The Autumn of Black Cat continues! We have now finally reached the last handful of volumes of the story, the final arc of the series, and where everything comes to it’s conclusion. Does it all work? Is Black Cat able to stick the landing? Join me after the cut as I dive into the final arc of the series: The Creed Arc.
To answer that question right off the bat: Yes, Black Cat does stick it’s landing. It does end well and wraps everything up in a nice little bow. At the end of the day this entire story, told over these twenty manga volumes has always been about one single thing, a single story that has started from the first page and goes right until the last: Train vs Creed.
This is the heart of what Black Cat is, and these final five volumes, while giving plenty of spotlight to characters both new and old is first and foremost about that overall story and putting it to bed. By the time the final page is read, there is no doubt in the reader’s mind of what has happened: Creed is defeated, Train is victorious and our heroes go off in search of their next adventure. There are no hints of a grander plot, no teasing of a villain “behind the scenes” or any avenues left unexplored. By the time I put down that final volume, despite my mixed emotions on the series during this read-through, I that my initial praise that I have always given Black Cat still stands: It shows up, tells the exact story it wants to say, and then leaves.
This is still overall a boon to the series. I’ve long believed that too many manga and anime can developed what I call the “Naraku Problem” in which a key villain or baddie to kept in the series for FAR too long and ends up dragging the plot down. Inuyasha (which where this idea gets it’s name) was notorious for this. However the opposite can also be true, as a series like Fairy Tail or High School DxD suffer from a weak rogues gallery that often rotates WAY too much for any one of them to really establish themselves.
In terms of Black Cat, I found that there was a good balance, and Creed is in the story and remains the central villain just long enough to not be grating, but is also present enough to be a considerable threat. This final arc where our heroes and their allies battle their way through his henchmen and to that last battle is classic shonen at its finest, with each character getting their one on one fight, new abilities being revealed, and character arcs coming to a close. While Sven is at his best here, getting his new upgraded version of the Vision Eye, and actually is able to go toe to toe with some powerful baddies. It is once again Eve who really steps into her own. Her two battles, one against the mysterious Doctor, and the young boy Leon are some of the best in the series, showing just how far the little girl has come. Eve has developed into a formidable fighter who is both smart, skilled and has plenty of sass when needed. This arc really is the perfect capstone to her character, and when all is said and done Eve is finally who she is suppose to be: a human girl with dreams, personality and aspirations.
Of course though, the main meat of this arc is the battle between Train and Creed, and like I said above, it is classic shonen at it’s best. There are power ups, long monologues, a final last ditch attack, and all of the stuff that makes shonen work. While it is not the most flashy of battles, it’s low key attitude was refreshing for the genre, considering that during most of their final arcs, the main characters in a manga are often throwing sky-scarpers at each other. Things are kept low-key and focused and that plays strongly into the overall theme of the battle: Train’s view of the world against Creed’s view, and how Saya fits into it all. In the end the battle between these two men was whose idea of the coping in this world was better. Train believed he had to accept his past and move on, while Creed was consumed by his anger at the world and wanted to remake it. Both men in a sense are right, and both are wrong. Creed’s reveal past as a boy abused and hated by his mother, forced to live off scraps gave him a view of the world that was twisted, cruel and full of hatred. Train’s life, which was one led by the end of his gun was changed by Saya, who also suffered incredible hardships, but in the end decided to keep going forward and smile. That is the heart of their conflict: two conflicting ideas from two men who are trying to find their place in the world. While Train does come out the victor, his decision to spare Creed show that despite everything, Train gets it, and he wants him to try and make something new out of his life.
Black Cat’s final arc is probably the best in the entire series. The action is quick and to the point, the fights never drag out, all the characters show up to play. Kentaro Yabuki brought all of his skill to the table here to bring the series across the finish line and make sure that it could have the best ending possible, but also not drag itself on too much. There is never a moment I felt that a fight went on too long, or that a plot point was being talked about too much, or too little. Despite Train and Creed being the central focus, there is still plenty of time given to Sven and Eve, allowing them to give the viewer one final look at who they are as characters. It is a satisfying arc and conclusion to a story that, upon this renewed viewing, is a series that doesn’t really have much to say about anything, but what it does say, it says pretty well.
Join me next week for the final post in The Autumn of Black Cat as I give you my final thoughts on the series as whole.
- The Grasper Eye, which puts things in slow-motion is a cool evolution of Sven’s ability. His tactical suitcase still remains one of the best shonen weapons ever made.
- Sephiria and the Chronos Numbers show up here, and get some good action. I love Sephiria’s abilities, even though she fills the role as “the powerful person who ALMOST beats Creed, but can’t because the plot demands it.”
- Rail Gun Burst is a cool final ability, combining the explosive bullet and the rail gun.
- Creed’s imagine blade is just fucking dumb, and it’s ability don’t have consistent theme. Going from an invisible weapon to, to a living sword, to whatever the hell ‘level 3’ is just strange.
- Train’s fight against Shiki and the ‘Black Claw’ does answer the question of “What would Train do if he ran out of bullets?” I also LOVE that Train wastes the Rail Gun in order to teach Shiki the lesson of not depending on your powers alone.
- I can’t help but get a little bit emotional at the final page of the series, fuck is it a good line.
- Eve’s short hair in the final chapter is cute, but I preferred her with the long hair, and the twin-tails she gets during the final arc.
- They didn’t forget Rinslet! She shows up in the final chapter and was the one who saved them all from the island. I wish she had shown up in the climax, but again, it keeps the focus where it needs to be.
- So…Creed and Echinda were fucking right? It’s clear that she’s in love with him, but we never do get the reason why. I have to wonder.
- The revelation that Saya came from a broken and abusive home really drives home how strong her character was, that she decided to accept her pain and move on, and create something better. That is really the heart of this series in the end.