Train Heartnet is an amicable bounty hunter—known as a "Sweeper"—with a talent for sharpshooting. Working alongside his cool-headed partner Sven Vollfied, they hunt down wanted criminals. Unfortunately, however, despite their efforts, the dynamic duo always seems to be short on money, which forces them to accept a job from the beautiful Rinslet Walker, a sly thief for hire, and a mysterious girl named Eve.
However, the motley crew soon discovers a terrible plot to revolutionize the world, and the mastermind is someone Train knows and loathes with a passion. As the plan is set into motion, it is soon made clear that behind the carefree sharpshooter's smiling face lies a tragic past and an insatiable desire for revenge.
Black Cat is like if Trigun's ugly little brother had met Rurouni Kenshin's retarded little sister and decided to wife her, because no one with a modicum of intelligence or self-respect would ever settle for him, and then they had a kid, but instead of a human the kid came out a kitten. Then they got into this big fight because Trigun's little bro assumed that his wifey had been unfaithful. (And it's a pretty understandable assumption. I mean, the kitten was black.) But, as it turns out, this anomaly was due to a birth defect brought on by inbreeding. See, Rurouni Kenshin was actually
the father of both Trigun and his sister, making the ugly brother the retarded sister's uncle. Neither of them were intelligent enough to put this together. In any case, they divorced and shared custody.
Black Cat's parents' nasty relationship took a toll on him, (especially when his stepfather, Cowboy Bebop, got abusive after one too many drinks,) and he ultimately absorbed all of the worst qualities of his three parental figures, failing to ever develop a personality of his own.
Let's recap: Black Cat is the inbred, watered-down, spawn of previous anime/manga, that failed to capitalize on anything that made those other anime good, and didn't contain a single original idea. Yeah, that just about covers it.
There is no reason to read Black Cat. Any good ideas found in it are poorly executed and can be seen in multiple other works done better. There is nothing, no substance to it. It's like the mangaka just strung a bunch of clichés together and called it a manga.
One of the characters wears a fedora. Yes, he's a 'nice guy,' and yes, his hair is a lot longer than it really should be.
The main character is named 'Train.' What kind of name is that? Who does this fucker think he is, Thomas the Tank Engine?
Black Cat at its worst is a typical action manga chock-full of unoriginal characters and plot devices, but at its best an enjoyable series in which those unoriginal characters are endearing, the plot devices are familiar enough to seem almost nostalgic, and the story as a whole flows well (for the most part).
Story: The core story is quite interesting, though it often takes the shonen staples of "I'm gonna fight you just to prove myself" and "I suddenly got so much more powerful" and "I'm the only one that can stop the bad guy." The story is fun and even suspenseful beyond those occasional nuisances.
Art: Black Cat also reminds the audience it's shonen by featuring a lot of guys with spiky hair. Train Heartnet's features are adorably catlike. In case you're not sure who to root for, the good guys look nice and bad guys are usually quite ugly. Nothing about the art itself really jumps out at the reader beyond some of the action sequences, which are nicely drawn. Unlike many other shonen, I actually found myself understanding what had just happened in any given fight.
Character: Characters are not this series' strong point, at least not as far as originality goes. Everyone has seen these characters before at some point, they just looked different and had different names. Train is your heartless assassin-turned all-around nice guy who is also a bounty hunter. Sven is the self-proclaimed gentleman sidekick with some kind of trump card in his fighting ability. Eve is the ridiculously powerful child who's been genetically altered and initially had no emotion. Creed is the guy who has a disturbing obsession with the main character and a vendetta against the world who inevitably decides to rule it over as a god.
That being said, the characters are faithful to their unoriginal archetypes. They rarely do anything unexpected, unless that's their intended personality.
Enjoyment: In spite of the perceived recycled characters and storyline, Black Cat is quite enjoyable. There's plenty of humor interspersed throughout and the characters, to their credit, are diverse enough where a reader could pick one he/she really really likes and cheer them on over the course of the story.
Overall: Black Cat is criticized for not being too original, but that's not really its intention. The idea is to create an interesting story with characters that have been tested and proven to work on an audience before, and besides, if Black Cat were to happen to be the first anime anyone saw, they wouldn't necessarily know the difference. This is, in the end, a worthwhile series for action fans.
This series would have been better if I didn't feel like I'd "seen it all before." The idea of a "bounty hunter" character who often ends up broke and refuses to kill reminds me of Trigun. Each of the characters within the story reminded me of some character in another story. And every single person in this manga had some kind of tragic past that made them who they were. This wouldn't have bothered me nearly so much if I didn't feel like everything was just glossed over...only mentioned because the writer felt they needed to explain everything. The mangaka
really leads readers around by the hand, explaining everything and leaving not a whole lot to the imagination. Often, details are repeated, drilled into the head of the reader. Sometimes, important things are left unmentioned until convenient (such as Train's "black cross" technique going completely unused til nearly the end of the series). Events seemed very trivial. It was clear who would win and who would "die". Sadly, there are very few original ideas in this story.
That being said, the art is enjoyable. The sarcasm and wit of the characters, their beliefs and their evolutions make this series worth reading. The action is well done and the plot is easy to follow. The look of the characters, generally, were interesting and unique. I didn't confuse people in the series for other characters and (with the exception of a few characters like River, who really looked like a super saiyan that stole some moves from Street Fighter) they were an interesting mix.
Black Cat is a typical shounen manga. While it's never very original, the care-free attitude of the main character results in a loose and enjoying atmosphere thats being kept though most of the story.
Story: The initial setup of the story is very standard: a sharpshooting hero with his weapon-inventing sidekick travel the world to catch criminals and save the innocent. A third team member and a bunch of super villains make the picture complete.
Besides from this typical and predictable storyline, the plot unfolds at a nice easygoing pace and keeps things interesting. The fun makes up for lots.
At the final showdown in the last few
volumes however, the generic shounen fights with predictable outcome make up for a unsatisfying ending without any surprises and some unfinished plot lines.
Art: Im no expert in this, but the art is definitly a plus. Great looking characters, clear drawings.
Character: All characters are enjoyable and especially the interactions between them are entertaining. The three main characters make a great team personality-wise. The witty humor fits them well.
Only the emotional depth and background is cliché and doesnt impact the reader.
Enjoyment: I especially liked the daily dealings between the characters and found the story to be promising. In the end however, the outcome was below my expectations and the moral lessons (everyone can better his life) were used too much. Also, the fights were a bit repetitive sometimes.
But I still liked the lightness of most of the volumes.
Overall: Dont expect big plot twist or dramatic emotional buildups. Black Cat's best cards are the laid back, witty characters. Its a joy to see them interact, grow and take care of the obstacles in their way.