Book Review: Black Cat Volume 2

July 6, 2018

Black Cat Volume 2 cover

I hope that everyone is having a good weekend, regardless of how it is being spent.

Things are still going well here, and I can continue doing what I like.

Recently, now that things have lightened up a bit, I decided to revisit a series that I remember liking and purchased the first three volumes of that series.

Today, I will be reviewing another one of those installments, which is called Black Cat Volume 2 by Kentaro Yabuki.

As I have given a series synopsis in an earlier post, I will not go over it again.

After Train successfully escaped Torneo's mansion and Sven showed his resolve, the two decide to take care of Torneo.

However, once they finish business with the infamous boss, yet another face from Train's past reappears, one that caused him great suffering, and he intends to recruit Train for his own purposes.

While the version of Black Cat had such a great start, that does not mean that things will continue to be great, so it is best to give time for a series to really develop.

And upon reading this volume, I can say that I liked it quite bit.

From the moment that I picked up the volume and started reading it, I was so engrossed with what was going on that I did not want to stop reading for any reason.

As I have mentioned time and time again, the most important thing about a work of fiction, regardless of medium and genre, is how quickly it can capture a person's interest, because that can influence whether a reader can overlook even the smallest issue, as they could get wrapped up in the moment or the world to the point where it does not really phase them.

While this can be accomplished in numerous ways, such as show a brief moment of a certain event and the go through everything leading up to that, with the best example of this kind of beginning being featured in volume 1 of Pandora Hearts, a series, especially manga like this, has some requirements that standalone works do not suffer from, which is a need to pick things up from the previous installment, and this one does a pretty good job of fulfilling that requirement.

Back in the previous volume, after Sven wakes up from being blindsided by Torneo and Eve, Train tests Sven's resolve, because he fears that Sven will be a liability if he does not have any, and then they are shown at the very end marching towards Torneo's mansion, which had me pumped to see how things will proceed.

In the first chapter of this volume, we see the duo commence their attack and get to work on their real objective, which immediately reminded me of what happened at the end of the first volume and helped to pull me right back into the world of Black Cat.

This is the kind of thing that I expected to see at the beginning of this volume, and Shueisha, or whoever they had put this volume together, chose the perfect place to start things off.

If Shueisha, or whoever they had put this volume together for them, had not chosen to start off with the chapter that immediately picks up where things left off, or Kentaro Yabuki and crew had started the chapter off in a fashion similar to the chapter found at the beginning of volume 13 of A Certain Scientific Railgun, where I am confused about going on, though that had more to do with that series only getting one new volume every year than the way it was written, I would have been pretty disappointed, as there was no other way, at least that I could think of, that would be able to start things off perfectly.

Fortunately, that did not happen, and that makes me want to give the people who put this together, and even Kentaro Yabuki and his crew, a good round of applause for job well done.

Hopefully, future volumes will be able to start off just as well as this one did, but knowing that humans are the ones that put this volume together, and nothing we create is perfect, in the sense of what most people consider perfect, I will not be surprised if there are some mistakes.

I also liked how my time did not feel like it was wasted in the beginning.

While this does kind of relate to how well I was pulled into the work, this does deserve to have its own point, as, unlike many other manga series I have covered, where I am aware of future events, and this series is supposedly quite a bit different from Gonzo's anime adaptation.

One of the things that I hate about manga today, particularly a few of the series that have yet to conclude, is that they do not necessarily end in a good place, which can be noticed whether one has knowledge of what is to come or not, though those that are familiar with what is to come, like a graphic novel editor, the people responsible for dealing with the serial publication of a series, and the fans who make sure they read the latest chapters when they get released, do have it easier than others, thus leading to future works starting badly, and that makes it so that those who are not familiar with manga or the industry itself would blame Viz for something that is not under their control.

The reason that this occurs is because many of the Japanese publishers seem to believe that every volume needs to have a certain number of chapters, such how every volume of The Promised Neverland had 9 chapters, at least that I could personally verify, rather than including either fewer or more chapters to allow it to end at the right spot, without having to mess up the creator's work, and that means that volumes do not always end at the right places.

For example, even though Detective Conan is a favorite series of mine, and my reviews for the series garners more traffic than anything else, there are times where I feel like my time is being wasted because the case from the previous volume was pretty much wrapped up, yet because Gosho Aoyama chose to end the case in the next chapter and Shogakukan has practically made the volumes releases contain no more than 11 chapters, I have to read the next volume to get a conclusion that does not allow things to start off well.

With this volume, I was kind of afraid that things at Torneo's mansion would conclude without incident and move on to something else, just like many of the other incidents found it the first, and I was ready to start to take both Kentaro Yabuki and Shueisha for doing something so stupid.

However, instead of wrapping things up in only a single chapter and getting things over with, I was actually happy to see that I got an actual raid and confrontation, as well as something that agitated Train enough to make him lose his cool, before this character started to play a bigger role in the series. All of this happened in the span of three chapters and had no clear hint that things were close to being over.

