Anime: Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor (Anime Classics)
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: May 12th, 2015
Retail Price: $49.98
For our newest PopTalk column piece we will be reviewing and discussing the anime series Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor, and make sure to share our review on Twitter for a chance to win a copy of Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor courtesy of FUNimation!
*Giveaway will take place on the @PopWrapped Twitter account, MUST LIVE in the US to win. 5 winners will be chosen by Saturday June 6th at 4 p.m. pacific time, 7 p.m. eastern time. If chosen, please email AedanJuvet@yahoo.com for further instructions.
In the sequel to Darker Than Black, titled Darker Than Black Gemini Of The Meteor, Hei finds himself on the run and now powerless in search of his previous companion and ally Yin, after double-crossing the Syndicate in the final moments of the first season. When Hei decides to leave Japan, he comes face-to-face with Suou Pavlichenko while he is actually searching for her brother Shion, who Hei believes has answers to help discover Yin’s whereabouts. Suou is a 13-year-old Eurasian girl who is thrust in to a chaotic world where everyone has an ulterior motive, and Contractors (individuals who are enhanced with unique abilities.) attempt to assert their dominance over one another. Hei ultimately takes in Suou, teaching her to fend for herself in an aggressive manner, causing her to become somewhat attached to the mysteriously elite contractor known as Hei (BK-201). Although Contractors are assured safe from the danger of being erased entirely, it doesn’t stop contractors, and syndicate members from participating in a large power struggle. After built up tension and clashes, Misaki Kirihara is included in a special operation and they form a team in the Public Security Bureau essential in dealing with the ever-growing Contractor centric cases. Misaki also has to keep the Syndicate at a standstill, who has attained key roles in the Japanese police and intelligence bureaus worldwide. Hei continues to break the usual mold of contractors around him, and begins to let others in while searching for Yin, one of his emotional attachments.
Aedan: Darker Than Black, an accurate name for a series that reaches to the depth of despair and turmoil in a world that is bleak and noticeably grim. The first season sets up the universe of Darker Than Black, introducing us to contractors and gates that play prevalent roles in shaping the direction humanity could go towards. After picking up years later, with little connection, we are reintroduced to Hei, now a shell of his former self and succumbing to the vice of alcohol as his only real companion in the beginning after Yin is taken to become a weapon against other contractors. The absence of Yin and the result of the first season has caused the original protagonist to wallow, until coming across Suou and her meteor fragment which in the beginning he simply wants to take, but ends up aligning with the young girl along with the adorably melancholy doll known as July and Mao, who now resides in the body of a squirrel. (Though I must admit I missed adorably cute black cat!)
Aside from creating a new team dynamic amongst the group in Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor, the series takes focus on Suou, and effectively reigns us in to her world, and those important individuals involved in her everyday life. Suou makes for one of the more fixating figures of the series, when the writers provide massive pay-off by making stunning and character progressing revelations that only engross you more in her path over the course of the anime. Her status as a loving sibling, devoted friend, and Suou’s admiration for life is tested by numerous decisions and roadblocks that begin to take a toll on the hopeful young woman, making your love for her grow tenfold. Suou’s personal relationships with the various characters she interacts with make the plot more developed. Suou’s and July for example develop into their own special kinship, even though dolls such as himself aren’t programmed to alter their original design. The uncommon pair actually assists in initiating Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor as a character driven story in addition to the ongoing plot.
In Gemini Of The Meteor Hei’s return (though not completely himself) brings out that intrigue and attraction from everyone who surrounds him. Enemies, allies, strangers, viewers (yeah me too) can’t help but feel enamored by the carefree charm that Hei…okay so he doesn’t really have much charm, but there is just something fascinating about the character in general. In Darker Than Black the sky is filled with faux stars, shimmering in the wide nights sky, with each unique “star” representing one of the contractors. Hei actually has many similarities with the concept and his character, much like a brightly burning star, he has captured the attention of everyone in his surroundings, whether wanted or unwanted. On the other hand, Hei is a beautiful disaster in a tradition that his presence alone can bring in death and destruction for those around him, and even if you are aware of the risk there are many willing devotees who aren’t afraid of potential repercussions. This is best represented in the series grand finale between Hei and Suou that begs numerous sensible questions in the most gut-wrenching way possible.
The animation has moments of brilliance, best captured during the crisp battles between characters, most noticeably including Mina and Hei, who are involved in many eye catching altercations in the series 12 episode run. The voice cast are wisely incorporated thanks to FUNimation, after casting Jason Liebrecht (the fluctuations required to voice Hei) and Alison Viktorin (her emotions are portrayed quite genuinely) who all contribute to the massive auditory success heard through this English dub of Darker Than Black.
The series deserves credit for cruelly forcing viewers through extensive emotions that involve each character from time to time. Whether the sudden and raw emotion of Suou witnessing the loss of a dear friend, or Suou’s life changing self discovery that leaves the young girl in disbelief and awe about her past/family, you become engrossed in her life and survival. I don’t want to spoil anything too seriously, however, something I find truly terrifying does affect the ending of her storyline that creates a ripple. If anything, Suou may just be one of anime’s most underrated protagonists after facing and overcoming devastation at every turn. In the end, her character is so much more than the damsel she was viewed as in the beginning, and her story kept me glued to the screen from beginning to end.
Well done, Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor, in just a span of a 12 episode sequel series you’ve prevailed in telling a story of metamorphosis for its characters and the world created. At times it’s beautiful, at moments it's cataclysmic, but no one can fault Darker Than Black for uniqueness that other anime series lack. My only major complaint left…Why hasn’t there been a third season?!
