Black Cat (ブラックキャット Burakku Katto?) is a Japanese Shōnen manga series written and illustrated by Kentaro Yabuki. It was originally serialized in Japan in Shueisha's Weekly Shōnen Jump. It was later collected in twenty tankōbon volumes from January 11, 2001 to October 9, 2004. The series was adapted into a twenty-four episode anime series by Gonzo studio. It debuted in Japan on the anime satellite television network Animax and the terrestrial Tokyo Broadcasting System network on October 6, 2005 with its final episode airing on March 30, 2006. The story centers on a man named Train Heartnet who withdrew from an elite group of assassins called the Chronos Numbers (時の番人 Toki no Bannin?) to become a bounty hunter dubbed Sweeper.
Viz Media licensed the manga series for English-language publication in North America and as of May 2009, have released all 20 volumes of the series. Funimation Entertainment licensed the anime series for North American broadcast where it was broadcast on the Funimation Channel. The series later were released on six DVD compilations, as well as a Complete Series boxed set.
Chronos, an organization bent on world peace, rules one third of the world's economy. To maintain the balance of the world, Chronos is therefore essential, and there is a need for people to protect Chronos. Thirteen special elite assassins each possess unique orichalcum-forged weapons and are called the Chrono Numbers, assassins who work for Chronos. When the thirteenth Chronos Number (Train Heartnet), also known as the infamous Black Cat, meets a Sweeper (licensed bounty hunter) named Saya Minatsuki, Train's morals and values are changed from those of Chronos's to those of his own. Instead of killing his victims like he is ordered to, he merely uses Hades (his orihilcon gun) to stop them instead. This leads to tension between him and the Chronos Elders, the leaders of Chronos, and eventually culminates in Train's departure from the organization. Creed Diskenth, a Chronos assassin, resents the way that Saya changed Train's life, and murders her. Six months later, Train is an easygoing Sweeper, traveling with his partners Sven Vollfied and Eve, when Creed appears before Train once more. Creed, who Train believed dead, now holds awesome power, using ancient spells of Tao, something Chronos believed no longer existed after the War 20 years earlier. Creed, now with followers and power that rival anyone alive, including the numbers, vows to get Train to join him. Train must choose his friends and new life, or revenge, as Creed threatens to undermine Chronos and start his own World Revolution.
According to Kentaro Yabuki, Black Cat's main theme is Train's journey to find freedom. When the manga ended serialization, Yabuki expressed desire to make a sequel from the manga labelling the series as "Part 1". As he was not sure if there could be a sequel, Yabuki still remarked that the characters of Train Heartnet and Eve may appear in other titles he would make in the future.
Written and illustrated by Kentaro Yabuki, Black Cat was originally serialized in Japan by Shueisha in Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine from 2000 to 2004. One hundred and eighty-five chapters were collected in twenty tankōbon volumes by Shueisha. The first volume on January 6, 2000, with the final volume released on October 14, 2004.
It was licensed in English in North America by Viz Media as they first announced it in the 2005 San Diego Comic-Con International. The first volume released on March 8, 2006 with the final volume released on May 5, 2009. Madman Entertainment published Viz's English release in Australia and New Zealand. The series is also licensed for regional language releases in Dutch by Glénat Benelux, French by Glénat, Italian by Star Comics, German by Carlsen Comics, Simplified Chinese by Chuang Yi, and traditional Chinese by Tong Li Publishing.
Gonzo studio adapted Black Cat into a twenty-four episode anime series, directed by Shin Itagaki. Black Cat was later licensed for an English-language dubbed release by Funimation Entertainment in June 2006. Animax and the terrestrial Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) network with its final episode broadcast on March 30, 2006. Episode fifteen was not broadcast by TBS, but only by Animax. In Japan, the series was released across twelve Region 2 DVD volumes from December 21, 2005 to November 22, 2006. Each volume was also published in Premium Edition which included various extras. The DVD volumes were gathered in a limited release DVD boxset by Sony Pictures Entertainment on April 23, 2008. The episodes were then licensed and dubbed by Funimation Entertainment and were broadcast on Funimation Channel. The series was then released across six Region 1 DVD volumes released between December 19, 2006 and July 24, 2007. The DVDs were gathered in a boxset and released on March 18, 2008.
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There were three drama CD's based on the series released between February 28, 2005 and October 14, 2005.
A full anime soundtrack was released on March 15, 2006 entitled Black Cat Original Soundtrack Nikukyu. It contains the opening and ending themes along with twenty-one tracks of background music.
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With the permission from the author, Kentaro Yabuki, Tomohito Ōsaki wrote a light novel titled Black Cat: Hoshi no Zanshou. It was released in Japan in October 2005.
There were two video games released in Japan. "Black Cat:Kikai Shikake no Tenshi" (lit. Black Cat: The New Angel) was released for the Playstation 2 on March 30, 2006 by Capcom. Black Cat:Kuroneko no Concerto was released for the Nintendo DS in June 21, 2007 by Compile Heart. Characters of the Black Cat series have also made appearances in the games Jump Super Stars and Jump Ultimate Stars.
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As of 2008, Black Cat's twenty volumes sold 12 million units in Japan. Volumes from Viz's publication of the series have also been featuring in best-selling manga rankings such as The New York Times as well as Nielsen BookScan. During 2006, Black Cat was North America 9th best Manga property according to ICv2. In ICv2 Top 50 Manga, Black Cat was listed as the 15th Manga property from North America during the first half from 2008. In ICv2's Top 25 Manga Properties Q1 2009, it was the 22nd best manga property from North America during 2009's first quarter.
The anime has been listed as North America 22nd's anime property during summer from 2008. Navarre Corporation cited the DVD releases from Black Cat as the main reason for Funimation's profit increase during the last quarter from 2006.
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- "BookScan's Top 20 Graphic Novels for January 2009". ICv2. February 5, 2009. Retrieved October 14, 2009.
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- "'ICv2 Insider's Guide' #65: Top 25 Manga Properties Q1 2009". ICv2. June 10, 2009. Retrieved October 14, 2009.
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- "Navarre Q4 Report: Profits Up 24.9%". Anime News Network. February 13, 2007. Retrieved October 14, 2009.
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- Black Cat official site (Japanese)
- TBS's Black Cat anime official site
- FUNimation's Official Black Cat site
- Black Cat (manga) (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia