Archives for : Darker Than Black

Darker Than Black Season 1 Blu-ray Premium Edition (anime Review)

Darker Than Black Blu-ray Premium editionTitle: Darker Than Black : Complete Season 1 Blu-ray Premium Edition
Director, Author: Tensai Okamura
Studio: Bones
U S Distributor: Funimation Entertainment
U S Release Date: May 26th, 2015
Format: DVD/ 625 minutes
Genre: Drama, Sci Fi, Supernatural, Neo-Noir
Age Rating: TV MA
Overall Personal Rating:  A
Similar Series: Baccano and Gunslinger Girls


At what point is a human life more important than any other life? Also what makes a human being, is it the ability to live based on emotion or is the inability to utilize cool logic to control your action?

Darker Than Black takes place in Tokyo after the emergence of the Heaven and Hell Gates that changed the world forever. The area around Heavens Gate has become inaccessible and over 100 million lives were lost in its destruction. Hells Gate in Tokyo has begun to show unusual activity and contractors have become more involved in the area. When the Gates first appears the sky changed and all of the stars became false images. The one thing about these false stars is that they were all connected to a person on earth. The person associated with each star gained an unusual power and when they used the power they had to pay a price. The powers can range from turning their handprints or blood into a bombs, transporting themselves or others they touch through space and time or even changing things at the molecular level. The name contractor comes for the unknown contract they enter into when they discover their power. They must pay a price every time they use their power and the price is typically something they do not enjoy from having to smoke a cigarette to breaking their own fingers.
The contractors also lost their emotional bearings when they entered into the contract and are cold and calculating persons who are viewed as less than human. They have become assassins or governmental field agents doing the dirty work. With their powers and apparent lack of emotion the end up being the perfect agent but there seems to be something happening and things just might be about to change forever.
The series revolves around a small group that is associated with a secretive syndicate that seems to have some very deep connections. They always get the best intel and have a knack of being in the right place at the right time. Our main protagonist is Hei, aka the Black Reaper or BK-201, appears to be just another college student trying to make his way in the world. He is partnered with Yin a Doll or spirit medium, doll are basically shells of people that can project themselves out into the community as long as they are in contact with natural substance like water, power lines or even windows. The Dolls are very much emotionless and almost void of any personalities. The next partner is Mao, the black cat. He is a contractor that can project himself into animals, the big problem for him is that his body was last and he lives his life as a black cat, who just so happens to be a great spy. The last member of the team is the field supervisor, Huang. Huang is a normal human and former police office until he lost his wife when she turned out to a contractor and killed his partner.
This group seems to just be following order until the appearance of the rouge Contractor group Evening Primrose, who seem to be interested in seeing the same thing happen at Hells Gate that happened at Heaves Gate. The leader of Evening Primrose also happens to be an old friend of Hei’s and is after him to join their group, but Hei believes that she had something to do with his sisters disappearance and would rather destroy her.

Throughout the series all roads point to this union and the mystery of what really happened at Heavens gate. The cast of Characters is a large and lively bunch and the action and drama leads to an exciting conclusion.

Darker Than Black is one of those series that gives a rich and colorful backdrop to the age old question as to what does it really mean to be human. The development of the story leads us to believe that Contractors have lost their humanity and are nothing more than tool, but this viewpoint can be seen throughout history toward any group that does not fit the norm. With their special powers and strange rituals that must be made in payment for use of the powers it makes them also seem like super-humans. I think that the way that the Contractor’s existence is first portrayed and then later evolved into something much different provides of that connection that need to happen for this series to have its real impact. The team of Hei, Yin, Mao and Huang is a microcosm for the series. You get to see these characters grow and develop and become something more than just a machine directed by the syndicate’s puppet masters.
I really enjoyed the juxtaposition of the highly emotional team lead and the blank void of Yin the Doll. I also enjoyed moving through this series and discovering that there is something hidden just below the surface on each of these complicated beings.
I must applaud Tensai Okamura for providing such a rich environment for these characters to develop. There is a lot going on but all of the plot devices do not collapse and make things too complicated.
The animation and overall quality is also at a level that help to keep the dramatic feel moving and helps maintain the overall quality of the series. My hat is off to the staff at Bone for the superb quality and attention to detail that they provided for this series.

