“Darker than Black” is also known as “Kuro no Keiyakusha”
Synopsis: An inscrutable and abnormal territory, known as Hell’s Gate, appeared in Tokyo and altered the sky. At the same time, people who possess various special abilities emerged, and the night sky was altered. The stars disappeared, replaced by fake stars which correspond to those people with special powers. However, the cost of gaining those abilities is the loss of human emotion. Kept secret from the knowledge of the masses, these individuals able to murder in cold blood are known as Contractors. Various nations around the world use Contractors as spies and agents, often resulting in violent battles for information. Hei is sent to Tokyo under the guise of an ordinary Chinese student, Li Shun Sheng, but is really a Contractor working for an unnamed organization. His Messier code or star number is BK201. Hei fights against other Contractors with unpredictable abilities while carrying out missions and gathering information for his Agency.
Genre: Drama, mystery, noir, sci-fi
Status: Anime – aired from April to September 2007
Thoughts / Review: The opening theme is “Howling” by abingdon boys school. I kinda like it. It’s rock without too much screaming, yelling and bad language. I especially like the intro part when the title is shown. The ending theme is a ballad “Tsukiakari [Moonlight]” by Rie fu.
JUST A QUICK 411… There’s a bit of new vocabulary introduced in the series regarding the abilities and such. I’ll try and give the gist of the major terminologies used. HELL’S GATE – an off-limits area in Tokyo that appeared 10 years prior to the timeline of the beginning of series. Contractors and Dolls came to exist due to this. CONTRACTOR – individuals with superhuman abilities due to Hell’s Gate. They are notrious for being ruthless and able to kill in cold-blood. They are capable of showing emotions but generally seems to lack conscience. DOLL – passive mediums in the form of a human; an observative spirit. Lacks emotion. Can be programmed with personalities and memories and mimic normal human behavior. REMUNERATION – when one becomes a Contractor, part of the contract is remuneration which is a sort of a “payment” in return for using their abilities. After they use their powers, they must perform this act each time (it can be varied from eating flowers to gross ones like breaking your own fingers). It is often done against one’s will but there isn’t a choice but to do it anyway. There are a few more terms used, but these 4 are basically the main ones used in the first 2 episodes. Let’s have a look at the characters, shall we?
AND THE CHARACTERS ARE… HEI is the lead character. He is an elite Contractor with the Messier code BK201 who works for a secret organization. He usually wears a white mask and a long black coat when carrying out his missions. He has the ability to manipulate and generate electricity at will. Hei’s weapon include a big knife with a metal wire attached and a handy-dandy grappling hook. He is quite notorious as a Contractor known as the “Black Death God.” I thought his remuneration was eating huge amounts of food but it was revealed in a later episode that it was a habit of his to eat a lot. His remuneration is currently unknown so far. Hei takes on another identity in his daily life, a Chinese exchange student in Japan by the name of “Li Shun Sheng”.
Along with Hei on their “team” working for the Organization are: YIN – a blind Doll who is able to hear and see various settings whenever water is present both in her vicinity and the person to be tracked. MAO – another Contractor whose ability is to possess animals. He previously lost his human body and now resides within a black cat. The characters on the good side of the law include KIRIHARA MISAKI – a detective of the National Police Agency who is in the division investigating Contractors. She has several subordinates working by her side. They also work alongside the Astronomy Department because whenever a Contractor begins to exist, a star also rises that represent their existence. A falling star represents a death of a Contractor.
MY IMPRESSION… The 1st episode is a bit confusing to watch by itself, you have to watch the 2nd episode as this is a two-part thing. So far, all the episodes comprise of two-parters up until episode 10. There isn’t much backstory introduced. Basically, in the 1st 2 eps, a bit of the basic things are explained with regard to Hell’s Gate and the existence of Dolls and Contractors in the first 2 episodes. Later episodes gradually give us a bit of backstory on Hei. The 1st episode wasn’t too much of an attention-holder as it was a bit confusing for me but the premise of the series intrigued me so I still kept watching it. I see it as sort of a cross between the TV shows “Heroes” and “Alias” with the missions and the superhuman stuff. It can be a bit gross to watch some scenes, one involved a remuneration of a breaking his own finger; some involve blood and a bit of gore when killing targets and the like.
I like Hei. I think he’s pretty much a likable lead character. He can be quite cute when he’s acting as Li (the exchange student, his other identity, remember?) but can be a bit creepy when he switches to his Contractor mode gameface. He seems to have his own reasons for working for the Organization. He can be unpredictable in making his decisions and is quite unorthodox with his methods. He can be pretty cool to watch during fight scenes too. As per his own words, “One must be careful of Contrators. They are liars and traitors” or something to that effect. It’s interesting to watch him switch characters as he’s a very good “actor” playing his part as a kind-hearted and good student but with a secret identity. His backstory intrigues me very much that I want to know more and what really happened and what is this mysterious Organization he’s working for. For me, it’s very suspicious, the kind which is reminiscent of the Company in “Heroes” and SD-6 in “Alias.” Curious.
I also like Kirihara. She’s a pretty cool detective. Determined and motivated. She has guts. The best you can do against these superhuman beings are the best guns and other sorts of weaponry, but in the end they still have that advantage of superpowers. For herself and her team to go against and investigate Contractors, you have to give them some credit, no? For me, it’s sort of in the same league as Death Note, but of course with a different premise. It does leave you a few questions after watching with no immediate resolution after a few episodes. I started watching and basically kept on watching because I found the story quite intriguing and interesting.
If you liked Death Note and similar anime to that, I think you should give Darker than Black a shot. It’s pretty good and it gets more and more interesting as each episode unfolds. It’d be one of the good shows to watch if this kind of genre is your kind of thing. I’d recommend you to give it a shot. 🙂
Have you seen it? What did you think of it?
You might also want to check out my other related posts:
- Extra: Darker than Black [ep 26/OVA]
- Darker than Black ep 25 [FINALE]
- Extra: Darker than Black – main cast interview
- Other Darker than Black entries