Darker than Black

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Darker than Black
Dblack.png
"Darker Than Black" Title Card
DARKER THAN BLACK -黒の契約者-
(Darker than Black -Kuro no Keiyakusha-)
GenreSci-fi-noir, Neo-noir, Supernatural
Anime television series
Directed byTensai Okamura
Written byTensai Okamura
Music byYoko Kanno
StudioBones
Aniplex
Licensed byAustralia New Zealand Madman Entertainment
Canada United States Funimation
United Kingdom Manga Entertainment
NetworkMBS, TBS, Animax
English networkAnimax Asia
United States FUNimation Channel
Original runApril 5, 2007September 28, 2007
Episodes25 (List of episodes)
Manga
Written byTensai Okamura
Illustrated byNokiya
Published byKadokawa Shoten
English publisherCanada United States Yen Press[1]
DemographicShōjo
MagazineMonthly Asuka
Volumes2
Manga
Darker than Black: Shikkoku no Hana
Illustrated byYuji Iwahara
Published bySquare Enix
DemographicSeinen
MagazineYoung Gangan
Volumes4
Original video animation
Beneath the Fully Bloomed Cherry Blossoms
Directed byTensai Okamura
StudioBones
ReleasedMarch 26, 2008
Runtime23 minutes
Anime television series
Darker than Black: Gemini of the Meteor
Directed byTensai Okamura
Written byTensai Okamura
StudioBones
Aniplex
Licensed byCanada United States Funimation
United Kingdom Manga Entertainment
NetworkMBS, TBS
Original runOctober 8, 2009December 24, 2009
Episodes12 (List of episodes)
Original video animation
Darker than Black: Gaiden
Directed byTensai Okamura
Written byTensai Okamura
StudioBones
Aniplex
Licensed byCanada United States Funimation
United Kingdom Manga Entertainment
ReleasedJanuary 27, 2010July 21, 2010
Episodes4
Anime and Manga Portal
 
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Darker than Black
Dblack.png
"Darker Than Black" Title Card
DARKER THAN BLACK -黒の契約者-
(Darker than Black -Kuro no Keiyakusha-)
GenreSci-fi-noir, Neo-noir, Supernatural
Anime television series
Directed byTensai Okamura
Written byTensai Okamura
Music byYoko Kanno
StudioBones
Aniplex
Licensed byAustralia New Zealand Madman Entertainment
Canada United States Funimation
United Kingdom Manga Entertainment
NetworkMBS, TBS, Animax
English networkAnimax Asia
United States FUNimation Channel
Original runApril 5, 2007September 28, 2007
Episodes25 (List of episodes)
Manga
Written byTensai Okamura
Illustrated byNokiya
Published byKadokawa Shoten
English publisherCanada United States Yen Press[1]
DemographicShōjo
MagazineMonthly Asuka
Volumes2
Manga
Darker than Black: Shikkoku no Hana
Illustrated byYuji Iwahara
Published bySquare Enix
DemographicSeinen
MagazineYoung Gangan
Volumes4
Original video animation
Beneath the Fully Bloomed Cherry Blossoms
Directed byTensai Okamura
StudioBones
ReleasedMarch 26, 2008
Runtime23 minutes
Anime television series
Darker than Black: Gemini of the Meteor
Directed byTensai Okamura
Written byTensai Okamura
StudioBones
Aniplex
Licensed byCanada United States Funimation
United Kingdom Manga Entertainment
NetworkMBS, TBS
Original runOctober 8, 2009December 24, 2009
Episodes12 (List of episodes)
Original video animation
Darker than Black: Gaiden
Directed byTensai Okamura
Written byTensai Okamura
StudioBones
Aniplex
Licensed byCanada United States Funimation
United Kingdom Manga Entertainment
ReleasedJanuary 27, 2010July 21, 2010
Episodes4
Anime and Manga Portal

Darker than Black, known in Japan as Darker than Black: Kuro no Keiyakusha (DARKER THAN BLACK -黒の契約者- Dākā Zan Burakku -Kuro no Keiyakusha-?, literally "Darker than Black: The Black Contractor"), is an anime television series created, directed and written by Tensai Okamura and animated by Bones. It premiered across Japan from April 5, 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 Yoko Kanno. The series has also been adapted into two manga series, which are serialized in Monthly Asuka and in Young Gangan. The anime also was awarded Best Original Anime of The Year by GoGoplex, a popular magazine for teens.

