It has been 10 years since Heaven's Gate appeared in South America and Hell's Gate appeared in Japan, veiling the once familiar night sky with an oppressive skyscape. Their purposes unknown, these Gates are spaces in which the very laws of physics are ignored. With the appearance of the Gates emerged Contractors, who, in exchange for their humanity, are granted supernatural abilities.
In the Japanese city surrounding Hell’s Gate, Section 4 Chief Misaki Kirihara finds herself at odds with an infamous Contractor codenamed Hei. Called "Black Reaper" in the underground world, Hei, like his associates, undertakes missions for the mysterious and ruthless Syndicate while slowly peeling back the dark layers covering a nefarious plot that threatens the very existence of Contractors.
From the mind of Tensai Okamura comes a sci-fi thriller taking the form of a subtle exposé on a war in which political positions and justice have no sway—a war waged exclusively in the shadows.
Darker than Black, what an adventure it has been. Darker than Black takes place in a near future world where two gates appeared, Heaven's Gate and Hell's Gate. The mysterious appearance of these gates brought with them the Contractors. Contractors are people who have entered into a contract with an unknown force and gained a unique power in return. The nature of the contract however requires them to give back each time they use their power. Payment is anything from smoking a cigarette to writing a poem. The main story is told through an omnipotent point of view with the "camera man" being at the scene and generally following a certain group of characters, but can focus on other characters as the protagonists for an entire arc. It is a very unique telling of the story and hard to put into words, but that isn't a bad thing.
The animation and art style of Darker than Black are superb. Each character is completely unique and unlike some other shows with several similar looking characters, Darker than Black does an excellent job of giving each character an unique style and a winning personality. The fights of Darker than Black are done very well and are very fluid. Although short at times, it is after all not a shounen series, they are excellent none the less. Some fights are extended and are a real treat for the eyes. Bones, the producers, did an excellent job with the series and I am looking forward to seeing more of their work.
The soundtrack for Darker than Black is up there with my favourites of all time. An excellent mix of various genres of music. At one point it will be a jazz track, then later it will be an orchestra piece or a rock track. Overall the music is really well done and accurately depicts the scene. At some points I found myself with the hair on the back of my neck standing up as the music heated up in preparation of a coming battle. The voice acting is top notch. Hei has two distinct voices: one serious and the other calm or even clumsy sounding. The other main characters: Kirihara, Yin, Huang, and Mao also have top notch performances. Overall the casting and voice acting are very well done.
Each character has their own special traits and have very well written dialogue. Although it is for the most part an Action/Drama type of series, there are often Comedic undertones to help break up the suspense. When Hei is not masquerading as BK201, his codename, he is a very funny and sarcastic individual. Most every character has moments that make you want to laugh, especially Gai, the off the wall private eye, and his partner, the pink haired money hungry Kiko. All in all the characters have a very nice chemistry and it is interesting to see Hei's interactions with the people who are pursuing him. The only thing that is holding back the characters is, with the exception of Hei and Yin, there is very little back story provided for many of the main characters. This is hard to do of course though with an episodic type series.
The series seems episodic as the story is generally told in two episode mini-arcs, with the final arc being three episodes, it never really feels very episodic. Especially toward the end where the main plot runs into each new arc. Although there is a sense of conclusion after each arc, it never really feels like it is of an episodic nature (if that makes any sense at all). I immensely enjoyed Darker than Black and it had a very satisfying conclusion.read more
Ah, the age old question; what to do when certain people suddenly begin manifesting mysterious superpowers. Darker than BLACK responds with a classic solution found in series ranging from Witch Hunter Robin to X-Men: Form secret organizations to monitor and control these people. However, despite the similar theme, this show is anything but derivative.
In the beginning of the series, the premise of the show is somewhat vague as little is known about where the powers of the contractors come from, or how they are related to the gates. As the series progresses more information is inevitably revealed, creating good plot exposition and allowing the story to move at a decent pace and keep each episode interesting. Where this series really shines however, is the characters.
