Darker Than Black: Gaiden [Anime]: If only the second series got as much attention as these OVA episodes

Despite my disappointment with the second series of Darker Than Black, I still went on to watch the OVA Darker Than Black: Gaiden (2010). Now, I wouldn’t normally review the OVAs in a series, but I will make an exception here because it plays an important role in filling the gap between the first Darker Than Black series and the second (but was released last). The OVA only consists of four episodes.

Gaiden

What’s it about?

After the Tokyo explosion, Hei and Yin are on the run from the Syndicate, trying to get out of Japan. Working hard to keep one step ahead of their pursuers, things start to go astray when Hei notices that Yin starts acting erratically, seeming to ‘evolve’ from what she has been ‘programmed’ to do. Because of her ‘evolution’, she’s suddenly wanted by several different organisations. These OVA mark the beginning of Izanami’s possession of Yin.

The Positives

The quality of the art and music are still as good as the two series of Darker Than Black. Character styling is better in the OVA than it is in Gemini of the Meteor, and action scenes are still done very well. What’s really nice about these episodes is that they have the atmosphere of the first Darker Than Black series, but still manage to focus on themes of romance. Instead of feeling like a bizarre attempt at a shoujo, the four episodes have a sad, sweet, dark atmosphere.

It’s nice to finally get some explanations about the series, even if it’s only enough to get the second series to make a lot more sense.

However, the biggest strength of these episodes is the characterisation of Hei and Yin. Yin’s transformation is interesting to watch, especially when it becomes apparent that it is not a simple evolution but a possession, meaning that there is something else taking over her body. I really liked the way they portrayed Hei’s reaction to this change in Yin. At first he seems angry and frustrated with her, but it’s clearly obvious that he is concerned, even scared, about the changes, and that he cares for her deeply. There are also a number of cute, sweet moments between the two.

Hei x Yin

The Negatives

The first episode and last episodes are really good, but the middle ones feel like they are dragging in places. However, given that there are only four episodes, it isn’t a major concern.

One of the main negatives of the OVA is that there are still too many questions unanswered. When I first heard about these episodes I was looking forward to having some satisfactory answers… but it didn’t happen.

Anything else I should consider?

I watched these episodes after watching the second series, but I would advise you to consider watching them beforehand. They will fill in a lot of the gaps in the second series, and will allow the series to run a lot more smoothly.

Conclusion

Art:  8/10: The great quality art is maintained in the OVA, with character styling and action scenes particularly well done.

Story: 6.5/10: While not a lot happens, the OVA answers questions about the second series and also explores Yin and Hei’s relationship well.

Characters: 7/10: There are some interesting side-characters, particularly the Contractor Claude, but the main focus is on Hei and Yin.

I think that Darker Than Black: Gaiden achieves what it sets out to do in filling the gap between the two series. It’s handled very well with good art and music, and a lot of attention to Hei and Yin’s relationship. Although there isn’t as much action, the opening scene in the first episode and the closing scenes in the last episodes are memorable. However, you’re still left wanting explanations that you’re not going to get. Overall, I give it a 7/10. Watch it if you really like the Darker Than Black series, but if you’re looking for explanations beyond what happens between the two series, this isn’t going to help you.

-S

I thought that Claude, who only appears in the OVAs, has the best Contractor abilities.

I thought that Claude, who only appears in the OVAs, has the best Contractor abilities.

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