A sequel titled Darker than Black: Gemini of the Meteor (DARKER THAN BLACK -流星の双子(ジェミニ)- Dākā Zan Burakku -Ryūsei no Jemini-?, Darker than Black: Ryūsei no Gemini) premiered in Japan on October 8, 2009.

Contents

Plot

The main characters of the series first season (from left to right): Huang, Yin, Hei, and Mao.

Ten years ago, an inscrutable and abnormal territory known as Hell's Gate appeared 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 emerged, each capable of different supernatural feats - these are known as Contractors. 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 rationale. 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 and completing meaningless tasks, to self-harm and having their bodies change 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.

Terminology

Evening Primrose (EPR) (イブニングプリムローズ Ibuningu Purimurōzu?)
A powerful organization of Contractors led by Amber, a former MI6 agent codenamed "February". They aim to reveal the existence of Contractors to the general public, and to promote their status as a new race/group of humans. Special rights and privileges for Contractors are also on their list of objectives.
Hell's Gate (地獄門(ヘルズ·ゲート) Heruzu Gēto?)
A mysterious and chaotic area of space that appeared in Tokyo ten years before the start of the series. Its appearance led to the rise of Contractors and Dolls. A massive Gate Wall has been constructed around it to keep civilians—or anyone else, for that matter—from entering. Several countries, including Japan, are cautiously conducting research on the Hell's Gate, exemplified by a top-secret research facility PANDORA built next to the Gate Wall.
Heaven's Gate (天国門(ヘヴンズ·ゲート) Hevunzu Gēto?)
Another chaotic area of space that appeared in South America and disappeared five years before the beginning of the series, along with everything in a 1500 km radius around it. Its exact nature at this point is unknown in the series. Its appearance apparently started a large-scale war, one in which Great Britain and Argentina participated. Amber, Havoc, Hei, and his sister Pai, were involved in the War and were adversely affected by the Heaven's Gate's sudden disappearance. The area where the Gate was previously located has become inaccessible. Heaven's Gate and Hell's Gate are located on opposite ends of the globe, and are considered exact opposites of each other.

PANDORA (Physical Alteration Natural Deconstruction Organized Research Agency)

