly she is doing something right.
Keeping up with the other leads in strength
This is a pretty big one. Put it this way, is there any heroine you can think of who actually caught up to and debatably surpassed the rival? Even for the people who say Yuno is currently stronger (And it’s fair to say since we haven’t see much of what Yuno can do post time skip. Perhaps he can match Noelle and I suspect we will learn if this is the case within the next few chapters.) the fact that it is even a debate is impressive. For most series there is not a single point where the heroine ever surpassed the rival or even got close. At no point did you think Sakura was a threat to Sasuke or that perhaps Lenalee surpassed Kanda. Lenalee’s a good example though because I would say she kept up with the main two for a longer period than most characters. She just ended up getting sidelined for pretty much the whole second half of the manga so far but hopefully she will go back to fighting later on.
Take a look at that clip from the opening I put above. See how Noelle is treated with the same level of screen time and power as Asta and Yuno’s battles? The 3 Devil Triad members are introduced, then we see the 3 fighters battling it out equally. Noelle isn’t fighting a weaker member or losing here, she’s having a battle with highly personal stakes and a lot of intensity just like the other two. The fact that one of the Triad turned out to be her family’s sworn enemy that ties into her origin story is great. That’s the kind of thing you’d see for the main character and rival in a lot of things. Noelle really has her own story here.
Noelle’s water creation magic has really come a long way from how it was when she first started. She can control her abilities really well now and has the offensive might to back the spells up. She is even compared to her mother who was a top tier fighter in the Clover kingdom. It’s impressive and a testament to the many months of practice she put in. Strength isn’t everything but the fact that we see her putting in the kind of effort you would usually only see the lead and other characters get is great.
Keeping up with the others in story
What I mean by this is that Noelle actually has a main character development arc. In fact, you could make a strong case for her having more of a full character arc than Yuno and maybe even Asta. Yuno is relatively unchanged from the start of the series. He’s gotten stronger but his only real change in development is from learning how to be more of a team player within the Golden Dawn and that doesn’t actually get almost any screen time.
For Asta, well he’s the main character so naturally he gets a whole lot of focus. He has to be content with himself not knowing magic, enduring the feeling of powerlessness when he got cursed, etc. Nobody’s got more screen time and plot emphasis than Asta but Noelle still has him beat in development. She had to deal with a family that were all completely antagonistic to her and constantly mocking her efforts. Only Mimosa doesn’t appear downright evil but it also doesn’t seem like she was ever there for Noelle. Noelle didn’t get true friends until she was with the Black Bulls and even then it took a while to actually trust them. Part of what helped get her close to Asta is that he was one of the first to really support her. One of my favorite scenes showing their friendship is when Asta spoke up on her behalf when the magic knights were mocking her. Asta didn’t waste a second to go to her defense.
This ultimately resulted in her big moment in the Undersea Temple arc where she was able to land her first big attack in the series. Not only was it enough to break through Vetto’s defenses but it was a decisive moment in the climax that started to turn the tides for the heroes. It was really impressive and a powerful way to solidify her transition into being one of the team powerhouses. It was a long and careful character arc that didn’t happen overnight. It would still be some time before she would awaken her abilities even further but she kept growing with the rest of the cast.
Tsundere with an end point
Black Clover’s not really a title with a whole lot of romance and that’s a good thing since the series is already filled with so many action scenes to go through. There isn’t a whole lot of time to stay back and relax but another aspect of Noelle’s character that helps her break out is that she isn’t trapped in the eternal cycle of not knowing if she really likes Asta or not and constantly smacking him. Certainly she still does go into full tsundere mode a lot but she has finally come to terms with her feelings in a way that you don’t often see. It’s a complete confirmation to herself that leaves no room for doubt and she didn’t wait until Asta came to this realization. It’s all her at this point and it’s another data point showing that her character is not one that will stay stagnant at all. She is constantly changing and developing.
Okay, so now that we’ve establishes why Noelle has really risen in popularity and why she is a great character, lets dive into the actual question here.
Is Noelle is the greatest Shonen Jump main heroine of all time?
Yes After a lot of thought and consideration this one is an absolute yes. There are no Shonen Jump main heroines in the history of the magazine that can take her down here. I consider her to be much cooler and more interesting than Sakura, Orihime, Nami, Urvaity, Nezuko, Kohaku, Anna, Ran, Tokiko, etc. Shonen Jump has certainly had a lot of fantastic main heroines over the years but none have been quite as consistently amazing as Noelle. Even the best of those fighters weren’t actually on the front lines against the big villains in a serious context this late in the game. It’s really at the point where Noelle is becoming like a second rival for Asta.
The closest would be Tokiko in terms of how close to the final boss was but the series wasn’t very long running so that’s more of a by default kind of thing. Orihime, Nami, and Uravity were outmatched before the first arc was over and never caught up. Anna and Ran aren’t primarily main fighters even if they can offer support. Sakura and Kohaku made reasonable gains but ultimately you wouldn’t put them very high up in a typical ranking. This isn’t something that’s purely about power but it certainly doesn’t hurt when looking at what a main heroine can do. I haven’t read every Jump title but I’ve certainly read most of the big ones by this point and am familiar with most of the main heroines. To dethrone Noelle we’d probably need a new ongoing title. Nobara is off to a great start for example so lets see how that goes.
Now we’re lets go for the extra credit assignment.
Is Noelle The Greatest Main Heroine of all time?
As you can imagine, this multiplies the potential characters hundreds of times over. There are numerous options to choose from and this gets to be a much more difficult challenge. Even just making sure you think of everyone is difficult although you can make the case that if you don’t remember someone in time then maybe they didn’t leave as much of an impact. There are also some quick characters I’ll think of like Alice from Sword Art Online as an instant win but I have to remind myself that she is not the actual main heroine.
Ultimately Noelle will lose this battle.
That’s because Misaka exists. No, not Mikasa from Attack on Titan, but Misaka Mikoto from Railgun. Yes, she has her own series where she is the main character so she doesn’t count as a Railgun character but she does count as the main heroine from the Index title which is where her eligibility comes from. I like Noelle quite a bit but she’s not touching Misaka. Misaka cemented herself as one of the all time greats when she broke into a facility and essentially took down the entire villain group known as ITEM by herself. To date I consider that to be the single best episode in the whole Index multi franchise. It’s not a one off kind of scene either, she consistently has a lot of great moments throughout the series. Another such moment is in the clip below where she effortlessly took down one of the enemy mechs and really put the fear into her opponent. There’s a reason why nobody messes with the Level 5 Espers in Academy City and Misaka is a big part of that.
Since I was mainly here to answer the question of if Noelle was the greatest of all time, I won’t go any further than that. Whether she is 2nd or 10th, it doesn’t matter since she’s not first. Can she really defeat Asuna? Does Noelle get defeated by Ciel? Would Kuroyukihime just be too great to lose? I’ll leave that to the imagination or for another ranking list in the future. So to recap, Noelle is indeed the greatest Shonen Jump main heroine of all time and lives up to her rep. I’m not able to take that one step further to call her the greatest main heroine of all time though. That is a title that will ultimately serve as a roadblock for now but who knows. If she continues to take opponents down and make a name for herself then she can only go up from here.