It’s time for another review to go up on the fridge.
And as has been the usual lately, it’s another rewatch – this time, it’s Darker Than Black.
Tokyo Section 4 police chief Misaki Kirihara does her best to uphold the law while she and her men are constantly dealing with cases involving “Contractors”, individuals who have contracted special abilities at the cost of their humanity.
Meanwhile, an infamous contractor, nicknamed the “Black Reaper” in the criminal underworld, moves into town under the alias of a Chinese international student and becomes active working for a mysterious organization called the “Syndicate”.
Due to the existence of “Hells Gate”, an otherworldly place of international interest in Tokyo, we watch as the criminal underworld, intelligence agencies, and the Tokyo police all vie for control and influence in the region, with Contractors involved more often than not.
The Stage is Set
Well, I’ve used this term quite a bit lately in my reviews, and I certainly can’t stop myself from bringing it up here – Darker than Black is packed with intrigue, and has some great action, all due to it’s very interesting setting.
In Darker than Black’s world, a strange phenomenon in the past caused two large “gates” to appear on Earth – one in South America (Heaven’s Gate), and one in Tokyo (Hell’s Gate). With the arrival of these gates also came a new night sky – the starscape of the past was erased, and in it’s place, new stars came to be. The point of interest here though, is that each of these new stars is linked to a Contractor, “rational” individuals who came to be at the same time as the appearance of the gates.
These gates are essentially unknown territory for humanity, and as such, are the subject of interest for science in general. While the Japanese government has some influence over Hell’s Gate, due to the location, the gate is really under the authority of an international organization called Pandora. But even so, certain individual intelligence agencies can’t help but try to gain information for themselves…
Finally, the very nature of Contractors, cold-hearted and hyper-logical individuals, lead to them primarily becoming mercenaries. As such, they are in the employ of the highest bidders, from criminal organizations, to governments, to other organizations like the mysterious “Syndicate”.
With a setting like this, it’s safe to say that you’re in for a story full of interesting interactions and encounters between various parties, all behind the scenes as the existence of Contractors is kept secret from regular people. There’s a lot of great stuff here in the realm of backroom deals, covert operations, and so on. While it isn’t a mafia anime per se, Darker than Black at times borders that type of experience due to all of the underworld dealings.
Primarily, we follow Hei, with his alias Li Shengshun, who moves to Tokyo as an international student from China. In reality, he is a Contractor in the employ of the “Syndicate”, a mysterious organization that we don’t really know much about at the beginning of the anime. Hei basically gives us a front seat view of some of the goings on in Tokyo from the perspective of a criminal, and an infamous one at that.
And when it’s not Hei, we typically follow Misaki Kurihara, the Tokyo police chief who gives us a fairly “lawful good” perspective of things. As part of the Tokyo police, Misaki’s ultimate goal is simply to save lives and protect the people. But due to her district’s proximity to the gate, and politics, she ends up getting involved in all sorts of things.
Both Misaki and Hei are exceptional characters that are so fun to follow as the story unfolds. For me, it was particularly interesting to watch Hei when he is blending in as a regular person, which often leads to some interesting situations. And one of my favourite things with Hei is watching his face switch from “regular person” to “stone cold killer” in a second. It’s also entertaining to follow the contrasting viewpoints of Misaki and Hei throughout the series.
With their two perspectives, a very exciting and entertaining story is laid out for us across 25 episodes. One that also concludes in fairly spectacular fashion. It’s a great journey with a nice finish.
Honestly, I don’t know what else to say without spoiling anything more than the basics. Darker than Black is a one-of-a-kind in many ways, and is just such an awesome anime from start to finish. I can’t say that I have many criticisms, the setting and story just work perfectly, and the cast is great.
I’m giving Darker than Black a 9.5 / 10.
Personally, I think it’s one of the best. For me, everything just works perfectly here. The intrigue, action, characters, and other interesting elements are great. This might sound cliché, but I feel like there’s never a dull moment in this story.
Of course, all that said, I don’t want to sound like I’m hyping up Darker than Black to be this perfect anime. I really enjoy it, and while I know a few others likely feel similarly to me, it doesn’t mean that you will feel the same way.
Bottom line I’d say is to just make up your own decision based on what I’ve written here, the synopsis, and then go from there. Or, check out the first episode or two and then decide.
One final point I will make is that while there technically is a second season, in my personal opinion, this series is over with the first season.
If you happen to watch this and enjoy it, just keep in mind that the second season is much different, and goes on a very wild tangent that I personally felt didn’t fit the feeling of the first season. It just didn’t work at all. I know that you may want to keep going and watch more of Hei and so on after finishing this season, but it’s not worth it in this case.
The story ends here.
All right, there’s another rewatch review done and dusted.
It was a lot of fun to rewatch this one, and of course the rewatch fun isn’t over just yet. I’ve got more to take a look at, although I may not review everything I watch. I wanted to cover Darker than Black, because it’s one of my more favourite anime, and I realized that I haven’t reviewed it before.
That’s one perk of having started this blog after I’d watched many of these great anime. Gives me something to write about!
Until next time,
Thanks for reading.