Darker than Black is one of those rare anime that isn’t adapted from anything. It’s been adapted but it started as an anime. It was written by Okamura Tensai in 2007. Okamura has been involved with several anime, some good and some terrible, but this is the only series I’ve seen that he did the writing for. So, let’s see how he did.
The plot is pretty simple. There’s a gate in Tokyo from some kind of incident that’s never explained. What’s important is that, because of the gate, several humans have developed super powers, some have become living dolls and the stars have become artificial. The artificial stars each correspond to a different super powered human called contractors because they have to pay a particular price when they use their powers. The episodes mainly follow a small group consisting of two contractors, a doll and a human working for a mysterious group called the Syndicate. It’s similar to Bakuretsu Tenshi in that there’s an over-arching plot but most episodes have very little if anything to do with it. Most of the series involves two part episodes of the main group going on various missions. The action sequences are solid and the episodes are usually interesting but there are a few issues. The biggest being the ending. It’s very anti-climactic and some of the elements leading up to it are very weakly executed. Another issue is that some of the episodes are pretty weak.
Like Bakuretsu Tenshi, this is primarily a character driven anime. The major characters are very well developed and have a lot of interesting facets. None of them are truly noble or heroic. All of them do some pretty terrible things but they’re all very sympathetic characters who are just in bad circumstances. The fact that they do do some terrible things makes them seem more realistic and compelling. The only real issue is that some of the supporting characters are flat and very much extraneous.
The art varies. Usually it’s really good. It has a dark tone, well defined characters, and good backgrounds. Sometimes that changes. They have one episode in particular involving a contractor who blows people apart but all they show after he’s done are people with neat holes through them and a little bit of blood. It looks really obviously fake. The target audience for this is young adults. There shouldn’t have been an issue with them making this sort of scene more realistic. If they really didn’t want to, or the network standards stopped them from doing so, they should have avoided showing the bodies up close so frequently so it would be less noticeable. There are other scenes like that throughout the series where the art suffers, but there really aren’t many.
The voice acting is good, particularly from Mizuki Nana and Kiuchi Hidenobu. There are a few actors who give very emotionless performances but there’s an obvious story reason for it and they do a good job of it. The music is mostly good, although some of it is a little weak.
The yuri factor is a 1.5/10. There are a few scenes that seem a little homoerotic but there are very few and none of them go anywhere.
My final rating for Darker than Black is a 7/10. It’s a good anime. If you enjoy character-driven, episodic anime such as Bakuretsu Tenshi you’ll probably enjoy it as well. If you want something with a more solid over-arching story, you’ll probably want to watch something else.