I must admit that I tend to shy away from action titles. As such, I accept my friend’s loan of Black Cat’s box set with not a little trepidation, intending to skim through the first couple episodes and promptly return the discs with a gracious smile and a feeling of relief. The first disc goes by pleasantly enough, but contrary to plan, I find myself reaching for the next one, until I dazedly realize that no more discs remain. Maybe a mainstream shounen anime doesn’t necessarily equate with artificial juvenilia after all.
The plot follows pistol prodigy Train (a.k.a. Black Cat), bounty hunter Sven, and part-robot girl Eve, as they scour the deserts for criminals. Meanwhile, a group of radicals, headed by the crazed Creed, plots to overthrow the status-quo institution Chronos, with which Train has broken ties. Both scenarios intertwine and form an engaging narrative, and the show’s vague political undercurrents convey various running themes. As Train confronts power struggles and suppressions of the individual will, he comes to realize the horrors of murder, values of friendship, and importance of freedom.
Even a shounen-genre dilettante like me can see that Black Cat follows the golden shounen rules. Fights, assassin groups, superpowers, flashbacks into the past – it’s all there. But the fact that they’re all packed into a paltry twenty-four episode season turns the show into a lightning-fast rollercoaster ride, thrilling and insouciantly ignorant of details in equal measure. It’s a perfect match for those weary of continual story arcs and searching for a quick romp.
Such lively pacing, while engrossing to watch, cannot camouflage the story's lack of subtlety and dimension. The show surges across a straight line – backtracking occasionally for the requisite flashback – and offers hardly any time for a profound or impressionable moment. Fights act as the only factors to keep the plot moving, and the battle scenes themselves display little of the originality and brainwork one would see even in a show like Naruto. However, the last four episodes recompense what has been up to then an unexceptional story. While initially seeming a tacked-on farewell gift of more action, it unfurls into an engaging climax filled with revelations, unusual situations, and an inspiring spirit of teamwork.
Black Cat’s dense visuals are able to adapt well in any scene due to an informed use of shading. Both the characters and the backgrounds emit a fresh, sleek look, and an attractive opalescence dominates many scenes, as if sunlight were seeping in through the frames. In many ways, the animation is what makes the show so vibrant to watch: It never gets lazy with excessive still shots, the fights resemble strobe lights in their pacing, and breathtaking visual effects add beauty to the excitement.
Character designs prove impressively varied. No one person looks too similar to another, and it’s not just because of the hair (which, incidentally, gets pretty crazy, ranging from fist-shaped to Dragon Ball Z-type). Finely tuned facial features capture expressions and personalities, and the show’s adroit shading technique supplies fluid detail to the characters’ otherwise simplistic bases.
Black Cat’s soundtrack boasts a generally healthy combination of piano music, acoustic guitar riffs, and gothic opera. The selections are routinely recycled, but they manage to avoid growing mold and sound as catchy in episode twenty as in episode two. Nevertheless, such frugal material sometimes becomes a slight liability, as certain tunes decide to expose themselves in full glory during inappropriate, unfitting moments. Think of it like a buxom soprano who arrives upon a battle scene in a two-piece bathing suit. The soundtrack could have carried more power if a few more selections were sprinkled in to fit with a larger variety of scenes.
What is more striking, however, is the show’s superb seiyuu acting, especially for its three protagonists. Eve and Sven’s voices suitably fit their characters, and Train impresses with his double-act between duck-like joviality and dark, sexy lilts. Equally notable is Creed’s way of speaking, through which his trashed psyche becomes painfully apparent. The American version succeeds with the dubbing (for once) and is preferrable to its Japanese counterpart in voice selections for the minor cast. While seiyuu for the side characters start sounding too similar to each other, the dub provides unique timbres for everyone.
Black Cat’s handling of characters leaves much to be desired but exudes a certain charm, at least. A fangirl named Kyoko stalks Train throughout the show, and it’s easy to see why: The golden-eyed gunslinger is charming, mysterious, and good-looking to boot. (I really have to remind myself that I’m writing a review for a shounen anime here). Sven and Eve join together into a heartwarming friendship, and even several of the Chronos members and villains grew on me by the end. Likable or not, however, Black Cat could not hide its abysmal half-attempts at character development.
