Bishamon is a powerful war goddess so her abilities are nothing to sneeze at. Her attacks have a very wide range and so it’s difficult to avoid her for very long. That said, Noelle is certainly up to the task. Her speed is incredible and it will be the biggest asset against a foe like this. Bishamon will be unable to land her attacks consistently and so her health will rapidly deplete while Noelle stays in good fighting shape. Noelle wins.
This has certainly been a long time coming, but it’s time to finally review the Black Clover anime. I finished this show almost a year ago at this point but it’s a really long one which meant the review would be long too so it kept on getting pushed back on the priority list. Well, now it’s time to jump in and the series certainly earns its rep as being the next big Jump title. It’s today’s version of Naruto and quickly gets you into the mix with a lot of hype characters and storylines.
The series centers around a boy named Asta who has grown up with no magical abilities. He literally has no mana and seems to be cursed as it just won’t generate no matter what he does. In this world it is difficult to function at all without magic because society will brand you as a failure. It means you will be constantly teased and picked on, additionally Asta is a commoner which is another strike against him by the masses. Asta has sworn to get around this by honing his body to its absolute limit though to the point where he can still fight with magical users.
Asta keeps on going and is eventually selected by the Black Bulls, the worst of the magic squads and known for having a bunch of crazy members. Still, they chose Asta to be one of them so he will help transform them into the greatest squad that the world has ever seen. Asta’s goal is to eventually become the Wizard King and prove himself as the strongest of all. He can then change the world to make it more just for everyone no matter their individual status. This won’t be easy but he is determined to see this goal through to the end.
When I say there is a lot to discuss in this review, trust me it’s not an understatement. I’ll talk about the technicals first now and then we’ll jump into the story arcs and characters. You don’t see too many long running action titles like this nowadays since most anime go for the seasonal route. Aside from Boruto and One Piece, this may have been the last big Shonen ongoing like this. So in a way Black Clover was around for the end of an era. Seasonal shows certainly have their advantages and it’s always a fun debate but I was glad that Clover really got to go in with so many episodes here.
Right from the jump I thought the show looked really good. It’s by Studio Pierrot after all so I wasn’t surprised. They have animated some of the absolute best shows around. They may not be Ufotable but in my earlier animation editorial I showed why they are absolutely one of the best around. Black Clover gets a good budget. I thought it may not have looked too impressive before watching it because for some reason you see it mentioned online a lot that the show doesn’t look good but clearly they haven’t seen the fights.
Even when the animators were rushed and it was tough to meet the deadlines, they made the show look epic. There was only one fight at the end of the witch arc that I thought went too far with the experimental style. Experimenting a bit is good but go too far and it starts to look like a fan animation. I understand that was one of the fights where they really had to hurry though so that’s understandable. The series can switch between a very detailed art style one moment and then go into a streamlined one the next. Each fight is really fast paced so you can feel how powerful the characters were. I can confidently say that the animation is at a great level throughout the series. There are just many standout ones throughout so you never feel like the series is lagging behind.
Then you’ve got an excellent 5 star soundtrack up next. I did an editorial ranking all of the openings a while back because one of its particular strengths is how great those were. The openings all have a lot of life to them and just sound incredible. Whenever one is played for a big battle then you know that things are going to be epic. The themes inside of the actual series are also very good. There are a ton of great battle themes and emotional ones in there. A benefit of being such a long series is that there are really a whole lot of themes to choose from. You’ll be very familiar with all of them by the end but they really don’t hold back.
On a technical level the series is just excellent and so it helps to elevate the story. Fortunately the manga is also quite awesome so then what you have is a show that’s virtually perfect. It’s always interesting and has a great cast of characters to balance out the fun stories. The series can get serious as well and you feel a sense of danger. There also isn’t too much fanservice and the anime even cut some moments out which was really nice. I won’t say that a series like this is devoid of it, but they do a good job of avoiding it for the majority of the time.
Black Clover also has a good amount of humor to it as well. There are a lot of fun scenes throughout the show and sometimes the visual gag is what really helps seal the scene like when Asta’s eyes turn into sparkles. That’s usually a whole lot of fun and each of the characters have a fun dynamic with each other. This is a very well balanced anime that you could recommend to anyone. There’s definitely no doubt on that. This wraps up the general thoughts on the series so now it’s time to dig deep and really look at the characters and story.
The show starts off with the pre arc where we get to meet each of the Black Bulls and the team starts to form some good bonds with each other. We see how the day to day missions play out and each of the characters also gets a lot stronger. The show’s got good pacing here and while most of these original villains won’t be too memorable, they do serve their purpose in the fights. They look fairly menacing and give the heroes a run for their money. At the end of the day that’s what we’re looking for here right?
Asta is a terrific main character and one of the best leads in recent history. He works really hard and doesn’t let his lack of magic get to him. Throughout the 150+ episodes, he probably only gets down about it once or twice. The rest of the time he is busy training and getting himself fired up to be stronger and stronger. That’s exactly what you want to see in a main character here. His anti magic would not be nearly as useful if he wasn’t constantly training it so that he could be the strongest fighter around. Asta’s just an inspirational guy and he makes everyone around him that much better.
