Book Review: Black Cat Volume 3

July 8, 2018

Black Cat Volume 3 cover

I hope everyone is having a good Sunday, regardless of whether one is on break or getting ready for the daily grind.

Things have been going pretty well here, as I can still do what I like.

Recently, I got some books from Amazon, so that I could give a series a try, and out of the three installments I got, only one remains, which means I can delay things any further.

Today, I will be reviewing that last remaining title, which is called Black Cat Volume 3 by Kentaro Yabuki.

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

After an encounter with the number 2 of the Chrono Numbers, Train and the gang head off to meet with their client, a person who knew Train during his days in Chronos, to get information on their next target, and are confident about being able to deal with the job.

However, members of Creed's group are also looking for that same man, in order to bring him into the fold, and if Train fails, Creed's group might become stronger.

While the first two installments of a series can be great, subsequent volumes might not live up to the hype, which is why no series truly deserves a free pass.

And after reading this volume, I found it to be okay.

From the moment that I opened up this book and started reading it, I found myself so engross that I did not want to stop reading for any reason.

One of the most important things a work of fiction is how it begins, because fiction is supposed to allow us to escape from reality for a brief moment, and if a reader can be drawn in quickly, it has completed part of the job exceedingly well.

With manga, this accomplished by picking up at a good spot from where the last installment ended, and Shueisha did a good job of that, by deciding the right time to pick things up.

In the previous volume, the battle with Creed concluded, with his comrades deciding to continue on with things, and the way Sven talks with Train suggests that they needed to prepare to resume work as soon as possible.

Here, things start off with a typical day of the usual bounty hunting, involving small fry, and somebody from Chronos shows up, talking about Train.

Even though this is the usual pattern for this series, except for the receiving something from a former fellow assassin, it really helped me to get myself immersed back into the world, in order to see just what is coming up next, as well as find out when Train will encounter Creed's group once again.

If things had not started off this way, and either each boring day after the Lunafort Tower incident occurred or things started off immediately on the train that Train and his party are riding, I think that I would have been a bit disappointed, more so if it was the former, as the latter would have been acceptable and something that would not have had me lost, because both Shueisha and Kentaro Yabuki usually start things off pretty well, knowing when the right moment to start and finish things.

Thankfully, they did not drop the ball immediately after doing two volumes right, and that makes me want to give them some applause for staying consistent.

Hopefully, things will continue staying the same in this area, as I would really want to see this stand out as an overlooked gem, but it might be a bit before I can continue on with this series, as the first of this month's expected preorders will be rolling in soon.

I also liked how Chronos was delved into a bit, through the discussion about the person that was seeking Train's help.

When Belze, the number two of the Chrono Numbers, approached Train, I thought that they were trying to once again recruit him, especially because of the little conversation that happened at the end of the first chapter, and I was kind of annoyed, though it was obvious what would happen, due to the sequence being a flashback, as Chronos was no longer the big threat that it seemed to be back in the first volume, yet Kentaro was trying to make them look important, but after reading what Belze said, it made me wonder if Chronos was truly completely evil.

Later on, after we find out what was contained in what Belze gave Train and the trio meet the person requesting Train's help, Sven notes that the client seemed like a good person, who was the kind of person that people would want to have in a position of authority, due to the concern he has for the people of his city, yet also a high ranking of Chronos, who is known to go around having people killed, and Train tell him that the person they met is both a good and decent person and a Chronos crony, when Sven asks about his true nature.

Now, some of you guys may be wondering how he can be a good and caring person, yet at the same time, somebody who is willing to have a life snuff out without any hesitation, even if that person has children that they need to look after, but Train says that people like the client are not uncommon among the high ranking members of Chronos and the organization is a necessary evil, in order to prevent war.

In our society, we live with people who have different thoughts and beliefs, and because of those different thoughts and beliefs, as well as the fact that there are not enough resources to go around and make everyone happy and healthy, humans will commit the most evil acts to get want they want, even though we are taught that we must have empathy for others and treat them how we want to be treated.

Because of those acts of evil, we must accept the fact that we must do things that most would not consider to be right, in order to try and maintain some kind of balance, in addition to protecting ourselves and those important to us, and seeing this kind of discussion between Train and Sven, it helps to humanize Chronos and shows why nobody, aside from Creed and his group, who were finally given a name in this volume, tried to bring it down.

If this kind of event did not take place, I would have probably been rooting for Creed and not truly understood why Train did not join him in his quest to destroy Chronos, as they would have come across as just as evil as they do in Gonzo's anime adaptation, with members that believe that Chronos must exist in much the same way that a Christian, true blue Mormon, Jew, and Muslim believe that their religion is the church that people need to be happy in life.

Fortunately, Kentaro realized that he could not have multiple groups that continually gave Train problems, and at least gave a reason for Chronos existence in world of the series, rather than just being an organization that seems to only satisfy the greed of those at the top, while brainwashing its members into believing that it really needs to exist, which makes me want to give him a good round of applause.

Hopefully, things can start focusing more on what Creed and his comrades are up to, and how Train will have to deal with them, as they have already been established as the ultimate antagonists of the series, at least for now, because that has my interest more than this business with Chronos, but I would not be surprised, or even feel angry, if the skirmishes with Chronos do not end, due to the fact that there is no doubt that there are a few high ranking members that still consider Train a threat.

Another thing that I liked was how a thirteenth member of the Chronos Numbers was revealed to be inevitable, and Train was not chosen for skill.

Back when I saw the anime, I got the feeling, and it was even stated, that the Chrono Numbers were only comprised of twelve elite assassins, and Train's skills impressed Chronos enough that they allowed him to join, which gave the impression that Train was highly skilled, and I thought that would have been the case here.

