Posted on 21 July 2010 with categories: Darker than Black - Ryuusei no Gemini



What an awesome conclusion to the Gaiden-arc. The direction here was just perfect in hitting the right emotional notes. I love how well it made use of the build-up in tension of the previous episodes, and at the same time it also stood apart as a unique episode to Darker than Black.

So, we now know how Yin ended up with the ministry of community and affairs: they stood back from a distance, watching Hei struggle to get Yin back, and when everyone aside from Hei and Yin died, they grabbed their chances and took her while Hei was still… out cold, I guess. But that was nowhere near the main focus of this episode. The episode started getting awesome as soon as the illusionist started playing mind games on not just Hei, but everyone around him. It was interesting to see that he didn’t seem to care about money or power, despite having such a convenient ability. When Hei shocked Yin, I think that that was the point at which she really awakened, or at least lost the control of her real body, explaining why she was had to be kept in such a container in Ryuusei no Gemini.

Still, to think that it was Yin who caused the massacre of the previous episode. The way she so easily killed all of Amber’s former allies, in the same way she again released the souls of everyone here.

This episode also fills in the blanks of Hei’s development. Another big focus here was that we finally get to see Hei, showing himself emotionally vulnerable. As soon as he loses Yin (he thinks she died), he starts turning into the drunk that appeared at the first episode of Ryuusei no Gemini. I love how the creators animated his eye when the woman from the CIA contacts him. It’s there where he closes off his exposed self, and becomes stoic again.

The music really was brilliant here. Ishii Yasushi… his works are quite limited but I believe that his works really equal Yoko Kanno’s soundtrack of the first season. Again, it’s very different, but just as powerful.

As for a review about this OVA, I don’t think that I can say more about it than what I’ve done in these entries (I’m not really good at writing these reviews of OVAs that air only once every few months), unless a lot of people request me to. Now, for a sequel there are three possibilities:
– The creators are now secretly working on the third season, and will announce it in a few years. God, if this is true then I really wonder what that one will look like.
– We’ll get to see a few more OVAs in the future that will close off the entire series.
– There just aren’t any sponsors left interested in the series so it’ll die a silent death.
Obviously I’m rooting for the first, but I’m not going to get my hopes up until it actually gets confirmed. In the meantime, I’ll just eagerly anticipate Bones’ next major series. No offence to Heroman, but compared to the usual standard of Bones series, it just doesn’t live up.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 2 June 2010 with categories: Darker than Black - Ryuusei no Gemini



It’s interesting how all three installments of Darker than Black (Kuro no Keiyakusha, Ryuusei no Gemini and Gaiden) have been completely different from each other. Gaiden again has no intention to be repetitive, and instead plays out like a slow-paced love story between Hei and Yin amidst all kinds of intrigue. Hei is here at his weakest, and even the soundtrack is completely new again.

And as much as I’m trying not to, I really can’t avoid those very obvious hints that the creators keep giving that the Darker than Black Saga is nowhere near over. I know that this is very dangerous, especially after what Ookiku Furikabutte is currently trying to pull, but still. There is no way that the creators intended the final episode of Ryuusei no Gemini to be the conclusion of this series. Even with this episode’s explanation, about how Yin is able to change the world, there still remain a ton of twists that still haven’t been nowhere near wrapped up.

About this episode, it was really excellent. It was a really slow paced episode, but the ending was very sad, and very well and very subtle in its delivery. We also learn what happened to Amber’s former comrades. They died. Seriously, all but one massacred in just one go. It again shows just how unforgiving this series can be. And at the same time, this episode also was dedicated to showing weaknesses of Hei. For the first time, he hesitated in killing an enemy, and rushed through combat.

One thing I absolutely loved about this episode was that we did not get to see the point at which Yin was captured. We only heard about what happened through that dog. Whatever went on is just left up to our imagination.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 27 March 2010 with categories: Darker than Black - Ryuusei no Gemini



Ah, excellent. The Gaiden OVA is another one of those extra OVAs that aren’t just meant to be side-stories, but a vital part of the series. This episode yet again did a wonderful job of tying the first season to the second. It didn’t just explain what happened to Yin, but also some of the smaller plot-holes of the second season were explained.

The big question is of course: what the heck is that thing that took control of Yin? Izanami seems to be vital to this, and I guess that the entire point of the second season was to explore the possibilities of “Izanagi”. You know, that all just hints at a possible third season. There’s no way for the creators to have considered the end of Ryuusei no Gemini to be the end of this franchise.

