Black Cat Vol. #1 (also w/limited edition) - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: D+
  • Age Rating: TV 14
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 29.98/39.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Black Cat

Black Cat Vol. #1 (also w/limited edition)

By Justin Rich     January 10, 2007
Release Date: December 19, 2006


Black Cat Vol. #1 (also w/limited edition)
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
Sven is your run-of-the-mill sweeper (aka bounty hunter) - down on his luck, haunted by the perpetual grumbling of his stomach and looking to make enough cash to get by. Oh, and he can see the future, but only about five minutes into it. When a dirty politician lands a price on his head, the sweeper jumps at the chance to earn a quick buck, but as he's working to secure the target, his vision reveals an assassination that will cost him the job. A confrontation with the mysterious killer and Sven has no idea that he's brushed up against the worst possible luck.

The Review!
Train is a cold, unstoppable assassin but his life is about to completely turn around from a chance encounter with a mysterious girl from the other side of his profession.

Audio:
Due to the fact that there wasn't a 5.1 Japanese track I decided to view the disc in the English DTS instead. The dialogue was clear without drop outs from the first three speakers, with Train continuous gunfire rattling behind you in the rear speakers. I did a spot check on episode three The Cat in the Dark and found no problems with the Japanese 2.0 soundtrack.

Video:
Black Cat began its run in October of 2005 so the transfer is 16:9 widescreen. Animation is sharp and crisp with beautiful combination intense fighting sends blended with an imaginative world which differed in each episode. There is no bleeding in the animation making the background scenery and the characters come out vibrant and lifelike. Although, there is one case where the transfer is not as clean, inside of the villa when Train turns to leave the edges become horribly blurred.

Packaging:
The disc comes in a white lockcase with an insert that has the cover of volume 2 on one side and a cross promotion with Viz for Black Cat manga on the other. The cover is a white back drop with the Gonzo and FUNimation logos side by side in the upper right corner, Shonen Jump logo sits atop of the Black Cat series title with the disc title "The Cat out of the Bag" to the lower left and vol. 1 to the lower right. The main picture of the front cover is built around a large picture of Eve, with Rinslett holding her gun to her chest, Sven jumping into action and in the forefront Train with his XIII gun thoroughly brandished. On the back cover is a similar picture of Train inside the black top half with a ton of screen caps and episode names on the bottom white half.

Menu:
There is a thirty second sound clip from where Train usually is rushing into battle looping over this dark colored menu, with the Train and his XIII gun on the left and the series logo with the disc title directly below in white cursive writing to his right.. Below the disc title is Play all, Episodes, Audio and Extras all in gold with a red cat paw as the curser which responds easily and quickly, also as you travel between portions of the disc you move back to the menu with a gold XIII, which adds a nice touch.

Extras:
One of the major disappointments with this release is the anemic special features. The only things on here are textless songs of the opening Dain no Hana by Yoriko and closing Namidaboshi by Puppypet. Also we get a plethora of FUNimation trailers including: the FUNimation channel, Black Cat volume 2, Baki the Grappler, Lupin the 3rd box set, Fullmetal Panic TSR volume 2, Tenchi Muyo! Ryo Ohki volume 3, a still screen for volume 4 of the Yu Yu Hakusho releases with a good cover of Yoko Kurama and finally the Z-Store.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The series begins with a Creed's sword matching up with Train's XIII gun as they fight bloody battle, as they will become mortal enemies upon the leaving of Chronos, but then it goes into open music and doesn't revisit that portion of the series for the rest of the volume, which without my longstanding love of the franchise would have left me absolutely bewildered. Then in a bizarre shift we are bathed in techno light from stained glass window as the Black Cat delivers "bad luck" for the first time in the series as he completes his mission and executes his assignment.

Then another awkward shift goes to the election parade of Lib Tyrant, and Sven the chivalrous sweeper starving inside a café. He gets some food for his good deeds and heads into his mission of bringing in Lib for the bounty, for that is how sweepers make their living. But, Sven and Train have the same target, one to bring him in alive and the other to end Lib's life forever. Sven makes it to Lib's gala and runs into him in the bathroom where his magic eye sees his future, but that special ability drains Sven of his energy, which makes him absolutely no match for the inhuman speed of Train as he completes his mission, not Sven. Sven tracks Train outside and manages to get saved by him from the last of Lib's goons, and when he goes to pawn his watch Sven learns the meaning of XIII on the assassin's chest, he is the thirteenth assassin of the Chronos who never misses and always erases his target.

