Before I can write a proper review, I have to get something off of my chest; I abused my computer. As soon as I finished watching episode four of Kuro no Keigakusha Gaiden, I slammed the top of my laptop down in a pointless fit of rage. I demanded to know why Studio BONES could not deliver a proper sequel to Darker Than Black, and why they had resorted to, "it's written in a book somewhere," to explain plot points. Then I took a deep breath and calmed myself. I asked myself why I had gotten so mad, and I realized that the reasons I thought I hated Kuro no Keigakusha Gaiden's (henceforth known as KKG) story are the very reasons I adored the story of Darker Than Black. Instantly, I calmed down, apologized to my computer, and decided to write this review.
Since this is a DVD special and anyone who attempts to watch this before Darker Than Black won't understand anything that happens, there's no reason to read this review unless you have done that already. KKG's story begins immediately after the end of Darker Than Black. Yin and Hei are on the run from the remnants of the syndicate, and everyone they meet wants to get their hands on Yin. The franchise finally delves into one of Darker Than Black's most interesting components: that which makes a doll so desirable. Yin shows signs of becoming aware, which makes everyone want her. As a doll with the fragments of a forming personality, she has the potential to become anything.
Despite a great concept, the story still has quite a few flaws. For a short, four-part special, the writers spend an awful lot of time mucking about to get to the point. Most of the time, I expected this show to show me nothing I couldn't infer from watching Ryusei no Gemini, the sequel to KKG, and I was only proven wrong at the very end of the third episode. What started out as a DVD special became somewhat essential to the series, but it took a while to get there. The other problem someone might have with KKG is that it, like Darker Than Black, fails to explain anything about The Gate and only introduces new foreign concepts, but to be honest, I think this is one of the franchise's greatest assets: the interpretable nature of large plot points. It allows the viewer to feel a kinship with Hei and Yin and to realize that, in the end, we have to come up with our own answers.
Believe me when I say that this is the best animated piece I've seen in a while. Some of the scenery is so gorgeous and, at times, realisitc that I sometimes forgot to blink. There's a grittiness to this world that perfectly matches Hei's desperation in clinging to Yin. The fight scenes come off smoothly. Explosions are as flashy as ever, and environments interact properly with the characters that inhabit them. My only complaint about the animation continues to be the cheesy blue glow of contractors when they execute their abilities which throws me off enough to take an entire point off the score.
If there's a soundtrack I love, it's Darker Than Black's. This almost matches the original. The background music woven throughout the episodes is brilliant, haunting, and emotional. The special opening and closing themes for this DVD special make it stand out to such an extent that Ryusei no Gemini, the official sequel to Darker Than Black, can't compare. The voice acting is equally impressive. The sound effects, as in the feet shuffling and the rain drops, are unfortunately, pretty lackluster and muffled, but if I want perfection, I shouldn't watch DVD specials.
I have said surprisingly good things about the story, but there's exemplary characterization here as well. In four episodes, KKG reveals three important characters not present anywhere else in the franchise. Though the focus rests mainly on the evolution of a doll, there are still cool contractors and contractor abilities. Claude, one of the new contractors, almost carries the entire four episode special, both for the complicated nature of his ability and his character arc. Without giving too much away, let's just say that Hei isn't the only imperfectly rational contractor in town anymore.
Where the characterization department is lacking, however, is in the development of Hei and Yin, arguably the leads. While Hei always makes for an interesting study, and I could argue nothing against the heart-breaking insistence with which he clings to Yin, the only thing remaining from the catastrophe at the end of Darker Than Black, his development is simply predictable. Yin, though she becomes something more, is still fundamentally a personality-less doll. Without incredibly compelling leads, this category's score must take a large hit.
Under no circumstances can I call Darker Than Black: KKG a mind-blowing DVD special, but I can at least take offense to it not being categorized as a proper OVA on this site. Further, I will never claim that KKG is as good as the original Darker Than Black series, but I can call it, unlike Ryusei no Gemini, an especially worthy sequel.
Critic's Log - Earthdate: June 21, 2012. Supplemental for Review #10: Darker Than Black Gaiden (Side Story).
It is difficult to forget the past that has horrific memories, it feels like a nightmare that you could not wake up from... The only thing to do is move forward.
If you have been reading my other reviews, keep this in mind... Before I start reviewing something, I like to poke a little fun during the review and I sort of did something like that just now with the poetic philosophical intro I had with this review plus the previous reviews I did for Darker Than BLACK... With that all said, here is the OVA Side Story of Darker Than BLACK...
After the incidents in Tokyo, Hei and Yin try to bury their past and start a new life, but everywhere they go someone seems to be following them. Unaware to Hei, Yin's current odd behavior appears to be related to a prophecy that might lead to the end of the world.