His rivalry with Yuno also has to be the healthiest that I’ve ever seen in Shonen Jump. They constantly build each other up even as they have their friendly banter. They never say something that they would regret later on or take advantage of the other one being in a bad place. Yuno never turns evil in the show and it seems unlikely at this point. That’s because the heroes aren’t jealous of each other. They respect each other’s strengths and keep is moving. That’s what it means to have a true rivalry and I feel like the show really understands that.
Yuno is a great character too of course. He fights hard to defend his friends and prove that he deserves the 4 leaf grimoire. He never backs down from a fight and he is always improving his wind abilities. Yuno wasn’t much of a team player at first but as the series goes on he gets more and more accustomed to working with others. Gone are the days where he was purely a solo act, he’s now ready to help everyone out on his road to being the Wizard King. We’ll see who makes it there first, him or Asta.
Noelle is the main heroine of the series and she is with Asta on the Black Bulls. She is a royal but has a hard time controlling her abilities which causes the other members of the family to ridicule her at all times. As a result Noelle struggles with confidence issues throughout the series but has one of the best character development arcs around. Each arc has her learn to trust in her friends as well as herself to get the job done. So while at one point she wouldn’t even shoot a single spell straight, now she can launch finishers with ease. She’s very much a tsundere so she has a hard time expressing her feelings. Usually you can find her just beating up on Asta and friends but in a pinch they know they can count on her.
Luck is another member of the Black Bulls and he’s one of those characters that really loves a good fight. He will do anything to get the fight that he has been longing for but sometimes that does mean that he will bite off more than he can chew. Considering that Luck is the kind of guy who likes to fight a lot, I wouldn’t say that he is one of the strongest members on the crew though. He does tend to get beaten out by a few of the others but he always has fun and he’s a character that you’ll probably find to be very likable. His backstory is also rather emotional so you can definitely see how things turned out the way that they did for him.
Luck’s rival is Magna who is more of a street punk kind of character. He lacks the overall talent and abilities that some of the other Black Bulls have which can end up making him feel bad but he rarely stays down for long. You feel like Magna will never actually catch up but at least he’s trying and the guy does use fire magic which I like. The problem is that there are at least 3 other characters in the same series who are better at fire magic which is not a good sign for him. Magna’s best chance to be more relevant in the future will be for him to switch attributes or go for magic techniques that are very unique from the other fire attacks.
Then we have Yami who is the captain of the Black Bulls and naturally has a very big role here. He’s a fan favorite and it’s easy to see why because he knows how to take charge of the team at any given moment and also just has a lot of pull. When he’s on the case you know that the troops are going to fall into line right away. His dark magic attacks are solid and he always makes sure to prioritize saving his comrades over following the rules. That’s the right order to do things if you ask me so that’s a very good look. He’ll always be one of the best.
Finral is another member of the Black Bulls but he is a weaker character. The guy does start to have a character arc where he won’t be flirting with all of the ladies as much and that’s good but in the meantime it’s not like his character has really been any good. He may get his moments but ultimately I wouldn’t say that I’m a fan of his. He’s just not my kind of character and the series taking that long to try and turn him into one just didn’t work out for me. Perhaps in a sequel series he will end up being really good. He’s helpful in combat at least but that still isn’t enough yet.
Vanessa is more of a support fighter on the team but she takes this to new limits as her cat of fate can allow her comrades to escape death. It’s a fate alteration technique which is incredibly helpful. It’s the kind of ability you rarely see a hero have since it can easily make it hard to write the villains into a scenario where they can win but Black Clover’s done well with this so far. She’s a fun character and while she may not stand out as much as some of the others, she gets the job done.
Gauche is a character who had some potential but his running gag sort of ruins it. He’s always talking about his sister Marie and while it’s nice that he wants to protect her, the whole thing is overplayed way too much. He’s an example of a character with a lot of comedic scenes that actually aren’t that funny. That’s not a good thing when that represents the vast majority of your character moments. He’s another character who isn’t likely to rise up all that high for me.
Finally there’s Charmy and we don’t know a whole lot about her compared to some of the other characters. She gets a lot of comedic moments as well but you can tell that she’s hiding a great power behind it all. That kind of character can work but it’s certainly a lot trickier than it would be if she was just a solid fighter all of the time. They’re always hinting at a backstory involving the elves or something similar with her but we haven’t really gotten it yet. All in all, I can’t say I’m too impressed with her.
Another character who appears early on in the pre arc is Sekke. This guy’s the Hercule/King of the series in that he’s a really big comic relief character who tends to fall upwards. Things just work out for him even though Sekke is as weak as a character can get. He does have one or two spells but just about any fighter would defeat him with ease. The only way he gets out of the situations is to be lucky. That said, I loved his character gimmick of adding a little “haha!” to the end of each of his sentences. Usually a little word at the end gets old fast but sometimes it works like in Air and now this series. So Sekke I do like in his role, he’s a better comic relief character than most.
