Darker Than Black Manga is a Japanese manga adapted anime television series created and directed by Tensai Okamura and animated by Bones. It premiered across Japan in April 2007 on Mbs,Tbs and its affiliated broadcast stations, with its satellite television premiere in Japan on Animax in May 2007. The music for the series is composed by Yoo Kanno. Darker Than Black Manga sequel titled Darker than Black: Gemini of the Meteor premiered in Japan on October 8, 2009.
In North America, the anime was licensed by Funimation. In January 2016, it was announced that Funimation no longer holds the license for the first season. Darker Than Black Manga starts off ten years ago, a mysterious spatial anomaly now known as “Heaven’s Gate” appeared in South America, shortly followed by the opening of “Hell’s Gate” in Tokyo altering the sky and wreaking havoc on the landscape.
The real stars disappeared, replaced by false stars. During this time, people possessing various special abilities—called “Contractors”—emerged, each capable of different supernatural feats. Each Contractor has a corresponding fake star, which reacts to their activities. As such, Contractors are usually identified by their star’s Messier catalogue number. Kept secret from the masses, these individuals are known to murder in cold blood, smothering unnecessary emotions with logic and rationality.
Their incredible abilities, however, are gained at the cost of their humanity; Contractors are thus named because of an involuntary compulsion to “pay the price” each time their power is used, which can range from eating particular foods or completing meaningless tasks, to self-harm or changing their bodies in peculiar ways. Various nations and organizations around the world train and utilize Contractors as spies and assassins, resulting in violent battles for valuable objects and information.
Following the disastrous Heaven’s War, the United States lost its dominant position as a superpower to a mysterious organization named the Syndicate. The story revolves around a Chinese contractor codenamed “Hei” as he undertakes various espionage and assassination missions in Tokyo under the direction of the aforementioned Syndicate. It eventually reveals a plan of the Syndicate to erase the existence of contractors, and a resistance put up by contractors from the Syndicate itself and various espionage agencies.
Darker Than Black Manga manages to have a large cast of characters, each distinct from the last, and yet doesn’t resort to lazy design techniques such as hair colour being the only distinguishing feature. The dark palette suits the story. Season 2 sees a noticeable dip in character and animation quality.
Super powered humans called Contractors work jobs for the nefarious Syndicate while uncovering the mystery that threatens Contractors worldwide. Darker than Black’s super powers and interesting characters deliver a great anime, but its complexities can alienate.
Darker Than Black Manga finally, I found the majority of the characters to be likeable. Although Hei and Yin are at first very blank, you learn more about them as the series continue. Mao does a good job of lightening the mood every now and then, and I really liked Huang, particularly towards the end. However, Darker Than Black has a whole host of other characters, from the regularly occurring Misaki Kirihara and other members of the Public Security Bureau Foreign Affairs Section 4, to once-off Contractors, with all adding their own dynamic to the episodes they’re in. I also liked the involvement of different domestic and international organisations, and their different interests and motives.