Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Black Cat (manga, vol. 15) by Kentaro Yabuki

All the bounty hunters that had been going after the Apostles of the Stars were separated after they were attacked. Train and River find each other quickly and agree to a temporary truce. They are found by two members of the Apostles of the Stars, Maro, who can control gravity, and Preta, who has the power to erode things. Maro chooses to fight Train, while Preta fights River. Train is hampered by his unwillingness to kill Maro, and Maro's abilities prevent Train's bullets from reaching him, but Train figures out a way around that problem by shooting at Maro from directly above and using special bullets. River manages to hold his own against Preta by relying on his metallic armor, but when Preta steps things up a notch and makes it impossible for River to touch him, River wins the fight by using his fist to create sonic shock waves that knock Preta out without River having to touch him.

Meanwhile, Eve is elsewhere on the island with one of other bounty hunters. They are found by Leon Elliot, an Apostle of the Stars who uses wind as a weapon. The bounty hunter is hurt pretty quickly and can't take part in the fight, so Eve takes on Leon on her own. Everyone underestimates her - the bounty hunter, because he doesn't know Eve's abilities and thinks she's just a kid, and Leon, because Eve's a girl. However, Eve's been practicing her transforming abilities, and she's in top form for this fight. Leon finally decides to hit Eve with everything he's got, and Eve makes him promise that he'll leave the Apostles of the Stars if she survives. Eve turns herself into steel and manges to survive his attack with some damage, and, before she and the bounty hunter with her leave, Leon reiterates his promise to leave the Apostles. The volume ends with Sven catching up to and saving a bounty hunter who's about to be killed by an Apostle who uses ice as a weapon.

It's always fun to see Eve fight, because you never know what she'll do - after all, she can change her body in just about any way she wants. Unfortunately, I kind of think that this is also her weakness as a character - it can get old if a character is too powerful, and there are times when that seems to be the case with Eve. Her main weaknesses are her inexperience (which becomes less of a weakness every time she fights) and, if I remember right, her tendency to tire if she overdoes things. In the long-term, I'm not sure if she'll continue to be interesting - Train, on the other hand, can still have some very cool battles after 15 volumes, even though he can only use a gun.

Of course, Train now has the rail gun, so maybe he'll start to get into the realm of "too powerful to be truly interesting" too, but his fight in this volume is mostly just about thinking things through and using the right bullets. River, on the other hand, was a little silly in his battle. "Sonic fist"? Right. I know this sort of thing (sonic weapons, I mean) has been used before in other manga, but it doesn't really fly in this one, at least not with River. As far as I know, River's supposed to be an ordinary human who just happens to have a lot of training when it comes to fighting with his fists. He doesn't have special powers like the Apostles, and yet no human could really do what he does with his fists.

Well, I guess I'm getting a little nit picky. Anyway, those who like a few good battles will probably like this volume more than the previous one. As far as extras go, there's a few funny extra comics, a character profile, and a couple factoids about some of the techniques characters use in this volume.

Before I move on to the read-alikes and watch-alikes, just a note: for some reason, the sweeper (aka bounty hunter) Eve is with (I think his name might be Kevin) reminds me of some of Yuu Watase's characters - he'd look right at home standing next to Absolute Boyfriend's Night.

Read-alikes and Watch-alikes:
  • Alice 19th (manga) by Yuu Watase - Sixteen-year-old Alice has always felt overshadowed by her older sister Mayura, but never more so when she develops a crush on her sister's boyfriend. Not long after Alice finds a rabbit who tells her that she's been chosen to be a "Lotis Master," Alice has a big fight with her sister. As a Lotis Master, Alice's words have power, and Mayura disappears after the fight. Alice works with Kyo (Mayura's boyfriend) and others to try to find Mayura and free her from the evil that has taken her over. I know I mentioned Watase's Absolute Boyfriend at the end of my post, but I think this series is a better match for those who like Black Cat - there's lots more action in this series. Of course, since this is also a romantic title intended for girls, there's also lots of hot guys and romantic tension. I'd recommend this series to those who notice (and like) the hot guys in Black Cat and would like more romance with their fight scenes.
  • Naruto (manga) by Masashi Kishimoto; Naruto (anime TV series) - Naruto, a young ninja, is determined to become the best ninja in his village, but he must first learn teamwork and better fighting techniques in order to survive all the tests he needs to pass in order to become a full-fledged ninja. Those who'd like another series with humor, drama, and intense and exciting fight scenes might want to try this title.
  • Bleach (anime TV series); Bleach (manga) by Tite Kubo - Ichigo Kurosaki has been able to see ghosts for as long as he can remember, but it's not until he meets Rukia, a Soul Reaper, that his life really gets strange (not to mention dangerous). When a battle with a Hollow goes badly, Rukia tries to lend Ichigo some of her Soul Reaper powers but ends up accidentally giving him everything. Now a full-fledged Soul Reaper, Ichigo battles Hollows with Rukia's help and guidance and gradually becomes even more powerful. Those who'd like another action-packed story with lots of battles and interesting characters with amazing abilities might like this anime/manga.
  • Rurouni Kenshin (manga) by Nobuhiro Watsuki; Rurouni Kenshin (anime TV series) - During the violent Bakumatsu era, the assassin known as Hitokiri Battousai paved the way for the Restoration, killing many. Years later, this man, now known as Rurouni Kenshin, has given up killing and chooses to wander from town to town. After he helps a woman named Kamiya Kaoru, his wandering life becomes more rooted, at least temporarily. Kenshin is willing to fight to help others, but he does whatever he can to avoid having to kill. Those who'd like another action-packed series in which supposedly human people do impossible things (which happen to still be cool to see, as long as you can suspend your disbelief) might want to try this title. There's lots of intense battles, engaging characters, and a good mixture of humor and drama.

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