The Autumn of Black Cat continues! We’ve taken a look at the first five volumes, and how the story sets up the central characters, the villain and the overall gist of the story. Now with the second batch of five volumes we take a look at what happens next! Does the story pick up steam? Or does it contend to tread water for just a little longer. After the cut join me as we take a look at the next five volumes of the Black Cat!
To answer both of those questions right off the bat: Yes and no. With next five volumes of the series, Black Cat straddles itself with telling episodic smaller stories, while laying more groundwork for what is it come. It is only in the back three volumes that the main plot gets moving forward and begins to (hopefully) stay the course for the remaining ten volumes. Now I’ve said this word a lot each time I bring up this series, but it bears repeating again. Black Cat is a basic story. I honestly cannot think of a better word to sum it up than that. Everything that has been told has been done before, and it has been done better. Ten volumes in and my history of shonen series is coming back full force and I’m seeing plot threads and character ideas that have been used and re-used in other series. That is not a bad thing, but coming back to this series after a literal decade has passed has been quite eye-opening, especially since I’ve mostly grown out of and left the shonen genre behind.
The story itself is divided into two major points. We continue to follow Train, Sven and Even as they adjust to their new group make-up and take on jobs to keep food on the table and gas in the tank. These one off missions can seem like filler at sometimes, but they also help establish the character dynamics, especially with Eve now becoming a main cast member. Her banter with Train, the friendly rivalry and her determination to prove herself continues to shine, while Sven’s push and pull between letting her into their dangerous lives does much to help make him more than the Bones to Train’s Kirk. What did irk me a little though was the chapters involving Sven trying to leave Eve behind, a plot point that has never really worked ever, like in ANY series. I felt myself rolling my eyes at this, because it really doesn’t feel earned, especially since the baddie involved was just another flavor of the week. I was getting a little nervous as I left the second volumes of the set, because I felt these one-off adventures were starting to take up more time.
Thankfully things turn around in the last three volumes, when the plot dives headfirst into the Creed affair. We are introduced too three of the new Chronos Numbers, who form the strike team Cerberus. Chief among them is one of the main recurring characters Jenos Hazard, a playful flirt who takes to Rinslet instantly. Jenos’s type again has been seen and done before, but he adds a lot of charm to the series and his ability is honestly really cool. The other two members of Cerberus, Nizer and Belga are fine, but they do have cool weapons that you don’t often see in a shonen.
The best part of the arc though is showing how Creed’s personal vendetta and obsession with Train can easily cloud his judgment, and how some of this lackeys are already starting to catch on. After this arc it is clear that no matter how much Creed drones on and on about wanting his “revolution” and “break the system” he is at heart, an angst driven kid who is mad that his best friend didn’t want to play in the tree house anymore. His obsession with Train feels like an inability to see a bigger picture, that sometimes being a friend doesn’t mean having them around the whole time. When Train shows up at the end of the arc to rescue Rinslet, rejecting Creed’s over to join him, it almost completely shatters him, and it works really. It helps shows the audience that at the core of Black Cat’s main story, things are personal.
And that’s the best way to describe things so far. Train and Creed’s falling out and the death of Saya is a personal issue that has somehow blown up into an international problem, so much so that the Chronos Numbers have to get involved. Yet while they see Creed as a threat to world order, Train only sees him as an issue he alone can deal with, and sees it only as a personal annoyance. While there is much left to be said in regards to this story, we see it already having an effect. Charden and Kyoko, leaving Creed’s service so early on in the story so far was quite surprising, but again it shows that their faith in their leader doesn’t extend as far as his personal vendetta, and the fact that he is more concerned with Train than his comrades and again, we’ll see that play out in the next few volumes.
With these ten volumes, we have reached the halfway point of Black Cat’s story. So far I am enjoying it, but unlike my time with High School DxD, there isn’t that same “oh my god, this is as a good as I hope it still was.” Don’t get me wrong, every time I sit down to read a volume I’m absolutely hooked, but there is a noticeable lack of thematic depth that I normally expect from series at my age, hell even Naruto, One Piece and Bleach (yes even Bleach) had a bit more meat on the bones than Black Cat.
Yet now things are starting to heat up, and I am sure I will have plenty more to say as we continue. Join me next week as I discuss the music of the series and that GOD DAMN ending theme!
- There is ONE fanservice scene. We get to see Rinslet’s ass when she showers after the end of the arc. I think that is literally it for the entire series. For the guy who went on to draw To-Love Ru, this is a damn impressive level of restraint. It is a nice butt though.
- The art style has pretty much solidified around the ninth volume, maintain a soft, but sharp style that works quite well. Basic like everything else, but damn effective.
- So Belga’s weapon, the one he is fully trained in and has completely mastered, is a Bazooka that doubles as a hammer. Kinda of a strange weapon to pick if you ask me. This is probably why he ends up dying.
- Nizer never really does anything in the series after this, which is a shame because his fight scene is solid.
- The Chronos Numbers are pretty much the Gotei Thirteen from Bleach before they even existed. (Bleach started in 2001, Black Cat in 2000).
- Creed’s second level imagine blade is fucking stupid. It’s a shark mouth sword. That’s what evolves from his cool ass invisible blade. Lameeeeeee
- I like how Sephiria, the leader of the Numbers clearly knows she is dragging Train into the fight, but regrets doing it, actually showing she’s completely fine with him going about his life. That’s quite rare for a character like her.
- Rinslet’s reaction when throwing that jar or whatever after Jenos makes fun of her boobs is honestly perfect.
- I’m glad that Eve is now a full member of the team and that we don’t have to worry about her “fitting in” anymore. She’s here, she kicks ass, and looks adorable doing it. Bring it on.
- Charden and Kyoko not being blindingly loyal to the cause, and pretty much jumping ship the first chance they get is again something we don’t seen often in series like this. It is clear that Charden cared more about the cause, while Kyoko just wanted to have fun.
- I do wish more time would be spent on developing the secondary characters, something many series struggle with. There is a lot of interesting groundwork being laid that I don’t think ever gets explored.
- Oh and Chronos Number X Lin Shao Lee is there. He mimics people…and that’s pretty much all he does..I think.
- Train turns into a kid at the end of these volumes too, we’ll get into that in two weeks.