Manga-ka: Kentaro Yabuki
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Released: March 2008
Synopsis: “After surviving another attack by the Apostles, Train and his partners agree that they have to eliminate Creed. At Sven’s urging, Train finally reveals the details of his past: the nature of his relationship with Saya Minatsuki, the reasons for his quitting the Chrono Numbers, and the cause of his violent hatred of Creed.”
A good portion of Black Cat volume 13 is a flashback to Train’s days as an assassin for the organization Chronos. Befriended by a kind, lively sweeper named Saya, Train begins questioning his morals and is soon unable to perform murder as efficiently and without question as he once did, much to the anger of his superiors. When Creed, another member of Chronos, takes it upon himself to fix the problem, Train’s will for vengeance against the man is given stark backing.
Though built up as a pinnacle part of Train’s back story, Saya’s story isn’t as dramatic as its intended. Readers already know the jist of the story: Train befriends girl, girl is killed. There isn’t much more to it than that, other than circumstantial elaboration. Though Train is telling the story to Sven and Eve, Saya’s story is told from a third person perspective, making readers privy to information that Train himself would not have known or been present for at the time. To her credit, Saya is an interesting character, even if with little time for development, and it’s evident from her talents where Train gained some of his own skills.
The rest of the story follows the trio of travellers as they discuss their newly decided hunt for Creed. Sven realizes he needs to master the power of his eye, which allows him to see brief moments into the future, and Eve tells her ‘creator’ that they’ll speak more after this is all over. While Sven begins his training, Train and Eve meet some challengers in a sweeper bar that may have some important information about finding their target.
The artwork in Black Cat remains as solid and attractive as it’s been for the twelve volumes before. Its strong lines and powerful short action sequences are common to the more shonen styles, while the use of particular panel work and character designs give it a hint of more shoujo-oriented titles. Kentaro Yabuki is a talented artist, mixing action, expression and a balance of detail and simplicity that keeps Black Cat flowing smoothly page to page and a treat to the eyes. At the risk of sounding perverse in focus, Saya’s breasts should a realistic and noticeable skill for portraying weight and fabric.
Overall, Black Cat volume 13 is more of a stepping stone release, filling in some gaps and preparing to lead up to the next encounter with Creed. Fans of the series will find what they’ve enjoyed up until now is continued here with more good stuff promised for the future.