Black Cat Vol. 1: The Cat Out Of The Bag
Released By: Funimation
Another series I knew nothing about before viewing other than Chris Patton liked being in it.
This is a series that follows an average bounty hunter with the ability to see about five minutes into the future who is going through a dry spell when he gets the chance of a lifetime. He takes the job but sees an issue that will cost him the job and suddenly his luck is becoming the worst possible.
In the first episode, we meet as assassin named Train. His code name is XIII and his nickname is The Black Cat. He’s been given the mission to eliminate a dirty politician but others have the mission as well. That’s where we meet a bounty hunter named Sven, another bounty hunter who is constantly hungry but can see the future and he sees that his target will be eliminated by someone else by that night. The two come face to face and thus begins our series.
In the second episode, Sven saves a beautiful blond named Elena and she hires him to rescue her kidnapped sister. While on the other side, Train meets a young sweeper who takes on a mission that he is worried she can’t handle.
The third episode has Sven and Train crossing paths again. Train has been hired to kill the young girl that Sven has been hired to rescue. When both missions go south, the two must regroup separately and that’s when the truth finally comes out about what Sven’s real mission is and why Black Cat was there ready to assassinate the target. The girl is actually a bio weapon made from stolen military nanotechnology; she’s not even really a girl. She’s just a weapon that is going to be sold on the black market to the highest bidder. The worst possible thing happens though when the target escapes into the world and sets her sights on hunting her prey instead she finds Sven and his troubles have begun anew.
In the final episode of the volume, both Sven and Train want the girl for their own reasons. The question isn’t who gets to her first; it’s more what will happen to her and them if they get to her at all?
The Good And The Bad
The first thing that I decided to pay attention to in this series was how was it written. What I found almost right away is that the writing is very film noir but still uses very cartoony animation. It makes for an incredibly odd contrast that at times can be incredibly effective and yet at other times it absolutely kills the momentum and moon of the series. The film noir writing was an incredibly unique choice though; it really takes you back to the old detective movies of the 40′s even if the animation and action is light years ahead of that era. The self narration was just that kind of touch though.
The scenes where the animation went very cartoony though were when the series suddenly felt that the series needed to be lightened up and the vast majority of the time it just failed miserably. The comedy in this series tends to just fall flat as it never seems to have any real purpose and is always just ‘throw in’ as it were for no other reason than to get a random laugh from the audience. While there were a couple of moments when Sven made me chuckle, I mostly just rolled my eyes at the occasional sight gags and moved on wanting to know more.
The animation in this series as I mentioned before it very dark which matches the film noir detective story very well, all of the scenes with Train are appropriately dark and gritty as well as the scenes with the girl Eve except for when she is with Sven. I really enjoyed how the lighting of each scene really played into the mood; there were no mistakes with shading here which was a major bonus.
The characters in this series have already got me pretty intrigued. Not every character is one that I am already caring about what there are three in particular that I am already growing into fast fans of with Eve and Train leading the pack. I really like the idea of the gothic Lolita adolescent being turned into this character torn between good and evil. It’s a role and concept that has been done to death but every time I see it, there is always a small amount of hope in me that it will be done differently in someway.
Train is also something of an enigma that I am interested in getting to know better. While there have already been a few hints into his past regarding why he is an assassin now via flashbacks, there are still volumes about his life that have yet to be revealed which I think are going to be very interesting. I’m also already curious to know more about this secret organization that he works for and what their deal is. I can smell a plot twist coming from this direction but it’ll be fun to see when it happens and how.
Sven is something of a wild card for me. While he is naturally filling the typical bumbling hero role, I like the idea of his ‘vision eye’ letting him see 5 minutes into the future. What made it really work for this series though was the addendum that the director added about how much it saps his strength when he uses it which kept the series from over using the plot device. This is defiantly going to play into some huge ending twist and/or shocker so hopefully it all pans out accordingly.
You’ll also want to be aware of a possible glitch during the first title screen of the volume. I tested my disc on two players in my home and consistently found a very small hiccup during that screen. It lasts for less than a second and it affects nothing but it is worth noting none the less. I’m not sure if it was just my volume or all volumes so it may be nothing.
There were lots of little things about the music track though that I enjoy. I liked that the insert song in episode 1 was translated and sung in English and I liked that the background music almost always had a very tense feel to it which heightened the anticipation of the upcoming battle scenes.
Ending theme seems almost out of place though, it’s so poppy and the closing animation is just way too cute for a series that is so violent and mildly bloody. It just doesn’t seem like it fits the darkness of the series. The opening theme is good though and very enjoyable though.
Dub vs. Sub
Both the dub and sub tracks were well done. While there were certain times when the performance of Brandon Potter as Sven could be considered questionable for the most part all of the performances in the dub track were very well done. Easily standing out above all others though was Brina Palencia as Eve though. This is certainly a dub actor that I am going to be looking forward to in the future.
There really isn’t anything wrong with either track, I found the dub track a bit more enjoyable but the original Japanese was clear and well done throughout as well.
Just some text less songs.
This is a terribly difficult volume for me to write a review of because looking back over what I’ve written so far, it certainly seemed as though every single time I had something good to say about it, I came back with something bad to say about it. It was just an endless cycle that went back and forth.
In the end though, I can’t say that I didn’t like this volume. It was a good opening that had plenty of action and intrigue and it was told in a new way. While some parts fell flat, I am at least interested in the characters and am curious enough to see what happens to them that I won’t be hesitating too much when it comes time to watch volume 2. Recommended.
Final Grade: 81% – B