Black Cat Volume 1: The Cat Out of the Bag

Hawkeye

Enter a rough and tumble world, where the weak don’t make it and the tough still can’t quite cut it. Black Cat Volume 1 plays out a scene of bounty hunters trying to make ends meet . For these hard working bounty hunters, or Sweepers as the series call them, there is no middle ground, it’s all or nothing.

In the first episode of this series, the two destinies of Black Cat, a seemingly ruthless assassin otherwise known as “Erasers” and a kind hearted down on his luck Sweeper named Sven intertwine with each other. They’re both sent after the same target, Liv Tyrant, a politician who’s dirty to the core. Sven seems to have the upper hand with his ability to see into the future exactly 5 minutes and a go-go gadget briefcase even the Inspector himself would be proud of, but it seems the poor guy is just down on his luck and the cold-hearted Black Cat hits his mark while Sven can only watch. But is Black Cat really as icy as he seems? A mysterious girl in a kimono spots him feeding a homeless kitty milk on a roof top and makes him rethink his ways.

imageEpisode two continues the action, introducing a dangerous killer named Preda Gul. He likes melting his victims with gastric acid that’s secreted by his skin. This guy’s dangerous, but not too dangerous for the mysterious kimono girl. She snatches up the bounty posting before poor hungry Sven can even dream about claiming the money. Forced to find other work, Sven agrees to help an energetic busty blonde named Elaine save her sister from a ruthless gangster named Kornayo Rudeman. Meanwhile, kimono girl seems to have bitten off more then she can chew, as she finds more and more victims of Preda Guls in an office building, and finally finds Predu Gul himself. She’s about to be melted into a pile of a dust, but Black Cat does something heroic and busts in to save the day.

Elaine and Sven head to Kornayo’s secret villa to rescue Elaine’s sister, but much to their surprise, Black Cat is already there,. As Black Cat hesitates to kill his mark, the guards swarm in and Elaine and Sven make a break for it, leaping out the ocean view window and floating down the cliff on a brief case glider. Sven decides to cut the crap, and reveals he knows Elaine’s true identity as a master thief named Rinslet, then demands to know what’s going on. As it turns out, the girl wasn’t Rinslet’s sister at all, but the 4th most dangerous bioweapon in the world, created by Kornayo with stolen military intelligence. Sven needs to clear his head and goes for walk and discovers the escaped bioweapon watching pigeons in the park. The two bond over some good food and Sven vows to rescue the sheltered girl as Kornayo’s men drag her away. At the same time, Black Cat vows not to fail his mission again, pitting Eraser and Sweeper against each other once more.

imageEpisode four is the big show down, the past paced race to get to the bioweapon named Eve first. Sven’s ability to see into the future lets him get there first, but it takes too long to convince Eve that indeed she wants to eat more yummy food and be rescued. Black Cat arrives and Eve begin to duke it out with him. Things only escalate when Kornayo sticks an amplifier onto her chest sending her internal nano bots into a frenzy, transforming her into a blade whip monster as she battles with Black Cat. Sven can’t desert a damsel in distress and manages in a self sacrificing effort to pull the amplifier off her chest. Once again, Black Cat leaves Eve alive.

The animators didn’t skimp out on this series, there’s no cheaply reused animation, no still cuts for the fight scenes. The art was fluid and crisp, and an interesting mix of a serious anime style with splashes of silly scenes where the characters are vaguely chibi-fied. Somehow, they manage to insert chibi scenes and not detract away from the darkness of people getting murdered.

I really liked the music. Not only is the opening song really awesome, they do a spectacular job with the music in the fight scenes. It really gets you into the series by setting the mood and getting your heart pumping as the action really picks up. I don’t think I would have been nearly as into the show during the race to reach Eve if the music hadn’t been so good. The voice acting was also good. Black Cat was distant and a bit cold, Rinslet had a lively upbeat voice, and Sven had the voice of a guy who was just down on his luck but still not beaten. I’ve never heard the Japanese voices so I can’t compare, but I think they did a damn good job on the dubbing.

One area this DVD was lacking in was goodies. The only extra on the disc was text-less songs. I would have killed for some character profiles, or even just an art gallery. However, since this was the first disc, we can hope that the later discs will pile on the fun stuff for the fans.

Black Cat was a delightful surprise. I was expecting another monster of the week series, but got something much deeper. It has a major plot among all the smaller plot lines, and characters who grow and interact with each other. There’s just something about this series that’s indescribably appealing, a certain depth that makes it have that unique and special quality.

Entertainment: 9.5
This series promises to be one of the next big things.

Technical: 7
Sound and animation were great, but I want my extras!

Overall: 9

Episodes: #1 The Solitary Cat, #2 The Hesitant Cat, #3 The Cat in the Dark, #4 The Grinning Cat

Extras: Textless Songs, 5.1 Surround Sound

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