Klaus is one of the Golden Dawn members who works with Yuno. You’ll realize early on that aside from the Black Bulls, most of the other squads don’t have a ton of characters with their own individual character designs and arcs. It’s fitting since the Bulls are the main team but at least the Dawn have a handful. Klaus is one of them and he’s not bad. At first he’s one of those classic royals who dislikes all commoners but he is quickly able to shed that opinion and that’s when I started liking him. It takes a good character to be able to get with the program that quickly and I thought he did really well. His magic may not be super helpful but it’s the thought that counts.
Then you have Mimosa who is the healer of the group. She can heal most injuries at a really rapid speed which comes in handy with how many dangerous missions the characters go on. That means she isn’t often on the front lines but when necessary she can scrounge up an attack spell or two. Mimosa is a decent enough character even if she is rather harsh to one of her brothers during the tournament. The Silva family tends to be rather crazy so she probably has a lot of justification for this but at least from what we see it feels like she is a bit too relentless there.
Of course we also have Bell who serves as Yuno’s nature spirit to further amp up his abilities. She’s not really my kind of character though. She tends to get jealous really quickly, almost instantly at every moment. So in a way she starts to get in Yuno’s way instead of helping and she reminds me of Tinker Bell a lot. If Bell could fight more on her own that would help but as it is, it never feels like she serves much of a role in the story.
I can’t forget about Sister Lily either. She is crucial to helping with Asta’s character development as one of his goals is to get together with her. The issue though is that she can never be with a man because of her job so this always leads Asta to be rather depressed. Lily doesn’t get to do a whole lot beyond her initial appearance but she’s a fun character and at least she does have a water spell as a last resort.
Now lets dive into the first story arc here which is the mission into the Diamond Kingdom dungeon. We get to see how the Black Bulls deal with a foreign squad here as both Yuno and Asta’s group fight off the invaders. This was a good way to show us how one of these battles would go and I thought the whole thing went rather smoothly. We had a big team up with Asta and Yuno as well as a future rival of sorts in Mars. Now, I do think Mars could have been used a lot more in the series. He ends up vanishing for pretty much the rest of it but he was a good antagonist.
Mars even gets his own backstory and everything. It should at least come across as pretty sad the whole time. His abilities also made him a true threat. There was another villain in this arc by the name of Lotus and I thought he was surprisingly really solid. The guy has a very laidback kind of vibe to him but it’s one that worked well. Lotus can absolutely fight as need be and was even overwhelming Luck the whole time in their battle. He doesn’t get to do much after this but he’s a villain who leaves a lasting impression on you.
After this we get to have Asta and friends invited to the capital to get their awards and recognition from the Wizard King. Pretty much all of the captains are here so they also get to really meet them. It turns out that a lot of these guys are just as bad as the random royals with how they all insult Noelle. It does have one of my favorite scenes in the series though when Asta steps in to defend her and even goes up against several fighters at once. It was one of many moments that propelled him to being so high tier for me. This then transitions into a mini invasion arc as Rades sends a bunch of undeads out to take down Asta and friends. The actual arc isn’t as exciting as the smaller event but it’s a good chance to see Asta taking more names.
Rades will end up being a reoccurring villain later on. He’s not the most threatening villain I’ve seen and he’s borderline comic relief at times but he works well enough. I don’t think you’ll remember him as being much more than an afterthought most of the time though. For the heroes, well we’re introduced to quite a few bad ones like Noelle’s siblings. Those two characters are just extremely petty and don’t have the strength to back it up so they’re just awful.
We meet Nozel who is the leader of the 2nd strongest guild but he’s one of the guys who really encourages everyone to be mean to Noelle so there’s no way to like him. You’d think that he would be more considerate of her since they’re siblings but if anything he ends up going after her even harder than the others. That’s not the kind of thing I can easily overlook. So he is strong and I can’t deny that but I just never liked him. Later on the series tries to walk it back a bit but it’s just way too late.
On the other hand, Fuegoleon gets to look really solid to start things off. He actually has a good honor code and even gives Noelle a good pep talk. This is a man of honor who also has great power and I was glad that he was able to stand on his own like that without having to step on someone. Unfortunately he gets written out of most of the series with something that happens to him later on so that was unfortunate.
Another one of the captains is Vangeance who gets a really big role here. He has tree magic but that’s never been one of the more impressive kind of spells to me. Give me fire or water any day. Trees just don’t feel as versatile. Either way I don’t like this guy though. He’s not decisive in his actions and ends up causing more trouble for everyone. He may be a part of the strongest guild but he certainly doesn’t feel like the strongest captain. You get the feeling that a whole lot of the others could mop him up if they wanted too.
Now the wizard king Julius actually lives up to his hype. That guy looks fantastic in all of his appearances. There were a lot of jokes about him basically being Naruto and they worked because this is how you imagine Naruto would be when he makes it to the top. Julius has created a world of peace and he’s so powerful that almost nobody dares to challenge him. His fight in the series is really intense and the kingdom can really feel safe with him at the top. I definitely liked the guy quite a lot.
While not a captain, Asta obtained a new rival in this arc in Leopold. I use the term a bit loosely because it feels like Leo never really got to do a whole lot. It’s like he’s set up to be a major player at some point but it never quite happened. I still think he has a lot of potential but he hasn’t really kept up with the power creep which hurts him a lot. If he is going to have a big moment it is going to need to happen soon or it’s all going to be over for him. Well, I guess he will still be likable even if he’s not one of the strongest but I would like to see more out of him. I have high expectations here.
