RELEASE DATE:   01/30/2007
  REVIEW DATE:   01/25/2007

With friends like these, Black Cat doesn’t need enemies!

Train, aka The Black Cat, is an assassin who wants out. The dangerous and all powerful organization Chronos wants their number 13 to stay in. It all comes down to a duel against the people Train once thought of as friends and comrades, including having to face off against the beautiful and oh-so-deadly Sephiria. His troubles hardly end there. The psychotic killer Creed grows obsessed with Train and is willing to do anything, including killing anyone, to get to him. When one of Train’s friends gets in Creed’s way, a heartbreaking episode ensues and sunders Train’s psyche. Wounded and despondent, it is with Eve and Sven’s aid that Train comes back to himself and finds a new path. However, Chronos still wants him, Creed is still hungry for him, and now the Taoists, thought defeated twenty years ago, seem to be keeping their eyes on the Black Cat as well. Sinister sorts with varying competing agendas have their sites trained on the assassin would doesn’t want to be a killer. Train may have no choice but to pick up his gun again and be what he was twisted into.

This volume holds a set of emotionally severe episodes, grave circumstances and heart rending moments. A friend’s death, a killer obsessed, two dastardly organizations with nefarious machinations trained on the Black Cat has the young man put into a terrible position. As an anti-hero he has more odds against him than most anime shows in recent memory. It makes for persuasive story telling. At times with the fast-paced action it can come across as too much, too quickly, but it tends to get the main thrust emotionally of any given moment across effectively. These series of tragedies and losses reveal how Train obtains the bell he wears around his neck, how it strengthens his relationship with Eve and Sven and shows the depth of his reasons for his defiance of Chronos despite the odds stacked against him.

A lighter episode is seen in the last one on this volume, where Eve and Train enter into a ‘friendly’ challenge to see who can nab the latest bounty first. There’s also fellow Sweeper (i.e. bounty hunter) Sven to give some much needed comedic relief at times. This last episode also has a new young woman set out to hire the group. Her name is Rinslet and little does the Sweeper team know what trouble they’re about to be led into!

Although the anime diverges a lot from the manga it is based on in how things happen and when, the main gist of the story and the core of each of the characters remains true to their manga foundations. With the animation done by GONZO (Trinity Blood, Last Exile) it is visually thrilling. The voice cast is phenomenal. Many of the Japanese cast some fans will recognize from another hit series, Get Backers. The English cast has some great talent such as Caitlin Glass who helps augment Saya’s charm, Chris Patton who brings evil glee to his voicing of the psychotic Creed, Lydia Mackay who brings poise and grace to the resolved and beautiful assassin Sephiria, Troy Baker’s smooth as silk voice in playing the womanizing Jenos, and last but definitely not least is Brina Paleneia who gives such subtle depth in her artful voicing of Eve, one of the most complicated characters so far of the anime. That’s all without even getting to the two wonderful English voice actors for Sven and Train (Brandon Potter and Jason Liebrecht respectively). The higher quality of English voice acting these days from companies like FUNimation raises the bar and helps bring out the best of the anime viewing experience.

Bonus feature include clean opening and ending animation, trailers of other FUNimation titles and inside it holds a temporary tattoo of the Roman numeral 13, just like the one Black Cat wears.

Black Cat, an assassin with a change of heart, two deadly organizations on the prowl and enemies in every shadow. Black Cat is an exciting action series that doesn’t pull its punches.

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