The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Darker than BLACK: Ryuusei no Gemini

Title: Darker than BLACK: Ryuusei no Gemini
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Bones
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 8 Oct 2008 – 24 Dec 2009

Synopsis: Two years after the Syndicate failed to destroy all Contractors, it is continuing its struggle to gain dominance in the dark crevices of the underworld. In order to expand its power, the organization has sent their best Contractors to acquire a powerful Contractor Shion Pavlichenko. Just as the Syndicate’s agents attempt to acquire Shion, several fierce battles takes place. Surrounded by the corpses of slain Contractors, a much worn down Hei acquires who he believes to be Shion but he soon realizes that all he has found is Shion’s twin sister, Suou.

The Highlights
Animation: Usual high quality from Bones.
Story: Shown in a very indirect way; the finale could have been presented better.
Music: Kanno Yoko? Who needs her? Hellsing‘s Ishii Yasushi rocks the house.

I believe that the first season of Darker than BLACK took itself too seriously. The atmosphere was far too heavy for a less than stellar script, and it was only until a few episodes in when the show became a more straightforward action show with defined quirks and some humor that it really began to grow on me. Darker than BLACK Ryuusei no Gemini takes what what the first season laid down and strangles it with a piano wire. This anime takes a whole new direction with a new lead character and far more engaging storyline for a product that incorporates major elements of the original but is far more entertaining to view.

If you watched the first season of this series because it avoids most of the flamboyance and absurdities found in many anime, skip the second season. As a Bones production, Ryuusei no Gemini never becomes derogatory, but it is far less serious than its predecessor. The usually suave Hei is turned into a hairy, abusive drunkard who effectively babysits the new main character, Suou, a 13 year old girl; Mao becomes a cute flying squirrel; and the overall atmosphere becomes so unabashedly bright that one wonders why they continue to call the show “Darker than BLACK“.

Once again, the characters are rather limited in development because of the show’s concept of a Contractor. Dispassionate, unemotional and absolutely logical, Contractors make for some rather poor character drama since they are so rational that – aside from the fight scenes – their conflicts are about as dry as a group of Vulcans arguing. Despite this, the cast is still interesting enough to watch, and Bones‘ superior animation team puts the characters in some solid fight scenes worth cheering for.

The biggest drawback of the series is that there is a lot of plot movement and character deaths, but there really is no greater meaning to it all. The show is just pure entertainment devoid of a message, and with no meaty insides, it’s exceptionally difficult to critically dissect. The overall plot is convoluted and revealed in a fragmented manner which forces audiences to think, but it does not feed into any greater ambition or add real meaning to the characters’ adventures. Though the story is by no means bad, but don’t expect the final destination to be profound or awe inspiring.

Regardless, the show functions, and functions well as an entertaining action series. If you walk in with low enough expectations and hopefully no kind of reverence for the original, then Ryuusei Gemini will provide a fun way to burn a few hours.

The Rating: 6

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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