Hei is portrayed brilliantly, having a rather comicbook superhero-like persona but adding a unique spin to it. His motives are not initially apparent, nor is his true relationship with the syndicate to which he belongs. Also, while contractors are known to be emotionless and purely rational, Hei somehow manages to retain his humanity, an anomaly which many of his acquaintances and opponents comment on. The true reason for this, as well as the origin of his powers remains hidden until the end of the series.
The other members of Hei's organization are similarly well portrayed, each being represented uniquely and interestingly. Huang, Yin, and Mao each have a well written back-story that is both engaging and important to the overall plot. The other characters in the story are outstanding as well, especially the antagonists. Despite the fact that the contractors are supposed to be unemotional, each character still manages to have a unique personality which often even enhanced by this fact.
If there is one weakness in this series, it is the ending, which is unfortunately rather inconclusive. I'm kind of hoping for a sequel, but this may be difficult for reasons that would be hard to disclose without revealing spoilers. The ending also has a "suddenly everything got weird" part to it that seems common in final episodes of supernatural anime, but at least it makes a lot more sense than many I've seen. If you like shows about people with supernatural powers, I think you should definitely watch this series.read more
•Cool ass Chinese Batman protagonist in a Gotham-esque neo-noir setting?
•A city overrun with nifty characters that have x-men like powers?
•Nice mysterious lore with strange in-world concepts?
•A clear-cut answer to ALL of these "mysterious" concepts and a sense of finality to our protagonist's existence?
Don't hold your breath.
Darker and Black felt like a show that was onto something worthwhile but ultimately never got around to proving it. The ingredients to make a great show was clearly there and the buildup seems to promise an amazing payout. But by the end, all we got was a show with ambitious ideas that did nothing but let it dwindle away into nothingness. Does that mean it isn't worth the investment? Well, yes and no. If all you wanted was a cool ass electric Batman beating the mercy of God into x-men characters, then DTB certainly delivers. However, if you wanted more than the beat-em-up action happening on the surface and actually cared the complete package, then you'll walk away empty-handed.
Long story short, Darker and Black had the goods, just not the means necessary to deliver them.
**THIS REVIEW WAS BROUGHT TO YOU BY PIZZA HUT**
Instead of reciting the synopsis, I'll get straight to what the meat of the show consists of.
The story follows a series of mini-arcs with each addressing a new conflict. In each of these conflicts, the main group that contains our characters are assigned a task to fulfill by a crime syndicate, with our protagonist, Hei, being the foot soldier to carry out the missions. The syndicate, for a majority of the show, remained a faceless organization, and in this confines of the kind of show being presented, that isn't really a bad thing. They were omnipresent and ominous, guiding their pawns across the chess board, with Hei simply being another piece in the game. This syndicate is in constant conflict with other underground organizations, which lead both sides to dispatch "contractors" (superhumans) to do their bidding.
These clashes play out like a feud war being carried out in secrecy, due to the governing bodies of the city covering up the existence of "contractors" and "dolls" in fear of civil unrest. Since law enforcing authorities from the CIA to the local police are constantly trying to apprehend, gather and suppress information about these occurrences, every episode hits you with a blitz of energy and constant action. That of course results in a narrative that's constantly on the move, which is a good thing for action junkies and those seeking out easy to consume entertainment. Also, while all of this is going on, we are also given clues as to how the world operates in regards to the contractors, dolls and a phenomenon that's simply dubbed "Hells Gate". While it's a gradual occurrence, after some time these mini-arcs eventually converge to create an overarching one. Its story structure is similar to that of other shows like Ghost in the Shell and Psycho-Pass.
Seems pretty straight forward right, so where does the problem start?
Well, despite the consistent pace, since everything is told in a semi-episodic mini arc format, there isn't really any true progression to talk about. Sure, we get to see the backstories of our main characters unfold and find out more about the show's lore, but as far as a sense of direction, DTB is scatterbrained. It aimlessly meanders about with no sense of purpose or clear destination, even after one seems to present itself in the last handful of episodes. It ended up escalating the conflict instead of addressing it. Which brings us to the biggest issue plaguing the show, its inability to provide answers.
