Darker Than Black, Volume 3 – DVD Review

darkerthanblack3

Review by: Clive Owen

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $29.98
Running Time: 100 minutes
Genre: Sci-fi / Action
Rating: TV MA
Release Date: Available Now

Welcome to the dark side of the Gate.

It didn’t take me very long to get hooked on a series like Ghost in the Shell and it took me even less to get hooked on Darker Than Black. With 10 episodes under its belt, the series feels like you’re still in that getting-to-know-you phase but then again you know enough that you like what you see and enjoy the many surprises it manages to pull off each time. Volume 3 of Darker Than Black continues to astonish so trust me when I say that you will still love this shade of black.

In past episodes, certain things about most of the characters have been revealed but not enough to paint an accurate picture of who they really are in a world affected by a mysterious occurrence. We know that Hei, also known as the Black Reaper, had a sister but what became of her fate. Well, we don’t find out in this one but more about Hei and his sister are revealed. You see, it is said that Contractors don’t dream but somehow Hei does dream and his dreams point to his past and his sister.

In Episode 11, Hei takes on a mission that has him infiltrating the Pandora Research facility at Hell’s Gate itself. He is instructed to not only look into a death at the facility that might not have been an accident as well as obtain an artifact that might be connected with the death. Posing as a janitorial candidate, Hei meets a girl named Moku who brings up a rumor that “you can regain what was once lost in the Gate if you’re willing to pay the price.”

With a Syndicate contact within the facility, Hei begins his investigation only to find that the girl he traveled with goes absolutely bonkers to the point that she’s quickly carried away by the facility’s security officers. It isn’t until she’s found dead that Hei does suspect it’s murder. He does meet a scientist whose astronomy hobby catches Hei’s interest. When they decide to go star-gazing, Hei makes a rather startling discovery about the “fake sky.” The mystery surrounding the murders becomes more evident during Hei’s investigation but before the shocking (and somewhat confusing) finale, Hei comes to realize that there might be some truth behind the rumor about the Gate.

Episode 13 begins another two-part story arc which begins with a girl that bears a striking resemblance to Yin … the mysterious white-haired girl that sits silently behind a counter and works alongside Hei and Mao and their Syndicate handler. As a Doll (which is what they call the vacant-like people affected by the Gate), it’s hard to imagine Yin showing some sign of life as well as a talent such as playing the piano. The fact is that this girl IS actually Yin and a man is looking for her ever since he caught a glimpse of a picture in a traveler’s guide. This man even turns to private investigator Gai Kurosawa (introduced in Volume 2). Meanwhile, two contractors searching are searching for Yin as well.

Gai’s perky assistant, Kiko, does find Yin and the client that hired them finally reveals his link to Yin. In fact, we do get a glimpse of who she was by looking into her past. It seems that Yin had a life before Hell’s Gate appeared. Leaving with the detective and the client, Yin’s absence is seen as a negative sign to the Syndicate and her handler is asked to kill her. This, of course, doesn’t sit well with Hai and Mao who attempt to reach Yin before either the Syndicate or the pair of Contractors get to her first. The chase is on and the outcome, well, I won’t get into what goes on.

Darker Than Black, Volume 3, is yet another excellent entry in a series that continues to be one of the smartest and interesting anime series to come along in a long time. The four episodes are not only some of the best written stories so far but we learn a little more about the characters that make up this world and unique events that make this a great sci-fi series. DVD

REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: A Hei infiltrates a research facility at Hell’s Gate where strange events and murders have the Syndicate very curious. In the last two episodes of the volume, we come to learn a little about Yin as her change in behavior makes her the target of a pair of Contractors and the Syndicate itself.

VIDEO QUALITY: A+ The visual effects and gorgeous backgrounds are a refreshing change over the reused backdrops of the first two volumes. This really is a good-looking series and it shows in this volume.

AUDIO QUALITY: A
The voice work is still topnotch no matter what sound option you pick and, of course, the original compositions from Yoko Kanno works beautifully.

EXTRAS: C+
There are textless opening and closing songs and there are trailers aplenty but the real juicy bits are the audio commentary track for Episode 13 and the Production Artwork feature.

OVERALL: A
Volume 3 is the standout volume for Darker Than Black and quite possibly the best four episodes of the series yet. I’m forced to repeat myself here but this series certainly is beginning to turn into that rare anime gem that can only shine brighter with each volume. Now I’m definitely looking forward to the next volume.

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