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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Black Cat
Black Cat
FUNimation // Unrated // March 18, 2008
List Price: $69.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted April 16, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
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The Series:

Funimation originally released Black Cat on six individual volumes from December 2006 through July of 2007.  Now, about 9 months later, they've collected the series in a nice boxed set that can be had for significantly less than the original releases.  Just what I was waiting for.  This show, based on a manga that was printed in Shonen Jump (the Japanese version) has all the trappings you would expect from a 'Jump' title; lots of action, unique and creative powers, and just a touch of comedy.  While at first glance the show appears to be a run-of-the-mill good guy loner vs. an evil empire, the program is actually better than that and has some interesting surprises up its sleeve.

The Chronos Corporation is the underground power behind governments and industries.  They are the single most powerful organization in the world.  To protect themselves, and to further their interests, Chronos has an elite team of assassins known as "The Numbers."  No assassin was more feared than or as deadly as Number 13, Train Heartnet, also known as The Black Cat.

Between missions Train encounters a cheerful young girl, Saya Minatsuki.  Saya is a sweeper, basically a bounty hunter, but she has a strict rule on never killing a target.  Her upbeat out look and infectious good nature led Train to question his job and his duty to Chronos.  Eventually he decides to leave the group and be a stray cat, like his name implies, wandering around as best suits him.  Needless to say, Chronos doesn't like their elite assassins just leaving.

Train ends up teaming up with a couple of other sweepers, Sven Vollfied, a goofy sort of guy who's always short on money, and Eve, an escaped living weapon.  Filled with nano-bots Eve can make her body into anything she desires.  The people that created her are out looking for her and won't stop until they have her back.

While that's enough of a plot for most anime, there's an extra layer of trouble on to of all that.  Another ex-Chronos assassin, Creed Diskenth, has created a team of super-powered beings.  This group, The Apostles of the Stars, is dedicated to destroying Chronos, and thereby sending the world into chaos so they can remake it in their image.  Creed is infatuated with Train, and desperately wants him to join the Apostles.  In a battle between his hated ex-employers and someone who wants anarchy, where will The Black Cat stand?

There's a lot about this anime that's typical:  the uber-powerful fighter traveling the world doing good deeds, the rather odd powers of the heroes and villains, and the message that friends are the most important thing.  Inside that framework however the creators manage to do a lot.   The battles are fun and exciting and the comedy works well, but the main thing is the constantly twisting plot.  There are a lot of unexpected events that take place, some of them pretty shocking.  Just when you think that you know where the show is going it takes an unexpected turn and heads off in a new direction.  That makes for an enjoyable show.  It always keeps the viewer guessing, and that's a good thing.

Having said that, the program does loose sight of the main story at times.  There were a few places in the show where I thought they were using too many filler episodes and that the plot wasn't going anywhere.  If you watch the whole series, things end up tying themselves together quite nicely.

The DVD:


This six disc set comes in a fold-out book with two overlapping DVDs on each page.  The whole thing is housed in a very attractive slipcase that features images of all the main characters on a foil background.  There is also a nice 24-page booklet that features character profiles and drawings.

Audio:

Like many anime releases these days Black Cat comes with the original Japanese audio track, in stereo, as well as a pair of English dubs, in stereo and 5.1.  I hate having to decide between a 5.1 track and the original language, and so I watched a few episodes with both.  Eventually I settled on the Japanese track, but the dub was well done too.  The surround effect on the 5.1 track really came to life during the fight scenes.  The room really came alive with sound when Train did his thing.  The rest of the time that track wasn't overly impressive, with some incidental music being thrown to the rears but not much else.  All of the various audio options had good, clear sound and were free from defects.

Video:

The show comes with a nice 1.78:1 anamorphic image.  Being a recent show the picture looks really good with tight lines, even colors and solid blacks.  There was a bit of posterization in some scenes, most notably the sky, and some minor aliasing in the background.  Aside from that the show looked fine.

Extras:

This is the disappointing part:  the only extras are clean opening and closings.  I was hoping for a little more, but this seems to be all that was included on the stand alone volumes too.

Final Thoughts:

This was a fun Shonen Jump-type of show.  With lots of action and a wide variety of interesting characters, there are few dull moments in the series.  While at times it looked like the plot wasn't going anywhere, some unexpected twists kept the show lively.  This is a good solid anime series that's worth checking out.  Recommended.
 

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