OVA Review: Darker and More Confusing Than Black

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I was a huge fan of Darker Than Black when it first aired. It had all sorts of references to Batman, but the action was intense and murderous. The show showcased cool jazz music and secretive conversations in dark alleyways, giving it a classy noir style.

Unfortunately, everything past season one was told in a extremely confusing order.

For starters, season two doesn’t even start in Tokyo, where the show began. It starts in Russia, a country filled with snow and urban decay. The main character, Hei,  just isn’t as lovable as he was in season one. Hei was once one of the slickest assassins. He saved numerous people from dying. Even after innocent people turned into contractors (superhuman assassins), he taught them how to use their powers effectively for survival.

Now Hei is just some drunken jerk who kills every contractor who gets in his way. In the beginning of season two, he has the nerve to kill one of the coolest characters, April. Every fan of the series just wondered why Hei had turned into such a jerk. Well, all the backstory between seasons one and two is hidden on the season two box set, in an OVA series called Darker Than Black: Gaiden.

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This part of the story focuses on the two main characters, Hei and Yin. They are now fugitives, trying to escape from other contractors who are trying to kill them. Throughout all four episodes, Hei tries his best to protect Yin from other people. And Hei hugs Yin in every episode, just to convince us they really are in love.

To be honest, the romance between Hei and Yin is as bland as stale bread. If these two are really lovebirds, they really need to show a little more passion. I understand that their contractor abilities turn them into cold, emotionless secret agents. Still, they could at least try to show a little more visible affection. I was honestly waiting for some kiss. Anything to convince me that they are deeply in love. Instead, I was terribly bored.

Anyhow, each episode follows the same order of action sequences and romance. Hei gradually learns from other contractors about the rapidly evolving powers of his girlfriend, Yin. Everyone keeps telling him that if he doesn’t stop her powers from awakening, Yin could cause another meteor to fall onto the Earth.

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The whole story is intense and apocalyptic, but Gaiden never seems to explain why Yin is receiving these powers in the first place. There are a few hints in episode four when a contractor group keeps calling her Izanagi. Perhaps the spirit of Izanagi has possessed Yin, but we never know for sure. The OVA is extremely useful for any fan, though. It explains why Yin disappeared and why Hei became an alcoholic.

The director of the anime should have aired these crucial episodes before season two even started. Instead, all this backstory is only available on the DVD version. Devoted fans could probably find the OVA videos somewhere on some pirate website. However, the whole arrangement of all these videos is terribly confusing. The average person wouldn’t be able to figure out that they have to watch the OVAs before season two.

I still enjoyed Darker Than Black: Gaiden. The action sequences are always intense and entertaining to watch. Sadly, this four-episode OVA also exposes the terrible flaws that have plagued the entire series from the very beginning. The dialogue is shallow. The story has numerous plot holes. Overall, Gaiden is a fun extension of the Darker Than Black series. Just don’t expect anything as groundbreaking as the first season.

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Filed under action, Darker Than Black, noir, OVA, shonen

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