Posted by psgels on 30 September 2007 with categories: Anime Reviews


Darker than Black is an arc-based series, much like Studio Bones’ previous production of Tenpou Ibun Ayakashi Ayashi. The setting is quite different, though. Instead of the Tenpou-era, this one plays in modern-day Tokyo in an alternate universe, where strange humans with supernatural powers, calling themselves contractors live amongst humans. For once, their purpose isn’t to destroy mankind, but to just carry out their job. And that’s the beauty of this series.

Darker than Black is about the relationship between your job and your own instincts. All the characters in this series are adults who are just trying to survive in a dark and gritty environment, with pressure coming from both enemies and superiors. The interesting thing about the contractors is how they’re able to make rational decisions, regardless of their emotions, making this quite an intelligent series. Organizations have many layers and characters have often subtle motives.

The powers of these contractors are just like the setting: full of creativity. In this series, the people with the strongest powers are actually the weakest, because these don’t leave any room for strategies. The story also knows how to use its characters, where every major character gets at an arc dedicated to him or her for development and background information. There is just one issue with the ending: the creators got too ambitions and tried to stuff too much in the final episode, making it end up rushed.

There’s one more problem, one that many other arc-based series suffer from as well (for example Ghost Hunt, Ayatsuri Sakon): the quality of the different arcs fluctuates heavily, and you’ll never know when an arc will turn out great or just good. The best episodes of the series are because of this not among the final ones, but episodes 13 and 14. These were simply perfect, with some of the best minor villains I’ve seen in a long while. The successive arcs were good as well, but none of them really lived up to the same quality, unfortunately.

Still, despite this, Darker than Black is a definite recommendation for anyone, looking for a story aimed at adults. There’s enough action, and yet the action is not of the brainless kind you see in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. It knows how to build up the individual stories for each arc very well with nearly all of them having satisfying climaxes, and this is definitely one of the more intelligent series that came out in the past spring-season. And let’s not forget Yoko Kanno, who composed the soundtrack for this series. Her style may be a bit more subtle than say, Yuki Kajiura, but it fits the series perfectly.

13 Responses

  1. Archer says:

    as i see this anime seems to be liked by the majority of people and by almost all anime blog writers i visit and it is nice to see such a anime
    overall for me it was an interesting anime,that had a dark,adult theme,an arc based series that i usually enjoy watching,some interesting characters and even if there were some episodes that were not as good there were enough better ones to make this a great anime so i think it deserves the high rating

  2. kiseki gurl says:

    While I liked DtB I personally think this is a little overhyped. I felt like a lot of the arcs were kinda pointless (I forgot half of them) and I felt some were placed at the wrong time (i.e. Huang’s arc). I thought DtB had a lot of potential that it wasted. And the ending did not help.

  3. naneya says:

    Just finished this series.

    I find it is a quite well series in many detail , but Its story’s structure is just a mere story about “Badass hero and his gang” and his enemy(of cause evil organization).

    Like I said before, I known well that this series managed its detail very well but it just a detail, its story line is so lame, completely wasted its potential to be a good series.

  4. L.A says:

    Although Okamura Tensai is one of my avoritetop 3 directors, I really did not like this one.
    Too many things, I say more than half of them are unsolved and unexplained. (Now I seriously doubt that BONES intend to do this all the time!)
    Of all things, I hoped him to write more scripts. I know he doesn’t write many scripts, and he may not be an experts…
    He wrote only the first 2 episodes but they turned out to be the best among all the episode from the series.
    (Well I sure admit Suga Shotarou and Nomura Yuichi are both great writers too)
    Not that I completely hated the show, I was rather dissapointed maybe as well as I was expecting too much from the start.

  5. Perrin4869 says:

    Rewatching the anime again made me realize why I loved it so much in the first place. And I must say, the score you gave it hardly makes this anime justice. It has astonishing production values, and extremely intricate plot, believable characters, an original and unique and imaginative setting… It also manages to be funny without resorting to low humor, with the detective they created. No other anime I can think of boasts of such feats. I also disagree with you about the ending being rushed, it had a proper build up of 5 episodes (21-25 can be called the ending in my opinion), and the conclusion was more than satisfactory, at least to the plot threads presented throughout the season. Season 2 will take a completely different approach, because of the way this season ended, so it’ll probably focus on completely different things.
    The only 2 things I can say badly about this series is that some arcs are definitely lower in quality when compared to the rest of the series, and that the opening and ending songs are not suitable to my tastes at all.
    Maybe this is just a fanboy speaking here, but I can’t wait any longer for season 2!

  6. Snowolf says:

    For some reason, I was strangely addicted to this series (finished it in three days!). I just finished it, and I really think it’s a bit different than any type of dark, crime/supernatural based animes in that it’s very subtle. And the animation, music, and dialogue fits the characters perfectly. In fact, everything was pretty much perfect for me except the OPs, in which the second one looked like an opening for Initial D (-_-) and the random “filler” episodes. Which I understand, is part of the whole series and thus makes it different than all the others, but sometimes it really lagged me down. Otherwise, Darker than Black was a truly fascinating and interesting anime to watch, and I can’t wait to see the second season. :D

  7. Xanza says:

    Absolutely loved this anime which I finished in roughly 2 days.
    While the major story arc finished the second last episode of season 1 the last episode was a nice way to end it, I spend the episode in giggles.

