One night, as meteors streak across the star-studded sky, Shion Pavlichenko becomes a Contractor. Despite her brother's transformation, Shion's twin sister Suou continues to live a fairly ordinary life, attending middle school with her friends and getting caught up in the awkwardness of growing up. However, everything changes when her home is invaded by a masked man cloaked in black, destroying any sense of normality she once had. Revealed to possess latent Contractor abilities of her own, Suou is caught between family, friends, and her own sense of purpose as she ventures into the ruthless world of cutthroats and espionage that Contractors call home.
Meanwhile in Tokyo, investigation surrounding Hell's Gate's sudden collapse is underway, and prophetic signs of doom point in the direction of a silver-haired doll.
Somehow the high expectations I had awaiting the sequel to a fantastic series were not fulfilled. Ryuusei No Gemini isn’t exactly a sequel to Kuro no Keiyakusha, but more like a separate arc in itself. It would be unfair to compare both of them as they vary in their style and storyline. For starters, the series are not bi-episodic; instead revolve around a single storyline involving a Eurasian female protagonist. Hei’s involvement through the series although significant, has not really been up to what it ought to be.
Suou Pavlichenko is a 13 year Eurasian girl whose life suddenly changes on a fateful
day when she meets up with Hei. Involved in the mess of politics and war between the contractors, she seeks out on her own quest to find her missing twin, Shion. Alongside her is Hei, a drunk bastard who completely lacks the mannerism and politeness he once had. The personality change might have been necessary in this series as it made things a bit interesting, but it didn’t seem all that good seeing him like that. The storyline, in its individuality served to be interesting though. The protagonist goes through a lot of ordeals throughout her journey. The series also has some graphic and violent killings which made it a little gory at times. The birth and evolution of the contractors was something we had vaguely seen in Kuro no Keiyakusha. The involvement of many groups (CIA, FSB, MI6 and Section 3) could have made for better viewing had they had more air time. They left it a bit incomplete and it felt as if these names were only included to attract attention without proper motive behind it. Also the “Syndicate” that pretty much ruled in Kuro no Keiyakusha was nowhere to be seen, again a disappointment as the whole mysteriousness behind them suddenly disappeared. Altogether though, despite its shortcomings it was somehow good how it ended up being. I guess it may be due to the protagonists’ whole journey from havoc to happiness. As for the name “Gemini of the Meteor”, it wasn’t nearly as important to be kept in the title IMO.
Ryuusei No Gemini had a plethora of characters which made it quite an entertaining prospect to watch. Starting off with Suou, a determined and strong girl entwined between living a life as a human or a contractor. It was touching to see the ordeals she and her school friends went through. Much like a supporting character, July was an example of some nice character development, and his relation with Suou was charming to watch. Hei’s laid-back sake drinking attitude failed to impress me the slightest. And the fact that he was not able to showcase his powers during most of the series made it lamer for me. The agents of Section 3 were pretty good, namely Hizaki and Genma. Hizaki’s remuneration involved kissing someone after the usage of her power added to the humor. Madam Oreille was yet promising character shown but somehow failed to make much of an impact in the Anime. Lot of interesting characters I would say. But somehow they were cramped up in a short series which somehow failed them I believe. They should have been given more time for their characters to be known properly rather than just through some cameo roles.
The original characters were already pretty awesome in how they were made. The new characters were also very nicely put out. From the Russians to the CIA to the Japanese characters, all looked very original. Also the new characters gave the storyline a refreshing experience. The fights were well coordinated and typically good to watch. Hei’s new look was intriguing; Suou’s character was pretty nicely done too. The agents looked good and the whole background of the Anime from Russia to Tokyo was beautiful. The characters are all very nicely drawn and the animation stands out to be pretty good as well.
Sound was another good factor for Ryuusei No Gemini. The OP was a treat to the ears. I particularly liked it. The voices of the characters were also very good. Suou sounded very sweet whenever she used to shout “Tanya”. As there was a mixture of cultures, it’ll be interesting to see how these voices correlate in the dubs that will be out later on. The ED was average I would say. The best thing however would be the background score during the fights. The whole beat-box thing or whatever that was being played surely pepped up the interest to watch. I loved it.
Seeing this series individually without comparing to the previous one and you’ll find that it’s actually good. Although not as epic as Kuro no Keiyakusha, Ryuusei No Gemini offers an entertaining experience with some interesting character portrayals. Combined with good artwork and sound, it is a definite recommendation. Just don’t try and compare it with the first season and you’ll definitely like it.
