Posted by psgels on 25 December 2009 with categories: Darker than Black - Ryuusei no Gemini

Darker than Black was an excellent example of a mature series when it first aired. The entire setting was very original and creative, and so it was awesome to see an actual second season eventually got announced. I do want to warn fans of this first season to not expect exactly the same, however: Ryuusei no Gemini has no intention whatsoever to rip off the first season and going for the tried-and-true formula. Instead, it comes with its own concept, story-lines and focuses. and it does this so well.

Ryuusei no Gemini is about people with powers (called Contractors in this franchise) versus those who don’t. It explores its own boundaries that it set for itself, in the way that these contractors behave and act. It’s got a great direction throughout the entire series; there’s hardly a weak moment and it feels like every second is either there for building up or as a climax. I also really like how this is one of the very few series with a truly “people die when they fight to the death”-mentality that seems to be missing in anime way too often: when characters fight, the chance is big that someone (even a major character!) is going to end up dead.

While the first season of Darker than Black was about adults, Ryuusei no Gemini strangely has a teenager as a lead character. But don’t worry: she really doesn’t ruin this show in the slighted. Suou has an engaging personality and is well developed throughout the series. While you can see that she’s a teenager, she’s for once in no way inferior to the adults in this series and her story (just as all of the other subplots in this show, by the way) is very compelling. This show really succeeds in weaving all those little side-stories into one, while making all of them count. There’s lots of variety in this series. The ending may be a bit rushed, but even that one is very thought-provoking.

The soundtrack itself is even better than the one from the first season. It’s also different, but in a good way, full of haunting synthesizers. The animation is also what you’d expect of Bones: detailed, consistent and imaginative.

As for which season is best, it’s really hard to tell because the first and second season are just so completely different. The first season is episodic, the second has a continuous story. My favourite episode of Darker than Black still sits in the first season (the conclusion to the Yin-arc), however the second season is much more consistent. However, the first season in its turn is longer: that second season is really over before you know it! The first season in its turn had more adult themes, but the character-development in the second season also rocks despite the inclusion of teenagers. It’s really impossible to point at one as better, because they both have their own points at which they stand out.

The biggest complaint for Ryuusei no Gemini is simply that it’s too short. There are a few subplots that could have needed a bit more time, and if it had 24 episodes to work with it would have been even better. The really big fans of the first season are also going to have to accept that some of the more prominent characters in the first seasons have really small roles in the second season, in order to allow the new characters to shine. Nevertheless, I liked it a lot. It’s intelligent, exciting, well written, well directed, there are lovable characters. My third-favourite show of the past Autumn season.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Well directed, albeit a bit rushed at times due to the short amount of episodes.
Characters: 9/10 – Well developed new cast plus original use of old cast.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Excellent soundtrack, excellent animation.
Setting: 9/10 – Continues to push Darker than Black’s very creative setting forward.

10 Responses

  1. Jack says:

    So, I haven’t seen the last episode yet, but I can’t see it salvaging this season. I really liked the first season, minus a few arcs (to name a few, the perfume company one, the fire girl one – I think that’s it), but the second season has been completely underwhelming for me. I’m finding it really hard to pin down what it is about the first season that I liked that this one lacked. I guess I have a lot of small issues with it, but my main issue is that the second season saw a big step toward expository storytelling. What I mean by this is that it became all about explanations. A lot of mysteries are presented at the beginning and the series ends up being about explaining them (complete with cliffhangers!) and, in my opinion, fails rather badly narratively. In particular, I felt like I was only watching it to find out what happens next and I really did not enjoy the episodes themselves because they weren’t interesting in of themselves.

    Anyway, what I wrote above isn’t satisfactory for me, because I can’t pin down exactly how the second season “fails narratively.” A few small issues I had that are probably pieces to the bigger issue:
    1) Mao’s backstory. Am I the the only person that didn’t care? I felt like they were doing it just to please fans. I guess the fact that I would not have cared if they just omitted it indicates that it wasn’t done well narratively.
    2) The music wasn’t as good (background music). I guess this is expected, I think the musical director of the first season also did Cowboy Bebop. But, music helps narration in at least some basic level.
    3) Cliffhangers. I really hate cliffhangers.
    4) The dialogue wasn’t as interesting? It was mostly expository in the second season.

    Anyway, I’m stuck. If I figure it out I’ll recomment.

