DARKER THAN BLACK COLLECTION
August 23rd 2012 02:18
The truth exists beyond the gate...
- “Howling” Abingdon Boys School
Based on the original story by: BONES, Tensai Okamura
Director: Tensai Okamura
Written by: Tensai Okamura
Producers: Hiroo Maruyama, Ryo Ohyama, Yoshihiro Oyabu & Osamu Hosokawa
Starring: Jason Liebrecht (Hei), Brina Palencia (Yin), Kent Williams (Mao), John Swasey (Huang), Troy Baker (November 11), Cherami Leigh (Mai & July), Kate Oxley (Kirihara), Todd Haberkorn (Kono), Chuck Huber (Nishijima), Justin Cook (Louis), Colleen Clinkenbeard (Chiaki Shinoda), Duncan Brannan (Jean), Julie Mayfield (Misuzu), Mark Stoddard (Tahara) Christopher Sabat (Saito), Kenny Green (Matsumoto), Leah Clark (Otsuka), Monica Rial (Ishizaki), Nazia Chaudhry (April) Laura Bailey (Amber) Brandon Potter (Gai Kurasawa), Brittney Karbowski (Kiko Kayanuma) Jamie Marchi (Brita), Travis Wallingham (Amagiri), Robert McCollum (Wei Zhijun) & Luci Christian (Havoc)
English Version produced by: FUNimation Productions Ltd
Released by: Madman Entertainment
Running Time: 650 minutes Rating: MA 15
A while back now I managed to get my hands on the first DVD volume of this particular series, which is made by the same studio behind Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, now a week or so ago I finally got my hands on the definitive series collection; the Darker Than Black (DTB) Collection which contains twenty six episodes of this rather intriguing series. Mixing elements of police/detective drama with an espionage/paranormal flavour DTB is an enigma wrapped in a mystery and shrouded by a riddle…or if you want me to be less obtuse it answers some questions but leaves a whole lot else unanswered.
And the focus of the drama in this series? Interestingly the focus is somewhat multi faceted; usually most of a shows drama unfolds either around a particular character – usually but not always the protagonist, or else a particular location or object. In the case of DTB we have a location, a protagonist and an object along with a veritable deus ex machina as the focus of the drama. Such a multi faceted approach can have drawbacks, main one being that it can dilute the storyline by forcing the audience to concentrate too much on various diverging characters, schemes etc. But with DTB the makers have managed to use this method to best advantage, instead giving themselves creative room to manoeuvre and deliver a compelling and touching story.
No doubt now you’re sitting at your computer and wondering that’s all very nice and such but just what the heck is Darker Than Black all about? What’s going on, what’s involved and all such other pertinent questions. Very well then…when the series opens it is set ten years after the appearance of Hell’s Gate literally in the heart of Tokyo. At the same time as the appearance of Hell’s Gate there also appeared amongst the populace at large certain people with special abilities known as Contractors and other who were mediums known as Dolls. By the time the events in the show take place Contractors are well known to various intelligence agencies, criminal syndicates and law enforcement groups but not the general public at large. To the average joe on the street the existence of contractors and dolls is a complete mystery.
The other incident that occurs with the appearance of Hell’s Gate is that the stars and the moon vanish from the heavens, replaced with fake stars, stars that look like they’re real but only in appearance. Interesting the contractors seem to be tied to these stars, and a large number of them are given Messier designations to match with certain stars, when a star shows unusual signs of activity it often means that the contractor tied to that star has either activated their ability or is dead in the case of a ‘falling’ star. The male lead in this series, Hei, is given the designation BK201…a body that is known to be associated with a particularly dangerous contractor known as the Black Reaper…
Strangely the Black Reaper is not like other contractors…in fact one could almost say he is as far away from them as it is possible to be yet he has the ability of a contractor and the skills of one. So who is this enigmatic figure and what is his role? Hei aka the Black Reaper works for the organisation known as the Syndicate, a shadowy group that seems to have multiple agendas and schemes going on that never truly make any kind of sense even at the very end. Still Hei works for this group, but his real purpose isn’t being a puppet for this shadowy group…no he wants to know what happened to his sister, Pai, who like him was a contractor that fought in the Heaven’s Gate War in South America. Somehow though he ended up surviving that war but Pai just vanished…she didn’t die and she just seemed to literally disappear.
The mystery of the missing sister is one of the key facets of the story…it is a reason for why Hei does some of the things he does as he seeks to unravel the fate of Pai. When he and the audience do eventually learn what happened it is something of a mind blower…but as with so many other key factors within the story it all relates back to South America and Heaven’s Gate. Still not all of the story is focused solely on Heaven’s Gate or even on the doings of the Black Reaper, there is a side story arc that revolves around former police officer now turned private eye; Gai Kurasawa. Of all the characters in the show I’d have to say I do have a soft spot for this hardboiled detective and his equally kooky cosplaying assistant Kiko. These two character add a certain humour and almost normalcy to the whole affair, they are very much ‘ordinary’ people whose lives are grounded in the ‘real’ world of everyday life…though they somehow inadvertently become embroiled in the larger picture. DTB Collection is a DVD worth getting your hands on if you’re a fan of this show…or if you’re someone who likes a bit of understated but intense paranormal thriller. Remember “The Truth exists beyond the gate…”
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