Critic's Log - Earthdate: July 21, 2012. Review #13: Black Cat
The reason I do these intros to my reviews is because I felt like putting intros in my reviews. I like Anime because I enjoy animation. I also like to critique these animes because almost every anime has it's strengths and weaknesses. I am an unofficial critic and my reviews are strictly opinion. I also review these animes like a proper gentleman and not some stark, raving fanboy. I am not picky when it comes to reviewing anime. Anyway, enough with the intro and let's dash right in to... BLACK CAT
Train Heartnet is a member of the secret society known as Chronos and he is known as the Black Cat because of his quick reactions to attacks and his title is Number Thirteen and has a tattoo with the roman numeral of the number 13. He is an unstoppable master gunman, a cold and unfeeling killer until he meets a young woman named Saya who happens to be a bounty hunter or "Sweeper". She teaches him the value of human life and how to live in order to repent for one's mistakes rather than die because of them. Through her, Train learns to love and care for other people as he later becomes a Sweeper and travels with some companions.
To be technical, this is a Studio Gonzo production and... I am not going to bash the living hell out of Gonzo on this show because to be honest, Black Cat is not one of the bad eggs that Gonzo has made. I have heard that Gonzo has some bad shows before and since and I know that there are some okay animes they made as well and this is one of them. The animation isn't at all terrible but I can say is that it could have looked better at some places but I got to commend Studio Gonzo on a couple of notes.
1. They actually put effort into making the show entertaining and they really put in some cool visual styles, some use of these visual styles are slightly hit and miss, but it has some nice trick animation from time to time.
2. They also used little 3D computer animation on this anime which Gonzo is infamously known for.
As much as the entertainment value Black Cat has. There are other issues Black Cat has that do need to be addressed. One of them is the number of characters that you'll see in this show, there are about 6 to 7 litters of characters shown in Black Cat. You got Train, Sven, Rinslet, and Eve being the main cast, you got the Chronos numbers, then there's the Apostles of the Star, Townspeople, so on and so on. There are a lot of characters. This show has way too many characters. This is somewhat part of the entertainment value for Black Cat, but the problem with this number of characters is that some of them aren't developed that well. But what about the main cast? Well, Sven is a delight to watch! He acts suave because he likes to act like a gentleman. Sven is also great comic relief for Black Cat. Rinslet Walker is alright to begin with and pretty much stays that way till the end. Eve is an interesting character, but the one character that seems to get some criticism is the main lead Train Heartnet. At first, Train was this mysterious, quiet gunman. He also was a bit of a boring lead at times to start off with. That is until he becomes a Sweeper... This also leads to another flaw with Black Cat. at the Time he was a Chronos, he was quiet and mysterious. After he left Chronos and after Saya dies, he became more of a chatterbox, and he was a bit cocky and energetic and there was no transition to these behaviors. If this was Gonzo's attempt from trying to avoid making Train look one-dimensional, this was not the best way to do it, because as hard as they tried... Train is a bit one-dimensional. But the supporting main cast really saved the show's ass. Shin Itagaki (The director of Black Cat) still deserves some credit for making sure that Black Cat had some entertainment value. I will admit that they do use some cliché tropes but nothing to get people dropping this show. For example, Creed's goal is to take over the world
Of course, with Train at his side...
The music by Taku Iwasaki is not bad but this might not be his best but he probably has better recognition before and since, he composed the Rurouni Kenshin prequel OVA's before Black Cat and he composed the animes such as Gurren Lagann and Soul Eater since Black Cat. So... is the music for Black Cat any good? Well, it's not bad and there are some mixtures of genres and it fits in pretty well.
The voice acting for both English and Japanese are listenable. The original Japanese version is graciously over the top and that is not bad for Black Cat because that is what the show sort of needs with the material that Gonzo produced, Keiji Fujiwara (The Seiyuu of Sven Vollfied) is an example. I got nothing bad to say about Fujiwara-san, he's an awesome Seiyuu. The English Dubbed version makes the characters sound normal. This is also dubbed by Funimation and they are known for their consistency for good quality dubs. This is from one of their early days which the quality was just a bit low. This is not a terrible dub, but it is not outstanding to say the least. There are a couple of standout performances in the dub, one is Brandon Potter (The English voice of Sven), and Chris Patton (the English voice of Creed), and Mr. Patton sure sounds like he had way too much fun voicing Creed, I could say the same thing to Shinichiro Miki with his performance as Creed. Miki-san sounds like he had too much fun as well voicing Creed. The English dub is listenable. I could say that this just leads up to preference. There's not much to compare when it comes to picking a language track. Tyler Walker would get recognition later on as an ADR director, but he did pretty good on Black Cat.
The biggest flaw would probably be its story, Black Cat's story is a bit of a mixed bag of catnip. I think the explanation of the story earlier was enough to explain. The action element really saved Black Cat's Tail... Even though the direction by Shin Itagaki is a little flawed, it's not absolutely terrible in the long run but there is one thing that makes me wonder about Black Cat. I wonder if Black Cat was inspired by Cowboy Bebop in the long run, think about it... Bounty Hunters, Syndicates, Some of the main cast being unfortunate bounty hunters, and Train's past catching up to him (sort of).
Also, the Biblical references that are used in Black Cat are kind of a nice touch.
Black Cat is available from Funimation, the manga by Kentaro Yabuki is also available by Viz Media. A Light Novel called "Black Cat: The Star's Afterglow" has not made it overseas. The Black Cat videogames "The Mechanical Angel", and "The Black Cat's Concerto" also never made it overseas.
With that said, Black Cat is a rare treat by a studio that has had its share of criticism from some people. The story isn't perfect, but the action scenes and some characters really gave the show some value for entertainment. This anime was not a waste of my time and this anime might not be for everyone. Animes like this is what I would like to call "Popcorn Anime", because this anime can have a bit of mindless fun.
I give Black Cat a 7 out of 10, It is GOOD!
Feel free to comment below and get yourself a glass or bottle of milk