Manga-ka: Kentaro Yabuki
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Released: November 2008
“The final stage of the battle begins! Now that Train and the Sweepers have reached Creed’s hideout, there is no turning back. But for Train, it’s not about avenging Saya’s death anymore. He’s risking his life to capture Creed as a member of the Sweeper Alliance.”
No surprise after the last volume’s pace that volume seventeen is brimming with action. What remains of the Sweeper Alliance forges their way to Creed’s estate, determined to see him defeated once and for all. But before they can finally face him, more of the powerful members of Tao resurface to cause problems and it takes every one of the characters, major and minor, to make it through.
Kentaro Yabuki has some amazing skill when it comes to pacing himself and it’s most evident in fight scene-heavy volumes such as this one. He juggles numerous characters with ease and I never got tripped up trying to figure out what was going where and who was fighting who. It’s also great seeing characters both new and old coming together in such a comfortable fashion, as if we’d known them all along, when many have only been introduced a few volumes ago. Again I put my hopes forward that they survive! Poor secondary characters, always on the teetering path to possible write-outs…
My favourite character continues to be Eve, one of the story’s leads, who is not only cute and pretty, but powerful and deadly. Volume fifteen showed the level of which her powers have matured while this volume builds on that, showing even more layers to her strength. She’s also matured a lot as a person, laid out here as she focuses on her goal to help protect people and reconcile her past misdeeds under the control of another. While first she was more a young child learning of the world, now she’s a young woman standing up for what she believes in and doing it with skilful gusto.
Much of this book sees the team cutting their way through unsatisfying minions but they’re a nice break between the stronger enemies and keep things from feeling too much like a one-after-another-after-another affair. Their biggest threat at present is a scientist who studies and utilizes nanotechnology, much like that which makes up Eve’s body. The man has numerous devious tricks up his sleeve and the volume’s end sees an even more unexpected development for those who remain in his sight.
The artwork in Black Cat remains one of its highlights and it’s some of the strongest in its genre in terms of consistency and technical skills. The characters are attractively drawn in a way that’ll appeal to fans of numerous stylistic attributes, classically shonen with a touch of pretty-boy, and they’re rendered through solid strokes and balanced toning. Kentaro Yabuki’s work seems to be getting a little bit looser as volumes go by as well, which really adds a more fluid look to it, removing the occasional stiffness some of his panels had before. Another thing I noticed numerous times in this particular volume is the use of speed lines which are well-placed and keep all the movement going in the right direction and taking your eyes with it.
So again I sing the praises of Black Cat. Though I wouldn’t place it on a pedestal with some of the other masterful works out there because it’s still held back as more classic shonen-fare, I can definitely say that it’s good. Very good. Not to mention its just plain ‘ol fun to read. It has all the elements that I love in these kinds of shonen-type action stories and does it in a way that’s undeniably crisp in its quality. The characters are entertaining, the plot easy to follow and all of it pretty to look at. I know I’m still sold and looking forward to the next instalment for sure.