A UN-operated research facility dedicated to studying the phenomena of Hell's Gate. Located on the edge of the Gate within the walls, an international team of scientists examine the properties of the gate via manned and unmanned expeditions within. Paranormal phenomena akin to ghosts are common here, likely due to the lab's close proximity to the Gate. Though run by the UN, it is not impervious to intelligence agencies; both the Syndicate and CIA have infiltrated almost every level of the research center. PANDORA has a heavily armed security force, consisting of armed soldiers possibly of various nationalities and armored vehicles, meant to protect its facilities and personnel.
Contractor (契約者 Keiyakusha?)
Contractors are individuals who have gained supernatural powers due to the appearance of the Hell's and Heaven's Gates. In Kuro no Keiyakusha Gaiden, it is revealed that Contractors are defects that emerge when humans are unable to become Dolls. The existence of Contractors is kept a secret from the general public by most governments around the world, but they are well-known to the higher echelons of society and in the criminal underworld. Contractors possess two other traits that give them a rather sinister reputation: the need to perform remuneration, which is a bizarre, obsessive compulsive "payment" for the use of their powers, and a generally pragmatic, Machiavellian world view. This is described by the Contractors themselves as a lack of emotion in general, but not much evidence exists to verify this claim. Many Contractors exhibit at least some forms of emotion, including love, joy, guilt, and sorrow.
Later in the series it is explicitly revealed that Contractors are capable of experiencing emotions, but that those feelings do not play a prominent role in their thought processes. They are described as being totally rational, and totally amoral. The general rules seems to be that they feel no guilt, and they cannot form or retain social bonds. A normal Contractor cares, in essence, only about their own well-being, and everything is reduced to a cost/benefit analysis: any other issues like laws, emotions, or the question of the sanctity of human life are irrelevant to them.
Doll (ドール Dōru?)
Emotionless "mediums" created to mimic the forms of humans. Dolls can form a variety of functions; the most commonly seen in the series is their use of "observer spirits", which serve as reconnaissance. Dolls have different mediums through which they can send their observer spirits and must be in contact with this medium while observing; for example, Yin's medium is water, through which she can send her observer spirit anywhere else there is water. A Doll can also act as the perfect sleeper agent. It can be given the memories and personality of another person and assume a person's personality perfectly, mimicking all their habits, dreams, and feelings until the time is right. A Doll by the name of Shinoda Chiaki seemed to have some "life" of her own by saving Hei from being killed by another Contractor. This suggests that Dolls, like Chiaki, can go beyond their "set" characteristics and become "something else". Other examples include when Huang discovers Yin crying, when Yin hugs Huang when saying goodbye, July expressing confidence in himself and November 11 as a team, July staying with Suo of his own choice, and Sakurai, a Doll stolen by the yakuza, smiling as she runs away with one of the yakuza who fell in love with her.
Moratorium (モラトリアム Moratoriamu?)
An intermediate between a Contractor and a Doll. Moratoria appear to be people with Contractor powers who do not require remuneration as part of their power. Unlike Contractors, they do not have control of their powers, shifting into a hypnotic state of unconsciousness as they use them. Moratoria also suffer from severe mental trauma as a result of their power. According to Mao, the chance of a Moratorium morphing into a Contractor is near-zero, but possible.
Forfeiter (喪失者 Sōshitsusha?)
A Contractor who loses their powers in exchange for a flicker of hope for a normal life. There are very few known Forfeiters, and the way one becomes a Forfeiter is also unknown.
Nick holding the Meteor Fragment.
Meteor Fragment (流星の欠片 Ryūsei no Kakera?)
An object coveted by many intelligence agencies and organizations, and once held at PANDORA. It seems to be connected to the appearance of Hell's Gate; however, PANDORA does not believe that it is of much importance as they had already discovered a similar substance in South America before Heaven's Gate disappeared. Its appearance resembles a large lens, and when inside the Hell's Gate, it displays an as-of-yet unexplained synchrotron light. The Meteor Fragment was first stolen by Nick for the CIA. It was then stolen by Hei who infiltrated the PANDORA installation by orders from the Syndicate. It was then obtained by Amber, who holds it to this day. This object allows entities which do not exist (such as ghosts) to appear, and also allows entities which exist to disappear.
Contract Payment (契約対価 Keiyaku Taika?, also referred to as "Remuneration" or "Obeisance")
True to their names, all Contractors must "pay the price" for using their powers, whether they wish to or not. Moreover, it seems that the amount of payment required is dependent on how much the Contractor uses his/her power. Although this payment can be delayed, especially in the midst of combat, it is ultimately unavoidable. Each Contractor has a unique remuneration, reflecting the chaotic nature of the Hell's Gate. The cost is performing an action, different for each Contractor, ranging from the mundane to the bizarre (some examples include baking, eating boiled eggs, or breaking one's own finger). Not all contractors dislike their remuneration, and at least one uses it in conjunction with his own ability.
It is also possible for a Contractor to fully pay off his Contract, but this is an incredibly rare feat, requiring a drastic and traumatic sacrifice. In the series it has only been seen to happen in those Contractors who have the ability to swap bodies, where their contract requires them to eventually lose their original body as remuneration.

Media

Anime

Season One

'Darker than Black' was conceptualized by Tensai Okamura and produced by Bones and Aniplex. The series premiered on Tokyo Broadcasting System and Mainichi Broadcasting System's Thursday late night anime broadcasting timeslot, replacing the Sunrise series Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion on April 5, 2007, and similar to Code Geass incorporated corporate sponsorship of Japan News Network partners Pizza Hut and Nifty, where episodes of the series was streamed every week during the series' broadcast run.[2][3] It completed its initial run on September 27, 2007, and received its broadcasting satellite premiere on Animax from May 8, 2007 to October 23, 2007.[4] The series was also aired in English on Animax Asia, Animax's English language networks in Southeast Asia and South Asia from December 2008 onwards. The series has also been released in Japan by Aniplex across nine DVDs, each containing three episodes, except for the first DVD, which had only two.[5] The ninth and final DVD included an original video animation, which expanded upon the romantic relationships between characters.[6] The DVDs were released between July 25, 2007 and March 26, 2008 by Aniplex.[7][8] FUNimation received the license for the series in Region 1 and has released one DVD compilation with two more coming in the future.[9] The first English DVD was released on November 25, 2008 and the second and third DVDs were released on January 20, 2009 and March 10, 2009 respectively.[10][11][12] Volume 4 was released on May 5, 2009[13] with Volume 5 released on June 23, 2009.[14] Volume 6 was released on August 11, 2009 and is now available. In May 2010, Funimation released the entire first season in a complete box set; it was originally released in March, but was recalled due to a defective disk.