DTB has a bad habit of telling us everything BUT what's actually important. It will go out of its way to deliver unnecessary expository dialogue to things we clearly see happening, while simultaneously using ambiguity as a crutch to avoid explaining the concepts it depends so heavily on. This, of course, results in a lot of moments where individuals would start acting out of character just so they can directly inform the audience of situations or show how certain things work (like a contractor's given ability for example). I'm not saying a brief explanation isn't warranted but after something is established like the payment concept contractors have to make for using their powers, we don't need to get that information regurgitated every single time it happens (and trust me, it happens a lot). It's like the writers think that the viewers are too dimwitted to figure it out.
As for the information that they don't give us, a definitive answer to all the anomalies that occur in the show remained one of them. The show kept on insinuating that there're answers to come, by dropping little nuggets of information throughout the narrative but that simply never exfoliates into anything in the end. It felt like they completely abandoned the idea of trying to explain the reason for any of the "mystery" concepts, only to opt out by following a hollow aspect of the overall setting established in the beginning. None of the supernatural elements are ever justified or explained despite the fact "mystery" is a part of its genre. Why did the Hell's Gate appear? What purpose does it serve? How does it correlate with humans evolving into contractors? Why do the stars correlate with contractors lives? What is the end goal of the syndicate's operation? Are the contractors and dolls suppose to parallel the man vs man parable? Why is anything not making any proper sense outside of superficial techno-babble? For a show that tried so much to build a mystery, it sure fails on upholding its end of the bargain.
And how do you end a show that didn't bother to provide answers to anything? Why you simply reveal a poorly planned plot twist that turns the final episode into an existential crisis that hasn't been seen since the likes of Evangelion. And since no one has the balls to say it, I will. For a show to chalk up all its supernatural elements to nothing more than made up allegorical fluff, while throwing in an improper Eva-esque scene, when up to that point, it was a simple rule of cool beat-em-up, why, that's just borderline pretentious. And yes, I know, many of you are probably rolling your eyes in disgust by the mere mention of that "p" word, but really, in this situation, there's no other word to properly describe just how over-bloated the show got towards its climax.
There's nothing wrong with creators trying to be ambitious but when the foundation is built on poorly realized concepts and unexplained in-world mechanics, the end result will more than likely suffer as a result. A perfectly serviceable action-romp was thrown away for the sake of ambiguity and pseudo-concepts. And if you're expecting the 2nd season to fill in the gaps, all you'll get there is a super loli, a raging alcoholic and talking squirrel, so don't hold your breath.
**You know what goes well with this review? A nice hot box of PIZZA HUT!**
The stylistic direction of DTB is very western influenced. I wasn't kidding when I made the Gotham/x-men hybrid comparison. From the murky hues to character designs akin to that of DC Comics' cartoon installments, DTB's universe could easily crossover with a Justice League spin-off with very little problem. Like many other animated works, during the show's downtime there isn't much to credit the show for presentation-wise but when the action beats happen, it's truly a blood pumping roller-coaster ride. And when placed side by side with other shows made in the same year, it's truly a cut above the rest. The only major hindrance that reared its ugly head was the occasional usage of CGI... also pizza hut ads, lots, and lots of pizza hut ads. I've counted no less than 17 ads while viewing the show (Code Geass has nothing on this). So take that as you will.
The soundtrack is a mixture of new school jazz, funk, and blues, along the lines with other western influenced shows such as Baccano! and Cowboy Bebop. This nice blend help contributes to the show's overall atmosphere and gives it character. Of course, it has its somber tracks as well but the ones that stand out are the aforementioned. The songs never outplay the corresponding scenes on screen but work in unison with them. There's a chemistry there that couples the visuals with the audio wonderfully. All the voice actors performed their roles with no noticeable hiccups and the dub is easy to recommend. It's not going to be the "best dub ever" but it certainly gets the job done.
Now, what barely got the job done, however, was the characters themselves. You know you have a problem when the show's cat demonstrates more of a personality than the people in it.
