Following up last week’s review of Darker Than Black with its sequel, Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor (2009). This series is only 12 episodes long.
What’s it about?
Taking place two years after the end of the first series, Contractors have been exposed to the world and war seems to be brewing throughout. We are introduced to Suou Pavlichenko, a girl around thirteen years old living in Russia. Her twin brother, Shion, is a Contractor, and kept hidden in their house. Suou’s life is turned upside down when her house is raided by a number of organisations who are trying to find her father and Shion. Amidst all the fighting, one solo Contractor donning a black jacket and a mask kills Suou’s father. Later, Suou is forced to partner with Hei when he offers to take her to Tokyo where Shion is waiting for her, with Mao and the Doll July from the first series also accompanying them. For Suou, things go from bad to worse when she manages to gain Contractor powers.
Firstly, it’s good the see that the art is still maintained at a good quality throughout this anime. As before, the action scenes are well executed and exciting to watch.
In terms of music, I only liked the opening theme, Stereopony’s “Tsukiakari no Michishirube“, and found the ending theme to be bland. However, the soundtrack, although minimal, still works well in the scenes, and particularly helps in keeping fighting scenes intense.
It was nice to see the creators branching out in terms of their story-telling. As Suou is the main character, there is more of a focus on what it is like to turn into a Contractor, so there is a larger focus on emotion and drama, which adds more depth to the series as a whole, and also to Suou’s character. There is also more of a focus on comedy, and I actually laughed out loud during a number of scenes, a big change from the first series.
Finally, it’s nice to get some, not much, but some explanation of the events that occurred in the first series (but still nowhere near enough to be satisfying).
There are a number of negatives that are apparent from early on in the series. Firstly, with the creators branching into different areas, there are less action scenes. However, something that was more of a let-down for me was the lack of atmosphere compared to the first series. The dark, film noir aspect was only there in a couple of scenes, and as a whole, the series felt like it was lacking life.
Secondly, a number of the male characters give of creepy, borderline-paedophile vibes with the way they interact with Suou. This also extends to Hei to some degree, particularly when he returns as an alcoholic. Furthermore, most of the other characters lack depth and are uninteresting, although I did like Mina Hazuki and her light-sabre katana.
Finally, the major let-down of the second series; its plot. I think the main problem is that it changes focus too much; first it’s about Suou becoming a contractor, then it’s about Hei finding Yin, then it’s about “Izanami” and “Izanagi” and the destruction of the world, with minimum connections between the different focuses. Furthermore, the pacing is weird, and not ‘weird’ in the sense of the first series, but just all over the place. Earlier I said that you get some explanations concerning the first series, but there is little explanation for the events of the second, with the writers seeming to assume that the audience already knows background information, particularly in regards to Yin. Finally, the ending will leave you googling for an explanation because you will have no idea what the hell happened.
I imagine that “Oh it’s happening within the Gate, there’s no need to explain what’s going on” was the thought process behind this ending…
Art: 8/10: The good quality art is maintained, and character styling remains pretty good throughout.
Story: 4/10: A weirdly paced plot that jumps focuses and leads to a massive “huh?” conclusion.
Characters: 6/10: While I liked the new edition of Suou, and Hei, once he returns to his former glory, a lot of the other characters were uninteresting or downright creepy.
Compared to the first series, Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor, is a massive let down, and not just because it offers little meaningful explanation of the first series. Whilst action scenes are still maintained at a high quality, there are less of them, and the expansion into more comedic and dramatic scenes results in a loss of atmosphere. In some scenes, it starts to feel like the creators decided to turn the gritty, film noir Darker Than Black series into a shoujo. Overall, I give it a 5/10. Watch it if you want to see the continuation of the Darker Than Black story-line, like I did, but don’t expect too much. It might be an idea to watch the OVA Darker Than Black: Gaiden first, to fill in the gap between the two series.