Review: The first season of Darker Than Black earned very high rating from me for its witty entertainment, mind twisting storytelling, interesting premise and great set of characters. In Gemini of the Meteor, the anime generally and cleverly retains most of its predecessor’s charming features and it seems like the creators are ready to take greater risk in storytelling and the ending knowing that lots of fans will follow the series no matter where it takes them. I am one of the fans.
Gemini of the Meteor sets in the now familiar universe where new race of human known as the Contractors and the Dolls walk the street. The story in the anime is not a direct continuation of the first series but, fortunately, still revolves around the matters of the Contractors, The Syndicate and government secret services. Suou, a Russian high school girl, is the new lead characters. Her life changes dramatically when her house is attacked, her father killed and Shion, her brother, goes missing. In order to find Shion, she joins Hei, July and Mao on a journey to Hell’s Gate, Japan.
Choosing a young pink-haired girl as a new lead character creates significant deviation from the first season which looks and feels very mature. At first it seems like Gemini of the Meteor has traded the heavy and dark mood of its predecessor with light-hearted high school romance but as the show progresses and Suou becomes a Contractor, the true intention of adding Suou is clear. This is the first time the viewers get to see a normal person turns into a Contractor. Suou’s transformation provides new and interesting opportunity to explore and learn more about the Contractor’s mind. This is exactly what sequels should be able to do; going deeper and pushing the limit set by the original.
To my delight, Hei also returns but he is now an alcoholic, having lost Yin. I find it fascinating to see a logical minded Contractor relies on something as illogical as drinking. Combining with Suou and July’s stories, I believe Gemini of the Meteor tries to tell the viewers that Contractors do have feelings, that they are still human despite all the monstrous powers. Other characters also change and evolve according to this same idea including Hazuki and Tanya. Despite the good characterization, I still fail to see the necessity of bringing Misaki back.
Gemini of the Meteor wisely preserves the best feature from the first season which is the swift pacing and compelling storytelling. Actually, I think this series handily outdo its predecessor because this time there is no more separate story arcs, just a single, continuous, unstoppable, insanely fun story arc. The action scenes are masterfully choreographed and are extremely witty and unpredictable. I am most impressed by the sense of danger this anime is able to create. Every time a fight occurs, someone dies. There’s no typical ‘prolonged’ fight usually seen in several shonen anime (we all know which anime I’m referring to).
Technically, Gemini of the Meteor provides first class animation and natural mixture of 2D and 3D shots. The movements during combat scenes never cease to thrill and the slow motion sequences are used very effectively. Though the anime contains little to no musical moments, several tracks are surprisingly memorable especially the electronic piece used during action scenes.
As puzzling as the first season, the story of Gemini of the Meteor is overarching and convoluted that it took me more than half the series to have the vaguest idea what it’s all about. There are so many groups in the play; the CIA, the MI6, the Internal Affairs, the Russian Intelligence and the Syndicate. The anime never tries to clear things up but instead always move forward. I didn’t have problem with puzzling story because it was so fun but I had problem with its conclusion which, though extremely imaginative, is just too rushed and ultimately somewhat unsatisfactory. Shion’s ability and what he does for Suou is so stunning that I lost my words for a while and the fate of Yin remains a mystery. But what really annoyed me is the finale that lacks good build up and the few unanswered questions that has lingered around since the first season; what the Syndicate is and what, exactly, the Hell’s Gate and the Heaven’s Gate are. It’s just unacceptable that the Syndicate and its final moment is presented with one still shot of a murdered old man and a single sentence! I was expecting some clearer answers but what I got is more questions. I assume that the creators must be planning for another sequel that they deliberately leaves so many loose ends.
Putting the frustration about the ending aside, there is no deny that Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor is one of the best anime of the year with top notch production, great characterization and compelling storytelling; a brilliant cerebral entertainment.
Title: Darker than Black: Gemini of the Meteor (Darker Than Black Ryuusei no Gemini)
Genre: action, sci-fi, supernatural
Released date: October 8, 2009 – December 24, 2009
Director: Tensai Okamura
Animated by: Bones
Read my review on the first season of Darker Than Black here
Just a note: Looking at Ms. Oreille’s red dress in the last episode, it’s as if she has just ransacked the wardrobe of some cheap sci-fi movie set. She looks silly.