The cast is crippled by the show's premise. Since contractors and dolls alike are devoid of irrational feelings and have no moral compass outside of calculated thought, it doesn't leave room for any kind of development or growth (or personality, for that matter). The most DTB can do is flesh them out with a backstory but other than that, they remain one-note from beginning to end. Despite this flaw, one redeeming quality is that most of the adult characters are handled with some semblance of maturity. Of course, that doesn't negate the lack of characterization but it certainly helps to make them feel more grounded.. well... for the most part anyways, as they do occasionally toss in a bit of misplaced comedic moments in a similar fashion to how shows like Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood did.
To add more life to these emotionally stilted characters, the show resorted to victimizing them, with either the inclusion of a sad backstory or having them be discriminated against because of their abnormal abilities (similar to the way x-men approached the subject matter). It's passable drama but only to a certain extent and can be seen as forced by seasoned viewers.
Due to the semi-episodic structure, there's a lot of characters introduced. I'll only go over the three main ones we follow.
Our main protagonist is a man of little words and little personality as well, given his position as a 'contractor'. When remnants of his past and personal life are conjured up by others, it quickly becomes apparent that there's more to him beyond his stoic demeanor. But despite that, these brief glimpses of humanity in him are still lackluster, thanks in no short part to the short emotional leash the show forces him to wear. When in public, he masquerades as a bashful mild-mannered person, playing off the "nice guy" gimmick similar to other characters like Himura from Rurouni Kenshin and Vash from Trigun. It's only when he's tasked with a mission that his electric Batman persona reveals itself. His sole purpose is to be that of the iconic badass that kicks ass and takes names. And with little else expected from him, it's always fun to see him do just that. But of course, like the plot that went from a simple action-romp to a contrived metaphysical journey, the show's ending brought with it an unneeded plot twist that negated all the fun that Hei brought to the table.
On a side-note, it seems like lacking emotion leaves more room for an appetite since Hei can guzzle down a crap ton of food with as much proficiency as a battle shounen protagonist. But enough about Hei, time to discuss my personal favorite from the bunch, Huang.
Huang, to put it simply, is your hard-ass. The guy you'll come across with the gravely voice and no bullshit attitude that borders on pigheadedness. He doesn't take shit from anyone. It's made quite clear that he's discriminatory towards Contractors and Dolls. This, of course, is later explained with his stand-alone backstory. Although he's simply a human and not tied to the "no irrational emotion" crutch of the show's premise, he too lacks any further growth. He's your archetypal mobster type and given his disdain for Contractors, you often see him butting heads with Hei. Despite that, he's the most maturely handled character in the group and perhaps the only one with actual characterization. He's the closest thing to a character with actual depth in the show; a man hardened by his line of work and unfortunate past. This is shown through his business decorum, as he approaches every situation with a veteran-like quality.
And now that we've covered the show's cool mobster, time to talk about the Great Value knock-off brand of Rei Ayanami, Yin.
Yin is essentially the bootleg version of the "Rei Ayanami" archetype and with that said, there isn't much of a personality to speak of. She is appropriately classified as a doll (as she has the personality of one) and the only information needed to be known about her is that she's the eyes and ears of Hei, as her power allows her to see anywhere around the city where a pool of water is collected. Of course, she is given a proper backstory and an episode dedicated towards her but it still does nothing to flesh her out as an individual and becomes null and void after her moment in the limelight is over. But since this series is known for saying "fuck a plot", her involvement becomes more convoluted in later installments. But until you venture that far, just enjoy her for her simplicity.
There are a few other recurring characters in the show, like a private detective named Gai Kurasawa, a man who shares a striking resemblance, job and characteristic to Kuruma Jo, from 1975's Hurricane Polymar. But seeing that no one even know of that anime's existence, I digress.
Another recurring side character includes, Misaki, who is your level-headed detective, and unlike most of the other side characters, she receives a few episodes dedicated to fleshing her out. Not anything too compelling but enough to properly define her. She plays a bigger role by being a way for the viewers to see both sides of the growing conflict in the show. She functions like a fleshed out plot device.
Despite a lack of any true development or proper characterization, as a collective, the cast was a lot of fun to watch. A case where the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. Just don't expect anything profound out of them. And in a way, that's the best way to describe this show, in a nutshell, fun but nothing beyond that.