By doing this, Shueisha, or whoever they had put this volume together, allowed for the reader to take more time to get invested in the book than if they had relied on only a single chapter to try and capture the audience's attention, making me think that they actually took the time to really think about how these chapters were going to be released in volume format.

If they were lazy and said that they were only going to put in ten chapters in every volume, except the first and last, of course, I would have been a little disappointed in things, but not as much as if the end of that segment was a forgone conclusion and the publisher was obviously wasting time.

Thankfully, that was not what happened, and that makes me want to give Shueisha, or whoever they had put this volume together, a good round of applause.

Hopefully, this series does not get stuck in the thought processes that volumes must have a certain number of chapters every single time, because I want to be led to believe that this is a great series, just like any other reader that gives any new series a try, but I am still perfectly aware that things could get worse, so I am ready for when I have to lay the smack down on people doing a poor job.

Another nice thing about this volume was how there was a huge amount of tension, which left me on the edge of my seat.

Even though there is nothing that has gone on that would be able to help me to really nail down what kind of series this is, like I was with Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, the things established so far, such as the existence of bounty hunters, the protagonists are both bounty hunters by trade, and the first few chapters involved their adventures, that ended up becoming more dangerous than what could have been caused by the people they pursue, this is an action heavy series, and that means that I am expecting to see action and fighting that truly excites me, just like the best fights in A Certain Scientific Railgun.

Just like having happy endings for the sake having a happy ending, putting in fighting and action because you believe that every male on the face of the earth enjoys seeing action is something that television, movie, and book fanatics hate seeing, as we get the feeling that these moments are supposed to be exciting, yet it lacks the signs of any heart, due to how poorly everything was executed or the creator obviously did not pour their blood, sweat, and tears into making something great.

Fortunately, Kentaro and his crew were aware of this necessity, and really seemed to put their all into what is found in this volume.

This is what fans of action series want to see, and Kentaro and his crew delivered.

If Kentaro delivered something that was similar to the boring chase found in Netflix's recent adaptation of Death Note, which is much worse than the first of the original Japanese live action adaptations, I would have just given up on this series, once I got through my stock of volumes, much like a few other series I tried out recently.

Fortunately, that did not happen here, and they deserve to walk away with a good amount of applause.

Hopefully, things will stay just as exciting as they were in this volume, because I would very much want to have another series, other than Studio Pierrot's anime adaptation of Yu Yu Hakusho, that I could still recommend others check out now, but because this series has already fallen into obscurity, to the point where all 20 volumes could be considered out of print here, I would not be surprised if things take a turn for the worst.

The thing that I liked the most about this volume though was how it ended.

While the beginning is important because it helps the reader get the temporary escape from reality that they need, the end is just as important, because it helps the reader to be able to determine whether they made a wise decision in investing their time in the work.

In the case of series like this, the end is supposed to give readers an incentive to check out the other works, because people who write series generally need all of the installments to sell well, especially if it is one overarching storyline, like many manga series out there, and this volume really delivers in that aspect.

Towards the end, after Train goes to meet the source of his pain and engages them in combat, we find out that Train was hurt badly, via a flashback to before he was healed, as he explains to Rinslet, who used the oldest trick in the book, what happened, and then, later on, things more over to ship, where Creed's comrades gather, and Shiki tells the group to go gather more allies, while disposing of anybody who gets in their way, before ultimately ending with Sven telling Train to get ready to resume work.

Even though this is not the most original ending out there, as it has been done numerous before, it still works quite well, because it gives me the impression that this group Creed has assembled together and Train will clash again, as well as makes me interested in seeing what these guys can do, aside from the small demonstrations made by Shiki and Kyoko.

If things did not end like this, I think that I would have been a little disappointed, because there does not seem to be any way to end this better, except for possibly cutting out Train's finally conversation with Sven in the volume, and ending things any sooner or later than this would have made me not as excited to check out the next volume.

Thankfully, both Kentaro and Sheisha, or whoever they had put the volume together, chose a great place to end both the chapter and volume, which makes me want to go out and give them a good round of applause, as I want to start reading the next volume right now.

Hopefully, the future volumes will continue ending just as well as this one did, because I would prefer to continue singing praises for this series, but I am ready to pounce for when things go south in this department too.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, at least that could not be shoehorned into what I already talked about or could stand out as much as what was already mentioned.

Because my interest was capture relatively quickly and held right up to the end, I did not get the feeling that the things found here should have been in the previous installment, which helped the first positive aspect of this book, the action was exciting, rather than something that Kentaro thought was needed because males like seeing a ton of action, and the ending has me anxious to read the next volume, even though it is the kind of ending that has been seen many times before, this was a fairly decent read.

Although I like the book, there are some issues.