After that there is an arc involving Gauche trying to save his sister. The arc is fairly low key and I don’t need to go into it much here but the big thing is that this directly leads into the leader of the midnight sun, Licht showing up. We then get a big fight with the heroes going up against him which then escalates further as the other members of the group appear and a few captains show up. The battles here were really high tier and Yami vs Licht is still brought up a lot to this day. This was when the series first started showing signs of the grander plan that would take us to the big Elf arc. There’s a lot of great setup here and one of the impressive bits may even be the fact that it was thrown into a story arc that felt like it was going to be very minor all the way through.
Licht appears in a very impressive way here. Not only can he attack at the speed of light which is crazy in itself but he also appears to care about his comrades. I always thought that was a solid trait for a villain since it makes them feel like more of a fleshed out character instead of some random villain wanting to destroy the world. His moveset is solid and he gets a lot of great fights here. I definitely don’t believe you will be disappointed at all when this fight is all over and done with and in the character either. He opens and finishes strong.
Vetto is then the most impressive member of the Midnight Sun. His big role is in the arc after this one as he gets to go up against pretty much the entire Black Bulls team on his own. The guy fights wave after wave of enemies and just keeps on going. It’s absolutely crazy how much stamina the guy has and while he does tend to ramble on and on about despair, the guy can back up the crazy talk. I ended up liking him quite a bit and he is really the reason why the underwater temple arc was so good.
Rhya is also a solid villain. He’s more the cold and calculating type but that doesn’t mean he can’t fight. He still ends up being very helpful to the villains with how his copy ability works. There aren’t too many fighters who can stand up to him and he was also the first to realize that something was up with the devil even if it was just too late by that point. In a way he doesn’t get to cut loose as much as the other two members but he also doesn’t go crazy.
Fana is like Vetto in how much she dislikes the humans. She tends to yell a lot about the whole thing and just goes in guns blazing. She certainly isn’t conflicted about the whole situation. Fana has some solid fights here and makes for a solid all around villain. Definitely not someone that you want to mess with. From the hero side, we get to see Charlotte in action here. She’s another captain with grass type powers only hers are vines instead of trees. She’s much better than Vangeance and while her crush on Yami can mean that she is often flustered, she doesn’t let this show when she goes up against the big villains. To them she is just another really powerful captain that they have to watch out for. Charlotte commands a lot of respect in a battle and I’d say that she’s solid enough.
Then there is Jack and I do like the guy but my one issue is that I don’t feel like he’s as strong as you’re meant to believe. see, he’s Yami’s rival but it feels like the gap in power between them is absolutely massive. If they are as evenly matched as the show would have you believe, then Jack should look way better during his solo moments. He is usually portrayed as either being all talk or on Yami’s level and the two versions of him are completely mutually exclusive. You can’t be both at once no matter how much this show may try to trick you otherwise.
Now we get to the underwater temple arc which is one of the highlights of the series. The heroes are finally making a move to try and get a step ahead of the Midnight Sun, but naturally those guys were ready for this. So we get to have a bunch of big fights against Vetto. This time the heroes are not leaving without taking him down for good and it’s a very tense fight all the way through. The animation is really excellent and it’s just a super memorable experience. For a lot of people this was the turning point and while the series was already amazing for me prior to this, it certainly kept on raising the bar.
We got to meet the singer Kahano who quickly hit it off with Noelle. Kahano was a very nice character along with Kiato as the two of them did their best to help out. Unfortunately the burden of trying to help out the main characters while not being a part of them is that you tend to get absolutely crushed into the dust. These two really did their best but ultimately they weren’t ready. I liked them well enough and they actually remained relevant to a much larger extent than I expected.
Also, I didn’t talk about her much before but Grey is another member of the Black Bulls and she’s around the whole time too. Her ability is seemingly to shapeshift which isn’t too handy though. As of now you could say that her role is still very minimal so she hasn’t done a whole lot yet. Grey can be way too timid for me though which keeps her from being one of the top characters. Gordon is another Black Bull member and his gimmick is that he talks so silently that nobody can hear what he is saying. It definitely gets old rather quickly. His powers are all poison based which is handy at least but that’s still not quite enough to turn him into a good character. For now he’s just too gimmicky but I’d like to see him develop into a really solid character down the line.
Then we have a small filler arc or at least it felt like filler to me where Asta helps his (novel exclusive) mentor find Dominate after she has vanished. The heroes have to deal with the traitor Mariella and figure out what’s going on. I’d say the main issue with this one is that the villains feel way too weak so the heroes should be absolutely stomping them the whole time. Instead Fanzell just doesn’t feel very impressive at all. You get the vibe that Asta surpassed him a very long time ago. It was a decent little story saga but nothing to write home about.
Same for the characters. Fanzell is okay but he’s not making my top 20 list any time soon. Dominate doesn’t appear long enough to leave much of an impression either and of course Mariella didn’t really make the best calls. All in all I would be fine if they never appear again. It’s not like they were super bad or anything but they just don’t add anything to the dynamic so you could just give their scenes to someone else.
