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:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rL4UOu-PMvU&feature=player_embedded

  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.

    Reasons…
    – 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.

Leave a Reply

Shoutbox

Name:
Email:
For:  
Mail will not be published
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Mar 2. 2015 01:29 AM)
    Late to this one but
    @BrendanVGC, that’s kinda tough. See there is a huge amount of very different manga that fall under the category “Seinien” You would kinda need to give us a more focused genre to work with here. Like horror, action etc.
    And pretty sure death note is shounen.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 07:35 AM)
    Damon I am more used to seeing in a drama or comedy role I reckon rather than an action hero.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 07:24 AM)
    Eric Bana is so underated =<
    I want to see more of the man on film.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 05:52 AM)
    The story would’ve been much more anchored and believable if the social imbalance wasn’t portrayed so heavy-handedly. It makes no sense for every house in Elysium to have a healing-bed that completely restores you and they dint bother to put a single one on Earth to keep the working class happy and healthy. I mean, c’mon now.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 05:49 AM)
    Yeah the action sequences were the best parts of Elysium. I don’t k ow, I just don’t feel Matt Damon in these roles anymore and I hope they stayed with Eric Bana like the rumors were hinting; that probably would’ve made it a more personal story.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 04:55 AM)
    Its been too long since I saw district 9 to have an accurate opinion on it.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 04:54 AM)
    I can remember giving higher points to elysium when I saw it first because I really needed/wanted to see an R rated action movie. But apart from Sharlto Copley as the villain it was in hindsight fairly miscast, the ending was quite poor and the script could have been improved on, I liked the robots/action scenes however.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 04:20 AM)
    I have a feeling that the movie’s gonna suck tho. District 9 was good, Elysium was a mess and Chappie looks like a Short Circuit ripoff with nothing new to add. I have respect for Blomkamp since he started as an animator and probably has respect for the medium and a good eye for aesthetics, by he’s doing progressively more conventional stuff as his career goes on.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 01:41 AM)
    Ha, so I wasn’t wrong when I came across that film Chappie and thinking that the robot resembled Briareos from appleseed, the director’s a fan of Masume Shirow’s work apparently.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Mar 1. 2015 12:16 AM)
    @Brendan: That completely hinges on your personal taste, but Vagabond is one of the best Chanbara ones around, with superb art, fast pacing and entertaining storyline. Berserk should go without saying as it’s a codifier for many Seinen conventions, but Vinland Saga is another great series which is in similar vein. Biomega and Drifters are also worth a look.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Durarara!!X2 – 07

I think the problem with this episode was evident right from the opening scene. I had to do a double take when seeing a very poorly drawn Simon. I even questioned whether it was a new character entirely. But no, the animation budget took a nosedive. Or the guy who was to do the inbetweens […]

Death Parade – 07

Why is the girl from the last episode still around? This episode brought up three rules about arbiters. The third rule, about arbiters not having emotions, Is odd to me. For the arbiters we have been introduced to are very emotional. They state that Decim was given human emotions yet he is the least emotional […]

Durarara!!X2 – 06

Turns out that assassination attempt got Celty to see her life flash before her eyes. I suppose taking a tumble off a moving motorcycle is a fatal thing. But well in the last arc we saw two people survive getting blown away at about the length of a football field. So I cannot say I […]

Death Parade – 06

Death Parade in a risky move has taken things in a new direction. A daring adventurous move that no one expected. And it is…absolutely terrible. Death Parade, what happened? Did no one read over the script and do a shaft head tilt in wonder? Was there not an Animator who said “Excuse me sir. But […]

Durarara!!X2 – 05

We have yet another new character entering the show. A motorcycle gang leader who has a massive fondness for woman. Personally I am not a fan of him. His brand of female overprotective crazy just seems like a downgrade from the shows already huge cast of crazies. He looks like a character whose introduction serves […]

Death Parade – 05

If asked about how I think of death parade so far, my answer would have to be divided. On one hand the premise is rife with potential and it does have moments where it rises above the bar. But it also seems confused as to what it wants to be. We have death games between […]

Durarara!!X2 – 04

The current story arc ends abruptly and unexpectedly. I am rather surprised that it came here. From how this was portrayed it felt this would be a longer arc than it turned out to be. So with its end I must think back and wonder. What exactly did this arc accomplish? We got introduced to […]

Death Parade – 04

Now this is more like it. An arcade game between two strangers with dark pasts. Excellent. But both did have a similar problem. That being they are both people who couldn’t see past themselves. It’s nice to see people react differently to the game. Here we have the two of them mistaking it for a […]

Durarara!!X2 – 03

If its one thing you to can credit Narita for it that just when you think he cannot possibly make a stranger character, he then does. So the monster that Shizu smashed into the air in the last moment gets their story told and I am sure there are not many who would have guessed […]

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 […]