Overall Grade: A
If Sci Fi drama is your bag, then Darker Than Black is for you. The creation of the series and the pacing will not leave you wanting for more. It deserves every bit of an A. It is great to see Funimation re-release this awesome series in this premium Blu-ray edition and reintroduce it to a new generation of serious anime fans.

Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor (anime review)

Darker Than Black season 2Title: Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor 
Director: Tensai Okamura
Studio: Bones
U. S. Distributor: Funimation Entertainment
U. S. Re-Release Date: May 12th, 2015
Format: Blu-ray and DVD/ 400 Minutes / 12 episodes and 4 OVAs
Genre: Sci Fi, Action , Adventure, Drama
Age Rating: TV MA (due to violence)
Overall Personal Rating: A
It’s been 2 years and everything is all messed up. It looks like something big is about to happen and Hei and Yin appear to be at the heart of it, but why?

Drunk and working for the CIA Hei is on the trail a boy Shion Pavlichenko who seems to be the key to the wakening of Izanami, a doll that is prophesied to be the destroyer or killer of contractors. Hei makes a move for Shion at the same time that the Syndicate also moves in along with the Russian authorities. Shion escapes and everyone thinks that his twin sister, Suou, is him. Hei ends up helping Suou escape but in the escape they are caught in a trap that ends up turning her into a contractor.
Hei takes her under his wing and trains her to become a killing machine. Because of the loss of Yin, Hei has become a drunk and a mean drunk at that. There is also Mao, who has come back and ended up in the body of a flying squirrel that is Suou’s pet. At one point the Doll, April, who was also working for MI6 and helping the CIA breaks ranks and joins forces with Hei, Suou and Mao. The four of them begin to make their way back to Japan in search of Suou’s mother and brother. Along the way the begin to discover the secrets about Suou’s brother and his connection to Izanami and also Yin’s connection to both. All of the character along with some new ones are back for this next chapter in the Darker Than Black Saga.
In this edition there are also the four OVA’s that should be watched first. They provide the gap between the first 25 episodes and this 12.

First off, be sure to watch the four OVA’s first. There is a good deal of information in those four that the opening of Gemini of the Meteor won’t be confusing. I watch as the series progressed and then sat down with the OVA’s and caught myself saying more than once ” Now I get it!”.
This series is true Darker Than Black. From the very opening you get sucked into some seemingly normal existence and watch it get turned upside down. You also get to see people go from being regular humans to becoming Contractors and lose their humanity and compassion. As you move through these episodes you will find yourself trying to make a connection with Suou to have those perceptions turned upside down later in the series.
The over all look of the series was great. From the animation to the blending of the soundtrack everything merged together and made a complete package. In many ways I would have enjoyed this being a little bit longer to maybe allow for more of the newer character to develop, but in the end I was happy with what I was given. I found the playing with Hei’s character to be most rewarding. Giving him even more humanity than before helped to express the impact he had on those around him. The one thing I also enjoyed was the way that April, the stoic doll, managed to become more than just a watcher, he managed to get some emotional evolvement.
Again I can’t stress enough how important it will be to watch the OVAs before you start the series. They provide some serious back fill that will help make the first few episodes even more meaningful. After watching the OVAs I went back and watched the first four episodes again and was blown away by how much more it all made sense to me.
Overall Grade: A
Being a true fan of this style of hard Sci Fi drama, Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor  has everything in it from the tormented hero to helpless girl who ends up being anything from helpless to the core of the opposing forces that have their own agenda. The intrigue is top notch, I just wish there would have been a little more.