Animated in 2005 by Studio Gonzo and serialized in Shonen Jump, Kentaro Yabuki’s Black Cat holds up very well and is a fine foray into the shonen genre. The series follows Train Heartnet, an assassin for the Chronos Organization, a shadowy group that vies for world peace by setting up assassinations and other dirty means. One day, Train meets a sweeper, or a bounty hunter, named Saya Minatsuki, that convinces him to live for himself and not be pulled by the strings of Chronos. When he does so, Chronos comes after him to destroy both him and Saya. Things change when Train’s old partner, Creed Diskenth, also decides to leave the organization, but does so by leading a faction of Taoists that wish to destroy the world and won’t let anyone stop them. Full of great action, goofy hijinks and a solid cast of individuals, Black Cat is a fun adventure that has enough for everyone to enjoy.
While the show seems very dark and grim at first, Black Cat lightens up to tell jokes and have some gags dispersed throughout. There’s some plot elements that are pretty dramatic in the beginning of the series, that get the story driving forward and immediately make the show a worthy investment, time wise, early on. The characters like Train, his new partner ex-IBI agent turned sweeper Sven Vollfied, the living bio-weapon Eve and the famous thief Rislet Walker make for some fantastic chemistry and grow as the series progresses through its 24 episodes. While at first, the Taoist faction seems to come out of nowhere and seemed very jarring as I was watching. I eventually eased into it as they take their place as the villains of the show, while Chronos still operates second fiddle to their machinations.
Studio Gonzo certainly cut corners throughout the production of Black Cat but utilize these shortcomings to their own advantage. There are moments where backgrounds are simply black or other times where either the backgrounds or even the characters are shown through repetitive animation. While for other productions this would be a big red flag, as well as showcasing how Gonzo productions usually fall flat on their face after awhile, the series uses these flaws as more of a stylistic choice more than anything.All of the cut corners pay off, due to all of the action sequences being really well done. I don’t know if its because of director Shin Itakaki or any of the other staff members making these choices and decisions to coincide with style, but it makes for a much better anime and offers much more than a few previous Gonzo productions.
The S.A.V.E. Edition of Black Cat from Funimation is now available on DVD.