View Full Version : Shounen Black Cat

Maxy Barnard
July 28, 2008, 07:42 PM
Title:Black Cat
Genres:Action, Shonen, Comedy
Author:Kentaro Yabuki
Artist:Kentaro Yabuki
Publication: Shueisha's Weekly Shonen Jump
Start Date:2000
End Date:2004
Number of chapters at review: 185
Number of chapters read by reviewer: 185 (+ one shot)

General Overview:
A former assassin for a secret organisation, Train Heartnet left the life of murder as the "black cat" behind him along with a tragic past to become a sweeper, a bounty hunter who makes their money capturing criminals (preferably alive). With this well suited 'stray cat' lifestyle, Train works with ex-detective Sven Vollfied to make a living.

But is his tragic and controlled past really behind him, or will he be pulled back into his past by a whirlwind of events?

Category Ratings: (1-10 scale)

Now this is how shonen art should be executed! Whilst sticking to what at times is a very generic design, the series manages to add in details and great levels of kinetic energy into most scenes, and succeeds in making characters all look unique enough to carry themselves, even if they're totally unimportant. If it weren't for the generic feel of Yabuki's art then this would be a higher score entirely. Still, an eight point five is almost a ten, and that's good enough for some, and certainly me.

The plot does the same thing as any other manga series out there really. This is in no way a downside, more a reflection on the "introduction, other character introduction, mini-arc, possible closing point, so on" path all manga generally seem to follow nowadays. Outside of this mild frustration Yabuki's portrayal of his own world similar to ours and the events circulating around a few sweepers (read as 'bounty hunters') all heading towards an inevitable final conflict, one laid out within the first volumes of the series. It is encapsulating and all-consuming, and is a facet that will most definitely keep you reading the series. However, it is incredibly frustrating without doubt when the series will throw an element or haracter at you, and proceed to ignore it by and large for the whole story. This does give the shining star of storytelling a slight limp on it's walk down the aisle of great scores.

A happy go lucky main character with a dark past and a lost love. A secondary character with an occular power who is generally used as comic relief. A sassy female character. A tough young girl who sees the main character as a rival. These aren't exactly the most interesting characters and if we're perfectly honest you can look at a variety of other shonen archetypes, throw them in a blender and pull out a fair bunch of the cast supplied here. Again, I have to indicate some level of balance, by saying that these characters are still just as powerful, interesting and absorbing as the archetypes they may or may not have been spawned from. Without a doubt you'll enjoy the characters whether or not you're aware of how derivative and cookie cutter they are.

Revenge, loss and the importance of freedom. These three themes are ever present in the story, and form the basis of the entire manga. When executed well these are fantastic elements that help enhance the experience. When done wrong you feel that Yabuki bringing the themes up is his way of stalling for time until he feels like progressing the story further, or get that niggling feeling that once again originality is once again an evasive element in the story. Funnily enough finally leading me to:

Perhaps it's the manga I've been choosing for review, but the term 'torn' keeps creeping up on me. Black Cat does not have original characters. The themes are not particularly original in themselves. The execution is just another example of that oft used story template I seem to be getting annoyed with. So what could possibly keep this from dropping below that 'painfully average' marker of the number five? It's a hard phenomena to describe, but you can sit there, and read all 20 volumes of Black Cat, and the only real point you'll notice the lack of originality is when you stop and reflect on what you've read, garnering it that small yet crucial level of ignorance for you to still enjoy the series despite this.

Overall: 8
On this occasion I've thrown aside my averaging system, as for all the short comings of Black Cat that come to your attention (namely the complete lack of originality), you cannot throw aside the sheer amount of enjoyment the series gives you. If I were to liken it to a bad analogy, it's like eating ice cream out of the tub whilst bouncing on a small trampoline naked. It's mindless fun, even if you feel ashamed of yourself for debasing yourself as such.


Next Review: Either Blue Dragon Ral Grad or I'm moving onto the letter C (well, Cowa!. i can't think of any other C letter manga)

Black Hawk
July 29, 2008, 09:38 AM
Yeah a good manga. the originality is right, there was some more mangas befor, like the same kind of story. The Art work will everyone see different, cause he work a lot of with darkness in the same points.

November 23, 2008, 10:32 AM
I would say the main theme of Black Cat is that you can't forget or dismis your past and what you may or may not have done. Your past is who you are, it is was made you and will remain with you always. The importance of freedom for me, was the freedom of not being guilty of your past actions; not letting the past keep you down, letting it go but remebering it's who you are. Accepting the responsibility of your actions - even the good ones :amuse

I agree with the originality point and the art work is something else to behold. But I'm baised as Yabuki Kentaro is one of my favourite mangaka.

Maxy Barnard
November 23, 2008, 01:55 PM
Ooh I hadn't even looked at that angle (which really shows my lack of reviewing talent), a very valid point!

and i'm quite a fan of Kentaro's work too, mainly this series and yamato gensouki (love troubles a mixed bag)

November 24, 2008, 08:41 PM
Dont know about anybody else, but at one point I found myself reading through entire volumes in about 45 mins or slightly less.

November 30, 2008, 04:37 PM
It's an alright manga...I kinda wished he stayed like he was back when he was badass, cause after a while the nice Train was getting on my nerves! Like the review said, the characters weren't much interesting. We all seen mangas with the main character who's changed for the better after his dark past, and how it always comes back to haunt him and makes him remember. After a while, near the end, the battles and the manga overall started getting a little bit boring to me. Gotta say it's an average shounen manga.