Now the next big arc is the Witch queen one. The heroes needs to find a way to heal Asta’s arms after the events of the temple saga and this is the best place to do it. The Witch Queen is supposed to have abilities far beyond that of anyone else when it comes to reversing curses and such. Naturally she isn’t super nice though so that won’t be easy. Additionally, the diamond kingdom and midnight sun are attacking again so the heroes have to deal with that too. It’ll be a busy time for them but they’re ready for this.
The Witch Queen herself is about as shady and nefarious as you would expect. She would absolutely murder all the heroes at the drop of a hat if she got her way. I do think she’s a bit shortsighted in this since the villains would then be able to take her out really quick though. She’s confident in her defenses but shouldn’t be because they just wouldn’t hold up. So I wouldn’t really say I’m a big fan of hers at the moment. She could turn out to be good down the road but for now I’m not impressed.
Likewise, the big villain here is Ladros and there’s just not much to him. He’s super strong so he’s absolutely a threat in combat but that doesn’t translate to him being a great villain. He can absolutely decimate his opponents in combat but there’s more to being a villain than that. He doesn’t have much personality or any super likable traits so that’s game over for him.
Mereoleona gets to appear after the climax as she gets ready to train the heroes and go with them to the elf invasion. Now here’s a top tier character who has a lot of great moments throughout. Whenever she is on screen you know that the heroes are finally going to learn a lot and will be able to push their skills to the next level. She loves fighting even more than Luck and has the skills to back it up so that’s good enough for me. Any scene with her is always fun.
After that we get to the big tournament and I’d been waiting for this. After all, tournaments are always super hype. All of the big characters are in this including some that we hadn’t gotten to see much of before now. It’s mostly a friendly tournament but Langris starts to go a bit crazy here so you can expect him to make some noise. It leads into one of the most intense scenes in the series though when the Black Bulls come close to ending him. They certainly weren’t about to let anything happen and I love to see teamwork like that. You gotta look out for each other in a moment like this.
Suffice it to say, Langris never really went very high for me. Sure, mind control played a part in some of the scenes, but not all of them and that’s an important distinction to make. By and large he is still responsible for what he was doing the whole time. He just had a bad attitude, there’s no two ways about it. The guy has a tremendous amount of power too so you would think that he would be more content with what he’s got instead of always looking around. That’s definitely a lesson that he needs to learn sooner than later.
Zora is a new member to the Black Bulls and right away he becomes one of the best members. I like how this guy openly takes on the royals and doesn’t put up with any of their nonsense. To an extent he acts like a vigilante at first and never really loses his edge but by the end he’s also a team player. His trap style of magic is also very effective although I feel like by its own nature it will never make him quite as powerful as some of the other fighters. It just inherently has some limits to it but he’s shown that he can work with those so far.
Sol is Charlotte’s right hand woman and she’s a decent enough character. I like that she’s always got a fiery spirit. Unfortunately she never gets to fight all that much but I see her having some potential as a strong side character. Sol is someone who could probably shine if the series ever got a true spinoff manga. Then you have Kirsch who is Mimosa’s brother. He’s the one where I feel like she’s too harsh at times. The guy is rather vain but compared to the rest of the nobles he is a decently nice guy. His abilities are also handy especially in a team format. He’s not really my kind of character but the guy does well enough.
In the tournament Rill gets to enter and I always thought that was a bit odd since he is a captain. Well, I suppose he’s one of the younger ones but even so I would have expected him to not have been allowed. His fight against Yuno is one of the highlights of the arc and it was great to see one of the main characters finally going up against a captain. To me this cemented what I had known for a very long time which is that Yuno and Asta were already captain level. Rill’s abilities are cool but his overall personality isn’t really my thing. He tends to space out and not be as focused as he should be.
Finally you have Alecdora who was trying to be a rival to Yuno for a long while. Unfortunately for him, his abilities aren’t nearly at a level that would cause Yuno to sweat at all. Seriously, this guy just doesn’t stand any kind of chance against him. Alecdora’s also rather stuck up so it takes a while for him to acknowledge Yuno’s overall abilities. Once he does then he becomes a much better character.
This leads us to the Elf arc which is widely known as the best saga in the series. I would absolutely agree with this too. Part of what makes the arc work so well is because it was being built up since near the beginning of the series. It’s also a very long arc much like Hueco Mundo where every character gets their own fight. Even the supporting characters finally get some action and there are a lot of villains to go around. The arc also has two parts to it as you have the initial invasion where the heroes try to take the Elves out and then the counterstrike where a bunch of people end up getting mind controlled.
There are so many iconic moments in this like Yuno using his strength of will to overcome the brainwashing or actually seeing the previous wizard king get to fight. There were just so many amazing scenes here and of course the battles were all top notch. The amount of replay value here is also incredibly high. You just don’t want to peel yourself away from the episodes and can probably blast through the entire thing in an instant. That’s when you know that you’ve got a really elite show by your side.
