Volume: #01 and #02
Distributor: FUNimation Entertainment
Genre(s): suspense, drama, supernatural, mystery, sci-fi
Rating: TVMA (violence, disturbing imagery)
Runtime: 120 minutes per disc
Price: $29.98 ea.
Release Date: (Vol. 01) 11/25/2008, (Vol. 02) 01/20/2009
Official Website: www.FUNimation.com/DarkerThanBLACK
Ever come across something that confuses the daylights out of you, but you love it anyway? Just when you think things are starting to make sense, something happens and youíre completely lost again? Thereís quite a library of anime series that tend to cause these conflicts.
Japan has a great love for vague plots hovering on the borderline between absolutely nonsensical and profoundly deep, abstract meaning. As result, some of these stories are kept together simply by pulling all the other essential elements of storytelling together in a compelling, dynamic way.
What further adds mystery to the Contractors is the fact that they appeared ten years prior, after an unknown event resulted in the appearance of a "field" of sorts called "Hellís Gate." During the course of the story arcs presented in the first two discs, it is clear that this field, normally part of the city, is a wasteland. Looking like something out of an epidemic horror film, itís clear that nothingósave for strange plant lifeócan survive there. To keep whatever threat Hellís Gate gives out, the city built an enormous wall on the border.
When Hellís Gate appeared, it is said that the stars in the sky were replaced by "fake" ones, each tied to an individual Contractor. When a Contractor uses his/her power, their star flares (indicated by "showing activity"), or when they die, their star falls from the sky. Itís implied that Contractors were human once, and in exchange for their powers, they must pay a "price" after each use. These prices vary from the individual, and range from something simple (like smoking when you abhor smoking), to quirky (dog-earring pages of books), to downright disturbing (drinking the blood of dead children).
All of this is presented while following the main protagonist, Heióthe Contractor known as "BK201" (for all Contractors have a star name) and "The Black Reaper." He is perhaps one of the most feared and infamous Contractors, wielding the power to attack with electricity generated through some form of conductor (water, his cable weapons, etc).
Over the course of the first ten episodes presented in volumes one and two, Heiís character quickly develops into a mystery unto himself. The question remains on whether or not he alone still retains some sort of conscience. He proves to have a sense of compassion and later, a sense of justice.
The interactions he has with both the central, supporting characters and story arc-specific characters offer an amusing and endearing glimpse into his soul that is shadowed more in gray than black. Scenes of Hei paying his "price" in a diner (he has to eat an enormous amount of food) to fixing the television of his amusing old landlady give this rather blank-looking character a lot of dimension.