  8. Alex says:

    I got to agree with Perrin4869. This is possibly one of the best animation I have watched so far. It’s subtle and the characters have profound depth. I agree the episodes are uneven, 13 and 14 obviously being the best. However, I found most minor characters interesting and belivable enough and the director is able to address something quite philosophical without sacrifying the entertainment value. The second season is good, but it really lack the depth of the first season. Hope a third season can bring a satisfactory conclusion to the story.
    Finally, I have nothing to complain about the ending. A lot people believed it was over ambitious and many things left unexplained. However, that’s where I see the beauty.

  9. Alex says:

    I got to agree with Perrin4869. This is possibly one of the best animation I have watched so far. It’s subtle and the characters have profound depth. I agree the episodes are uneven, 13 and 14 obviously being the best. However, I found most minor characters interesting and belivable enough and the director is able to address something quite philosophical without sacrifying the entertainment value. The second season is good, but it really lack the depth of the first season. Hope a third season can bring a satisfactory conclusion to the story.
    Finally, I have nothing to complain about the ending. A lot people believed it was over ambitious and many things left unexplained. However, that’s where I see the beauty.

  10. asdf says:

    I disagree with your rating as it should have been at least a 90. But I agree with your comments. But I do feel that it had too much of a short life span lasting 37 & OVA(25 in S1, 12 in S2)

  11. josh says:

    Loved fhe anime goin from episode 25 to 26 really confussd me nade no sense at all :o

  12. Topaz says:

    One of my favorite anime of all time! I was so hooked that I finished it all in one day! DtB has an great plot which was surprisingly very interesting and felt real even though it was clearly fantasy. It was very suspenseful with many excellent, subtle plot twists. The main characters are all well developed throughout the episodes. Unlike most anime, the minor characters were all essential to the plot and their motives were convincing. My rating for this is more of 92/100.

  13. Shinigami says:

    Wow.. seems like we are on the same opinion on quite a lot of stuff. I am surprised to read this… The creativity of the contractors and the contract’s prices to be paid, I haven’t paid that much attention to the arc separately, but I do feel you have a reason there too…

    Btw, you can read my review here: http://shinigamilist.com/2011/10/23/darker-than-black-a-really-good-combination-of-sci-fi-and-everyday-life-review/

    in case you’re interested ;)

Leave a Reply

Shoutbox

Name:
Email:
For:  
Mail will not be published
  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 12:21 PM)
    @ninjarealist I agree. although to be honest, I really would not have known it was a Trigger production if no one told me. even the music is spot-on slice-of-life romcomy. thing. +1 for diversity.
  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 12:20 PM)
    @ninja ah well not specifically Japan. like, in a lot of fantasy/medieval sort of series in anime/manga have that kind of situation for some crises.
  • ninjarealist
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 12:18 PM)
    @Jalapeno Bagel I feel like a lot of that is the animation. There’s just always something cool or funny to look at. The character animations are just fantastic and it constantly keeps your eyes entertained.
  • ninjarealist
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 12:17 PM)
    @Jalapeno Bagel If you’re talking about rice in Japan, the doom was more a factor of the rice’s value within the economic system and the pains involved with being unable to pay taxes etc. Most Japanese peasants did not even eat rice.
  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 12:16 PM)
    @ninja Trigger’s been doing a good job with the pacing, imo. either that or I’m keyed up or something. each episode flies by and I can’t believe it’s been 20 minutes already.
  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 12:15 PM)
    I’ve seen a lot of scenarios where a village is doomed because they’re cut off from harvesting/cultivating/mining/etc their best resource.
  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 12:14 PM)
    hm, this does pose an interesting question. were villages back in the day really so dependent on a single resource?
  • ninjarealist
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 12:14 PM)
    @Jalapeno Bagel I’m really enjoying Inou Battle as well. It’s not particularly original, or intelligent, and the cliches can be downright painful at times, but the animation is great and the characters are surprisingly endearing. It’s a fun watch if not a great show, is my opinion. I have definitely been looking forward to the new episodes.
  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 12:12 PM)
    yeah. guess we’ll see. i found inou battle pretty enjoyable, although some didn’t like it. reminds me of seitokai ichizon.
  • ninjarealist
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 12:10 PM)
    @Jalapeno Bagel The first episode is awesome but it goes downhill fast. Really fast. This third episode was borderline unwatchable at times IMO. But maybe you’ll feel differently.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Akatsuki no Yona – 03

Hak and Yona flee Soo-Won’s men, but Yona’s mental and physical condition continue to deteriorate. Yona and Hak are both haunted by memories from the past. This was easily the best episode in the series so far. Whereas the first two episodes primarily took place in the present or the future, this episode is mostly spent in […]

Grisaia no Kajitsu – 03

This isn’t looking good. Let me explain, Grisaia has a somewhat nakige visual novel approach. Meaning that it has a comedic relatively plotless first half, followed by a tragic heroine backstory related story arc. Notable examples of this is any Key visual novel anime adaption you can think of. So for the first half we […]

Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis- 03

Okay, so this episode didn’t focus on Leone and Amira’s adventure. Instead, it focuses on building Kaisar’s character and it does so a bit awkwardly. This episode takes Kaisar and puts him into an overly bombastic situation in order to tell us about Kaisar’s past family problems, but it was so out of tone from […]

Gugure! Kokkuri-San- 03

This show has a great cast, but some chinks in the armor are starting to appear in the comedy. So far, this anime seems to lack a consistent tone, which shows through just how hit-and-miss the comedy is. It attempts to mix elements of light and dark comedy along with slice-of-life and tries to excel in all three […]

Psycho Pass 2 – 02

Episode two continues right where episode one left off and progresses about how you might have guessed. Akane chases the mysterious villain pulling the strings, getting only cryptic responses from Kitazawa. Shimotsuki confronts Akane with her misgivings about Akane’s handling of the arrest. And we finally get some subtle hints towards Kougami’s existence and how his disappearance might […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks – 02

The stage is set, the actors are in place and the curtain is rising. So I can say this episode’s title was certainly apt. Unfortunately this week we have no bombastic fight scene to ogle and instead we get a heavy dose of info dumping. This is not the most exciting of episodes but the […]

Grisaia no Kajitsu – 02

The grisaia visual novel was by no means perfect. In fact if I was to summarize it as concisely as possible I would deem it a mixed bag. Some great moments but quite a number of bad storytelling decisions. Still there was hope for this anime adaption. After all the Steins Gate adaption managed to […]

Parasyte-the Maxim- 02

Before I continue reviewing this anime, let me put up a disclaimer: I will be discussing the anime of Parasyte, not the manga. If you want to talk about spoilers, I recommend you go to a site that will talk about those things. Don’t be an ass and discuss spoilers down in the comments, because […]

Some Quick First Impressions: Grisaia no Kajitsu, Trinity Seven and Inou Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de

Grisaia no Kajitsu Short Synopsis: Our protagonist joins a school that has five troubled girls in attendance. AidanAK47’s impression: Grisaia has all the elements to cause many to write it off as a typical harem anime. Protagonist who only wants a ordinary life? Check. Joins school with several female beauties? Check. Panty shots? Sigh…check. The […]

Latest Reviews

Clipboard06

Nerawareta Gakuen Review – 84/100

Let me talk a bit about Ryousuke Nakamura. For a long time, this guy was my hero. He started off as an assistant director to Monster, in my opinion a big reason why that series got such a ridiculously solid adaptation, and then in 2008 he came with the groundbreaking Mouryou no Hako. No TV-series […]

Clipboard03

Kick Heart

Okay, so I didn’t want to exit 2013 without having seen Masaaki Yuasa’s Kick Heart. It’s only twelve minutes anyway, and I consider him to be one of the best anime directors out there. The story here is pretty silly and mostly serves as a backdrop, so I mostly want to talk about the nature […]

Clipboard01

Kyousogiga Review – 90/100

Everyone’s taste is different, and that’s a wonderful thing because that allows us to have so many different forms of media that all aim toward their own niche. My blog is obviously written from the perspective of my own taste, and even when a show doesn’t cater to it (which is nearly always), I love […]

Clipboard04

Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Lovecome o Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru Review – 80/100

Noucome! You do not want to know how long I have been waiting for a series like this. More than half a decade, at the very least. Finally a series comes along and puts the incredibly overused harem genre in its place. And it actually does it well. Thank you! So to elaborate: the harem […]

Clipboard01

Pokemon: The Origin Review – 75/100

Normally I try to avoid spoilers with these reviews, but screw it, it’s Pokemon. Pokemon The Origin is a bomb of nostalgia. If you haven’t played Pokemon Red, Blue or Green, then you will not enjoy this one slight bit. This really is made as pure undilluted fanservice for the fans of the first games. […]

Clipboard08

Tamayura – More Aggressive Review – 75/100

I’m not going to dedicate a post for my impression for the final three episodes of this series. It was just too boring to write much about. I guess that that gives a pretty accurate indication of what I think about this series. Right at the start of Tamayura’s second season, I asked one question: […]

Clipboard04

Silver Spoon Review – 86/100

When Noitamina started airing two series per season, it was amazing. It’s a timeslot that on average tends to be aimed at a much older audience than usual, and having two series with the same mentality definitely helped to bring more diversity to anime overall. Unfortunately it’s a schedule that could not be kept up […]

Clipboard07

Yondemasuyo, Azazel-San Z Review – 82,5/100

Reviewing a comedy sequel usually is quite simple: in most cases it just drops the bomb and runs out of inspiration, and in rare cases it actually manages to stay hilarious. The tricky thing with these kinds of series is that you need to remain funny, and you need to have the inspiration for that. […]

Clipboard05

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet Review – 81/100

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet tells the storyline of a planet that is completely submerged, with only giant ships residing on the surface, while one of those ships gets visited by this guy and his AI-mecha from this very technologically advanced civilization. Yes, this show is about world building. What this show managed to do […]