Black Cat Vol. #02 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C+

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Info:

  • Art Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 7.99
  • Pages: 224
  • ISBN: 1-4215-0606-8
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Black Cat Vol. #02

By Jarred Pine     April 28, 2006
Release Date: May 02, 2006


Black Cat Vol.#02
© Viz Media


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Kentaro Yabuki
Translated by:JN Productions
Adapted by:

What They Say
Train's partner Sven is determined to rescue Eve, a girl-turned-bioweapon, from the dangerous arms dealers who are holding her captive. Sven and Train soon discover that the shadowy figure connected to this black market smuggling ring is none other than Train's mortal enemy, Creed. But why does Creed want to join forces with Train?!


The Review
Ouch, the Sophomore Slump. Formulaic and clichéd, this second installment of Black Cat was definitely a bit of a letdown.

Packaging:
The cover illustration is the same as the original Japanese tankoubon release, with even the logo remaining the same. The cover artwork is appropriate for the title: cute boys, cute girls, and guns! There is a nice added effect where the brick wall behind the character art has texture and a glossy finish, giving the cover some nice depth.

The print reproduction is not as clean as the previous volume. There are some artifacts of fading in the darker tone areas. Extras include a volume header included with character sketches, as well as a couple chapter-inserts with postcard headshot sketches from Yabuki.

Art:
A good amount of the appeal to Black Cat is good looking character art. While I think Train's cat-like design, complete with bell necklace, is a bit silly, Yabuki definitely knows how to draw cute girls. There is a good amount of creativity in the outfits as well. The backgrounds are a little flat and lacking detail. Action artwork is decent enough, but I was more impressed with some of the full page spreads with interesting compositions.

Text/SFX:
SFX are translated with over-lays, which look decent enough with a few instances trying to mimic the original style, including transparency. I definitely applaud the effort made there. The English script continues to be very solid. While the story may have its issues, the script really brings out the characters' personalities.

Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
While reading the second installment of Black Cat, I am beginning to wonder if Kentaro Yabuki is trying a bit too hard by throwing in what seems to be the kitchen sink into his story. The nano-machine technology introduced last volume already has the potential for a lot of interesting developments and stories. It's fresh, somewhat unique, and a nice spin on the shounen action type of story. Now we are also introduced to Tao and a type of martial arts called Chi Kung, where practitioners are able to hone their own spiritual energy into superhuman powers. With this contrast of hard sci-fi and mystical, martial arts fantasy, the story is beginning to feel a bit crowded.

As Train and Sven now make their way into Torneo's mansion to save Eve, the nano-enhanced girl, Rins goes to steal the technology secrets from the lab. It is from the resolution of this story arc where Black Cat goes from a semi-interesting setup to a clichéd and unoriginal shounen manga. Lurking behind the scenes of the Torneo Lab is another ex-partner from Chronos named Creed, who has plans of world domination with an army of Tao warriors. Most of the volume features a lot of dialogue explaining Creed's plans, with a lot of contrived conversations surrounding the history with Chronos, which include Train joining his group to take on Chronos. For a meeting between two assassins, with a bitter history between them and in the context of a shounen action manga, I would have expected, well, more action. An expansion on the back story between Train and Creed, other than the minute few pages included, would have been helpful as well.

The nano-machines, and Eve herself, are chucked to the sidelines where they await to be called in by coach Plot Device, as is evident when the power of Tao and soft Chi Kung is unable to heal one's near-fatal injuries. Tao isn't healing your destroyed GI tract? Call in the Nano Machines! The Tao power feels like retreaded material, where the nano-technology had much more of a unique and refreshing appeal. It is also a little disheartening to see Rins end up as kidnap bait for most of this volume, even though her self-sacrificial act in helping Train was one of the highlights.

Comments
I was definitely left feeling disappointed with this second installment of Black Cat. What promise the story had with the novel idea of nano-technology and Sweeper hijinks, was thrown to the sidelines in favor of clichéd shounen material with world domination and an army of chi-powered warriors.

The lack of history between Train and Chronos makes it really hard to care about the progression of the story. While some of the characters' personalities might be fun and entertaining, they are completely one-dimensional. However, I'd still be very much interested in a manga featuring Rins as the new Golgo 13.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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