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read our reviews of: Black Cat
volumes 1 + 2 | volume 3


Black Cat volume four: The Cat's Tale

director: Shin Itagaki

97 minutes (15) 2006
MVM DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 9/10
reviewed by Paul Higson
Following the major confrontation in the 12th episode, this series goes through a reassessment. New opening and closing title sequences, the ending with a new song and embarrassingly kitsch glamour shoot. The series tidies house, pruning the cast but only in order to make way for a shed load more. Episode 13: The Love Cat sees the Apostles of the Stars on an in-house cull, terminating one of their own. The internal slaying pegs open a rift between the remaining apostles and Charden is particularly disparaging about the lack of unity. He decides it is time to leave the evil fold and continue alone in his mission to bring down Chronos... and on his own terms.

His partnership with Kyoko must end too but he is not going to leave her among the Apostles coercing her to return to school life where she can occupy herself in the besotted worship of Train. The Apostle scientist has a new trick up his sleeve, a bullet full of nano-machines that have an unpredictable effect on the victim as long as they survive the gunshot. Kyoko had become a too likeably comic character and it became inevitable that she had to transfer. Her crush takes her to Black Cat who this time takes the bullet for someone, and asks Kyoko not to use her fiery powers. The episode is laden with superb high comedy adding insult to the memory of the fallen apostle at the beginning of the chapter.

Episode 14: The Kitty Cat ('Little Cat' on the disc) continues on the comical high as the nano-machines take effect and rejuvenate Train to his child self. The girls, Kyoko and Eve, adopt him as their little brother during this perturbation, and join him in the streets where he goes to the rescue of street urchins. The kids are menaced by gangsters who want the valuable wasteland on which the orphans have set up home... sleeping the nights in a broken down single-decker bus. Train and Eve stay overnight with the children in what is no more than a routine tale of protection in the series before returning Train to full moggy size. A photograph of the three oldest children and their absconded leader angle forwards towards a very possible rehabilitation.

Episode 15: The Distant Cat ('Receding Cat' on the disc) pins down the ex post facto fate of Team Cerberus. The Chronos numbers are in countdown and the ranks have to be filled again. One number will not be replaced, however, and that is XIII. As long as those that tattoo lives under the skin of Black Cat there will be a gap in the Chronos killing machine. Seferia Ark, Chronos #1, is sent out again to seek out Black Cat, this time to terminate him; a return to Chronos for the stray puss is now impossible. Push as she might to see her mission through there is always one more barrier or excuse and this time it comes in the form of Charden. Seferia needs to kill Black Cat, Charden wants to finish off Seferia, and Black Cat wants neither of them dead. What use is Hades, the gun, if Black Cat is not going to use it, demands Seferia along with the return of the weapon, but Black Cat hangs on to a lesson taken from Saya.

Having seen the Chronos squad in reconstruction it is time to introduce a more interesting fourth outfit in episode 16: The Cat And The Lizard ('Cat That Hunts A Dragon'). The sweeper alliance will, though, comprise of a few familiar faces. Chronos have laid a huge bounty on Creed Diskenth's head, which the cardinal of camp delights in, foreseeing accurately that if Black Cat sees it he will surely come to him to claim it. Sven sees the bounty poster first and allows an old friend to divert the hungry Black Cat. Train, the impostor, Eve and Rinslet search for a missing pet for an attractive finder's fee, while Sven follows up an advertisement for a new team.

The reward on Creed is significant enough that it can be cut up any number of ways, with an additional two billion for the remaining Apostles. The Sweeper Alliance is formed under the leadership of an information broker named Grin, a motley argumentative group that disrespect one another like poker players. In banding up they are under the impression of a chance of claiming the full reward. It is a motley bunch with some characters more likely than others to survive the following episodes. The episode adds eight new fellow combatants swelling the adventure's population and paving the way for a mighty and murderous battle.

The round of departures and new arrivals is complete and sets the stage presumably for a mess of violence and a heap of grief to come. The tone has been very light over the four episodes and the series is at its funniest yet. One keens for the next four shots of Black Cat and company. The animation too is at a creative peak, an experienced team popping in every trick they have picked up over the years. The colours are startling and the gimmick imagery bedazzling. The dubbed version of the series is more comically effective whereas the Japanese language version falters. The Japanese voice for Kyoko sounds younger but several other characters are more difficult to sex with their vocal artistes, unlike the US dubbing which makes it more easily discernable.

The disc includes trailers for Love Hina Again and Witchblade.

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