In the course of six months, Train transforms from a silent, mystifying loner into an energetic, perfectly pleasant teenage boy. Unfortunately, none of those six months are shown on screen, so one is forced take this sudden personality reversal in blind faith. The writers fling in flashes of Train’s scarred past for no apparent reason – and just for kicks, they toss in Sven’s and Creed’s as well. With absolutely no transition, Eve reboots from brainwashed weapon-girl to stable, respectable comrade. Basically, the only reason our lovable trio evades total stagnation is that so many things are happening around them, which fixes the audience’s attention away from the show's soft underbelly. Side characters, in turn, flit in and out of the screen with hardly anything to offer, some of whom reveal cheaply infused “nuances” to their personalities more identifiable with the rules of a cut-and-dry shounen guidebook. Everyone functions as mere puppets to the plot, rather than as intricate people with which the audience can relate.
Think of Black Cat as a better-than-usual summer fling: It’s flawed, it’s passionate, but mostly it’s a heap of fun. Shounen fans, look no further, because Black Cat will give you a thrill that just might make you forget about everything else for a while.
(My opinion everyone)
My good friend of mine suggested this anime so many time that I finally caved in and started watching it - Which I am of course glad for :D
The storyline is unique and nothing I have ever seen before (FACT). I loved how it all started and although at first I was a little hesitant my friend advised me that IT WILL GET WAY BETTER. It did get way better, I mean REALLY better SO good that I got hooked and watched the last half of the anime in like 1-2days :D.
The Animation lacked a little at times but I do know this was made in 2007 and the technology wasn’t what it is now, meaning if I was review this 3 years ago I would have rated the animation 7 or something like that. The sound was perfect and can i say how much i adored the Opening song - AMAZING.
The characters were almost perfect but I felt a certain character was a tad annoying at time but other than that I loved them all. My favourite characters were Train (Black Cat), Sven and Eve.
Overall I really enjoyed this anime and was very pleased with how it ended :)
Strangely enough, I was drawn into this anime because of my dad. Black Cat is a high action-paced Shounen anime with a very dramatic storyline. Now personally, I don't like Shounen a whole much but the only exception is Black Cat which I have enjoyed despite it's genre. Now for my opinions to commence:
To start the review, here is the introduction video.
Story: First, the setting. The setting takes place in a world with similar aspects of reality like Earth. It is unknown what the actual name of this world is but since the characters always mention "Earth", I'm guessing it's the same planet in another universe. In this world are two groups of law enforcers. One are the "Sweepers" (Bounty Hunters) whose goal is to capture and contain criminals for huge payments. The other are the "Erasers" (Assassins) whose goal is to cleanse the world of criminals by completely exterminating them with no morality. Strangely enough, the world's criminals seems to have developed powers of their own so they can combat the Sweepers and the Erasers. Also on this world exists "Nanotechnology" where small nano-particles are injected into a living being to completely alter their traits. Some criminals have abused this technology to create bioweapons that can cause chaos in a matter of seconds.
Now the main story, Train Heartnet (AKA Number 13 and Black Cat) is one of the world's most feared Erasers working for an organization called "Chronos". Train has the tenacity of a cat, which allows him to quickly assassinate his enemy and make a quick escape before anyone notices. However, after failing to kill the bioweapon Eve and after some convincing from both Sven and Saya, Train decides to leave Chronos and live his own life of redemption for the lives he has taken. This proved a much greater consiquence as his actions ended up pitting himself against an anarchist organization created by a former Chronos ally who seeks Train for his tenacity.
The story here seems to take a dramatic turn very quickly but unlike most Shounen anime, the story doesn't bombard itself with the usual cliches that have bogged down anime like Naruto. The story is very engaging and it will keep you wanting to watch more to see what happens.
Animation: Very fluent and almost every animation scheme has a special touch to them such as for example: the way Train fires his gun to create a close-up dramatic view of the bullet emerging from the flash to strike his enemy is very unique and well thought of. Not much to say for this section.
