Click here to return to the main site.

DVD Review

DVD cover

Darker Than Black
Volumes 3 & 4


Starring (voice): Hidenobu Kiuchi, Ikuya Sawaki, Masaru Ikeda and Misato Fukuen
Manga Entertainment
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 02 November 2009

Several years have passed since that fateful night when the Tokyo skyline was changed forever by the arrival of the enigmatic Hell’s Gate. As old stars, in the sky, disappeared forever new faux stars appeared in their place and amongst the human population changes were noticed. A new form of humanity was born that day, Contractors whose psychic abilities made them both feared and desired by their lesser cousins. One of these emergent humans, Hei (Chinese for Black), works for an independent syndicate dedicated to stopping the worst excesses of rouge Contractors. Always keeping just one step ahead of the law Hei searches for answers to both what happened and meaning to his life...

Darker Than Black: Vol 3 & 4 continues the interesting original story from writer/director Tensai Okamura. Where the first two volumes set the scene and introduced the characters the next two volumes start to expand on the back-story in general. I’ll admit that I was somewhat dubious about the show from the first discs as it spent too much time setting the scene, but the next two volumes start to pay off the audience’s patience.

Hei continues to maintain his dual persona as both a student and the assassin ‘The Black Reaper’, though by these volumes the two have started to merge as his relationship with the enigmatic ‘doll’ Yin progresses. His relationship with his fellow co-workers starts to become increasingly more complicated because of this. Mao, the contractor who has lost his own body and whose consciousness now resides in that of a black cat, remains broadly supportive, but not so Huang, Hei's most immediate boss. The problem is that Yin is starting to exhibit behaviour which is abnormal for a doll. Emotions have started to emerge as she starts to recall who she really is; memories of her former life as Kirsi impinge on her new existence holding out hope for all who live beneath the Hells Gate.

Volume three starts with another two-parter story When One Takes Back What Was Lost Within the Wall wherein Hei is asked to infiltrate the Pandora Project - a specialist facility close to the gate to study its effect. His primary mission is to recover a meteor fragment which all sides, including the CI, are interested in. On arrival he meets Nick and immediately they appear to have much in common. As the investigation into the gate continues many are killed but Nick, who has been sent in with his squad, miraculously makes it back. Hei's suspicions are confirmed when he discovers that Nick is also a Contractor, who may have killed his squad. With the fragment in Nick’s possession the two face off...

These two episodes really pick up the pace, true the show in general had a brooding air about it, but this only adds to the sense of danger. Being so close to the gate gives the story teller time to indulge in exposition, which increases the back-story. More importantly the audience learns that there had been another gate on the direct opposite of the world and when that disappeared it took a chunk of south America with it. So, is the clock ticking for our protagonists?

Episodes thirteen and fourteen is another two-parter A Heart Unswaying on the Waters Surface, which is primarily a Yin story which is mainly devoted to her previous life as Kirsi. Here she learns to play the piano - believe me it's more interesting than I make it sound. Meanwhile, in the present, the Syndicate have ordered her death, sending along two most unusual assassins. It is here, with her past intruding into her present, that Yin cries, something unheard of in dolls. This and Hei’s growing humanity makes him spare her life, but at what cost?

It’s another cracking two-parter with the excellent inclusion of a joke; there may have been others which I missed. One of the assassins is a portly woman who is able to use her voice to kill or disable, though each time she does this she has to eat cigarettes. Apparently, it really is all over when the fat lady sings.

Set-up for the two discs is the same with a crystal clear picture and the options for either an English 5.1 or Japanese 2.0 audio track, with subtitles. Mostly I usually prefer the Japanese track, but the excellent dub and the atmospheric 5.1 means that the dub wins this time. Disc one has some extras in the form of a full length commentary on episode thirteen, some character bios (in case you're confused), a settings gallery (which look like very small pre-production sketches) and the inevitable textless opening and closing sequences.

Disc two continues the two parters with Memories of Betrayal in an Amber Smile. The acquisition of the meteor fragment starts to have ramifications when a series of explosions rock Tokyo. In the ensuing chaos two of Evening Primrose’s operatives, Amber and Maki, steal the fragment. Hei give chase, as do a number of others, resulting in a face off between Hei and Amber.

There are some strong scenes with the Stargazer of the Astronomical Bureau, which expands our knowledge a little - and at this stage all knowledge is good.

So on to the last two-parter story, A Love Song From A Trash Heap, which is really a love story which mirrors Hei’s relationship with Yin. Kenji is given the assignment of tracking down and eliminating a doll, unfortunately he falls in love with the doll and is only able to escape with Hei’s help.

Extras are similar to the first disc, but this time with the full length commentary on episode sixteen.

With disc’s three and four the universe has expanded and the characters developed, so what more could you ask for? The show is slowly taking a very nice shape into become a superior anime.


Charles Packer

Buy this item online

We compare prices online so you get the cheapest deal
Click on the logo of the desired store below to purchase this item.

£11.98 (
£12.99 (
£11.99 (
£13.97 (

All prices correct at time of going to press.