I had a rather a hard time wrapping my head around the thought process taken up by the scriptwriters of this show. They had an almost infinite pool of ideas to work with, from the origin story and reasoning behind the Hell's Gate manifestation to endless detours that could have been taken up using the Contractors and Dolls as parables for sociological issues plaguing current society; the possibilities were endless. It seemed that with all the mysterious themes being left in a shroud of ambiguity and the multifaceted approaches to tackling them just on the cusp of being explored, any route could have been taken
that would have resulted in a decent sequel. Taking a shot in the dark with any one of these ideas should have yielded something worthwhile. But for reasons beyond comprehension, instead of trying to provide a solid answer to its mysteries or even using it to flesh out its world's lore, they threw that all away. And for what you may ask? Well, lolis, forced comedy, talking squirrels, character resets, raging alcoholics and a sleuth of more idiotic plot twists.
Still wondering why and how the Heaven/Hell Gates appeared? Still wondering why they brought on an augmented sky that warped into the new one? Still wondering why contractors and dolls became a product of this? Still wondering why their lives are correlated with fallen stars? Still wondering what the motivation of the syndicate was? Still trying to decipher this show's bullshit?... Well, join the club. In this second season, the writers said "fuck it" once again, as they followed up the events of the first by managing to create something that felt terribly dated from the moment it rolled off the assembly line. It's a husk of the show's former self in every regard. The story, despite being more streamlined this time around, was still very uneventful. All it does was drag us along to a nonsense-filled finale that will likely leave all its mysteries and hackneyed bullshit permanently unanswered. It's the kind of narrative structure when the intent felt like reverse-engineering gone wrong. This is studio Bones after all. A studio that's become infamous for thrusting their own concepts up their asses.
The 1st season of DTB went from passable action romp to inflated pseudo-concepts by the final stretch of it. And as if that wasn't enough, now it felt like the staff gave up on having decent coherency among its pseudo-thematic jargon and settled for whatever came to mind instead. So this time around, even the pseudo-concepts don't make sense. Like a rough draft of a script passed along a circle of "fuck its" and shoulder shrugs, as they rake in the money, tossing what little ideas they had towards the finished product without so much as batting an eye.
Speaking of tossing shit together, the art seemed to have become a victim of complacency as well.
I don't know how this is possible, but with fewer episodes to worry about and more years to perfect the art style, the 2nd season felt like it brought no visual improvements to the table. By a side by side comparison, very little was made better, instead, a 2-year gap in its production cycle seemed to have left it in a state of stagnation. It's like the animator team made it back in '07 and just let it gather up dust until it was time to release it. And when placed against other titles made in the same year, it just pales in comparison. And this isn't to say that studio Bones couldn't do any better. They've already proven that they could improve their visual and animation efforts as time goes on. Just looking at the visual output between Eureka Seven's 1st and 2nd season shows that. So seeing how little they cared about improving their craft for DTB's sequel felt like a cheap blow. It's a mediocre patch-job that doesn't deserve any credit whatsoever.
And while I can't offer it much credit, an aspect of this season that might register with some was the new choice of music.
The great jazz/blues fusion soundtrack of season one took a backseat to a more contemporary House-electronic sound. It's not a bad soundtrack but when compared to the prequel's, it feels out of place. It inadvertently strips the show of its familiar charm and alienates it further from its predecessor. The neo-noir backdrop feels out of place when the smoky croon of a Jazz track is replaced by what's effectively a rave-party anthem. It simply sucks the atmosphere out and replaces it with something more "in the now" as opposed to the timeless feeling. Since musical taste is subjective, I won't harp on it any further and leave you to decide where you stand on it.
But what isn't a decision that needs much debating over was the new cast.
With fewer contractors, more people characters in their place, there's still no decent characterization to be found. They made a big deal about contractors having no irrational emotion in season one but there's very little differentiating them from other people when they all remain one-note. Also, that sense of maturity that the first season carried for its characters was thrown out the window and replaced with bombastically over-the-top eccentricities. This causes a HUGE tonal shift in how the show is presented and perceived. Similarly to what the switch in musical tones did, this too was a decision that watered down the poignancy that occasionally flicked through in season one. Now, everything was glaringly carefree. They even changed the classy cat to a flying squirrel. LIKE SERIOUSLY? FUCK YOU DTB!
The biggest issue comes with Suou, our new protagonist. She takes up more screen time than necessary and is only good for two things: being an inconsistent character that flip-flops from one tonal speed to the other, or loli fanservice. And if that wasn't bad enough, she was degraded to becoming a contrived plot-device halfway through the series.
Hei isn't even the same badass we use to love. The writers added over-bloated angst to his characteristics and made a man who was already lacking in emotional range, to begin with, to be presented as a complete nut job of polarizing extremes. In place of the calm and collected demeanor he once had, we're instead given a raging alcoholic who slaps little girls in his spare time and drinks himself silly when he felt like it. Of course, he still kills contractors like the cool electric Batman we grew to love but his conflicting characteristics with his supposed "emotionless state" makes it harder for anyone to care for him anymore. He simply became a puppet of the poorly written screenplay, being inserted whenever the writers saw fit.
