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Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor (Season 2 + OVA)

FUNimation // Unrated // May 12, 2015
List Price: $49.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Neil Lumbard | posted June 12, 2015 | E-mail the Author


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Darker than Black S2 Blu-ray Review


Darker than Black is an acclaimed anime
television
series from writer/director Tensai Okamura (Wolf's Rain).
The
series is animated by studio Bones. The original series aired in 2007
with a
follow-up entitled Darker than Black: Gemini of the Meteor
arriving in 2009. A short OVA production followed in 2010. Funimation's
Blu-ray/DVD combo pack release contains both the Darker than Black:
Gemini
of the Meteor
sequel and the short OVA production.


The concept of the series focuses on mysterious
beings known
as Contractors. The lead of the series is a contractor and is known as
the Black Reaper.
A contractor is someone with special abilities which are connected and
derived
from the "Heaven's Gate" incident. With new powers, these individuals
gain superhuman strengths and skills but begin to lose what makes them
human to
begin with: becoming cold killers who are often assigned by
organizations to
work as spies or assassins and get important information for nations
and
others.


In the second season sequel series, the Black
Reaper, also
known as BK-201, comes across a young girl named Suo who he ends up
bringing in
to his world. After surviving strange events following a giant meteor
crash on
Earth, Suo becomes a contractor as well. Over the course of the season,
BK-201
trains her in the way of a contractor and she experiences style=""> the same process known to BK-201. Meanwhile, a
mysterious and powerful organization known as Section 3 has tried to
find and
destroy BK-201. Other contractors are trying to take them down as well.


Having never seen the first season of the series, Darker
than Black
's second outing was hard to follow at times given that I
did not
understand the concept of contractors right away and the series does a
poor job of exploring the idea behind them. While it technically serves
as a sequel series and not solely as a second season, viewers will
probably
benefit from seeing the first season. The series story is also somewhat
convoluted and takes twists, turns, and detours that are unexpected.


The concept of Darker than Black
ultimately feels
somewhat vague. It's supposed to have sci-fi undertones and
high-concept
elements, but it ultimately feels more like a story about contract
assassins
working on jobs while a mysterious (and poorly explored) entity,
Section 3,
works against them and wants them destroyed. The series does try and
add
emotional context to the characters on occasion but the series lacks
the level
of depth necessary to be a more enjoyable story.


What the series lacks in storytelling ability, it
tries to
make up for with an abundance of visual flair and style. While the
scripts
written by Tensai Okamura are often messy and confusing to follow,
Okamura
exceeds as a visual director with great technical skill. The framing of
shots impresses
and the and pace established is often non-stop (especially during
action
sequences). Anime fans hoping for an action-packed show with fluid
animation
and technical finesse will certainly be thrilled by the series as it
excels in exploring
these attributes. The production was superbly handled.


The animation produced by Bones is certainly
remarkable.
There is nothing to be disappointed by with regards to the art style.
The
character designs are exceptional. The background art is a detailed and
visually pleasant experience. The fluidity is superb. It's clear the
animators
did an immense amount of work on the production. Scenes have a number
of
intensely choreographed action set-pieces and are always high quality.
On that
level, Darker than Black earns its acclaim and reputation. style=""> No anime fan should be disappointed by the
technical attributes.   The
only real production disappointment might
be the lack of score music by Yoko Kanno (Cowboy Bebop,
Escaflowne
,
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex), who did the music for
the
original Darker than Black series but did not return for the
follow-up.


Unfortunately, Okamura's stylistic strengths as a
director and the
high-quality nature of the animation can't make up for the often weak
storytelling. Okamura's writing isn't on par with his directorial
style.  The characters simply aren't that
compelling enough
and it often feels like the series is simply padding a storyline around
high-octane
action set-pieces rather than the other way around. It doesn't mesh
effectively. Viewers who have seen and enjoyed the original Darker
than
Black
series might enjoy it more than I did, but as a newcomer the
series
seemed to be much more about flash and a lot less about substance. The
flash
impressed. The storytelling did not.


The Blu-ray:


style="">


Video:style="">


Darker than Black:
Gemini of the Meteor
arrives on Blu-ray
with an impressive 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded presentation. The
high-definition
clarity is exceptional. The line detail is amazing and the artwork
looks
visually stunning. The bold colors and style of the series looks
stunning on
this native-HD release.


Audio:


The audio is included in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 English
and Dolby
TrueHD 2.0 Japanese. Each of the presentations has a good boost from
the
lossless audio. The clarity sounds strong and the score and sound
effects are
well implemented into the respective sound designs. The English track
sounds
superior given the surround-sound implementation and has a slightly
better bass
presentation. However, fans of either the English or Japanese dubbing
should
find this to be a satisfactory release. English subtitles are provided.


Extras:


The release is slim on extras
(though it's worth noting that the set
does impress with the inclusion of both the second season sequel and
the short
OVA).


Supplements include: Episode
4 Commentary
,
OVA Part 1 Commentary, textless songs
(clean op/ed), and trailers promoting other Funimation
releases. As with other Funimation releases, commentaries are with
select
members of the English dub cast and will primarily appeal to viewers
who are
fans of the respective dub VA's.


Final Thoughts:


Darker than Black: Gemini of the Meteor is
the sequel
to the acclaimed anime phenomenon Darker than Black. Funimation
has
released the set with an impressive Blu-ray/DVD combo pack with strong
technical merits and both the entire second series and the short OVA
which followed
it. Fans of the series will undoubtedly want this release.


Newcomers should give it a rent or check out the
first
season before delving in to this follow-up production. Darker than
Black:
Gemini of the Meteor
excels at great action and animation but the
storytelling wasn't capable of matching the effectiveness of the action
set-pieces.


Rent It.



Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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