Black Cat Vol. #2 (of 6) (

By:Bryan Morton
Review Date: Friday, November 09, 2007
Release Date: Monday, December 03, 2007

What They Say
As all attempt to hide and heal, Train's conscience grows deep... Deep enough to make the decision to leave Chronos for good. Unfortunately for him, the life he has left proves unwilling to let him go. Creed is sent out to retrieve their best assassin, but when he fails to bring Train back into the fold Sephiria sends her officers to make sure things go right.

Following his first failed attempt to recruit Train, Creed resorts to more desperate measures, eventually seeking out that which Train cares for most... Saya. What is the cost of redemption for the damned?

Episodes Comprise
5 – The Departing Cat
6 – The Cat Under Fire
7 – The Wounded Cat
8 – The Sweeping Cat

The Review!
Train’s new life away from the control of Chronos gets under way, but the person who persuaded him to make to break is the first to be a victim of his decision. Is there a life for a runaway cat, or will the hunter become the hunted..?

Audio comes in Japanese 2.0 and English 5.1 versions – I listened to the Japanese track for this review. There’s a decent amount of direction used, particularly noticeable during the action scenes, while dialogue and effects are nice & clear. There were no obvious problems.

Video is presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect, enhanced for anamorphic playback. Presentation has always been one of GONZO’s strong points, and this series is no exception, with fluid animation and detailed background combining to produce a show which really does look good. Even the night-time scene – of which there are plenty – manage to look good, with some nice use of low-level lighting that highlights the scenes nicely. There were no obvious problems with the transfer.

No packaging was provided with our review copy.

The main menu is a simple white screen, with an image of Train pouncing out of the left-hand-side and the various options listed down the right-hand side – Play All, Select Episode, Setup and Extras. There are no transition animations, so it’s all quick and easy to use.

You get creditless versions of the opening and closing sequences. That’s all, folks.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Black Cat's reputation is that he's a heartless assassin who never lets his targets live - but that reputation's just gone out the window, as Train opts to give Torneo a warning to leave town, rather than complete the kill. That's not something that pleases his superiors at Chronos, and he's soon summoned to explain his actions. His reason's simple: he wants to act on his own free will, and to have nothing further to do with Chronos - a decision that quickly places him on their hit-list. Sven, meanwhile, has taken Eve under his wing - Rinslet's not so sure that's a good idea, especially as Chronos have an interest in her, but his code of chivalry won't let him just turn her loose.

Meanwhile, Chronos has lost another Number, as the slightly-deranged Creed strikes out with his own plan for world domination. He’s joined up with a group of Tao users – masters of a power once thought destroyed, the Taoists are back and building up their numbers again. With Chronos now having to deal with the loss of two of their Numbers, Creed keen to teach both Chronos and Train a lesson, and Train just trying to stay away from both Chronos and Creed, the groundwork of a three-way confrontation is being laid.

It’s a strange batch of episodes, this volume, as for a lot of the disc there’s a real feeling that the story is just treading water while working towards better things. There are some confrontations while Chronos tries to deal – unsuccessfully – with their on-the-run Numbers, but apart from that the main focus is on Train, Sven and Eve as they get used to being together and, for Train and Eve, come to terms with what their history has made them. There are a few action scenes thrown in for good measure – usually involving Creed, trying to get his own way. One of those scenes threw in one plot twist that I really hadn’t been expecting, and that left me genuinely surprised; the others were more stereotypical confrontations that were enjoyable enough to watch, but weren’t anything special.

Black Cat seems to be trying to focus more on its characters than anything else at the moment. On paper, that’s a good thing, and for the most part there’s some good work done with them – Train’s change of heart as a result of Saya’s influence, and the motivation that she’s able to give him; Sven’s gradual change from a loner to the father-figure of an ever-expanding gang; and Eve’s switch from na´ve killing machine to na´ve young girl who’s learning about life. The way Train is dealing with his new life is still a little blunt, which makes him quite hard to like, but he’s softening over time – one run-in in particular with Eve points out that change, and hopefully that will continue.

Of the main ‘gang of four’, Rinslett’s the least convincing – for someone who was introduced as a master thief, she sure seems to get caught in the act a lot and is too quick to turn to others for help, and that makes her less than believable. She seems to be slipping into the mother role for Train and Eve, though, which might turn out to be a better niche for her.

Creed, though, is the big introduction this volume, and his plans with the Taoists and worrying fixation on Train could make him quite the villain. He’s also completely unhinged and unpredictable – two qualities I like in a bad guy, if for nothing else than to add a little colour to the personality. Creed’s enough “out there” that he almost makes Chronos look like the good guys, and he should be a real challenge for the gang to deal with down the line – especially as, come the end of episode 6, Train has a real reason to hate him.

The downside with this volume, though, is that despite there being a lot happening it’s all geared to setting up rivalries and explaining motivations, and doesn’t actually go anywhere. To a point, that’s a necessary evil – if what’s done here is used properly, it’ll make the rest of the series a much more satisfying experience – but it’s also a little frustrating to sit through. I’m liking the possibilities that these episodes throw up, though.

In summary:
Perhaps a little slower that I’d like it to be, this volume devotes itself to laying the groundwork for the rest of the series, and does a fairly good job of fleshing out some of the main cast members. It also throws a decent amount of action & one or two surprises into the mix, to keep the attention. The end result isn’t a good as it could have been, but is still enjoyable to watch. Black Cat hasn’t quite gotten into its stride yet, but it’s showing plenty of promise.

Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 5.1,English Subtitles,Creditless Opening & Closing Sequences

Review Equipment
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.

Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: N/A
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: MVM Entertainment
MSRP: 19.99
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Black Cat