Darker than Black is like a smorgasbord, you simply pick whatever suits your fancy and discard anything that doesn't. As for me, I took away the cool ass fights and audiovisual treats. Your appetite as a viewer may allow for more, it all depends on your taste and tolerance for certain things.
Despite my issues with the plot and contrive narrative threads, later on, I can't deny how much I enjoyed watching electric Batman kick the crap out of baddies in the show. Call it mindless violence if you will but it's done with so much style and effort that I found myself taking in every moment of it. DTB was a bitter pill to swallow at times but when it came to the action, it delivered on a silver platter.
Throughout the years, DTB has garnered a sizable fan base, staying relevant in many anime-centric discussion circles and to a certain extent, I can understand why. As far as a "rule of cool" shows goes, DTB excels but due to the issues I discussed, I can only recommend it those who simply want a nice action flick. With that said, the lower your expectations are, the greater your enjoyment of this title would be. It's not a show I'll ever advocate for but at the same time, I'll still give it the green light for others curious enough to want to check it out.
**BTW you're probably tired from all that reading.. you should treat yourself to Pizza Hut......PIZZZA HUTTTT!!!**
What format is best for telling a story of an anime series; a narrative format that’s episodic or a format that has a continuing story from beginning to end? It honestly depends on who or what story is trying to be told if any at all. While episodic is easier to get into since the format can be better use for just entertainment. Thus you can eliminate the need of continuity, making it favorable for anyone to just jump into the series at any point. An overarching story on the other hand can build up to a greater or more disappointing outcome depending on the execution since it requires commitment. “Darker Than Black” combines both formats in its narrative will which lead to commitment issues. Thanks to it's careful execution in combining both types of story formats you have a first half that does a great job of world building and a second half that has an overarching story that remains engrossing to the end.
Good: Strong Writing
Darker Than Black uses a two episode format to tell its stories. Allowing side characters to receive enough development to them feel like characters part of a bigger story instead of coming across as unimportant one shot characters. Thanks to this format it offers a host of well thought out characters and storylines on a variety of themes. Each contributing to either fleshing the setting or further developing a recurring character. No matter the screen time of certain side characters, their contribution feels like they added a piece of lore to the series. The atmosphere excels due to its extensive world building in the first half. Not only does the world fill unique, but by the end of the series it’ll feel like a real place even if it belongs in the realm of fiction.
For an anime that is mostly serious it knows when to have fun. The few comedic episodes in the anime don’t affect the overall plot, but are nice a diversion to lighten the mood. These episodes inclusions make the series a bit enjoyable preventing from being a downer all the time. Generally though it has the well written dialogue to keep it afloat all throughout and engaging conversation among the characters as well.
A downside to the two episode format is it will take half way before the main cast gets developed. In turn, this makes sticking with the anime a risk versus reward deal. Making it more dangerous is the fact that it doesn’t have an overarching story until it reaches the second half either. So the first half focuses on Hei taking on jobs for a shady organization called “The Syndicate”. Being more in line of an episodic anime generally not connecting story arcs. This will make it difficult to want to commit to the anime since the main cast is the only guaranteed returning characters while every supporting character is not guaranteed to return. The main cast will remain underdeveloped before reaching the halfway mark. There’s no way around this issue other than having complete faith in the anime. If you’re unable to attach yourself to anything in the anime before the main cast are developed in the second half, then staying committed to the series is a task on itself.
Once it starts developing an overarching story in the second half everything falls further into place. The stakes become bigger, the main cast get developed, and answers on some of the series biggest dangling questions get answered. For example, “The Syndicate” motives and goal are revealed in the second half after being mentioned heavily in the first half. There’s also the start of an overarching story that instead of creating more action goes for giving Hei a greater mental obstacle to overcome. Building it up nicely before reaching the finale and feeling the weight Hei has to shoulder.
The reaction towards the finale of “Darker Than Black” will draw mix reaction. It doesn’t end with a bang making it fit more with the rest of the series. However, not everything will be answered. It’s appropriate for some questions to remain unanswered since the characters themselves don’t know all of them either. It’s more in line of capturing a noir mystery so some dangling questions will be forgivable. One thing is certain about the finale is it does close the story up and ties up all loose ends. Completely understanding everything after it ends that’s a whole other matter.
