If you haven't checked out Black Cat yet then you're missing out on one of FUNimation's best and newest series. Granted it's not a sweeping drama or grand expose about a complex world so if you're looking for a deep show this isn't for you. However, come expecting to have a good time with some fun characters and a vibrant world and you won't be disappointed.
The show takes place in a town renowned for being over run with criminals, gangs, and all manner of bad people. This is a world filled with bounty hunters known as "sweepers" and people that are out to make a name, buck, and living for themselves. Train Heartnet is the titular character because his nickname is the Black Cat. He's an assassin of sorts for an organization known as Chronos and wherever he and his number 13 tattoo go trouble and death is sure to follow.
At least he used to be an assassin for the organization. After the introduction to the show Train turned to the good side and broke free from Chronos' powerful grip. Helping him live his life as a sweeper are Sven the one-eyed bounty hunter, Rinslet a thief, and Eve a nano-technological breakthrough with the ability to transform her body into weapons. Unfortunately Chronos isn't about to let Train go freely and an old ally named Creed steps forward with aspirations of his own. Several other such warriors have joined his cause to become revolutionary Apostles and through it all Train and company find themselves walking on eggshells.
This volume picks up where the previous one left off with the aftermath of an Apostles fight with Train. This gives us a good look at the structure of the group and a glimpse into Creed's mindset as far as what his ultimate goal is. Disgusted with the behavior of the Apostles two of their members leave. Kyoko is the young girl with a crush on Train who has the ability to summon fire and Charden is a mysterious man who can summon blood ghouls to fight in his stead.
Kyoko tracks down her idol and bakes him a cake to express her feelings for him but Train doesn't really want any part of it. In the meantime the Apostles are cooking something up and one of the villains crafts an interesting nanotech bullet that alters a body's gene sequence. Naturally Train finds himself on the receiving end of the bullet and suffers some interesting side effects. This carries over into the next episode where he and Eve help defend a group of orphans from some gang members.
The best part about the second episode on the disc was the fact that we get a ton of glimpses into Train's past. We see him when he was younger and training to be a Chronos assassin and learn more about his parent's deaths. It helps to deepen his already interesting personality and shows that Black Cat can be striking and emotional when it wants to be. More stuff with his past surfaces in the third episode as Chronos' Number One comes after him. The final episode takes everything back to Creed's ambition and puts Sven in an interesting pickle.
Overall this was yet another strong volume for Black Cat and it's proving itself with every episode just how good of a series it is. Sure the content is episodic and Train is basically the only "really fleshed out" character in the show at this point but it's so fun to watch. The writing is dynamic, the characters are interesting, and the supernatural Tao/nanotech fights are quite the guilty pleasure. I can't stress enough that if you're looking for a straightforward show that pops in every way, you have to check this one out!
Black Cat is presented with a 16:9 anamorphic widescreen transfer which isn't too surprising considering that the show finished production within the past year. The image is pretty clear with a vibrant palette and that great sense of style and fluid animation we have become accustomed to from Gonzo. Like previous volumes there were many moments where compression and grain could be found in each episode. They don't make the show look bad by any stretch of the imagination but they are a flaw that can't be completely ignored.
As is the case with most all anime these days Black Cat gets an English 5.1 presentation along side of pair of stereo tracks for English and Japanese. Like the first volume this one features very strong audio quality in each of the selections. The 5.1 track offered quite a lot of depth during action sequences and the sense of immersion was pretty good. At other points the use of rear channels was minimal with some dialogue and music being improved only slightly. It's still more diversification than you'll get out of the 2.0 stereo track though.
All you're going to find on this disc for bonus features are textless animation and some trailers for other FUNimation products.
It has been a while since I have watched a show like Black Cat. Its straightforward concept and flippant personality make it something of a guilty pleasure. It's a show where you can shut your brain off and just be entertained and if you're looking for something like that then this is one to check out. Everything about the show is fun and nothing becomes preachy or silly to the extent that it will alienate you. FUNimation deserves a pat on the back for picking up this series.
Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!