I also stumbled upon an interesting article here (translated here), in which the general graphic director of Sora no Oto claimed the following thing: “People won’t be moved nor consented unless someone dies. Why aren’t they impressed by the character’s survival? It’ll be an easy job to create a war anime from now on. You can make a popular anime by letting the characters kill each other!”. To me, that’s not the reason of why I’m such a fan of Darker than Black’s habit to just kill off people. I’m perfectly happy with people surviving, as long as it’s done believably (which is exactly why I have no problems with Hei surviving all this time, because of how this series has shown how careful this guy works). It’s when creators start pulling Deus ex Machina to just keep a character alive that it becomes a big problem. It’s just as bad as them pulling a Deus ex Machina to just kill off a character. In the end it’s the story that should dictate whether characters live or die, not a desire to include more cheap drama.

I also have a small question about that Contractor destroyer thingie, shown after the ED. If that doctor knew how to increase the power of a contractor all along… then why didn’t he use it? And what exactly does it mean to become a more powerful contractor anyway? Will their abilities have less limits or something?
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 30 January 2010 with categories: Darker than Black - Ryuusei no Gemini



Seriously, this has to be one of the fastest OVA releases I have ever encountered: only a month after the original series ended. In any case this OVA was nothing like I expected. I loved it to bits, but it never really resolved any of the plot-holes that it seemed to have promised to answer.

Instead, this is very much one of those classical extra OVAs: the ones that aren’t important to the plot, and instead focus on the characters and fleshing them out so that they can’t exactly be called useless. Much like the Gunslinger Girl – Il Teatrino OVA, or Birdy the Mighty Decode – The Cipher you do not want to judge these episodes as standalone products. But they really are everything you could hope for in character chemistry.

Because GOD, this episode was satisfying. The entire first half was just spent on Hei and Yin, spending time together in some sort of tropical resort, on their run from the Syndicate. Mao is there too, but he’s just in full time cat-mode throughout the entire episode, so that Yin and Hei can finally get some quality time for themselves. In terms of plot, we don’t exactly learn something new, but Yin does start to show signs that she’s not as obedient as you’d expect of a doll, and this episode also shows one of the attempts of the Syndicate to capture her.

The animation also looks very good, and the music was as terrific as ever. Those who were hoping for lots of plot will be disappointed, because it just wasn’t there. Who knows. Perhaps a third season will some day in a couple of years get announced, which will fill in all of the question marks that are still left. However, with the current trends in anime, which still somehow seem to believe that there is not enough moe in anime, I’m not getting my hopes up.
Rating: ** (Ezxcellent)

Posted 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.
Posted on with categories: Darker than Black - Ryuusei no Gemini



Yeah, this episode was rushed. There’s no denying that this episode lacked the emotional impact that it could have produced if it took things easy. However, I don’t think that the creators really intended this episode as entertainment, but rather as brainfood. A lot of weird stuff happened here, and you know what? I’m actually still interested. For a Bones Ending, it’s actually not that bad. Plus, that soundtrack was just bloody awesome.

First of all, Shion. I thought that he was really a huge bastard, however his goal was pretty gentle. It turns out that he set out to Tokyo in order to get to the gate, and create a completely copied world in which Suou wouldn’t feel out of place. He hid it well, but I think that he felt really guilty about what he did to her.

The mystery-element here is of course Yin, but we have to wait for the OVAs to get some concrete answers on that. What we do know is that her powers helped Shion complete his plan: she helped him create a copy of the entire earth, and she brought July and Suou there: two children who indeed shouldn’t be involved with these adult struggles. In this episode, it’s also made clear that copies can’t retain their memories for long, so that’s why Suou was experimented with with her necklace. So apparently, Yin also made sure that Suou and the others would be able to survive without this pendant.

Then, the motives of the woman of the CIA: she for some reason was very interested in Shion’s ability to create copies (Hmm, what if one of the twins that’s with her is a copy as well?), and her actions seem to revolve around that. We now know that she helped Shion create his copies, and my guess is that when Shion came with the plan of creating an entire new planet because he didn’t want to involve Suou anymore, I guess she found it an interesting idea and cooperated with him. Her ulterior motives still are a mystery, though.

Then there’s Yin: why the hell are there two of them? The OVA is really going to have to answer that question. Also, the prophecy: Izanami and Izanagi, who we assumed to be Shion and Yin, met, and yet nothing bad happened. Again some OVA material, or perhaps the white Yin was Izanami, and so the disaster could be averted.

Then: Suou and July behaving uncontractor-like. My guess is that it’s got something to do with Hei. He’s always been a big question-mark: he has his sister who lives in him, who may or may not have disappeared completely when his powers were taken away. My guess is that he has some sort of effect on children and teenagers, that allows them to retain their their personality.

In the end, before I started to watch this episode I really think that I’ve been a bit too much spoiled by endings that just spoon-feed their information to the viewer. This episode was a nice wake-up call and it showed the power that these “rushed endings” can have. This episode didn’t treat its audience like idiots, and instead it’s just one of those episodes where if you don’t think about it, you’re going to dislike it.

