Darker than BLACK – Review

Huang, Yin, Hei, and Mao

When I first heard of Darker than Black, I rather quickly dismissed it as another run-of-the-mill superpower anime and believed it would have very little that appealed to my interests.  I don’t believe I’ve ever hated myself so much for making such a premature decision  about such a great show.  I will admit that at first I thought the show was rather confusing and not very good at  explaining  what was happening, but I quickly got over those for its well developed characters and rather interesting plot, and the whole lore and mythos surrounding the series.

Darker than Black tells the tale of a world not to far into  the future, where two areas of inhabitable space called Heaven and Hell’s Gate have spontaneously appeared in Africa and Japan respectively.  With these mysterious areas came superhuman beings known as contractors (named so for the price they must pay in order to use their power) who’s existence is hidden from the public eye.  Quickly after their appearance, contractors are hired and organized into the secret services of various governments, and other clandestine organizations; one such being The Syndicate, the employers of the main characters.

The story revolves around a mysterious man simply called Hei and his team, who are employed by the Syndicate.  The other team members consist of Huang, a human who receives their orders from higher up, Yin, their doll (a being which appeared alongside contractors, and show no emotion, but have the ability to send out remote observation ghosts through a specific median, such as water or glass), and another contractor named Mao, who resides within the body of a cat for the majority of the show. The character development is very well executed, and about half of the show is spent telling the back-stories, motivations, opinions and relationships between the main characters.  This feels rather Cowboy Bebop-ish but in my opinion it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Also take note that there are SEVERAL other characters who are very important to the plot, but it would take way too much time to explain them all.

When the show gets past it’s character stage it begins to delve into the philosophy of humanity; are contractors inhuman monsters, or are they simply what humans would be if they could? Do they really have no sense of morality or right or wrong? Most of it revolves around the contractors relationship to humanity and how human they are themselves. Obviously there are instances of their cold-hearted rationality, where no matter what might be morally right, they do what would benefit themselves the most; but there are also times when some actually show compassion and signs that they are not truly monster

The art style itself is rather plain, but the character models are all unique and

The Chinese batman

memorable, further instilling this series importance of characters and character development. However many of the actual battles are very well animated and are very exciting and fulfilling, and it goes without saying that some of the ways they use their powers in different ways is rather interestingThere are negatives while they are very minute in comparison to the good of the series.  I found it very stupid that the writers felt the  need to constantly explain things that were not needed; if I see someone eating a box of cigarettes 6 episodes in, I don’t need to be told what they’re doing. Also the ending feels very forced, and leaves a lot of questions unanswered. The squeal and OVA’s provide only a bit of what I feel is needed to fully complete the story. This series DEMANDS a third season, preferably now.

People who are fans of science-fiction works are sure to find at least some enjoyment in this work. If you like character driven stories then this series is defiantly for you, however, if things going unexplained annoys you, you may find this series to be quite frustrating for a while, as I was.

  • Story – 9
  • Art – 7
  • Sound – 8
  • Characters – 10
  • Overall – 9

Posted on March 21, 2011, in Reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I totally agree with you that a third season would be great! I’d very much prefer a prequel to the first season, but anything new Darker than Black would be awesome! 🙂
    For me it’s a bit strange that you gave the art only 7. Personally I think it was very good, not many details but aesthetic enough. Or maybe it’s just that it’s been too long since I’ve watched the show and have started to idealize it… I should watch some episodes again soon.

  2. The art was fine and everything, and for me a 7 is pretty good. 10’s are reserved for stuff like Evangelion and Bebop, and 9 is pretty rare as well.

  3. One of my absolute favorites. The ending made me want to avoid the second season completely. Not to mention that switching from dubbed to subbed is extremely awkward. I would give this an 8.

  4. Remind me of Fullmetal Alchemist. You should watch it, it’s pretty fun.

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