Darker Than Black, Vol. 6 – DVD Review

DarkerThanBlack6

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 

Twinkle, Twinkle, Sparkle, Sparkle … The End Is Here

Cradling a pretty girl whose life is slipping away, the young man with the dark hair watches the stars – the real stars – fall from the skies like fading fireworks. The sadness in her eyes says a lot as the young man struggles to fight back tears … an act of humanity that is never seen in a Contractor. The end is here, even the old Stargazer knows it, as Volume 6 closes the final chapter in the sci-fi action series Darker Than Black.

The most important part of Hei’s past is finally revealed as the last three episodes of this four episode volume (Episode 26 is an OVA episode) brings the world of the Contractors and the Syndicate comes crashing down in a confrontation that has been coming since a Contractor named Amber has shaken things up in the last volume. As a result, MI6 Agent November 11 was killed and Kirihara and her department are nowhere close to catching Amber of even the Black Reaper.

As Hei dwells on the past, the rumor that midnight would reveal the real stars has people excited. Even private eye Gai Kurosawa is given an assignment to gather people’s memories about the real stars before the Gates appeared. Hei is so preoccupied that he catches the attention of Kirihara who ends up having dinner with him as well as spending an evening together. It’s no romantic meeting, mind you, but the unusual meeting of two people who live in two different worlds. Had the two had other occupations, they would have actually been close friends.

But the calm evening turns into a nightmare when the Syndicate cuts the Contractors loose to protect itself from Amber and her group. As a result, Hei finds his friends Mao, Huang and Yin attempting to escape. It seems that the Syndicate and Public Security believes that Amber is about to reenact the events that lead to the sudden disappearance of the Gate in South America … an event that Hei was involved in during a bloody conflict.

Help comes in the most unusual form of Wei, the same Contractor that Hei faced off against who now happens to work for Amber. They make an escape but it is when they part ways that we get a feeling that we won’t see these characters together again. I won’t spoil things by telling you what happens but know that Yin, the unemotional doll, embraces Huang and Mao, as they help Hei and Wei infiltrate Pandora to keep the events of South America to repeat itself in Japan. As Kirihara finds out inside Pandora, the result of a repeat of South America could wipe out millions of Japanese civilians. The strange Doctor that was kidnapped back in Episode 21 thinks that the only way to stop the event is by destroying Hell’s Gate itself.

Meanwhile, Hei and Yin are the only ones able to breach Pandora after a final battle with Wei. While Contractors are battling the military that was sent by the order of Nishijima, the man the Syndicate put in charge of the operation, Hei discovers Amber has made it as well and finally tells him what happened to his sister. The finale is a bit disorienting but the fate of Japan and the Gate falls on Hei. It’s certainly not a bad way to end a sci-fi show like this one.

The DVD also includes Episode 26, an OVA episode that was not shown in Japan and fits right into the later episodes as a sort of side story revolving around Mayu Otsuka of the Foreign Affairs Department’s Astronomical division who writes strange romance stories on her website. She happens to meet the Black Reaper and falls in love with him. Then there’s the Kirihara in the Cherry Blossom festival who just can’t figure out that Saitou has a crush on her. It’s a cute and downright funny episode.

Volume 6 of Darker Than Black is a fantastic finale to a series that has a lot to offer sci-fi anime fans or anyone looking for a mature and action-packed series. With some well-drawn characters and interesting plotlines, Darker Than Black definitely doesn’t bore and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. If you’ve been dying to check out a series worth putting away your old Ghost in the Shell DVDs, this is the one.

 

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: A
In the final three episodes of the series, the Black Reaper reexamines his past and the fate of his sister Pai is finally revealed as he and the other Contractors fate near Hell’s Gate. As allies begin to fall all around them, it is Hei, Yin and Kirihara who make a last stand. The last episode is an OVA not seen in Japan and it’s downright cute and funny.

VIDEO QUALITY: A
Visually speaking, Darker Than Black has produced some great animation with excellent action scenes and visual effects. While the backgrounds have been overused a lot throughout, you can’t ignore the fact that they do look good.

AUDIO QUALITY: A
The voice acting has always been excellent in this series if the English dub is your thing and the original Japanese isn’t bad either … although Kirihara sounds a lot more likeable in English. Still, we tip our hat to Yoko Kanno for her excellent score and the great opening and closing songs.

EXTRAS: C+
There’s an audio commentary track for the OVA episode that’s not informative but it is really fun to listen to either way. There are Production Art goodies packed in here as well as well as textless songs and trailers. We would have loved another extra seeing as this is the final volume. Thankfully, the inclusion of the OVA episode makes up for the lack of extras.

OVERALL: A
As the series comes to its climactic finale, Volume 6 of Darker Than Black will literally have you on the edge of your seat as Hei and the others fight their way to Pandora to not only meet their fate at the Gate but also save millions from dying. This is certainly a fitting end to a series that has made Black our favorite color indeed.

COMPLETE SERIES GRADE: A+
Not since Ghost in the Shell have we been this drawn to a sci-fi series and Darker Than Black manages to up the ante with solid action scenes, wonderfully written stories and characters you will care about as the series progresses to its interesting and action-packed finale. This is truly an unforgettable series you should really check out.

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