Sunday, June 5, 2011
Darker Than Black
The story follows Hei (Chinese for "black"), a contractor with electrical powers, who was also known as "The Black Reaper," and was a feared killer before he ever gained his powers. He works for a group known as "The Syndicate" (original, I know) in Tokyo, doing dirty work such as killing rival contractors and stealing information and technology relating to Hell's Gate. Though there is something strange about Hei, and at times it seems he doesn't always have the Syndicate's best interests at hand.
That's the gist of the story, but it's kind of like saying that Cowboy Bebop is about Bounty Hunters in Space. Technically it's true, but there's so much more going on, you really need to watch the show.
Darker than Black is the brainchild of Tensai Okamura, a veteran of the industry who has worked on such important animes as Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, Ghost in the Shell, and Neon Genesis Evangelion. He has definitely learned a lot while working under some of anime's greatest directors. The animation is polished, the fights scenes are incredible, and characters are 3-dimensional. Seriously, you really come to care about the characters, even the ones you hate or should hate. Point in case, there's a minor character introduced early in the series who is explicitly stated to have been one of the most feared contractors in the world, having killed literally thousands of people, whose remuneration was drinking the blood of children. Yet despite knowing this, you come to feel sorry for her and care about her. Not many people could make you do that.
That's not to say that Okamura is the best director ever. While I certainly think that he's very talented, he lacks a certain je ne sais quoi that other directors, such as Shinichiro Watanabe, have. I suppose that's rather unfair of me to say, since talent like Watanabe's comes along once in a generation. It's just that there are times where I can't help but compare Darker Than Black to Cowboy Bebop. It's probably because Okamura worked on Cowboy Bebop and brought a lot of what he learned to Darker Than Black.
Perhaps the smartest thing that Okamura did was get Yoko Kanno to do the music. As is typical of Kanno, the music is simply amazing. It's real jazzy with a bit of of a noir-ish/70's detective show flair to it. Simply amazing.
Bottom line: This show is amazing, and you should definitely watch it, if you don't mind the violence. It's certainly one of the best shows to come out in the past few years, though I doubt that it will ever be recognized as part of the "canon" of anime.