Overall, I may have said this a bit too often by now, but THIRD SEASON WHERE?! Ryuusei no Gemini really was a really well done side-story, but there’s still so much potential left here in this series. It’s another one in the increasingly long list of shows that desperately need continuations. And yes, I’ve heard about the rumours but I’m not going to get my hopes up until I see official confirmation.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 18 December 2009 with categories: Darker than Black - Ryuusei no Gemini



An excellent build-up for that final episode. My big worry right now is the pacing, because there is A LOT that still needs to be revealed. On top of that, the story needs to reach its conclusion, the themes have to be wrapped up, as well as the ton of side-plots that were going on. Oh, I really hope that the creators are going to be able to pull this off. I won’t mind a few questions left open, but I will mind it if the creators end up rushing though the ending.

And yeah, I was wrong: Suou is the only copy alive at this point: the original doctor survived and instead had a clone of his killed. In the meantime, the real doctor dies in this episode. From a shot in his leg. Seriously, I think that this is the first time in anime in which a character dies from such a minor injury, although it does make sense: he was treated poorly and ended up bleeding to death. Though it gets a bit hard to believe amongst anime where characters survive multiple gunshots without being treated for days in some cases. :P

There’s just one thing… how did the golem guy survive? His fight against Suou doesn’t really make any sense: he was shot in the eye before and he was just fine, and then he gets shot in his forehead, where the impact is apparently strong enough to cause a flesh-wound and knock him unconscious, but nothing more…

I also finally remembered to keep watching after the ED, and those were some major scenes this time: Mao is the blond woman’s former lover? Heh.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 11 December 2009 with categories: Darker than Black - Ryuusei no Gemini



Hell yeah! This series is really coming together quite nicely. It both fits in with the first season and yet has created an entirely new style and mood. With this episode, you can really see that the build-up of the past number of episodes has paid off.

2009 really has been a stellar year for Bones. But yeah, now that we’re near the end of this series, their particular weakness pops up again: their seeming inability to create an actually good ending. I’m really not sure what it is with their series and adaptations, but during the previous summer, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 was the first series I’ve seen from them with an actually good ending. All of the others that I watched so far were either rushed, forced, or just completely ruined their series. And that considering that the rest of their series are often so well produced.

Still, if there’s any series that could break this trend, it’s this one. With so much build-up, it will be a disaster if the ending goes wrong, but you can see that the creators have planned out this series really well. they should have a great ending planned here, if this episode was any indication. The depth it gave to Suou’s character was really remarkable.

This episode also sheds a totally new light on Shion: it’s obvious now that the Doctor who was with him also was just a copy that he created: the real one really was killed by Hei. How he said that Suou needed to learn what pain was was very hypocritical: he himself has no concept of this, since he thinks that he can just clone anything that he loses.

And zomg: Mao’s backstory! it’s strange to see this guy inside a regular human body, but we finally get a good look at how he lost his original body. The question that remains now: why did the Syndicate betray Mao? Was it just because he happened to be on a place that they needed to bomb, (say, an unfortunate sacrifice), or was he specifically targeted?

Also, Hei has frustrations: it’s one thing to torture his victims for information, but to leave such a mutilated body behind… what the heck was he doing to her? O.o
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 5 December 2009 with categories: Darker than Black - Ryuusei no Gemini



I had my doubts when I heard that the goofballs of the first season would return in this episode. Especially combined with Hei, shaving his beard: the creators would have to very skillfully write these final episodes, even more than the previous eight episodes. The danger of this show turning into one that goes into its on direction, yet gives up in the end and simply decides to go with the tried and true formula of the first season would be disastrous.

Instead, what this series now has to do is instead of completely going back to the style of the first season, bring both seasons together: converge the two of them into one. And bloody hell, this episode actually did it.

Of course, this perhaps wasn’t the best episode of the second season, but the two goofballs were a lot less annoying than what I remember them to be. They again had a clear purpose: to form a contrast with the contractors in this series, and they went further than the goofball in this series by actually pushing Suou towards meeting her mother; something that she for some reason didn’t look forward to. It’s a really good episode that contributed to how she’s struggling with her own identity as a contractor, while brilliantly having her avoid the usual angsty indecisive teenager route.

On top of building upon the themes of the second season, this episode was also chockful of references to the first season: Amber seems central to the plot, Hei has cut off his hair and finally has another reason to act like the nice guy he pretended to be in the first season. What’s more, some of the characters of the first season seem vital to the plot of the second season. You can see that the creators have put a lot of thought into it.

That scene in which Suou met her mother surprisingly lacked impact for me, though. I’m not sure what it was, but I was much more interested in just about everything around it. There are still a few huge questions behind it that need answering: why that woman from the CIA direct Suou to her mother? What is she trying to achieve? What has Suou’s mother been up to anyway?