Sound: The music that plays in Black Cat is mostly dramatic to fit the corresponding scene it plays into. Other than that, the music is well orchestated. However some music can be a bit over-dramatic such as the piano solo played by the anime's main antagonist (whom I will not spoil). The only music that falls outside the drama category are the opening and ending themes which are also composed very well. The sound effects are very post-pounding with alot of action-based sounds to boot. These sounds sync very well with the animations. The voice acting for the characters is also very well done for the subbed version and, sorry to say, even the dubbed version puts a beautiful display of casts.
Characters: To avoid spoilers, I will mostly talk about the main protagonists. Train has a very unique personality. He is cold and ruthless at the beginning but shows a soft spot for cats. It's this soft spot that has changed Train's personality after some convincing from a murderous assassin to an average boy with feelings. Sven's personality is hilarious as he always seems to have bad luck, but his comedy relief can change in a split second when facing his opponents. Eve who mostly appears un-feeling and in a trance is actually in truth, compassionate for others once she is properly tought to be a human. Other characters will show their own unique personalities which I think some will entertain you. Now for the designs. The designs for each character is very well done and both the male and female characters have their own unique traits that identifies them.
Overall: Black Cat is a very unique Shounen anime that seems to have found a way to display action without pushing it over the limit. It's this that has made Black Cat one of my favorites. If you are looking for uniqueness, drama, and action all-in-one, this anime is for you.
Ok, so before I have told you that I’m not crazy about girls and guns genre, but I guess this could be considered guys and guns. Now in this, it’s a bit different except the concept was the same, guy gets into a organization as pretty much a hired gun and goes around assassinating who the organization doesn’t like. The thing I like about this show is that it doesn’t start there, and most of that is actually back story. This is about him getting out of the group and learning what he himself wanted. The character that actually helps him figure this out is ‘new’ code was Saya but it really annoyed me they killed her off so quickly.
Now I do wonder a lot about why Saya is a big part of Train’s life and why he goes out for revenge. He only knows her for about 2 or three days so why does he go crazy when she dies? Is it because she is the only person he cared about that died in front of him? I don’t think that’s the case because they show he has seen others he cares about dieing before then so why? Give us a bit more to work on with her please. I liked the show but I hate that they add Saya only to kill her off in the first 2 to 3 episodes. It’s just not fair to both Train and the watcher. Once I got into her character, then I’m hurt by how she is no longer there. Though there flash backs, we don’t see much of how she affects Train much. It somewhat makes me feel that the first five episodes were wasted on the so called relationship between Train and Saya that had no real reason for being because it wasn’t much of a relationship.
The fighting was rather interesting though sometimes it bothered me that we only got flashes of the fight and not a whole fight. It did get better after a while though. I am also don’t really like the sudden change in Train’s character that seems to mess with me. He all of a sudden is so childish in front of strangers. It’s a complete turn around from how he was in the first few episode without any space in between for growth.
Some of the animation feels much like an opening to a James Bond opening though it has a bit of the same flare as a new-vole in the beginning. And then it cuts that and goes into comic fest with jokes and funny site gags. It has a nice way of taking you into the story line for the drama, then hitting you over the head with a bat continually until it again goes back into Drama mode. But every battle works well with the next, someone studied well when it came to camera angles. Gonzo isn’t known for great animation but this one is pretty nicely done.
The music has many different feels for each scene from the hunting chant whenever Greed (aka Seductive obsessed freak!) to the playful sounds of walking down the street that you normally get for comical affect. Most of them work well with the characters but once in a while… we get something that sounds rather bad or not fitting the area.
I have to say, this anime dissapointed me. It started out strong, with good animation, and some interesting character dynamics. The storyline seemed desesnt, centered around revenge and character development, but it started to become clear that the characters were more strightforword then I had originally thought and the storyline more simplistic. There were also some strange things done in terms of design, with characters continuing to talk after a scene change or cuts to the future in the middle of a battle, that made the last few episodes harder to follow. There were also parts of charcaters pasts I felt were left unexplained, and the ending left the impression that nothing had really changed since episode 5. To top it all off, the story moved at a staggering pace. Character developments happened in one episode, and a new plot was introduced four episodes before the end of the series. It left me wishing there had been a filler or two. Despite all this, this anime made me smile and laugh as much as some of my favorite anime (even if it didn't get me as attached to the characters.) Over all it was an okay way to kill some time, but not much more.