Darker Than Black, Vol. 5 – DVD Review

 

DarkerThanBlack5

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

Things leading to the past, present and future.

You have to hand it to anime series like Darker Than Black that takes its time laying all its cards on the table. Little by little it shows the cards its been dealt to reveal a hand that has us by the throat. In other words, Darker Than Black is the kind of show that makes us savor the revelations of a mystery that had us hooked from the very first episode. Yes, this series is just that good but what did you expect from BONES and Tensai Okamura.

If Volume 4 of Darker Than Black revealed a little more about the young man named Hei and his alter Contractor ego known as the Dark Reaper then Volume 5 does more of the same but this time it reveals more about the mystery contact named Huang. Yes, the very same Huang who – for the past 18 episodes – has served as Hei’s backup as well as pass on orders from the Syndicate to him. What do we know about him except for the fact that he’s extremely loyal to his bosses and that the man seems permanently grumpy.

Interestingly enough, the first episode in Volume 5 begins with a younger Huang accepting a dinner invitation from his partner at the Public Safety Division of the local police department. Just as grumpy as he was when we first met him, Huang is a loner who sees himself as too ugly to have a woman and too stubborn to ever get drunk. As fate would have it, however, he meets a young girl he thinks was going to pick his pocket. Unexpectedly, Huang actually falls in love. All seems to be perfect until one night a tragic event changes Huang’s life forever.

I won’t tell you what happens but the girl he fell in love with was not who she seemed and disappeared until the present day when the Syndicate sends Huang a picture of a Contractor contact involved in the latest case. This case in question involves a recently formed Hell’s Gate cult called the Friends of the Gate. While many cults have formed as a result of the Gate’s appearance, this one seems to have caught the attention of the Syndicate as well as other familiar characters.

As Hei goes undercover, he realizes there’s definitely nothing right about the cult and its leader named Alma. Sent to assassinate her, Hei finds himself going up against the familiar foe he faced off against with Kirihara at a party at a hotel in a previous volume. Just as he is about to take out the woman named Alma, an unlikely source intervenes … thus leading us to believe that our friend Huang actually has a heart. In fact, the finale of this two-episode story arc leads to some surprising developments.

The final two episodes of Volume 5 we find Kirihara and her department investigating the Contractor group known as EPR and its connection with a Hell’s Gate scientist that disappeared thanks to a beautiful naked woman who has the ability to teleport. Word reaches Kirihara via MI6 agent, November 11, that the group’s next target might just be the U.S. Embassy. As Hei and the others investigate, another familiar face shows up during a melee in the embassy. Also, Mao is grabbed by another recognizable character I won’t mention here and is taken to the EPR headquarters where the scientist discloses some unsettling news. In the end, the wrong people end up winning and another shocking event takes place that really has to be seen.

I should add that the mysteries of this sci-fi action series are finally unraveling before our eyes as characters begin to question what they’re doing and why. Even the loyal Huang feels that things will never be the same again with the Syndicate while Hei’s past is finally catching up with him as well as the events that lead to an occurrence in South America. Even more interesting is that Kirihara and her division are finally coming closer to breaking the case behind the South American event.

Volume 5 of Darker Than Black is building up momentum for what is sure to be a grand finale for this action-packed sci-fi series. As various characters come to learn different things about each another and what they are going up against, the enemy is finally revealing themselves to all those involved and even win a victory. Things are definitely going to get very interesting in the next volume.

 

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: A+
While we learn something about the mystery that is Huang and take a good glance at his past and what makes him tick, we discover that a person in his past is linked with a case involving a Hell’s Gate cult and its leader. Meanwhile, Mao is kidnapped (cat-knapped?) by some returning characters whose plans are slowly being revealed.

VIDEO QUALITY: A
The series consistently displays some really impressive animation and the blood does fly in this series as well.

AUDIO QUALITY: A
An Café’s opening theme song is starting to grow on me and so is the closing theme song as well. The voice acting in these four episodes are also great no matter what version you like to watch.

EXTRAS: C+
Once again, you just have to love the extras packaged in each disc that brings us production artwork, textless opening and closing songs and a few trailers. There’s even audio commentary for Episode 22 but it’s not as lively as past commentary tracks from this series.

OVERALL: A+
Things are really heating up in Darker Than Black and Volume 5 of this series is not only proof of this but it also makes for some of the more shocking episodes thus far. The end is definitely near as the Contractors face off against those whose agendas we are slowly coming to understand. In other words, the best is yet to come if the next volume is anything like these four episodes.

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