Black Cat continues to be a game of two halves as it divides its time between the Apostles of the Stars with their plans to surpass Chronos and the more trivial day-to-day adventures of Train and his misfit ‘sweeper’ friends. While both aspects are entertaining in their own way the story is only beginning make any particular effort to strongly link the two; it can be thought of as a recurring story arc interspersed with filler or a recurring story arc interspersed with fun side-stories, depending on how enjoyable you find the side-stories/filler to be.
The side-stories in this volume include an incident in which Train is infected with nanomachines and undergoes a transformation…into a young boy! Initially irritated by the fact that he’s lost his physical strength and stature, a younger-looking Train heads into town with Eve and falls in with a bunch of orphans who are faced with eviction from their hide-out at the hands of the local yakuza. Unless the children of this episode show up later on in the series, it’s safe to say that the events of this episode won’t play any significant part in the story as a whole.
The main event is of course the power struggle between Chronos and renegade Creed’s Apostles of the Stars. The former try to bring Train back but eventually accept the fact that he is unwilling to return and is better left alone because he already considers Creed to be his enemy; Creed on the other hand seems to be overlooking the fact that Train blames him for Saya’s death and has no intention of joining the Apostles at all. At this point Creed still admires Train – obsessively so – and considers his skills, which appear to exceed even those of the other Chronos Numbers, to be an asset to his own cause.
I’m sure the figure of man-in-the-middle who is hellbent on revenge is familiar to many of you but within its SJ genre conventions Train’s predicament is quite interesting. He is determined to put an end to Creed and his plans, but at the same time is hardly on Chronos’ side either. It’s a shame that Saya didn’t enjoy more screen time because it would have been more appropriate given the significance of her part in Train’s life and mindset.
That is to say that Train is driven by both his yearning for an independent life as a sweeper that she introduced to him (which drives him away from Chronos) and revenge for her murder at the hands of Creed (which puts him at odds with the Apostles). Considering the fact that one of the Apostles has already met his end thanks to Train’s interference, I daresay that Train may not need to kill or even defeat Creed: the lack of a united front within the Apostle ranks and in particular Creed’s lack of rational judgement regarding Train may prove to be their undoing.
Another aspect of the potential break-up of the Apostles is the sentimental attachment that Kyoko has for Train. Her high school antics and childish crush on him are presented in the mildly irritating slapstick fashion that the series is so keen on but the significance of her feelings are important enough for me to put up with that for the time being. She is so devoted to Train (considering the fact that he saves her life once again, I guess that is understandable) that she is prepared to leave the Apostles in order to avoid becoming his enemy. She takes inspiration from his reluctance to take the lives of others too, which I hope will be revisited in future outings; especially when she is now considered a traitor of the Apostles after her departure.
Black Cat is still a fairly predictable series with generic characters and uninspiring animation; unless you appreciate this type of supernatural adventure there won’t be anything in these episodes that will change your mind. Despite this I’m finding it to be at least watchable and at least isn’t dipping in quality since the previous outing.