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DVD Review

DVD cover

Darker Than Black
Volumes 5 & 6


Starring (voice): Hidenobu Kiuchi, Ikuya Sawaki, Masaru Ikeda and Misato Fukuen
Manga Entertainment
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 28 December 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 5 & 6 concludes this interesting and original story, with the final seven episode, plus a previously unavailable OVA from writer/director Tensai Okamura. For those expecting a burst of violence towards the end you may be a little disappointed. The show continues to rely not only on its animation but also on an engagingly good script, so much so that it’s a pretty safe anime to show to anyone who thinks that all anime is kids stuff.

Disc five kicks off with another two-parter story (eps 19 & 20) Dream Shallow, Uninebriated. Huang gets a chance to have some of his back-story filled in as we learn that he didn’t always work for the Syndicate, in fact he was a cop until he watched his partner being murdered by a contractor. Rather than wipe his memory, as was the usual procedure, Huang was given a job with the Syndicate. But memories are a strange thing and when Hei is ordered to infiltrate a religious sect, in order to kill its leader, Haung finds his past coming back to haunt him.

The second two-parter on Vol. 5 is City Under Crackdown, Moist with Tears (eps 21 & 22) and the pressure appears to be building with the kidnap of an eminent scientist by the EPR. A new contractor has appeared who can teleport. Hei is ordered to break into the American embassy, but this starts a chain of events where our heroes learn that there was a plan to destroy the south American gate, which would have rid the world of all contractors. Someone wants them all dead.

Volume 5 Has some extras in the form of a full length commentary for episode 22, which is more amusing than informative, Character Bios and Settings Gallery are a collection of static images and text, the extras are rounded off with the Textless Opening Sequence - Howling and Textless Closing Sequence - Tsukiakari.

Volume six continues the story with no more two parters, though the last three episodes conclude the overall story. Episode 23: God is in His Heaven, episode 24: Meteor Shower and episode 25: Does the Reaper Dream of Darkness Darker than Black?

Eric Nishijima has a mad plan to use a particle accelerator to wipe out all of the contractors, worse still he is working with the syndicate who turn out to be an organisation dedicated to eradicating anything not human. Following some persuasion Hei agrees to gain access to the gate, in the hope of finding some answers...

I won’t spoil the excellent ending to the show; just let’s say it was worth the wait. Both discs have the same audio options, with a choice of either a 5.1 English dub or the original 2.0 Japanese track with subtitles. The extras are the same as the first disc except this time the commentary is for episode 26.

Episode 26: Beneath Cherry Blossoms in Full Bloom, which is an unaired original video animation (OVA) that moves away from the central conflict to concentrate on the romantic relationships between the characters. It’s not necessary to watch this to complete the story, but it does make a nice extra.

So, in the end the show was a bit of a slow burner, but none the worse for that. I would gladly review many more of these rather than another episode of Naruto.


Charles Packer

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