  2. Perrin4869 says:

    My only complaint with this season is that it tried too hard… Including this amount of fanservice (especially the one from Suou is the first episode was disturbing) only subtracts from the overall quality of the series, and the 3 episodes with the lolicon guy and his transvestite father were quite pointless and not fitting of this series. Mao’s backstory, and him being alive at all felt kind of out of place too, but ohhh well…
    I was otherwise pleased with the season, at first I was afraid it’d suck hard because all the posters contained teenagers in them, but my guesses soon proved wrong fortunately. Taking Hei’s powers at the beginning sure was a bold move, and if there is a third season ever I hope it stays this way – where else did you see a protagonist that lost his powers permanently, but still kicks ass?
    Anyways, even if Hei does not come back at all, there are an infinite number of epic stories to be told about contractors and dolls and stuff, so Bones, please milk this franchise some more (without detracting from its quality, that is)!

  3. Jack says:

    I agree with the above poster about all the things he took issue with… also, I think Mao’s character was changed quite a bit – he’s a lot more boring in this series.

    Anyway, I think I figured it out. In the first series, the dialogue was more interesting. For example, in the Yin arc, you’d have those two russian contractors talking about stuff in the car. In the Havoc arc, she’d talk about that family that took her in. In general, there was more talking, and it was mostly interesting (one case where it wasn’t was the perfume company arc… some overly dramatic bullshit about how her husband didn’t like her scent).

    In the new series, they don’t really do that. Most of the talking was there to move the story along. Hei never said anything, everything Mao said was purely for expository purposes, Suou became spacy as shit after she became a contractor or whatever, and before that she didn’t really say much of interest anyway, and Misaki’s dialogue also played an essentially completely expository role. There weren’t really any conversations that weren’t either poor attempts at humor or exposition.

  4. PL says:

    @Jack: the music wasn’t as good? What are you talking about. DtBS2 had one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever heard. Only a couple of anime have used sound and music as well, ie. Serial Experiments Lain, Ghost Hound and Ayatsuri Sakon. Season 1 had a good soundtrack but Season 2 had an AMAZING soundtrack, rich, deep and evocative, always perfectly timed to enhance and intensify whatever emotion or adrenaline charged fight scenes were on screen…I guess everyone had their own tastes, but I’m just amazed anyone would not love the sound of S2.

  5. lelangir says:

    I agree that I heartily enjoyed DtbS2 OST. Probably my favorite piece is in ep1 when they’re at the campfire, or “Hei’s Rave” (first time it plays is in ep3 when Suou is climbing up the train, I think). I don’t recall any music from S1 off the top of my head so I’d think it’s not as memorable as S2.

  6. Megaman0 says:

    You know after reading the manga (The second one the first one kinda sucks) I’m pretty dissapointed. This anime is like playing Metal Gear Solid 2 in the end it was all for nothing and everything stays the same, Hei is in the same position he was in at the start of the show, Suou dissapeared never to be heard from again making her entirely useless, July is gone again and for some stupid reason August is back while he didn’t even do anything in this show (They could have just let April survive and we’d still have the same effect). Only thing this established is what the next series could do in one flashback episode. I feel robbed of the time I invested in this series and characters and hope the next one goes back to what it did best mini arcs and different stories about contractors (I really don’t get why people are so critical of this set up the stories were great and while some arcs could do with more or less episodes it tied together in teh end). A great ride but the ending destination was horrible.

  7. fireryone says:

    Just watched the two seasons over the last few days, loved them both and agree can’t choose between them either :D

    Can’t wait for the OVA:

  8. billish says:

    The second season of Darker than Black was a complete and total let-down for me. I was so pumped to see this after burning through the first season : Unfortunately, I now feel as if this season was a mistake.

    – Plot was obviously rushed, by the end I felt as if I had missed full episodes
    – The role Yin plays in this series is completely useless and unexplained. I mean, I get what she is in the plot, but the reason why they chose Yin for this role does not make sense in conjunction with her character following the first season.
    – Suou’s weapon is pure cheese. Every other contractor has a bad-ass ability which made this series so worthwhile. But seriously… after all that cool… a sniper rifle comes from her chest… and it has a LIMITED CLIP (six bullets?)?!

    Anyways, perhaps because I loved the first season so much this season failed miserably in perspective.

    Also when I started this season (after the last ep. had aired) I still thought it was ongoing, as in more than 12 episodes, which didnt help.

  9. DangerMouse says:

    “The role Yin plays in this series is completely useless and unexplained. I mean, I get what she is in the plot, but the reason why they chose Yin for this role does not make sense in conjunction with her character following the first season.”

    Agreed, perhaps it’s the same for me given how great I felt S1 was and the “feel” that they had captured for the franchise.

