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Published:September 9th, 2010 11:27 EST
How Much? Darker Than Black

How Much? Darker Than Black

By Tony Graff

At the request of my little brother, I checked out Darker Than Black, an anime series that debuted in Japan in 2007, and had received an award for the best new anime of the year. With only 26 episodes in the original series, it caught my attention for actually having an ending, a trait some series fail to include. 

The scene is set in Tokyo, where ten years ago a mysterious event caused a bizarre landscape change near the city, and pretty much skewed everything for the people who lived near it. For the general public, all they saw was the night sky fade over the distorted area, which was walled off and simply called The Gate. 

But new, false stars started to appear. and the everyday Japanese never learned that each new star was being carefully watched by the Japanese police. When a new star appeared, it signaled another person who had become a contractor. Contractors were people who had gained unique and superhuman powers, in exchange for an action each time the power is used, called their payment. 

This brings about a common theme in anime, probably trying to instill in those who watch it a renewed love of individuality. It comes up in many different shows, including Naruto, Bleach, Pokemon, and my personal favorite, Generator Gawl. This sense of individual power. Each contractor in Darker Than Black has a power no one else has, and a payment just as individual. In the first episode, we meet a contractor who can manipulate gravity, and his harsh payment is breaking a finger. Later on in the series, another contractor can freeze any water, including the liquid in the human body, and her payment is drinking a beer. Other payments include placing shoes upside down, arranging objects in straight lines, writing poetry, and dog-earing books. 

The series focuses around Hei, who is already feared as the Black Reaper, a contractor with a laundry list of assassinations and murders. Nations all over the world have enlisted contractors and their gifts as spies, assassins, and informants. Darker Than Black is one of the few series that I recommend watching with the English dubbing, rather than Japanese dialog with English subtitles, due to the different nations involved. Everyone`s focus is on Japan and the Hell`s Gate that appeared near Tokyo, being the epicenter of contractors and their powers. 

Overall, it`s an enjoyable series. The characters are memorable, and the story is gripping at times, then relaxing to show what a world like this would be like, and how society as a whole would treat a phenomenon like this. It`s part Mission Impossible, part Sorcerer`s Apprentice.