Black Cat Volume 1

Written by Kentaro Yabuki
Illustrated by Kentaro Yabuki

I am so very blessed by having a local library system that buys new manga like it was going out of style. As a result, I get to sample manga of all kinds like this nifty little entry that's a part of the Shonen Jump family. I generally tend to read shojo stuff, but it's always nice to have a change of pace.

Black Cat is the story of two bounty hunters, called Sweepers in this particular world. The title character (a former hitman turned good, or, as he puts it, a black cat that's turned into a stray) and his partner, Sven, go after bounties and get themselves into trouble. It's the same idea as Cowboy Bebop, the more I think about it. The big bounty jobs go bad, they're always in need of food, and the female character is a thief that gets taken along for the ride after offering to get them involved in a caper. I like the premise of Bebop (by far my favorite anime), so it's not a big shock that I like it here, too.

However, while the basic plot is pretty familiar, the way its executed is different enough to keep me interested and not feel like I'm reading a re-themed Bebop. For instance, Black Cat has some pretty awesome powers, which I'd like to learn more about. How did he meet up with Sven? And where does nano-technology fit in to all of this?

I'll warn you in advance that the first chapter is pretty lame--it sets the stage that Black Cat has a lot of powers, but there was probably a better way to do it. Still, this is a good series and I should read more of it soon. [Editor's note: You know, like 3 years later.] If you're looking for a shonen manga to try, give this one a shot.