Preta Ghoul is a minor villain from the manga Black Cat and its anime adaptation. He is one of the latest introduced Apostles of the Star. In the manga, he appears during the battle of Clarken Island only to get beaten by the bounty-hunter River Zastory. On the contrary, he appears early in the anime but he is sent to jail and only seen again on Clarken Island, where he is defeated by Sven Vollfield, one of the main protagonists.
Preta used to be a clergyman until he went crazy, turned serial killer and murdered sixteen people in six months. (How and why did he went mad is never explained.)
He was eventually arrested and imprisoned for life.
However, the Apostles of the Star broke him out of jail and revealed his power of Tao in exchange of his recruitment. (Oddly enough, he lost his hair when he gained his power. The reason why his ears are pointed is never evoked.)
Preta Ghoul is a vicious, sadistic, homicidal and all in all utterly repulsive madman, who gloomily revels in making people scream in terror and pain. His name and aspect figure a living-dead, furthering the disgust he inspires.
Although his power made him exceedingly arrogant, he acts in a collected and falsely courteous way. He is very respectful to the other Apostles, and harbours never-ending gratitude and obedience for Creed Diskenth.
On the other hand, he speaks politely to his foes and preys, but is very condescending, and he likes to boast and to gloat madly. While indeed considerably dangerous, he is way too overconfident and delusionally ignores his limits.
In the anime adaptation, he is even more sadistic and bloodthirsty. He fakes all politeness and viciously taunts his victims. Being defeated made him go completely berserk, searching his victor everywhere and violently lashing out.
Powers and Abilities
Preta's power is called "Decay". He can wither everything he touches with his ki to a variable extent, as if life itself was drained from it. He usually fights at close range, surrounding his hands with his ki to rot everything he touches, ranging from violent erosion to utter disintegration; but he can also fire tremendous waves of corrosive ki along the ground or breathe huge clouds of smoke-like corrosive ki.
Also, he always surrounds himself with his ki to form a "Corrosive Aura" protecting him against physical attacks. At full power, his aura can reduce anything around him to dust and be used for offensive purposes as well. As such, he can only be defeated by special attacks that do not touch him directly. Moreover, he is a highly skilled fighter, able to hold his own against the best experts in close-range fighting.
In spite of his highly dangerous power and his fighting abilities far beyond human level, Preta is very physically frail, going down in quickly, and does not seem to have trained as much as the other Apostles, for he only uses basic attacks and easily read fighting patterns. Should he have trained to the full extent of his abilities, he would have been much harder to defeat. It is also worth nothing to note than his foe's fighting skills rivalled that of the Apostles and the Chrono Numbers (the mightiest warriors alive), while his own were significantly lower.
Role in the Manga
Preta is first seen during the first chapters of the battle of Clarken Island, in which the Sweepers League, a group of powerful bounty-hunters (including the three main protagonists), invades the Apostles of the Star's main hideout. Preta is seen accompanying Maro, when the Tao Master greets Train Heartnet, the series' hero and his fellow bounty-hunter River Zastory.
Maro attacks Train and leaves Preta to challenge River, managing to graze him twice. But the young bounty-hunter surpasses him in skill and punches him in the face, protected from the Corrosive Aura surrounding him by his metallic gauntlets. Preta then drastically increases his aura to form a destructive area all around him. River can no longer get close, but he is not phased, as he uses his “Sonic Fist” technique to send a wave of pure pressure from sheer speed and strength, hitting Preta without physically touching him and knocking him out cold.
Preta's fate at the end of the series remains unknown, though it is likely that the Chrono Numbers tailing the Sweepers League took him into custody or (given some Numbers' mindset) finished him off.
Role in the Anime
In the anime, Preta appears in the very first episodes. He is a serial killer who got in touch with Creed, Shiki and Maro and had his power of Tao revealed. Whether or not he was once a clergyman, like his manga counterpart, is not known.
Preta has an 18 million yens bounty on his head, prompting the young bounty-hunter Saya Minatsuki, to track him down, incidentally just before he can join the Apostles of the Star. He uses his power to drive Saya into a corner, and prepares to finish her off, but she is saved by Train. She finally defeats him and he is arrested.
It is revealed during the battle of Clarken Island that the Apostles of the Star broke Preta out of jail. He has completely lost his mind, mistaking every woman who comes near him for Saya Minatsuki and attacking her out of rage. Eve lures Preta by transforming herself to look like Saya and Sven engages a fight against him.
Sven manages to dodge all of Preta's attacks thanks his "Vision Eye": a special power enabling him to foresee the future. Seeing that Preta's clothes resist his corrosive ki, he rips his shirt off with a fishing pole and uses its fabric to protect his fists, knocking out the deranged murderer with ease. Sven ultimately uses what remains of Preta's shirt to bind him before locking him in a cage.
- In Buddhist mythology, a Preta is a hideously emaciated undead with a bloated belly and a long neck, signifying its never-ending hunger that cannot be satiated. This is the second lowest of the six reincarnation paths, meant for people with bad karma at the time of their death.
- The Ghouls are originally desert-dwelling demonic beings from old Arabian folklore, who can turn into animals and prey upon human flesh. Popular culture
later portrayed it as a man-eating undead entity, a sort of mix between a zombie and a vampire, and it is featured this way in many high-fantasy fictions.