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Black Cat - volume five: Cataclysm

director: Shin Itagaki

97 minutes (12) 2006
MVM DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Paul Higson
Black Cat: Cataclysm (an overenthusiastic subtitle), volume five in the entertaining anime series, sees a slight dip in standard as the story weakens, becomes guarded when it comes to the removal of characters and delivers only the most rudimentary of moral lessons. Chapter 17: Napping Cat ('Dozing Cat' on the disc) sees the story waylaid momentarily by a side adventure for Train Heartnet. Removing the opening and closing titles, and the teasers, each episode has little over 20 minutes to tell part of the story and sojourns from the main story thread have only that time to establish new characters, a story and a resolution. This story appears to be too big for the slight conclusion. It is less of a breather and more of an interruption. Though seemingly removed from the main story we can remain suspicious and there is the hint that Saki, the sweet but battling young woman in her own now very private war, comes from the same people as Saya.

Chapter 18: Cat Sets Sail opens with Cat-san and company, Grin and the Sweepers Attendance assembled on the quay of a coastal town facing Kraken Island, which is home to the Apostles of the Stars. Grin is exposed by Train as Chronos #10 Lin Shaolee who admits that the purpose of the sweeper recruitment was as a distraction force to open up the island for the Chronos numbers own attack squad. The sweepers are considered dispensable. Learning this, the alliance disbands though for the majority it is to the nearest bar. Train, Sven, Eve and Rinsley mean to proceed to the island but the Apostle doctor has created homunculi that descend on the coastal town wreaking havoc. Sweepers and allies alike do battle with the monsters and Lin Shaolee is forced to admit a new found admiration for the sweepers who have jumped into action without any negotiation of a fee or monetary award.

For Chapter 19: Sprinting Cat our heroes survive a bomb attack from Echidna Parass and are washed ashore in disparate groupings. Rinslett is the only one to skip the battle, leaving on another secretive mission. The big kid that I am there is a lot to revel in as the episode is a non-stop series of tussles between a splintering of heroes and the newly enhanced model of homunculi, a fusion of nanotechnology and Tao, and therefore more difficult to despatch. The war is dizzying and exciting, though a little kill shy. There will be deaths on both sides (or will there? - as a member of Chronos and a member of the Apostles appear to breath their last) but the makers seem uncertain about the popularity of both heroes and villains and trepidant about the ultimate removal of a character lest it is some viewer's favourite. Preta Ghoul is back, recruited by the Apostles for the fight, and in his delusional state he mistakes feisty sweeper girl Silphy for the dead Saya. Eve will take on Leon and though Sephiria advances on Creed she must first go through Echidna.

A satisfying episode is followed by a disappointing continuation of these battles in Chapter 20: The Cat's Showdown (titled 'Cat Faces A Showdown' on the disc). Creed is demented, has a god complex, and with nanotechnology and Tao magic in his body is now self-regenerating and possibly eternal unless Black Cat can stop him. Sephiria urges Train to use the Orichalcum bullet, which will attack the villain's system down to the molecular structure, but he is reluctant to go in for the kill. Meanwhile, Sven and Eve try to keep an unconscious Silphy safe from Preta Ghoul. The Apostles seem to be crushed but as the episode closes and we wonder where the story can go for what might be the concluding four chapters several Chronos numbers 'copter out with the few 'undealt' with Apostles taken into 'custody' with Sephiria left out in the cold. The numbers left behind have either failed or follow too truly the moral brief of the Chronos, when the domination many accuse them of is the true objective as the old numbers fall and are replaced. The series is still good, but the creators are falling too in love with their creation and the combined promise of seismic shifts and the unwillingness to act murderously on the cast feels dishonest. The viewer feels ragged and toyed with.

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