Black Cat 4 by Kentaro Yabuki: B+

blackcat4From the back cover:
Persuaded by the promise of a gourmet dinner, Train accepts coy cat burglar Rinslet’s invitation to be her date at the birthday bash of a prominent socialite. But Train may have bitten off more than he can chew because among the guests at the party is a murderer who believes that killing is a fine art!

After a couple of simple yet effective chapters that fill in part of Sven’s past as an employee of the International Bureau of Investigations as well as the origin of his right eye, we get into what could’ve been a supremely silly story. A wealthy woman named Madame Freesia, who has amassed her fortune by dealing in exotic pets, is holding a birthday gala and Rinslet has managed to wrangle an invitation. Madame Freesia is notorious for showing off newly acquired “treasures” at these parties, and Rinslet is eager to get her hands on the newest one. To support her cover story, she needs Train to pose as her husband and promises that he’ll see something that interests him, as well.

This “something” turns out to be Lugart Won, a notorious assassin who prefers the purity of hand-to-hand combat. Although untrained in this area, Train’s cat-like reflexes make him a worthy opponent for Lugart and they have quite a fun brawl out in the corridor until Madame Freesia’s latest “treasure” causes a stampede. Why? Because it is a dinosaur, of course.

The inclusion of a dinosaur in the story could’ve been ridiculously stupid but it actually turns out to be rather fun. I was inexplicably delighted that it heralds its entrance by tossing a battered car into the ballroom, for example. It also gives Eve the opportunity to protect people with the abilities she’s been given while also preserving the life of the artificially-created dinosaur, with whom she feels kinship because of their origins. She can’t quite manage it on her own, but she’s been practicing (inspired by seeing Train do the same earlier in the volume) and shows impressive control of her abilities.

This volume also provides a clue as to the setting of this story. In volume three, there was a sign for Charing Cross and here, we’re informed the party takes place in Loire Province, which is in France. So it would seem we’re looking at a European setting. However, Saya Minatsuki, whose name is unquestionably Japanese, doesn’t seem to know the name of the “far east country” from which her kimonos hail and one of Creed’s minions is described as coming from “Jipangu,” so I am all confused. Is this an alternate world or is it Europe?

Still, that’s a pretty minor quibble. I can’t complain much about a series that’s able to include a dinosaur and not have it be too dumb for words.

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  1. I can’t complain much about a series that’s able to include a dinosaur and not have it be too dumb for words.



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