The Blu-ray Box was released in Japan on September 30, 2009 with a guidebook with several unreleased music tracks not available in the OSTs.[15][16]

The series made its North American television debut when it started airing on the FUNimation Channel September 6, 2010.[17]

Season Two

A document containing information about Bones staff and production details, was leaked onto the Japanese filesharing site uploader.jp, within the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet format, on July 2008.[18] Among other details, including confidential contact information in regards to Bones staff members, it revealed that a second Darker than Black and Fullmetal Alchemist series was in production and were being directed by Tensai Okamura and Yasuhiro Irie respectively.[18] This information regarding Fullmetal Alchemist, which had never been previously released, was later proven to be true on January 2009.[18] In an official statement posted on Bones' official website, co-founder and president Masahiko Minami claimed that the document was not released by the studio themselves but by an unnamed third-party. In a later statement, Minami also stated in regards to the two new series, "It hasn't been decided yet. We are interested in doing them. As original science-fiction works, they were extremely fascinating. With these kinds of dramatic story lines, I feel that there's a lot we could do potentially."[19] Six months later, however, the second series for Fullmetal Alchemist was confirmed to be in production with Yasuhiro Irie as director, thus confirming the document's validity.[18] The second Darker than Black series was confirmed in the 12th issue of Square Enix's Young Gangan Magazine.[20] In the 14th issue of Young Gangan, the title was revealed as Darker than Black: Ryūsei no Gemini (DARKER THAN BLACK-流星の双子- Dākā Zan Burakku -Ryūsei no Gemini-?, lit. "Darker than Black: Gemini of the Meteor"). The sequel began airing in October 2009 and ended in December 2009.[21] At Anime Expo 2010, Funimation Entertainment announced that they had licensed the second season and that it would be released in the future.[22]

OVA

These OVAs, also known as Darker Than Black Gaiden, are set in the time between the two series. Hei and Yin have left Tokyo and are on the run from the Syndicate. In the first episode, conflict ensues in Okinawa, where the agents from the Syndicate attempt to abduct Yin but are eventually unsuccessful. Hei and Yin then leave for Hong Kong. There are 4 OVAs in total, filling the gap with Hei and Yin left between season 1 and 2.

Manga

A manga, illustrated by Nokiya, was serialized in Monthly Asuka. Kadokawa Shoten released the series to two tankōbon on August 8, 2007 and January 26, 2008 respectively.[23][24] The series has been licensed for a North American release by Yen Press.[1] A second manga, illustrated by Yuji Iwahara, the original character designer for the anime, finished serializing in Square Enix's Young Gangan seinen magazine under the title Darker than Black: Shikkoku no Hana in March 2011. This is a separate one from the first and it is a new story taking place one year after the events of the anime.[25]

Music

Anime soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Yoko Kanno
ReleasedJuly 25, 2007
GenreAnime soundtrack
Length54:00
LabelAniplex Inc.

The original soundtrack was composed by Yoko Kanno in 2007 and contains a total of 20 tracks including the first opening and ending themes performed by Abingdon boys school and Rie fu. Other non-instrumental songs were written by Tim Jensen and performed by Mai Yamane (tracks 8, 10) and James Wendt (tracks 14, 19).[26] It peaked at number 57 on the Oricon albums chart.[27]