But perhaps the worst replacement was that of the side characters introduced for this season. The cast included a tranny bartender with a lolicon obsessed son, Misaki the walking plot-device, antagonists that border on luny, and a sleuth of people that aren't worth the mention. Needless to say, the cast here was far inferior to the show's previous standards. They served no other purpose than being aggravating tagalongs that no one ever wanted.
And really, this season itself was just that: an aggravating tagalong that we're forced to accept as a continuation. Instead of getting a decent successor, we're instead given a half-baked effort that couldn't stand on its own. Bones dropped the ball in every conceivable level.
Disappointment... I found nothing here but unsubstantial fights and cheap attempts at fanservice. This is NOT how you do a sequel to a neo-noir action romp. It doesn't even work as pure schlock entertainment. Apparently, even Pizza Hut said "oh hell no, fuck that" since they too were nowhere to be found, wanting nothing to do with this uninspired continuation.
There are bad sequels then there's DTB's sequel. A sequel that literally scrubbed the show of its previous identity and STILL didn't answer any questions. As it is now, I can only recommend this to completionists. An underwhelming mess that sullied what little credentials the series was desperately clinging onto.
I am "a bit disappointed" in the rest of the reviews here, namely that so many of them reflect that this season was dreadful, yet hedge that to "being a bit disappointed" with it. This season was balls to the walls, shamelessly awful.
The defining feature of the entire series: how they manage to draw every character with dead eyes throughout the series, yet expect us to enjoy ourselves. The defining scene: horrible side character creation 1, dreadlock kids, sobbing and venting to horrible side character creation 2, his crossdressing dad, culminating in being more likely to make you laugh than cry as he sobs and
whines into his cake. The defining question: how they expect us to believe Hei can still kick everyone in the world's ass with no powers and reduced to "living the good life" (that one was a minor meme joke, do not worry if you did not get it).
There are already other reviews that detail exactly how the plot is (stupidly) aimless and bereft of basically most of the useful details it should have, so I am not going to rehash that. What I will touch on is how the plot is awful with the characters it uses: it introduces lots of new characters, all poor creations that are impossible to care about; it has a lot of short, impossibly one sided battles; it gives random annoying flashes to some apparently crazy event involving Yin, with absolutely no real explanation as to why they happened; it has random, annoying flashes to these blonde twin girls, who speak in tittery, annoying voices and "say mysterious things" i.e. nonsensoleum; it has cop lady chasing desperately after Li, despite the fact that she has no real insight to anything in this series, never does anything, and just wastes our time; it has former cool cat Mao back as an awful, ridiculously (poorly drawn) cartoony flying squirrel like creature (they called it a mamonga or something, whatever). Get the picture?
This version of Darker Than Black just tries to establish how SAD and AWFUL everything is for everyone, and it definitely does a good job of showing viewers an awful time. Of course, just like people are unwilling to be objective about Code Geass 2 since they loved Code Geass 1, similarly no one will be objective about Darker Than Black 2 since they loved Darker Than Black 1. I cannot wait until the OVAs come out to "connect the seasons" and people act like it redeems all the flaws.
I'm not really one for writing long reviews of anime I've watched, but I felt that I had to say something about this one.
Darker than BLACK - Kuro no Keiyakusha had a dark storyline and characters with very distinct traits, especially Hei. Darker than BLACK - Ryuusei no Gemini, the sequel seemed to forget these.
*Mild Spoilers Ahead*
This anime would have been great if it was a stand-alone, but it was unlucky enough to have expectations to live up to its predecessor. The main character, Hei - once a calm, collected, cold-blooded killer now stars as an umkempt drunk who abducts small children and beats them.
Mao, the cat who had previously died, is now a flying squirrel and stays as one even though he had many oppertunities to possess a cat. Yin has turned from a near-silent doll into a... wait, nothing at all was explained about that - but she made a lot of contractors commit suicide so that she could... that wasn't explained either. Kuro no Keiyakusha kept the plot a complete mystery until the end, but Ryuusei no Gemini didn't really explain it at all.
So, our old friends from Kuro no Keiyakusha have had their characters changed drastically, but what about the new faces? Maybe they will make up for this? A loli with a rifle; a pervert who can turn into a golem and a lesbian with a lightsaber... personally, I didn't find them very original to say the least.
Enough of bashing the characters though - onto the story. The series was half the length of Kuro no Keiyakusha, and the two episode long arcs were discarded. I was dissapointed by this since too many things weren't explained, even for Darker than BLACK. The last episode really needed to be two, maybe three, episodes and again explain a few more things. It was a cliffhanger disguised as closure.
Overall, a decent anime. If you do plan on watching it, have Kuro no Keiyakusha ready to watch again so that you can get rid of the bad aftertaste - Ryuusei no Gemini doesn't live up to the original and makes you think less of some once great characters.
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