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Black Cat volumes 1 + 2

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Black Cat volume three: Cat And Mouse

director: Shin Itagaki

96 minutes (12) 2006
MVM DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Paul Higson
There is no format to the episodes in the continuing manga series of Shin Itagaki's Black Cat. It is a wending story-arc with an occasional diversion. Episode nine: Charming Cat is one such, a bounty collection episode in which Train and company are pitted against an old adversary of Sven's, a villain in a big green afro named Yanza Rujikee. The green afro is bad enough in his usual behaviour, the series' second sexual serial killer of young girls, but this time he has drunk of the Shinkitou elixir, powering up on the Tao and increasing his frame and strength. The streets are deserted, the shops abandoned, its safe for no one in this city and Sven adopts drag to lure Rujikee out. Charden, he of the chimneystack top hat, and Kyoko, the girl that accompanies him, are in the city too, responsible for distribution of the Shinkitou, and working on recruiting the murderer to the ranks of the Apostles of the Stars. Rujikee has no interest in joining them now that he has the power and it is left to Team Black Cat to dispose of Rujikee. Kyoko encounters Black Cat in the episode and becomes besotted with him, though he has little time for her cartoon attentions. The girl also reveals her talent; she is able to generate immense killer heat.

010: Cat Unleashed ('Reckless Cat' on the disc) sees the gang invited by Creed Diskenth to a celebration in Sangeles City. The location of an international peace conference, it is also to be a deadly launch party as the world is introduced to the Apostles of the Stars in all their lethal glory. The dragon wrangler (met in the previous disc) joins Creed, Charden and Kyoko, and we are introduced to another four. Echidna Povass is a movie star with the ability to open doorways in space and time, Durham is the gunslinger who reloads spirit bullets ad infinitum into his gun, Master Moro is angered at being mistaken for a Sumo and can manipulate gravity until he crushes his victims, and then there is Leon, the skateboard kid who gets equality miffed about being treated like a child and can control the air, asphyxiating the soldiers. The Apostles kill the assembled heads of state, though the makers are keen to note that the comical Kyoko seems to have some inner safeguard not quite permitting her to go the whole hog and kill innocents yet, though she is certainly an accomplice in the slaying. Though fluttery for Train, she appears to have little concern for the fact that they are on opposing sides but is hopeful of Creed's success in recruiting him as an Apostle, though there is little chance of that when Creed continues to refer to Sara, the girl he murdered and the girl Train loved, as that 'bitch' he was glad he disposed of.

In 011: The Fake Cat (disc: 'Lying Cat') the team takes another breather following the big battle. There is a small bounty to claim but a bumbling lunk is masquerading as the Black Cat, sporting a badly drawn on XIII 'tattoo'. People take his word for it that he is Black Cat, and to date, the smaller fry criminals submit rather than tackle him. Although not fully understanding his motivation in the fraud, the charlatan fascinates Eve. She covers for him in a shootout, and helps him again when Durham turns up following up on reports of 'Black Cat' at work. Durham continues to defy Creed, and wants to kill Train in order that they can get on with the business of taking over the world.

012: The Fighting Cat sees Black Cat and associates descending upon the Castle hideaway of the Apostles at the same time that the Chronos triumvirate of Team Cerberus arrive to capture Creed. Cerberus is made up of Nizer of the oversized gun, Beluga of the oversized blade, and Janus, showing signs of a hardening romantic interest in Rinslet. Durham is captured and left with charlatan of the previous episode known only as Mister and now tagging along. So it is seven against seven, in a tag fight that sees the Apostles further frustrated by Creed's homoerotic obsession with Train and the destruction of the castle with several fates uncertain, but unlikely to lead to the death of any of the participants, not just yet.

Up and down from episode to episode and with allegiances confirmed but repeatedly frustrated it's quite a roller coaster ride. Watching the four episodes in the American dub and the subtitled version, the dubbed version feels somewhat livelier, the dialogue an improvement over the subtitles. The villains are reprehensible and there is a wish to see them finished off, the exception of course, Kyoko who's one killing was of a thug character, that is still disturbing because of the delight and seeming attraction she had to her victim and her fashion sense. It suggests that she won't kill anyone until knowing a little more about them, but that knowledge may play little in the final decision of their fate. Halfway through and one would expect that the full cast of characters has been introduced and the story can now get on with the murderous journey to the final battle.

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