Not every anime has a great beginning. Monster's first episode was very good but there were no signs of that becoming a classic until the fourth episode. Trigun's first episode was underwhelming to say the least, filled with over-the-top gunfights and a "Who's the real Vash?" plot line that quickly turned dull, but the second episode, for me, was what really kicked off the series. From the first episode, from the very beginning, you can tell that Black Cat is special, but this anime's plot, on the surface, is one of the most generic imaginable. Young hero witnesses a loved one being killed and the hero embarks on a fury-filled journey for revenge (Tell me you haven't heard that one before), but there's so much more to Black Cat than what you'd expect from a summary like the aforementioned one. Black Cat is an action-oriented anime with major focuses on comedy and drama, and even a hint of romance.
Like the plot, Black Cat's four central characters appear as cookie cutter models often seen in other anime. At first glance, the protagonist is the brooding young adult, Sven is the cool guy, Eve's the quiet one, and Rinslet's the kind but loudmouthed young woman. There's more to these characters than the models will lead you to believe, especially for Train Heartnet, the protagonist. Codenamed Black Cat, Train is an infamous assassin for the shady organization Chronos, cold-bloodedly taking lives with Hades the handgun, until he is influenced by the beautiful Saya, an experienced sweeper (bounty hunter), to sever ties with Chronos and his lifestyle of bloodshed. At the series' start, Train is a certified loner, his hobby gazing thoughtfully at the moon, drinking cold bottles of milk while awaiting his next assignment. A self-described "stray cat roaming", Train, in his journey, is revealed to have more layers to his character, at times a carefree traveler with an often-hungry stomach, and in fights a confident challenger with strength, agility, and marksmanship on his side. Train Heartnet is an interesting character in a show filled with them.
Sure, Train's an amazing protagonist, but what really elevates Black Cat overall is the focus on the other characters. Eve is the blond- haired android of few words, a lover of books and fireworks, someone who's filled with kindness but isn't afraid to fight either. Sven Vollfied is my favorite character, a veteran sweeper with an eye- patch, green hair, a secret power, a tragic past, a really laid-back personality, a briefcase filled with weapons, and a gentleman's code he really doesn't want to break. Rinslet Walker is Black Cat's sole weak spot in characterization, a gifted computer hacker with a personality eerily similar to Dragon Ball Z's Bulma, a character lacking in depth, uniqueness, and screen time. Creed Diskenth, the main villain, is without a doubt Black Cat's strongest showcase of characterization, a combination of Dragon Ball's General Blue, Knives Millions, and Legato Bluesummers (the latter two of Trigun fame), a genocidal, sadistic, flower-bearing God-wannabe whose obsession with Train borders on the homosexual. Black Cat's cast, infusing an overdose of comedy into the anime, is among the greatest models of characterization ever assembled.
Daia no Hana, Black Cat's opening, electrifies, the theme song, reflective at times and fast-paced at others, a phenomenal way to introduce the upcoming episode (the second opening, while good in its own fashion, isn't as memorable as the first). Black Cat's soundtrack is also a sight to behold (or rather something to hear), Train's theme song highlighting your favorite former assassin's entrance to the battlefield, and Saya's song making me want to punch Creed in the face for what he did in episode 6 (This anime even has opera music in particularly dramatic fight scenes and while it might be downright bizarre in other action titles, it definitely works for Black Cat). This anime's soulful 2nd ending theme is one of the most emotional I've ever seen, up there with the closings in Bartender and Coyote Ragtime Show.
The final four episodes of Black Cat was dedicated to the Eden Project Arc, a brief saga where villains that formerly fought for good decide to use Eve in a plan to change the world. The Eden Project Arc, while very good in many aspects (throughout the series, Brandon Potter, the voice of Sven, showed that he was a great actor but in this saga, his brilliance was highlighted), was ultimately a random plot twist and a weird way to end the series. Compared to many well-known anime, Black Cat is different. For one, the overall quality is much better in Black Cat than the others, but it's Black Cat's reputation that sets it apart. Black Cat is considered a mainstream anime (Lots of anime lovers have heard of this and there was even a spin off video game in Japan for the PlayStation 2), yet in the most important aspects it is not. There are some anime that surpass Black Cat but most of them don't have the charm, the warmth, the emotion, and the uniqueness that this one has. Black Cat is truly anime's lone wolf, and there isn't a higher compliment that I can give to it.
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