Amrita- Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor flashes forward after the events of the first season and introduces us to new characters while old ones make a reappearance as well. The second season’s primary new addition is Suō Pavlichenko, who becomes the main protagonist alongside Hei. Suō’s fate intertwines with Hei’s as she sets out to find her twin brother Shion and figure out why she’s been dragged into the dangerous world of contractors. Fans, as far as I’ve seen, have mixed to negative feelings about the second season, but I simply loved it. By the end, more questions were presented than answers yet I didn’t mind one bit because the second season provided me with 12 episodes filled with characters I’ve grown to love. The ending leaves room for more and I’m desperately hoping a third season is a possibility or even a manga continuation; this simply can’t be the end of Hei’s journey. There’s still a good amount of story that needs to be told and more sides of Hei that need to be seen.
Hei starts out the second season a completely different man than he was in season one...sort of. He’s now a miserable drunk rocking a homeless-chic style while being extra brutal and noticeably more moody all due to Yin not being by his side. Where exactly is Yin? That’s a mystery the second season sets up and slowly solves with each passing episode along with Suō’s part in the plot. Hei’s brutality is mainly showcased in his treatment towards Suō. He smacks her around and is an all-around jerk in an effort to train and discipline her due to her new-found status as a contractor. Some may find Hei’s drastic behavior off-putting, but to me that was just another one of many sides to Hei that I finally got to see. This season showed Hei at his absolute worst which made him all the more endearing and bad-ass; unlike the first season, Hei isn’t pulling any punches when confronting contractors and other enemies this time around: he seriously kicks ass. Despite appearing ruthless and cold-hearted, Hei becomes attached to new team members Suō and July with the return of Mao, who now possesses the body of a flying squirrel. No matter how cold and distant Hei tries to appear, in the end he feels emotion more deeply than anyone else and finds himself firmly attached to Suō despite his best efforts not to get close to anyone ever again. Hei is strict and seemingly cut-throat yet one comes to realize he’s genuinely kind; it’s a quality that reemerges despite Yin’s disappearance.
Hei isn’t the only note-worthy character in Gemini of the Meteor. Suō and July quickly became just as likeable as Hei did when he was first introduced in the first season. July was obviously in the first season, but he really didn’t get a chance to shine. This season, however, July joins Hei’s group and essentially does the same thing Yin did last season: use his scepter to locate enemies and become attached to his “group”. He grows particularly fond of Suō and spends the entire season doing whatever he can to help her. July is simply adorable and his attachment to Suō proved that dolls can indeed evolve. Suō was definitely one of my favorites as well. She’s one of the more relatable characters of the bunch and spends a good amount of the season trying to sort through her conflicting feelings about contractors and Hei.
My favorite aspect of Gemini of the Meteor was the relationship between Hei and Suō. Suō is portrayed as a headstrong, determined 13 year-old who loves her friends and family fiercely and would do anything to protect them. Once Hei appears in Suō’s life however, her life does a complete 180 and soon Suō’s interests and emotions shift. She’s taken away from her home and loses the people she once referred to as her friends and family. Ironically, Suō finds a new group of people to care deeply about; one of them being the man she so desperately tries to hate. She instantly “dislikes” Hei and is pretty vocal about how much she despises him, making it her goal to try and get away from him. Hei seems like he could care less about Suō, seemingly only using her as a means to an end. Both start the series off feeling one way but as time goes on, their feelings begin to shift. Hei begins to view Suō as more of a little sister and becomes increasingly protective over her whereas Suō’s feelings shift over to first love, a notion she can’t quite understand because after all, she’s supposed to hate Hei right? The emotional complexity of their relationship was both heartbreaking and tragic. The way their relationship shifted gradually from one extreme to another seemed realistic and thought-provoking. In a matter of 12 episodes, the anime manages to develop their bond quite beautifully.
My favorite moment in Gemini of the Meteor occurs between Hei and Suō towards the end of the anime. Suō finally cracks after a comforting moment with Hei and begins to vocalize her inner struggles to him, questioning why she feels the way she does for him after everything he’s done to her. Why is it that she cares for a man she’s supposed to hate? Why does she, as a contractor, feel the way she does? The scene was so memorable because not only does Suō finally speak out about how she really feels, but because it’s questions I as a viewer was wondering as well. Hei by no means has treated Suō gently; he only starts to closer to the end, so why does Suō feel the way she does? Hei has no answers to Suō’s questions, leaving the matter of their relationship as is. Some questions don’t have answers and their bond, which resembles a case of Stockholm Syndrome, remains a subject to discussion.
Season one had 26 episodes that gave viewers a chance to attach themselves to Hei and his team whereas season two only had 12 (not counting the OVA’s) and yet I found myself preferring Hei’s team in season two than the one he had in season one (which I absolutely love). I adore Yin and Huang, but the dynamic between Hei, Suō, July and Mao was simply more interesting and engaging. The music for this season was just as phenomenal as the last, doing an excellent job at setting up the mood of the scene. Season two has double the action scenes season one does, but that’s probably because of the 12 episode season order. Whatever the reason may be, season two amps up the action and ditches season one’s formulaic two-episode arcs. I enjoyed season one’s setup as well as season two’s. I only wish season two had been longer! The plot points this season sets up aren’t fully concluded, leaving the series more open-ended and a bit unsatisfying. The mystery behind Yin and her disappearance are solved, but I wasn’t exactly a fan of the direction her story took. I didn’t hate it yet I wasn’t overly fond of it either.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor for its characters and the bonds formed between said characters. The plot is confusing and doesn’t completely wrap up by the seasons end, but I’m a sucker for a well-developed character and a series that develops said character and the relationships he or she forms through-out. In my eyes, Darker Than Black will always be an anime classic and its second season is no different.