Also, colds in Japan are weird. Instead of taking quite a few days to blow over, you simply faint, sleep and it usually completely disappears after a few hours. Either that or a lot of Japanese mistake colds for anemia, which is also much more common than where I live…
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 27 November 2009 with categories: Darker than Black - Ryuusei no Gemini



Oh, the soundtrack for this series rocks. I consider it to be even better than the one from the first season. What I only noticed right now however is that Yoko Kanno didn’t write it this time. Instead, it seems to have been composed by a voice-actor, of all people. It’s the guy who voiced Hamdo in Now and Then, Here and There and Shou Taishi in Saiunkoku Monogatari, among many others. I’m really not sure where he got the idea of composing a soundtrack from, but he did a bloody brilliant job at it.

In any case, this episode yet again showed off this series’ wonderful style of storytelling, which is brutally direct, and also creative and very exciting during the action-scenes, even though the action itself is in no way over the top. In Darker than Black, fights rarely end with everyone retreating with minor wounds. In this series, battles are fought with the intent to kill. Take that, shounen-series!

But seriously though, I didn’t quite think that even Tanya was no exception to this rule. Here I thought that the creators were saving her for the big climax in which Suou manages to settle their differences, despite being contractors… and here this episode just unceremoniously kills them off. Her death wasn’t in vain, though: it was a great opportunity to show that teenaged contractors indeed have bugs inside of them. This series has mentioned it before, and it’s an interesting concept that in the world of contractors, there also still exist contractors that need to grow up. it also fits really well in the development between Hei and Suou, and you can see that the creators spend some time into this.

On top of that, the mystery has also thickened. What the heck was Shion doing there? I this some kind of double red herring? That their father needed Suou the most so he pretended that Shion was the most important one so that she wouldn’t catch suspension? Heh, some father.

Also, why does Misaki have a portrait of a black cat hanging on her wall?
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Shoutbox

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  • K-Off
    (Saturday, Aug 30. 2014 02:44 AM)
    So a 9 year old girl accidentally killed her instructor at a shooting range with a submachine gun. Why did we not see this coming?
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Aug 30. 2014 02:33 AM)
    So I’ll rate every work based on their respective genre and medium.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Aug 30. 2014 02:30 AM)
    @Emma: I’ll easily rate the original Ghost In The Shell above many movies (specially the recent ones). And as far as games go I just think the medium is just too different. Just as I find movies having a hard time replicating a masterful painting such as Van Gogh’s rooftops, View from the Atelier The Hague, I find other mediums at a loss when trying to imitate a game like Ico.
  • K-Off
    (Saturday, Aug 30. 2014 02:28 AM)
    Now that I owe Aidan no more favors, I can finally play Divinity Original Sin. I’m trying to binge as many games as I can before the fall quarter starts.
  • K-Off
    (Saturday, Aug 30. 2014 02:18 AM)
    Sharin did not impress me one bit with the premise, and the progression was… Well, what everyone should expect from a decent story. Don’t judge, this comes from a person who takes the mediums of literature way too seriously. It is my opinion that it never went above and beyond to really break my expectations.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Aug 30. 2014 02:18 AM)
    But from my films background no, I would not rate a game, manga, or a anime above a film usually.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Aug 30. 2014 02:16 AM)
    I’ve read about eight of them and while yes I found enjoyment in many of their stories and characters I don’t actually like the format itself.
  • K-Off
    (Saturday, Aug 30. 2014 02:12 AM)
    I realize that while I don’t hate the VN genre, I also don’t like it. Sharin no Kuni isn’t a bad story, but it isn’t very good either, and the “grandpa” K-Off in me makes me not take the story as seriously due to the medium. Overall, as a VN, 9.7/10,but otherwise from my literary background, 6/10.
  • K-Off
    (Saturday, Aug 30. 2014 02:10 AM)
    By the way, I finished Sharin no Kuni. I don’t know what hasn’t already been said about it, so no point in talking about it. I might add, however, that I was not as compelled by the protagonist as I was with the development of the heroines, but I feel like that is to be expected with this genre of games.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Aug 30. 2014 01:56 AM)
    @Emma: Tekken’s one of the few game that I’m cocky in, since I feel like O have a claim to the throne. I beat everyone around here so much that they just sorta stopped playing.
    California is great I don’t know what you guys are complaining about. I love the sun and if it gets too hot we’ll just hit the beach or the river ;-)

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Yahari Ore no Seishun no Love Come wa Machigatteiru Review – 82,5/100

I like surprises, like when a series comes that just turns out to be good against my expectations. Yahari Blahblah from the outside had all the signs to turn into yet another one of those high school comedies: snarky male lead, pointlessly long title that fails at being witty, various other cliched side-characters. And they […]