One villain in this arc is Sally who technically has been appearing here and there but this seemed like a good time to bring her up. She’s not really my kind of villain though as she’s one of those crazy scientists who runs a ton of twisted experiments but it feels like the heroes let it slide to an extent. At this point she is practically here as an anti-hero but she should be getting big jail time right away. She’s not someone you could ever hope to trust.
Then we have another Black Bull named Henry and his gimmick is that he talks really slowly. Unfortunately that destroyed the character for me. Gimmicks like that where you talk too slowly or too quietly just hurt because then it takes forever for the character to make any points. So any scene with Henry was more on the painful side than being emotional which is really not a good idea. His ability to absorb mana is cool at least.
Next up is Dorothy who is one of the captains but unfortunately for her fans she doesn’t get to do a whole lot. Her dream powers are incredibly powerful but she always happens to fight opponents who can hard counter it. Put it this way, she should be able to beat over 80% of the cast easily but she always goes up against the final 20%. She’s a fun character though who is always relaxing because deep down she knows how strong she is. Dorothy is quirky but not in an annoying way so there’s a lot to enjoy about her.
Secre is another Black Bull and you can tell how the series keeps adding new members as it goes along. Technically she was around since the start of the series as a bird but only gets to use her human form later on. Secre is another solid character who keeps all of the others on their toes with her quick wit. Her ability to unseal things is a very specific power but one that certainly has her uses. I enjoy what she brings to the table in terms of the character dynamics.
Of course a big character in this arc is Zagred as the first devil to fight the heroes. The show goes all out with this guy as he pretty much takes on the entire cast at once. If the show was trying to prove why this guy is an absolutely huge threat then it completely succeeded. He definitely strikes fear into his opponents and it’s all well deserved. Anything he says comes true which is a really scary power to go up against. Also as a Devil he just wants to cause chaos and misfortune to everyone around him. Not exactly the kind of villain you can reason with.
Finally there is Lumiere and I liked him a lot. He’s not quite as cool as the current Wizard King but you can see how this guy once had the rank and did a lot of good with it. His abilities have a lot of versatility to them and his raw power is exceptional. Put him up against almost any other character in the series and it would be an easy win for him. I also liked his bond with Secre, they were definitely good friends.
Finally we head to the final saga in the series. First there is a bit of a court drama as the people want Asta executed for being a devil host but the Black Bulls put a stop to that really quick. I was glad that they did not entertain this notion at all and just broke in. It was another great scene to show how much unity the Black Bulls have and how they will do whatever it takes to protect each other. Of course the real final saga comes after this and we even get a time skip.
The characters now have new designs although the one that stands out the most is certainly Asta. The devils are finally making their move as the Spade Kingdom sends the Dark Triad to capture 3 fighters while also invading the Heart Kingdom. Asta and friends have to go to each of the spots to defend their allies but these villains are far more powerful than any that they have encountered before. The Elf arc previously showed how powerful one devil was so you can imagine how taking on 3 would be an incredibly difficult task. The only thing that helps the heroes a bit is that the devils are using human hosts and can’t fully manifest the way that the last one did. If they could do that then the heroes would absolutely have no shot at taking the win. It would just be completely impossible at that point.
While not quite as long or ambitious as the Elf Arc, this one certainly comes close. Once we get a sequel anime to adapt the rest of the arc it’ll get even closer as it still is a super long arc with a lot of great fights. I also always enjoy a good timeskip and getting to see how all of the heroes have grown stronger with their techniques. The new opening theme song for this saga was also excellent to the point where I put this as the best intro in the series.
Damnatio is the judge who wanted Asta executed and he certainly gets a solid role here. I liked the guy, he may not be a big fighter or some kind of super villain but his abilities are cool. I don’t think he would have lasted long against the Black Bulls in an even fight but this guy is not meant for the front lines anyway. He’s a good way to represent what the general public of the Clover Kingdom think and how they are always very ungrateful. So he’s a fun antagonist here.
We also meet the leader of the Heart Kingdom in Loropechika, but I definitely can’t say that I was really a fan of hers. She cries way too much and being a klutz is part of her whole character personality. That’s never too endearing for me, I wish she would be able to get serious a lot quicker. If you commander can’t really fight, what does that do for morale? Maybe she’ll look better right now but so far she’s one of the weakest characters for sure.
She has a group of warriors who fight below her but the only one with actual development is Gaja. The others are around but you can’t take them too seriously and feel like they are going to get absolutely dominated the whole time. At least Gaja can actually fight the whole time and his abilities are the real deal. He gets to train the heroes and he is very devoted to protecting the queen. So I’d give that guy a thumbs up even while the rest of the group did not seem very impressive.
Then we get to the Dark Triad and they are all powerful fighters. That said, Dante is not really my kind of character. For starters, the guy is one of those villains who is obsessed with women and distracts him from the actual fight at hand. He’s also one of those proud villains who feels like he shouldn’t have to fight commoners and all that. He’s the kind of villain you’ve seen a million times before but who doesn’t really leave an impact. As a villain to be fought he lives up to the hype and looks great but as a character he wasn’t my kind of villain.