Good: A Cool Cast
Hei is the protagonist of the series and for more than half of the anime his past is kept secretive. Unfortunately revealing anything about him should be a consider a spoiler. Learning about Hei and seeing his backstory developed is a major part of the story. His personality can throw viewers off since the series does take its time giving background towards contractor and explain why they are emotionless. Hei is written in such a way that part of his character is difficult to read because of it. He fills the quota to be an emotionless contractor, but shows emotion in everyday life with sarcastic remarks when he interacts with other in the cast. He’s an intriguing mystery within the story and as a character becomes fully realize.
The rest of the main from talking cat Mao who gathers information, to the unable to get drunk when drinking handler Huang, and emotionless medium doll Yin are handled in the same way in their characterization. Like Hei, these main characters don’t get developed until later on in the series. When they are develop the two episode format allows room for in depth characterization. Setting up the character conflict in that episode and then following up by revealing bits of their themselves once the main cast reach closer towards a solution. Seeing them interact with one another never goes smoothly. Since they have varied personalities the chemistry between the characters can be both hilarious and captivating at the same time.
Half of the supporting cast tend to be done with after a single story arc. Once the story or job is finished that supporting characters will likely not be seen again. One of the few recurring supporting character is private eye detective Gai Kurusawa and his young manga obsessed assistant Kiko Kayanuma. The majority of the comedy revolve around these two characters. Gai Kurusawa is the closest the anime has to an exaggerated character. Reacting to his situation in over the top ways for a comedic effect. His interaction with Kiko usually revolve being desperate to accept any job for cash to arguing about the methods in getting cases solved. Episodes revolving around Gai Kurusawa and Kiko Kayanuma are easily entertaining with humor that hit due to their personalities and chemistry.
Though the setting of the story is in Japan the cast is composed of characters from other parts of the world. It’s not racial diversity just for the sake of it, but rather more of story tool to get across how big of a crisis it could escalate too. The CIA are involved, MI6 Agents are involved, underground organization “The Syndicate”, and the organization Evening Primrose that attempt to obtain peaceful coexistence between contractors and humans are involved. That’s quite the batch of organizations to keep track off and the same applies to the characters that work in them. Fortunately each organization is given a different objective for their goals and how they operate varied from one another. What this does is create different viewpoints within the setting on how the matter of contractors should be resolved. Giving several viewpoints on the matter as it grows into a bigger issue for everyone.
Good: Capturing the Intended Mood Perfectly
The animation is handled by studio Bones. While not impressive in the least on the visual side or in movement the style is a good fit for the anime. Character designs don’t have any exaggerated features and the environments are kept down to Earth as much as possible. Backgrounds are detailed with careful lighting that helps create the noir feel the series goes for. Everything is portrayed with some level of realism, including the contractors powers. Whenever a contractor uses their power the animation withholds from creating an excessive visual effect. Action scenes don’t feature any flashy particle effect that draws attention to a contractor power. So everything meshes together for a unify look even when the more exaggerated element of the story are on screen.
This also holds true for the action scenes which aren’t a drawing factor for the anime. Usually the action scenes are slow with the already mentioned restrained on flashy effects when a power is in used. In general, most of the action scenes have simple choreography that gets interrupted by conversations or is just slow in execution. Not counting the second opening. There are a few action scenes that combines contractors full abilities with the restraint display of powers, but unless Hei opponent Wei the action is underwhelming. CGI is used rarely, but questionable since it’s primarily used on cars which aren’t used for any elaborate scene. Cars simply go from one point to the next. Thankfully it does not stick out enough to become an issue since it’s only use from far shots. If anything can get annoying is seeing product placement for Pizza Hut in the background.
