Anime Review: Darker Than Black

Introduction:

Darker Than Black is an anime series, created and directed by Tensai Okamura, and animated by studio Bones. The series has 25 episodes, and it was released in 2007. It is set in a world where heaven’s gate and Hell’s gate appear in United States and Japan, and reeking havoc afterwards.

Plot:

After a special anomaly called Heaven’s gate and Hell’s gate appear at United States and Japan, it causes havoc within the world. Shortly after that, people known as Contractors start to appear, who have special powers, each Contractor having a special power of their own.

The series follows Agent Hei and his comrades in a sindikit organization in the Tokyo, trying to unravel the mysteries of the Hell’s Gate.

My watching experiences:

The Gates appeared ten years ago. The Gates altered the sky of the Earth, and the Contractors are kept secret from the public, used for spying and assassinations by the governments.

Darker Than Black follows around a Chinese contractor code-named “Hei” as he undertakes espionage and assassination missions in Tokyo directed by the Syndicate. In his false civilian life where he is known as shy a student under the alias Li Shenshun, Hei is assisted by Yin, an artificial human labeled as Doll and Mao, a Contractor trapped in a cat’s body and overseen by former police officer Huang. The series has a villain-of-the-week format, which develops the main characters including a Japanese Public Security Bureau who oversee the activities of dangerous people with supernatural powers.

Early in the series Hei is revealed as a former fighter in the Heaven’s War, searching for his missing sister Bai; he believes that a woman known as Amber is suspected by him of being responsible for Bai’s disappearance after escaping from the Syndicate. Amber leads Evening Primrose, a group of Contractors targeted by the Syndicate who claim they are terrorists. Pandora, another group, investigates Hell’s Gate; the Syndicate is using Pandora and its Saturn Ring weapon to attack Hell’s Gate and annihilate the Contractors. This creates mayhem within multiple Syndicate agents with Huang committing suicide when being targeted by them. Hei and Yin meet Amber while Mao escapes from them. Upon meeting Amber, Hei is revealed to be an ordinary human who became able to use Bai’s power after his sister placed his body onto his flesh through her powers. When Saturn Ring is activated, all Contractors except Hei are killed. Hei has a vision where he meets Bai and decides to betray the Syndicate. Amber uses her Contract powers to revert time long enough to enable Hei to destroy Saturn Ring, and Hei and Yin escape from the Syndicate.

The early episodes are very depressing, nearly reminding me of Elfen Lied. However, the episodes afterwards maintain a balance between humor and seriousness.

Conclusion:

Although I did enjoy this show as a mystery, I failed to connect with the characters on an emotional level. This is nothing rare, it is just surprising when it happens. Only few times it has happened to me.

The ending song is something I’ll remember for a long time, since it is the first Japanese song which I can follow with my fledgling Japanese language skills.

Overall, I think the show is enjoyable. It just didn’t give me the same level of enjoyment as the internet hype makes you believe.

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Published by Tanish Shrivastava

I'm a guy who likes programming, chess, and writing.

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