However, when Belze confronts two members of the Apostles of the Stars and their fight is interrupted by Shiki, Belze stands there, thinking about Creed, noting that he was good enough to become the thirteenth member of Chronos and was considered, but because of his instability, they made Train number 13.

By reading through this, it not only made Creed look like somebody that was truly dangerous, rather than the arrogant, and possibly narcissistic, person he appeared to be back in the second volume, which did make him seem like the big bad, but gave me the impression that there was no maximum number of people that could become a Chrono Number, just that getting in was difficult.

If Train was the only one considered to be number 13, and only as an exception, like he was in Gonzo's anime adaptation, I would have found it to be both fairly realistic and believable, as things are not always concrete in an organization, and organizations would want to keep people they find useful, but I would not have been too happy with it, as it would have given me the impression that I was wasting my time going through the original source of this series, due to the fact that Kentaro Yabuki cannot really deliver anything that would be interesting enough to read through again.

Hopefully, things like this would continue to crop up as the series progresses, because I would really want something to look forward to reading, just like any other normal reader, but I am aware that things will not always remain as good as they were, so I would not be surprised if I could predict things easily, like I could in Joseph Reid's Takeoff.

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

While I would not consider it to be the best, as it comes off as typical for the series at this point, and I think that it could have ended better, by cutting off everything after Karl notices how much Train changed for the better, it at least does something important that an ending needs to deliver, which is to give a sense of closure before the next adventure.

Ending in series are supposed to give readers an incentive to continue on with a series, and, even though there are many ways to do this, readers get annoyed when the conclusion is always something like a "tune in next time to see if so and so can get out of the situation" or "tune in next time to see what happened to so and so."

Series like Black Cat feature so many adventures, and to keep the audience interested, they must not only get a sense that there is more to come, which is something that many manga today do really well, but also feel like the got some closure for a small moment, and Kentaro Yabuki, as well as Shueisha, or whoever they had put these volumes together, delivered.

If things were extended out more than they needed to be, which is a big problem people have with series like DBZ, Bleach, Naruto, and One Piece, with the former three being the ones that talked about a lot in this regard, I would have been just as annoyed as I am when Detective Conan starts off a volume with the conclusion of a case that really needed to be read in one sitting to enjoy, not to mention made me feel like this installment was more of a waste of time than something that is only okay.

Thankfully, that did not happen, and it let things end well enough to make me feel like giving Kentaro Yabuki and Shueisha a passing grade in this area.

Hopefully, things improve in later volumes, to where I can be truly happy with what I got, because it would show that a lot of effort was put into making something the best that it could be. But seeing as this volume is not quite that high on my list, I would not be surprised if things got worse.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, at least that could stand out as much as what was mentioned.

Because my interest was captured quickly and held right up until the end, Chronos was explored a bit through discussion, which humanized it a bit more than Gonzo's anime adaptation and made it seem to really be a necessary evil, it was revealed that the membership of the Chrono Numbers might not be fixed, and that both Creed and Train were considered good enough to become one of them, as well as the fact that the end provided some closure, this was a pretty decent read.

Although there were things that I liked about the book, there are some issues.

However, aside from things that are too minor to talk about, as such typos, only one thing really bothered me.

This volume felt more like an intermission or in between stuff than part of the beginning of an adventure.

Now, as this is only the third volume, I do not expect too much to happen, since this series is made of up 20 volumes that are hard to obtain, except through digital means, but the first few installments are supposed to give the reader a reason to read the series, by making them excited to see what is going on and what is to come, in addition to fleshing out the world and characters.

However, aside from the run in with two members of the Apostles of the Stars and the fighting that happened between Belze and those same two comrades of Creed's, nothing really seemed to happen to the point where I could hardly remember anything that happened.

In fact, the only thing that I remember clearly is that someone said that it was not time yet for the Apostles of the Stars to declare war on Chronos, which I could only confirm was Creed by looking back through the pages.

Really guys? I am not even a quarter of the way through this series and things are already not that memorable? Shueisha, or whoever they had put this volume together might not have had much of a choice, considering that there are not usually too many chapters available when the Japanese publisher start to compile chapters into volumes, but they could have still gotten onto Kentaro Yabuki's case for not making things stand out enough to get people interested, especially because not everyone is going through a series from the first installment.

If Kentaro Yabuki put as much effort into the chapters in this volume as he did in the first two volumes, enough so that the finale stood out more, I would have got the urge to got and get a few more volumes right now, which is something that everyone in the entertainment industry would want to see.

Unfortunately, things ended up feeling flat enough that I want to take time away from this series, if not drop it completely.

By making the reader feel like they need to take time away from a series, rather than allowing them to feel like the can, the creator who more than likely will end up not making money because the series will eventually become forgotten, as people forget things the longer they have been away, and that is what I suspect happened with Black Cat.

Hopefully, things get better in future installments, but because I do not have the urge to continue on with this series any time soon, I might not find out, depending on how long I stay away from the series.

Thankfully, this was the only thing that really bothered me, so I can leave Kentaro Yabuki and the other people who worked hard to bring this series to the masses with the feeling that they can do better.

While there was only one issue, the fact that it happened so early in the series, where capturing the audience's interest is important, and was an issue no reader should need to suffer through, the book suffered enough that it could not really stand out.

Despite the fact that there was quite a bit to like, and only one thing that was passable, the feelings that nothing really happened was bad enough to make this only good enough to kill time.

I mainly recommend this to fans of Black Cat, as they will be able to enjoy this the most.

As for everyone else, this might be worth giving a try, but because it seemed to be pretty uneventful, I do not think that this would be a good enough book to show why people liked this series, especially if one has already read a lot of manga before this one.

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

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