Voice acting from both the Japanese and English dub cast are terrific. In both versions the low key and restrained performances give off that noir feel the anime goes for. Unfortunately in both versions, some cast members aren’t allowed much ranged because part of the cast play the emotionless contractors. However, they are not stiff performances. The voice actors walk a thin line of coming across sounding wooden that they never cross. Most notably the most balance and perfected portrayal fall under Hidenobu Kiuchi in Japanese and Jason Liebrecht for the English dub both of whom voice Hei. Regardless what language you hear Hei speak both voice actor performances are tailored for this character. Neither are a dead giveaway in their delivery always surrounding Hei in this mysterious aura. His character is very difficult read, thanks to the voice talent, even delivery their jokes in a careful manner. Both actors are able to be funny while staying in character despite how little emotion they display in general.
Ikuya Sawaki in the Japanese cast and Kent William in the English both voice Mao. These two actors' voices give off vastly different vibes in their portrayal of Mao. Sawaki sounds more natural like a friendly person with many connections, while William deeper sounding voice makes him sound wiser. William older sounding voice shines when he delivers sarcastic remarks. In the English dubbed Kent William is an easy standout and my favorite actor in this season.
One area where the English dub surpasses the Japanese cast are the accents for foreign characters. The Japanese cast in general don’t even come close in copying accents for foreign characters. In the English dub Troy Baker voices November 11, a clearly British character terrifically. Adding to an already accurate portrayal he fits the sophisticated character just fine.
The only major differences between both version is the comedy. Depending on what version you see the humor will be written for that specific culture in mind. Aside from that the English script remains as faithful as possible. While there’s the obvious dialogue changes there are episodes where the story changes are less subtle. There’s some episodes where certain plot points are beaten over the head. It’s not damaging to the point that it’s a complete turn off as it, though the material won’t always match the quality of the original in the English script.
If you had to choose how to see the anime I would say watch the series subbed since the Japanese cast is consistent throughout the whole series. While the English dub in season one is the clear victor due to the voice actors more accurate portrayal of foreign characters. However, in season two some casting choices end up backfiring as the script changes are notably different making some of the English voice cast come across as annoying. The English dubbed has a better cast for the first season, but the Japanese cast is consistently good all the way. If it’s short term English dub, but in the long run go with the English subbed.
The soundtrack is filled with good music. It’s diverse in genre from rock ballads, to cool jazz, and to slower more calming sounding tracks. The two opening tracks can come across as misleading when representing the mood and pace of the series. “Howling” by Abingdon Boys School for the first 14 episodes and “Kakusei Heroism” by An Cafe is used in episode 15 and onwards (minus episode 24) for the remainder of the series. Both opening theme makes “Darker Than Black” come across as a quick pace action series. While not accurate in presenting the series the two opening songs are fine for the anime. “Tsukiakari” by Rie Fu is a slow and melancholic track. It’s the ending theme for the first 14 episodes with a more emotional feel to it unlike the opening themes. Rie Fu soothing vocals are in harmony with the soft piano ballad. The second ending theme is "Dreams" by the band High And Mighty Color. “Dreams” is more upbeat than the first ending theme in it’s serenity.
Personal Enjoyment: More than thrilled I stuck with it
It took me fourteen episodes before I was actually able to enjoy watching Darker Than Black. Everything is kept deliberately secretive so I found it difficult to care about my main cast in the first half of the series when they weren’t developed. Eventually in the second half I started to care about them on episode 13 & 14 both of which focused on Yin. It was with these two episodes that my skepticism were gone since it made me feel that much closer to the main cast. I was convinced with these two episodes that this anime has something else to keep me coming back beside the first closing theme “Tsuki Akari” by Rie Fu. Thank goodness too for those two episodes because episode 15 the ending theme changed. Episode 15 and onward the whole development of the main cast made the strong writing that much better in subsequent episodes. It just took a while to get into it.
Darker Than Black is not a series that will immediately hook you from the get go. The pacing is slow with it two episode structure taking half-way before developing a main story, but over time the strong writing, and great characters become far more memorable for it. Thanks to it two episode format for storytelling even side characters get fleshed out. Creating a fully realize world with diverse and complicated characters. It’s a difficult anime to fully get into, but the payoff it worth it if you trust it and stick with it through the end. read more
Assassination, the art of silent killing. From ancient ninjas with knives to modern hitmen with sniper rifles, assassins have played a dark, prevalent role throughout human history. However, anime assassins tend to be slightly more capable than your average real life assassin...be very scared.