|Does the Reaper Dream of Darkness Darker Than Black?||3 out of 3 users found this review helpful.|
This is a review for the anime Darker than Black, including the first (26 episodes) and the second season (12 episodes), as well as the OVA (4 episodes) that are chronologically between the two seasons.
This anime takes place in modern-day Tokyo, where an abnormal territory called the Hell's Gate appeared ten years ago and was put off-limits to everyone. The Hell's Gate brought with it contractors, people with special abilities uncapable of sensing any emotion. Contractors also don't seem to have any morality, they are extremely rational and only act if they will make benefit from it. Contractors are widely used by the world's intelligence agencies. Hei, the main character of this show, is a contractor working for the Syndicate, a company which assigns him missions he completes in turn for money. His special ability is the power to control electricity. Helping him is Yin, a doll (dolls are emotionless mediums capable of sending observational spirits), Mao, a contractor in a cat's body, and Huang, a human tasked with providing support for Hei and delivering the missions from the Syndicate.
Darker than Black is one of the rare series that gets really, REALLY better nearing the end. The first season is really slow-paced, there isn't any major plot advanced in every episode, and it feels unconnected. The only serious plot starts unfolding a couple of episodes before the end and characters don't get much (or any) advancement throughout the first season. It is not to say that the first season is boring, but it just doesn't feel like the characters' actions are moving the plot along.
However, the second season turns everything around. It introduces a new main character, Suou, and brings life to the rest of the cast. Suou is a Russian teenager with the contractor ability to summon a sniper rifle (and use it pretty well). I quite enjoyed Russia as a location in an anime, though it was only for one part of the season. The entire second season is very fast paced, especially if you compare it to the first one, and it's just enough to keep the viewer comfortably following the plot. The plot is interesting and the character development and interactions are really good. I hope there will be another season, because the ending was left quite open.
The good things throughout the series, in both seasons are definitely the atmosphere, music and the fighting scenes. The atmosphere is able to suck the viewer in easily. The art and the animation are really good too. Music is by Yoko Kanno (of Cowboy Bebop fame) and it is excellent. If you ever heard anything Yoko Kanno did you would know you can expect nothing less. I'm never the one to care much for fighting scenes in my anime, but they are truly breathtaking, every single one of them (and there are a lot). They are quite creative and really good animated.
OVA takes place in between the two seasons and does a good job of explaining what happened back then. It is interesting and the same quality as the rest of the show. I recommend you watch it after the second season, regardless of it chronologically coming before the season two.
Overall, I thorougly enjoyed this anime and I absolutely loved it. Sure, it was kind of slow at the start, and if you can get through that it gets better. If you are looking for an action packed anime with an amazing atmosphere and don't mind waiting a bit for things to heat up, then Darker than Black is for you.