The second member Vanica was a lot more interesting. She is on the insane side at times which isn’t always my thing but at least she loves a good fight and is all about the action. Vanica likes to insult her opponents while fighting them as well but isn’t getting distracted from her core purpose. Now she’s a villain who you don’t want to mess with at all and she has personal ties to Noelle and the queen which adds a personal dynamic to the whole mix.
Finally there is Zenon who is easily the best member of the trio. This guy is very serious and down to business as he attacks Yuno and the squad. His bone magic is cool to watch and the guy just feels unbeatable. It’s clear from the jump that he is the strongest member of the triad by far. He doesn’t show any moments of weakness or even come close to appearing to be on the losing side. He dominates his fights from start to finish and that’s the kind of villain you want to see the heroes go up against.
Then as we end the series and get the setup for the next arc, two more characters show up. First is Liebe who is the devil that has been residing inside of Asta. We’ve been waiting for this guy to show up for so long that it was surreal to finally see him appear. Of course as luck would have it, he’s considerably weaker than all of the other devils who have appeared. So don’t expect him to be showing up to take names immediately but he does have a lot of character development. We even get to see his backstory which was very emotional. I’m excited to have him become a main character now since his dynamic with Asta is really going to be intense. Their battle was also a fitting way to end the series because of how emotional it was and all of the callbacks that got to be included.
Finally there is Nacht, the final Black Bull. He’s not as happy go lucky as the rest and even tends to insult Yami which is something that Asta and the others don’t like. He has several devils at his disposal though and is currently a very mysterious character. We don’t know a lot about him yet but I can say that he is starting the series off strong. I would say the mystique works really well here and you definitely want to see what he can do in a fight.
Overall, Well there’s always more to say about a series like this but I’d say that’s good for now. Naturally there are more characters and events out there but you should watch the series yourself to see all the extra details. Black Clover is a super all around show and I definitely recommend checking it out when you have the time. It is over 150 episodes long so you will need a lot of time but the episodes really blend together with how quick the pacing is. Hopefully they hurry up with the movie and the sequel show because it feels like we’ve been waiting for a long while. The post time skip events were just getting started after all so we need to see how it all ends. It’ll be tough for another title to top this one but we’ll see how it goes.
Noelle and Vivi both have powers that look very similar. The actual abilities work in fundamentally different ways but they have the same effects which is really what is the focus here. It’s interesting to see these characters as parallels since even their personalities are similar. Noelle had much more time to gain power ups and experience though to the point where they are really in different leagues. Noelle should be able to easily out speed Vivi at this point. Noelle wins.
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.
Suggested by Sonic It’s time for a battle of fire and water. Well, Bakugo’s ability is technically not fire if you want to get really specific but it’s close enough with the whole explosions angle. The main reason why he will fall in this battle is due to Noelle’s incredible speed. Bakugo is versatile in the air as well but not to the same degree and is lacking in overall firepower. He would need some more super forms to pull out a win here. Noelle wins.
It’s time to rank all of the Black Clover openings. I recently made it up to the final ending from the Toonami broadcasts and it was quite excellent. It made me think, could this be the best opening? From there I figured if I was going to check out the rest of them anyway that I might as well make a quick editorial/rankings out of it. Typically it can be very tough for an ongoing show to keep churning out consistently great openings. You’re bound to hit a snag at some point or some shows just start keeping the same song for a while but Clover was always good about changing it a lot. Some of these openings I totally forgot about while others are as clear as they’ve ever been.
The only franchises that I would say have been able to maintain a similar level of quality for so long would be the Railleratordex franchise (Railgun, Index, and Accelerator) and Sword Art Online but they would be firmly fighting for second place. Black Clover has 1st in the bag. So without further adieu, lets take a look at the 13 openings from worst to best. I’m ranking them based both on the music as well as the animation contained in them. For any openings that may have more than one version, I’m using version 1 as a reference. Click here for a link to all of the openings in case you want to check them out for yourselves
13. Opening 11
So my least favorite opening is 11. It’s certainly more of a happy opening compared to the others as an arc just finished so the characters are finally getting to relax a bit. The main reason why it loses to the others is that there isn’t a whole lot going on. It’s calm which is nice and all but I would have still liked to have seen some more quality animation here. It just felt more like an opening that was thrown together without any style to it.
12. Opening 12
Next up is 12 so I suppose you can say the ending started to weaken for the series. Following up on 11, we’re still in an era of peace so the opening is more about the characters working out and just having fun. I’ve never been a big fan of that as the action for the openings. Give me some extra fights or something. I do like that part of the music has a very Kingdom Hearts feeling that appears now and again. It’s not quite enough to put this one higher though.
11. Opening 7
I really liked the opening animation here showing the contrast with Asta and Yuno. Both of them have come a long way by this point and still see each other as rivals in the center ring. It’s a great start but the opening starts to lose steam as we get a lot of stills after that. On the flip side, the music really turns up in the second half so this one just didn’t find the right balance to go higher.
10. Opening 5
This opening’s going for full sad vibes. The characters are all dealing with a lot at this point and the music reflects that. It all pairs up well and that helps this opening join the top 10. It’s still not quite energized enough to go higher up but it does serve as a nice change of pace from some of the other openings.
