Director: Shin Itadaki
Writer (of original manga): Kentaro Yabuki
Animation Studios: Gonzo
Version Watched: Subbed
As a reviewer sometimes it’s really hard to say why you like a series. Though flaws are incredibly easy to point out, strengths are often a little harder to pinpoint. Black Cat was a lot of fun to watch, which is a compliment in itself, I suppose, but it has a lot of flaws lurking below the surface. There are issues with consistency, character development and story progression but in the end it’s still a series I would recommend, even if I might hesitate to give it a second viewing.
In a world where bounty hunters are commonplace and go by the title of “Sweepers”, an organization by the name of Chronos seeks to control the world in the name of peace. Their elite squad of assassins, or erasers as they are known, comprises thirteen members: the dreaded Numbers of Chronos. Black Cat, or Train Heartnet, the infamous thirteenth Number, finds himself questioning his beliefs and allegiance to Chronos as he runs across a lowly Sweeper on his mission to destroy a dangerous bio-weapon. Sven Vollfield risks his life to save the weapon, a young girl by the name of Eve who has been infused with nanomachines, despite the forces arrayed against him, and completely skews Train’s views on life itself. The unlikely trio attempt to live normally, surviving from bounty to bounty as Sweepers, but destiny has another plan in store.
What you’ve just read is the summary of the first three or four episodes. The remaining 20-or-so feature another two major story arcs, with each individual episode being an odd mix of comedy and action, with a little bit of plot sneaking into each instalment. Let me get this out of the way: there is absolutely nothing deep about Black Cat’s story or its characters. In any other series this would be a complaint but for this one I really didn’t care. Black Cat is an anime that focuses on what is happening, rather than how, or why, which immediately makes it difficult for it to receive a high grade but also means that it can take a few liberties with linking events together that other, more quality-focused anime couldn’t get away with. While I can’t say I was ever invested in what was going on, I definitely enjoyed the ride because the series wasn’t aiming to do anything more than it achieved, which was to provide a generic yet entertaining viewing experience.
While shallow overall, as mentioned earlier, Black Cat’s characters were nonetheless very likeable. Unfortunately a lot of opportunities to develop them further and form bonds with the audience were overlooked. Train undergoes a serious personality change after one of the “six months later” labels that I really hate, forgoing the option of exploring the changes he was going through, and I would have liked to see some more about Eve’s adjustment to normal life after having spent years as a mere tool and test subject. In addition to the main trio there is a rather large cast of side characters that seemingly jump in and out of the story as it becomes convenient for the writers, preventing them from becoming truly relevant to the viewer, though that’s not really a complaint so much as it as an observation.
Black Cat’s animation quality was really quite inconsistent, although it was rather average to begin with. Facial expressions and the characters’ hair were two aspects that were incredibly variable. The action was usually pretty well done, though, despite being relatively short-lived, and the animation never had a negative impact on my viewing experience. There were a few nice tracks featured in the BGM, including a voiced song that I thoroughly enjoyed, as well as some pretty solid voice acting, though overall the sound track was nothing to write home about.
Summary – Though all of its components are fairly average, Black Cat combines them to make an enjoyable series that is probably worth watching. I can’t quite bring myself to call it “good” objectively, because I’m sure there are some people that will be turned off by its lack of depth and uniqueness. Still, I’m sure the majority of viewers would agree that they don’t regret the time they spent watching it.
Score: 7/10 – Enjoyable