After his completed mission Train begins to have nasty nightmares while sitting on the roof only to be pulled out of the trance by the singing of beautiful stranger in a kimono in a nearby rooftop. She turns out to be a sweeper and will play a huge role in Train's change of character in his outlook on life, much to the chagrin of Creed. She takes the paper for the highest bounty Preta Ghoul, while Sven is a couple of minutes too late. A girl with blonde hair storms into the room looking for help, which she almost receives from a bruising brute of a Sweeper, yet he gets beat down hard leaving only Sven to defeat the gang.

Sven and Train get the same target again with different attentions. But, Train blows off the job to go aid Saya in her pursuit of Preta. This is the first example of the character's coming metamorphoses from killer to capturer. Even with the anger that Chronos feels towards Train they still give their best weapon a second chance, and he ends up in the blonde sister's room. Rinslet and Sven were too slow to get to Eve as she sits there quietly staring down the barrel of Train's gun. Although the assassination and rescue are both interrupted by the fact that Torneo had set up a trap for all of them as the room fills in with hired help, but Sven's burst of light and Train's burst of gunfire they all escape.

Torneo's anger leads to him asking Eve to play demon chase, a game he made where she hunts her prey until the target is dead. But, the lowly minion he holds responsible for the three intruders isn't her idea of prey, and she escapes looking for Train. While out in the city she runs into Sven in the park, yet he begins to get to know her and finds out what kind of sheltered life she had lived. Sven's unyielding code of chivalry kicks in and he is determined to save her. Sven turns his back just long enough for Torneo to pull up and kidnap her back.

Round two of the Eve mission begins with both Sven and Train trying again to fix their failures. Sven uses his cat bombs to get him and Rinslet through the front door, but Train uses the opening as well. Rinslet splits off and heads into the basement to try and retrieve the information for the government, while Sven desperately tries to catch up to Train as he effortlessly dismantles every guard and security camera on the way to Eve's room. Thanks to Sven's only Ace, his right eye, he is able to get to Eve first and convince her to leave with him to fulfill his promise, yet Train arrives and so does Torneo. The final card is played as Torneo activates Eve's full power with a special card turning her into a raging killer as he full nano technology is powered up. She continues to fight with Train, while Sven attempts to reason with Eve in her berserker state. She is unable to her his words as she blindly fights, so in his last ditched effort Sven makes a move for the card on her chest that is transformer her, he successfully removes the card while simultaneously being impaled by Eve's sword like arm. As the blood from Sven's wound rolls down Eve's arm she regains consciousness to her horror, but can Sven survive a gapping would like that?

In Summary:
Being a big fan on the manga I was dying to dive into the world of the Sven and Train, hungry sweepers for hire, only to find a much different timeline in the beginning of the disc then from the manga. The way Eve and Rinslett come into the series remains virtually the same but the relationship between Train and Sven is quite different and kind of forced me to have to rethink what I know about the Black Cat universe to get into the series, which did hinder me a lot through the first two episodes. The first half of the volume seems unsure of where it is going as a series; spinning it's wheels a lot before finally getting rolling. As it found a much more familiar feel in the back half of the discs the discrepancies melted away leaving me with the fun and entertaining battling that I have enjoyed from Black Cat for many years. By far the fourth episode was the strongest of the volume and really closes the disc on an upswing. Hopefully Gonzo keeps this series moving forward in volume 2 rather than wandering off in their own somewhat detracting inventive ways.

Features
Japanese 2.0 language,English subtitles
English 2.0 language,English 5.1 DTS language,Textless Songs

Review Equipment
Sony SAVA D9000 Dual Stack DTS w/ 5 Disc Changer in stack 1 and subwoofer in stack 2 via Monster optical cable. Tv is Sony 55" SXRD Grand Wega 1080p widescreen rear-projection HDTV, Sony Playstation 3 Blu-Ray player via HDMI cable.

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