9. Opening 9
Cool that the 9th opening is in 9th place right? This one feels a lot different from the others with how much of a focus the elves get. This almost feels like a story opening as it takes place with Asta and Yuno beginning their counter attack after showing the Elves off. It’s a pretty high quality opening and my favorite part is definitely near the end with the fire fights for the Fuego siblings and Noelle. It was a very strong opening to be sure.
8. Opening 8
This opening really shows how differently the past was for Asta and Yuno compared to the Elves. They didn’t have a care in the world while things were not going quite so well on the rest of the planet. The climax has some big fights as well. What gives it the edge over 9 really comes down to the song. The images are fairly close but this one did have the Asta and Yuno fight and the music just had more energy.
7. Opening 3
It’s really great seeing all of the Black Bulls hanging out and then fighting together. The song itself is also one of the strongest ones from all 13. While the images may not have quite as much weight as some of the ones coming up, this was a good example of how to do a more laidback opening for several sections while still keeping up the tempo and a lot of energy.
6. Opening 6
They went all out with the animation here as we see the various tournament battles. The music works perfectly here and it’s why this opening is so high. It’s got really strong fundamentals with the opening tunes and starts out incredibly strong. The art style effects at the beginning are also pretty unique. Not something you want to see long term but it works for short bursts.
5. Opening 4
This may have the best intro animation to an opening aside from 13. The first shots look amazing and the music has a solid intro. Sadly it seems like they spent the animation budget on the opening so the majority of this one is all stills. It’s why despite having such an amazing song, I have to bump it down a few slots. It’s an opening that’s more fun to listen too than to watch.
4. Opening 1
This one’s an excellent mix of happy and sad moments. You get a nice sense of adventure here but with things not going very well for the heroes on multiple fronts. It’s a very classic opening though and one I’ve heard many times. The song is very strong and I like the dynamic with Asta and Yuno in the opening moments. Age has not held this one back at all.
3. Opening 10
As I mentioned I’m looking at the first version of the opening for ones that have multiple. Version 2 of opening 10 actually looks very happy which shows what a quick background change can do. The original version is incredibly sad and somber though. The opening did a great job of showing how tough things were getting on the heroes. The music follows along with slow beats before speeding up. It works exceptionally well and is definitely one of the best openings.
2. Opening 2
This was the first opening to really go all in with the action scenes. It had a lot more intensity than the first opening. It loses the more somber elements for the most part and focuses on the heroes claiming victory and decimating their opponents. I was really close to putting this one in the number 1 spot but ultimately it has a slower intro than the 1st place intro which never misses a beat.
1. Opening 13
What can I say, the series ended on an absolute high note with this opening. The beginning is a perfect homage to the first one. It’s cool to see how far Asta has come over the years. The music has a very consistent beat and the animation has never looked better. The shots with the Dark Triad are great and the animation even seems to have a bit of a different style with Zenon vs Yuno that worked very well. Yeah this opening could not be defeated and I’ve already heard it dozens of times at this point.
So those are the rankings for Black Clover. Once we get a sequel anime it’ll be fun to hear how those openings turn out. There are several videos that merge all of the openings on Youtube so just put that on loop for a while and you’re set. I probably won’t be doing another opening list for a while but I’ve definitely got a bunch of completely different editorial ideas I’ll throw around here and there. So I’ll see you on the next one!
Suggested by iKnowledge Rosa is a powerful Final Fantasy heroine who knows virtually all kinds of magic. She can hit you with holy spells, elemental moves, etc. Whatever you can think of, she likely has it in her arsenal. It’s part of what makes her such a dangerous fighter. That said, she isn’t nearly as fast as Noelle. Noelle has fine tuned her water magic to the point where she can use it to amp up her speed as well as launch devastating blows. Rosa won’t be able to get out of the way in time. Noelle wins.
Noelle’s Sea Dragon Roar won’t really do anything here because Bass has a cloak which makes him totally immune to projectiles. Getting around that just won’t be possible. Noelle also has her physical options like her spears through her armor, but Bass is too fast to get hit by that. This is just a matchup where victory is impossible because Bass is just too strong and too fast to be stopped. When you’re up against an invincible foe like this all you can try to do is put up a good fight. Bass wins.
Lance is known as the dragon master and does have a lot of solid skills at his disposal. I don’t believe it would really be enough to do anything against Noelle though. The numbers would give her some trouble and the match really isn’t that one sided. Noelle mainly wins this because her dodging skills are so exceptional and her raw power ensures that Lance’s Pokemon will be taking massive damage with each hit. There’s just not a lot that they can do to stop her. Lance would need at least one more powerful Pokemon to try. Noelle wins.
Julian has a cool robot and is used to fighting at high speeds so that will at least give him a chance here. Still, it won’t be much of one because Noelle still has the massive advantage here. Her Valkyrie armor enables her to fight at an even higher speed while giving her a lot of evasive options. Julian won’t be able to land any hits here and I have my doubts on if his armor could survive a Sea Dragon’s Roar. Most likely that hit will knock him out of the fight and his robot would be torn to shreds. Noelle wins.