However, aside from things that are too minor to talk about, such as typos and the rare occurrence of words missing, which is understandable because the editors and proofreaders of translations are only human and cannot be expected to catch every mistake, there were only two things that bothered me.

First, there was an extra page that seemed to be misplaced.

Now, some of you guys might be staring at your screen and wondering why I am once again talking about extra pages, when I said that I was pretty much going to skip them after my experience with the first volume, but the difference was that those extras were at the very end, whereas most of the extras here were found in between chapters, making them a bit harder to ignore.

Throughout most of the volume, the extras, which were mainly private drawing and character profiles, seemed not bother things too much, as they did not really bother the flow of the content itself, but when I approached the 18th and final chapter, I noticed a page with a few notes, most of which concerning content previously seen, and all the way at the bottom, there was a small note of something I had not encountered before, with a panel that does not get shown until the final chapter.

If that was all it was, I probably could have let things slide a bit, and I would not have bothered bringing it up.

Unfortunately, not only does the last thing on that page contain something that is about to come, but it was obviously written after the final chapter was serialized and reads like it was supposed to have been read only after having read the final chapter in the volume.

Right now, some of you guys might be even more annoyed with me, as notes being written after a manga chapter's original publication is not new, otherwise you would not have situations in which it was practically impossible to have a series end in a certain volume because the division does not have a remainder of 0, due to how many chapters are left in a series that have not been compiled into volumes, but it gave me the impression that I had already seen the seen in a chapter already seen in the volume.

Seriously, Shueisha? Is this really a sign of professional work?

Because of the entirety of the content of that page, the place where it needs to be found is after the last page of the final chapter, not before the first page of the final chapter, unless you guys want to mess with Kentaro Yabuki's wording, or at least JN Productions translated things for Viz.

If it were moved to the end of the volume, possibly before any extras that Viz Media possibly decided to omit, this would have been a great addition, and given readers here the same experience as those that read the volume over in Japan, after having read the chapter in the weekly serialization.

Sadly, it just had to be here, and it really got on my nerves.

Hopefully, nothing like this happens again in the future volumes, but because this series is old enough that neither Viz Media or Shueisha cares about it, I would not be surprised if this happens again.

The second thing that I hated, and the thing that really bother me though, was how Creed explained his capability.

One of the things that has been plaguing many manga today, especially those in same magazine as the widely popular One Piece, is that both the good and bad guys explain their techniques and how they functions, with Bleach being a great example, and that makes it so that their opponents can easily counter it, with almost none of kind of level of strategy Mikoto Misaka had to come up with when facing down ITEM, and that really bothers me because it does not really let the characters shine.

Sadly, this series, which started before Bleach, according the series page on Baka-Updates Manga, which says this series came out in 2000, while Bleach premiered in 2001, according the same site, kind of suffers from the same thing in this volume.

When Train faces off against Creed, whom he has a grudge against, Train tries to get some distance, and then Creed says that he can extend the length of his sword because it is made from his energy, rather than an actual blade, declaring that he can win.

Now, this might make sense with Creed's personality, because he thinks that is so great, especially with him thinking that Train would give up and join him, but if he just extended the length of his sword, without mentioning anything, or sliced anything other than Train's body, he might have been able to stand a chance against Train, but by telling Train that it was an invisible blade that could extend, I just knew that Train was going to mop the floor with Creed.

Honestly, Kentaro this was a dumb move, because it takes away from the excitement, and really hurt what was otherwise a decent fight.

I am not sure about you guys, but seeing this happening here, it is no wonder that Tite Kubo thought it would be a great idea to talk things one step further and have opponents seemingly ignore all of this info that is useful for their enemy.

Instead of making Creed seem this stupid, Kentaro should have had all of these comments, such as his blade being invisible and that it could be extended out, it would still portray who Creed is to the reader, while making him feel like he is a worthy antagonist for Train to deal with, thereby actually letting me enjoy things a bit more.

Unfortunately, that was not how things went, and it makes Creed's comrades come off as more interesting villians than Creed himself.

Hopefully, things do not become so bad that this series really become one of the series that makes characters explaining their own techniques to the opponent before actually seizing victory something that is acceptable, because I really want to give this series a chance, but if things are this bad in the second volumes, I would not be surprised if things become worse before this series is halfway through.

Thankfully, those were only things that really bothered me, so I can still leave Kentaro Yabuki and the others that worked on this series with some dignity.

While there was only one real issue that really affected my enjoyment of this volume, the two issues that bugged me both hurt the overall quality of the release of this volume.

Despite the fact that there were two things that really bothered me, the good outweighed things enough to make the book worth reading.

I mainly recommend this to fans of Kentaro Yabuki and Black Cat, and maybe fans of action, as they will like this the most.

As for everyone else, this might be worth giving a try, as it is still the early portion of the series, but I recommend reading the previous volume first, so this can be fully enjoyed.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider donating as little as $1/month to me on Patreon, so that I can find more worthwhile reads for you guys.

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