The second season of Darker than Black requires a lot of faith to watch for it not only dawdles when it should be running, it becomes increasingly obvious that it will not answer any of the questions posed in the first series, but will be raising innumerable subsequent questions. Ambivalence when beginning the new series will make the ending, if it is reached at all, all the more bitter; Darker than Black: Ryuusei no Gemini expends every chance to present a complete and satisfying series instead fixating on trivialities and ignoring aspects which desperately needed addressing.
flying cars, a talking squirrel, an aggressive bisexual and ill-defined organisations - credibility becomes an issue.
Set an indeterminate amount of time after the end of season one, Gemini of the Meteor picks up with Hei, now working for the CIA, in Russia. Dishevelled and abrasive he collides with a young girl, Suou, who has just lost most of her family in an attack and is on the run from the authorities. In a seemingly purposeful act, Suou becomes a Contractor and able to materialise an anti-tank rifle from a necklace given to her by her father. An uneasy alliance between Suou and Hei begins, bolstered by the doll July and the return of Mao who now resides in a neckerchief wearing squirrel, they all begin the perilous journey to Japan. Dogged by both Russian forces as well as the mysterious Japanese Section Three, whose new recruit Misaki is eager to discover the truth to ongoing events more than to apprehend the fleeing fugitives, the trip will not be easy and exposes difficult truths about everyone involved in the Hell's Gate incident portrayed at the climax of the first series.
Darker than Blackasked more questions than it reasonably answered so a second season is welcomed not simply for the chance to tie up loose ends. Lamentably, as so far this sequel is as obtuse as the first and omits an overview of the first season in favour of a cryptic flashback, some light romantic drama followed by some out-of-character fan service. The first three episodes present a haggard, visibly scarred Hei with ill-explored traumas inflicted in the intervening period between seasons; an incessantly annoying teenage girl with a flying squirrel sidekick and a selection of Contractors with a variety of outlandish remunerations. So far so Darker than Black.
Russian tundras and snow scattered towns are wonderfully atmospheric
It diverges little in both pace and atmosphere of the first series with the animosity between humans and Contractors still prevalent and mention of a shadowy organisation that seems to exist only to be enigmatic rather than any pragmatic reason. The two episode per story is dropped in favour of a more straightforward linear narrative that sees the teenage girl witness her home destroyed by a number of groups searching for (what else) a meteor fragment; through this she meets Hei and experiences a number of her friends either killed or turned into glassy eyed Contractors. Were it not for the shadow cast by the first season this could well be an intriguing genesis for a new series, there is however an all too present fear that BONES will be miring the already labyrinthine mythos and the conclusion will perhaps give a character but not a story ending.
I mentioned in my review of Darker than Black that it's a series which is as complicated and metaphorical as you wish it to be really and given the ending which seemed to finish the series without completing it, there's plenty of tid-bits to sift through and question. It was made clear that another episode of the series, number twenty six, would be released on DVD, however word is that this is a side-story rather than the much anticipated explanation so many desire.
Darker than Black presents itself in shades of grey: muted morality and subtle story-telling; it built itself the enviable position of being as complex and involving as you allow it to be, peeling back layer upon layer if you care to look. Unfortunately the series falls short of perfection and in its quest to provide a softly-spoken and adult narrative, it omits to fill in some of the most glaring blanks and leaves some ideas stranded out at sea.
The hyperbole uttered in the first few minutes is easy to dismiss given the script's staunch refusal to repeat itself
Born from Tensai Okamura, animated by the creative powerhouse, BONES and scored by the seminal Yoko Kanno, Darker than Black was one of those projects gifted with immensely talented people and a head-start on becoming a classic. It arguable fails to achieve that illustrious title shared by so many other BONES productions but only through what it lacks rather than what it has in abundance.