    I think I even liked some of the overall story provided Yin had been with Hei and Mao not used as Izanami, use a different character, I get what they did with her character based on what’s happened in the OVAs so far and how they explained it during the second season, but that was still not the mysterious contradiction that was S1 Yin that I wanted in a new season of Darker Than Black (and I don’t even care about shipping Hei with Yin or Misaki, in fact I would have been quite happy if they continued her Data-like growth as a character, my favorite ST:TNG character), it was just too different, too sudden and did not build off the events of season 1 and instead felt like they pulled it out of their *ss based on her “human-size” observational spirit at the end of S1 to add more drama to Hei’s suffering and to get her out of the way for 90% of the season or 95% if we’re talking “real” Yin.

    It’s like they turned her into the weak “tragic figure” who’s so weak she even becomes a “temporary villain” (if she indeed survived) getting controlled by something inside her out of nowhere off-screen (even with this OVA where it’s happening in detail) after the subtle human emotional growth her character underwent over the course of 26 episodes for cheap Hei facing Yin (with good Yin locked away needing to be saved) drama.

    While I enjoyed the season since it still had enough of the DTB feel and the universe was as interesting and intense as ever even this same story would have been so much better with someone else in the role of Izanami, the least I expected was to at some point see Hei, Yin and Mao’s growth as a team/friends in the aftermath of trying to merely survive or fight back against the revelations of the S1 finale and they don’t even work together once due to Yin’s becoming a mere plot device and drama gimmick for this arc.

    Also, while I loved the first-hand glimpse and confirmation at how badass Hei was even before Pai gave him her powers, holy crap was he without his powers for way too long.

    I really hope they do a season 3 so they can put together the strengths of both seasons.

  10. Disconnected says:

    I did like both DTB seasons but I have to pinpoint a couple of things that have been said here and some that haven’t.

    The soundtrack of the second season is awesome. Don’t see it as a way to intensify scenes. Stand-alone, as music it is awesome. I haven’t seen soundtracks as good as this since maybe Ghost in the shell (innocence or the anime itself… you choose) or maybe Death Note.

    In season 2, even after watching it, I felt like I was missing information to get the whole idea. The whole Secret Mitaka files felt like it was blurry.

    Someone said before that Yin’s character was badly chosen and I agree, it is confusing to see her as izanami.

    The last episode specially was what shocked me… I had to see the last 3 minutes twice because I thought I missed something. 12 episodes wasn’t and that ending isn’t really all that good. Where is Hei? What happened to him…

    In conclusion I do like DTB series quite a lot but you can’t compare it with animes like Monster which maybe had a bigger budget, but had a completely steady and organized plot/story from beginning to end.

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  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 08:59 AM)
    I say this because people often like to hype up the genre or those elements. I bring this up/think about it now because I played a game called undertale lately on my brothers recommendation and he was all like it emotionally destroyed him but I never ended up crying, I mean don’t get me wrong its a good game, there were laughs to be had and there was sentiment but it wasn’t THAT sad/funny.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 08:44 AM)
    Given how many people cry at some drama, clannad included.
    That reminds me…
    I can’t actually remember the last time in my life where I cried, I draw a blank.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 07:58 AM)
    @Aidan: Something always feels off to me when you criticize clannad, I mean I’m critical enough of key these days too but it seems odd that you rank it as an 8 on MAL when you’ve always made it sound its more of a high 6 or a 7.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:45 AM)
    But I’m no fan of gung-ho soldier games/most fps games so I am glad clannad, a visual novel outsold call of duty.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:44 AM)
    I said it once I’ll say it again. I preferred the clannad movie over the tv series, had more style, a more mature feel to it and cut out all the superfluous arcs/comedy for the better. It also concludes better than the series. The emotional involvement in the kyoani version doesn’t work for me anymore, doesn’t hold up. However the film remains emotionally engaging after revisiting it.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:19 AM)
    Holy hell Clannad is selling like hotcakes on Steam. Even beat Call of Duty in sales at one point.
    Kinda happy to see a VN get recognised and it would help open up the market for more titles to come over. But..well..Clannad really isn’t all that great.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 02:29 AM)
    I can remember when I first got into anime when I was a whole lot younger I always said I would watch lodoss war, El Hazard and slayers, yet I never ended up doing so…
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Nov 24. 2015 05:34 AM)
    Ha, the child in me would love to see a film like that I’d imagine, when I was young I was pretty crazy about Egyptian supernatural stuff.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Nov 24. 2015 05:23 AM)
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Nov 24. 2015 05:22 AM)
    @Kaiser: yeah, even tho it was his highest grossing movie it managed to brought his career to a stand-still. His next film Gods of Egypt looks like it could be fun, albeit it’s just as much as a CGIfest as I, Robot. Egyptian stuff is admittedly rather intriguing, I remember a 2004 French film Immortel ad vitam that blended that with modern themes that became popular for a while.

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