Sachi’s Review: Darker Than BLACK
In 2007, Bones premiered Darker Than BLACK, directed and written by Tensai Okamura, also known for his work directing Wolf’s Rain and other work on shows such as Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG, and Samurai Champloo. Since it’s airing, DtB has been adapted into two manga series, awarded Best Original Anime of The Year by GoGoplex, and continued with a sequel in 2009. And, if you want a fan’s opinion, it’s awesome.
I don’t typically check out the action-oriented shows unless it has gotten good recommendation, however, this show happened to catch my attention when I was browsing My Anime List, despite the premise presented by My Anime List being so weak. Because of this, I’ve decided to give my own review:
Ten years ago a mysterious territory known as “Hell’s Gate” appeared in Tokyo, completely separated by the rest of the city by a large wall. With the appearance of this territory, the night sky disappeared, and was replaced by a shade of false stars.
On top of this, mysterious beings, that appear as regular people, began emerging; these people became known as Contractors, and each of them has their own unique ability, however, in order to use these abilities they have to pay the price, also in a unique fashion, that they call their “obeisance”. These obeisances can range from something completely meaningless, to something painful. It is never clearly stated what happens if a contractor fails to pay their obeisance, but it is implied that they’ll die. Another thing: regular people are completely unaware of the existence of Contractors, and if one is discovered, the government will apprehend the Contractor, and erase the memories of everybody involved in any incident and may have seen the Contractor.
It is with this general knowledge that the show begins, and that becomes the general basis for the circumstances surrounding most of the episodes. The plot is divided into two-episode “mini-arcs”, each arc adding to the overall story that the viewer will begin to understand as the series continues, and eventually comes together at the end. So, here’s where I shall introduce the main characters.
Taking the role as the lead protagonist, we have Hei, otherwise classified as BK-201 and the Black Reaper. One of the more skilled Contractors, Hei has the power of electricity and appears to have no obeisance. As the Black Reaper, he appears completely serious, apathetic even, to the work he’s doing and the people he may be killing. However, when he’s in public, putting on the guise of being an exchange student from China named Li Shun Sheng, Hei appears very friendly, gentle-hearted, and with a large appetite. He works for a secret organization, simply known as the Syndicate.
Hei has two partners, Yin and Mao, and a leader of sorts, Huang, who acts as a liaison between the Syndicate and Hei. Yin is known as a “Doll”, and appears to have no emotions and rarely speaks; she has the ability to survey anything near water, whether it be a river, or even just a leak in a faucet. Mao is Contractor that completely paid off his contract, but at the cost of his original body, so he resides in the body of a black cat; however, a cat’s body is not enough to support his full consciousness, so the rest is backed up on a server somewhere. Mao has the ability to possess the bodies of animals. Huang is a regular human being, and openly spites Contractors; he mostly gives orders to Hei and the gang, directly from the Syndicate.
Then we have the perspective of the cops, primarily of Misaki Kirihara. Kirihara is a Section-Chief of Tokyo’s Foreign Affairs Division 4, and is primarily concerned with the Contractors, her main target being BK-201 (whom we know is Hei). She is confident, serious, devoted to her work, and loves eating fast food. Her father is the Superintendent of the National Police Agency, though she would like to make a point that she is a cop independent of her father, and doesn’t credit him to her status as Section-Chief.
Throughout the rest of the series we meet many different characters, some that we love to hate, others that we hate to love, and then some that are side characters that we shouldn’t care about anyways; we get our classic comic reliefs, as well as our maniacally evil bad guys. What more could you ask for?
Overall, with a combination of the story, characters, animation and everything else that goes into consideration for making a review like this, I am going to have to give this show a fat 9/10 for being so awesome. Darker Than BLACK was one of those few shows that became an instant favorite of mine and I plan on watching the sequel very soon. I mean, what’s better than a Chinese, Electric Batman like Hei? (Don’t answer that question.) If you haven’t watched Darker Than BLACK, do it now! You’ll be missing out of you don’t. If you have, I suggest you watch it again, because it’s just that great.
This has been a review brought to you by Sachi~