References

  1. ^ a b "Yen Press Adds Kobato, Darker than Black, Romeo x Juliet Manga". Anime News Network. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2009-07-24/yen-press-adds-kobato-darker-than-black-romeoxjuliet-manga. Retrieved 2009-07-24. 
  2. ^ "DARKER THAN BLACK 黒の契約者" (in Japanese). http://www.d-black.net/news/index.html. Retrieved 2007-04-16. 
  3. ^ Schilling, Mark (2007-03-29). "Nifty adds free content to site". Variety.com. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117962202.html?categoryid=1009&cs=1. Retrieved 2007-04-14. 
  4. ^ "Japanese Air Dates" (in Japanese). cal.syoboi.jp. http://cal.syoboi.jp/tid/1099/time. Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  5. ^ "Darker Than Black — Kuro no Keiyakusha - 1" (in Japanese). neowing.co.jp. http://www.neowing.co.jp/track_for_cdj.html?KEY=ANSB-2791. Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  6. ^ "Darker Than Black — Kuro no Keiyakusha - 9" (in Japanese). neowing.co.jp. http://www.neowing.co.jp/track_for_cdj.html?KEY=ANSB-2799. Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  7. ^ "DARKER THAN BLACK-黒の契約者- 1 (通常版)" (in Japanese). Amazon.co.jp. http://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B000PHVZ9I/. Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  8. ^ "DARKER THAN BLACK -黒の契約者- 9(最終巻)" (in Japanese). Amazon.co.jp. http://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B0012ONMIK/. Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  9. ^ "Funimation to Release Love Hina, Jyo Oh Sei, Darker than Black, XXXHolic, more Tsubasa, more Negima". Anime News Network. 2007-07-01. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2007-07-01/funimation-to-release-love-hina-jyo-oh-sei-darker-than-black-xxxholic-and-more-tsubasa-negima-ax-2007. Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  10. ^ "Darker Than Black, Vol. 1". Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001F2U728/. Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  11. ^ "Darker Than Black, Vol. 2". Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001K98M5A/. Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  12. ^ "Darker Than Black, Vol. 3". Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001OMZYD6/. Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  13. ^ "Darker Than Black: Volume Four". Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001US3XT6/. Retrieved 2009-06-22. 
  14. ^ "Darker Than Black: Volume Five". Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0023S4A3A/. Retrieved 2009-06-22. 
  15. ^ "DARKER THAN BLACK -黒の契約者- Blu-ray BOX" (in Japanese). http://www.d-black.net/1st/dvdcd/index.html. Retrieved 2009-10-27. 
  16. ^ "Amazon Japan's Darker than Black Blu-Ray Box Page" (in Japan). Amazon Japan. http://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B002DYGZKA/. Retrieved 2009-10-28. 
  17. ^ http://www.funimationchannel.com/schedule/2_e037.htm
  18. ^ a b c d "New Fullmetal Alchemist Anime's Staff Confirmed". Anime News Network. 2009-01-11. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2009-01-11/new-fullmetal-alchemist-anime-staff-confirmed. Retrieved 2009-02-15. 
  19. ^ "Bones Studio Addresses Allegedly Leaked Document". Anime News Network. 2008-07-06. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2008-07-06/bones-studio-addresses-allegedly-leaked-document. Retrieved 2008-07-06. 
  20. ^ "Darker than Black Tv Anime Sequel Green-Lit". Anime News Network. 2009-06-03. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2009-06-03/darker-than-black-tv-anime-sequel-green-lit. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  21. ^ http://pds15.egloos.com/pds/200907/02/50/c0052350_4a4cc679d3803.jpg
  22. ^ "Funi Adds Live Action Moyashimon Live Action, More". Anime News Network. 2010-07-02. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2010-07-02/funi-adds-live-action-moyashimon. Retrieved 2010-07-03. 
  23. ^ "DARKER THAN BLACK-黒の契約者 1 (1) (あすかコミックスDX) (コミック)" (in Japanese). Amazon.co.jp. http://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/4048541153/. Retrieved 2009-01-27. 
  24. ^ "DARKER THAN BLACK-黒の契約者 2 (2) (あすかコミックスDX) (コミック)" (in Japanese). Amazon.co.jp. http://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/4048541498/. Retrieved 2009-01-27. 
  25. ^ "Darker than Black, Seikishi, Seitokau no Ichizon Get New Manga". Anime News Network. 2009-04-29. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2009-04-29/darker-than-black-seikishi-seitokai-no-ichizon-get-new-manga. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  26. ^ "Sony Music Shop". http://www.sonymusicshop.jp/detail.asp?goods=SVWC000007478. Retrieved 2007-08-09. 
  27. ^ "Darker than Black OST peak rank". Oricon. http://ranking.oricon.co.jp/free_contents/search/ranking_list.asp?itemcd=718184&samecd=1&chart_kbn=11A&linkcd=31377821. Retrieved 2007-02-15. 

External links