Darker Than Black: Ryūsei no Gemini (Twins of the Meteor) is the squeal to the 2007 hit series Darker Than Black. It picks up two years later with Hei now on the run from the now weakened Syndicate and working for the CIA in Russia. But the Syndicate wants revenge for his betrayal. Hei is ordered to capture a Meteor Core from a scientist but instead ends up protecting his young daughter from the Syndicate who are desperately searching for her Contractor twin brother.
When I started watching Darker Than Black Ryūsei no Gemini I quickly realized that I probably should go back and re-watch the original. Two years is a long time between series and it’s hard to pick up because the show drops you into the world. Very much like the original there are a half dozen organizations fighting each other with endless amounts of contractors and the narrative never slows down long enough to actually explain why these things are happening. Luckily, the two saving graces of the original Darker Than Black once again save its sequel.
The characters in Darker Than Black are always interesting if not always the most developed. Even some of the side characters have interesting personalities, from the mostly silent April to the completely stoic July, their characters aren’t explored in much depth but they remain somewhat compelling. But the main characters are wonderful. Hei is as complex as he ever has been. Now that he is on the run and taking even shadier jobs he has been completely destroyed by life as a contractor. Suou, the young girl, comes in and forces Hei to deal with some of his deeper issues while dealing with her own crippling problems. I love these characters and I cheered for them as they grow and become able to deal with their problems.
The action is also top notch. While the battles are sometimes short the variety of powers the contractors use always make the combat interesting. The key element that makes them compelling is that Hei has to learn what his new foes power is and how to counter it. The majority of the fun of the show is watching Hei develop methods of defeating the seemingly endless variety of contractors that appear. My favorite was The Magician who was able to create a field around his body to make it seem like anything tossed at him just passed right through.
There are two story arcs in Darker Than Black, which come together in the end, the first are the character arcs of Suou and Hei and how they deal with their individual circumstances. As I stated above, I love both these characters and their development is handled extremely well. However the other storyline, the one containing the battle between the Syndicate and the CIA, is almost impossible to follow. There are times when it is difficult to tell the difference between the two organizations let alone their goals. This might be a translation error or something actually intended by the author but either way it makes following the story difficult.
The supernatural aspect is also a bit wonky. The show handles the individual powers well but when it starts talking about their source and how those people received their powers the concept falls apart. Nothing is explained. There are just things happening. There are dolls that can observe people at long distances and they are important somehow… but nothing is ever said about their origin or exactly why they are important or how they are connected to the fact that the original stars have disparaged. All the questions left at the end of the first season are left unanswered with many more piled on top. It is as if the writers have dug themselves into a hole and the only way they can think of to get out of it is just to dig deeper and deeper.
Darker Than Black 2 is a wonderful character piece with some excellent well thought out action sequences. But the story and concept of the show suffer due to its complexity and faith in its audience. While the poorly organized plot does make the show confusing at times the characters and actions more than make up for it.
- Characters of Hei and Suou are well developed and interesting
- The action alone is worth watching all thirteen episodes
- The writers will never run out of interesting Contractor powers
- Supernatural elements are never explained, seem like nonsense
- Disorganized plot which is difficult to follow
Most of my confusion based on the shows plot probably comes from not knowing a lot about the characters or the organizations battling it out. I will still hold that against the show because this isn’t billed as Darker Than Black 2 it’s billed as a new story in the same universe. I remember being very angry at the end of the original for many of the same problems this sequel has, at least in the supernatural elements. I remember the noir aspects of the show a bit more well constructed than the ones in the sequel. So I will be returning to Darker Than Black and attempting to make some sense out of its overarching story. But if I cannot I’ll still be able to see Hei kick some ass again. Something worth watching both shows to witness.