To be technical and I don't really want to state the obvious here but... oh, what the hell... This is yet another Studio Bones production. This is also another OVA for Darker Than BLACK and is also a prequel to Season 2 (Gemini of The Meteor). All I have to say about this technicality is... KUDOS TO STUDIO BONES For making this. This OVA explains on what happened before Gemini of The Meteor started. This OVA lasts 4 episodes long so I may not have much to say for the Side Story OVA. But I do have a few things to say. The animation is still just like the other 2 Seasons, the action scenes are spectacular in this OVA in fact I really like how the action scenes are shown this time around. I got nothing bad to say about the animation for this OVA. It kicks ass when it does.
The story being 4 Episodes long is okay and I think the story is pretty average and I think some people might enjoy the story. I don't think it's as gripping as it should be... but I'll save one topic in a bit...
The music by Yasushi Ishii is used from Gemini of The Meteor and I guess the music's fine but I think I have said enough of Ishii-san's soundtrack on my review for Gemini Of The Meteor and I'll just say it again... I think his music is okay for the show.
The voice acting for this OVA is good on both The Subbed and Dubbed versions. Just like Seasons 1 and 2, the Dubbed and Subbed versions are both enjoyable. The Subtitled version is really good and The English Dub is great as well and there are a couple of surprise voice casting in the dub. Johnny Yong Bosch plays Shichi and Stephanie Sheh voices a stray dog (which sounds nothing like her comparing her previous roles). In this case, you can't go wrong with either version. It's all a matter of preference.
Some Contractors exclusive in this OVA are kinda cool. There was one thing I found quite confusing was the relationship between Hei and Yin. I am giving you a spoiler alert before you read the following. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!. Near the end of The OVA, Yin told Hei that she loved him. I don't recall any foreshadowing of Yin having feelings for Hei except for possibly the last episode of Season 1. This does feel a bit forced and disorienting since this slight romantic development isn't shown too much.
I have one more thing to say before I start wrapping up this review. I recommend watching this OVA before watching Season 2 of Darker Than BLACK.
The OVA Side Story of Darker Than BLACK is available from Funimation, it was released with Season 2: Gemini of The Meteor
With that Said, This is OVA that makes up for the confusion that was made during Season 2. If you want to see really cool action scenes. This is for you. If you are willing to just watch this and the second season just for the hell of it even though Season 2 may not live up to your expectations, You might like this...
I give The OVA Side Story of Darker Than BLACK a 7 out of 10
Feel free to comment below, and have a pleasant dream under the moonlight.
DARKER THAN BLACK OAV REVIEW
Although it aired after Season 2, the OAV actually takes place chronologically between the seasons. I found viewing the OAV prior to watching S2 a prerequisite for understanding S2.
Here's my bottom line on the OAV: it had some kickassingly awesome action sequences, but little of the compelling character work of S1. The opening battle sequence was absolutely breathtaking, and there are many such awesome sequences throughout the 4 OAV episodes. For an action fan like me, Gaiden was heavenly.
The problem was that the character work wasn't quite there. The show tried to develop the Hei/Yin relationship, but for me it felt extremely forced--as if they were just trying to please shipping fangirls. I was annoyed. I don't mind romance if it feels organic and natural (e.g., Kenshin and Tomoe in Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal), but Hei and Yin really didn't have much going for them. Their relationship really just didn't make any sense to me, except as a device to suck in a susceptible female audience.
Well, I, for one, couldn't stand most of the lovey dovey Hei/Yin handholding scenes. And it's not because I want to see Hei get together with Misaki or Amber or anyone else. Goodness god, why must characters get together with other characters?
I wanted to see Hei take down the motherf*cking Syndicate! To become a leader, develop a plan, set goals, and execute them. I did NOT want to see him run around aimlessly trying to protect some flat-as-hell doll character just 'cos a bunch of screaming girls wanted them to get together.
Without a narrative to propel the story, I was left clamoring for more Hei-electro-fries-everybody-else action scenes.
...which S2 supplied, in good amounts, as mentioned previously. But still, the character work was missing. Watching a doll evolve is like watching paint dry.
I appreciated that the OAV made S2 more comprehensible, but the increasing weirdness of the supernatural plot from the OAVs into S2 made me go "WTF" more than a few times. Yin turns into some crazy Izanami thing that kills contractors because she evolved too fast out of love for Hei?! And she's destined to join with Izanagi and bring forth devastating change to the world? WTF.
Yes, yes, I know, loosely based on Japanese mythology and whatnot, but still, WTF? Again, my reaction to DtB OAV (and, eventually, S2) reminded me of my reaction to the end of Evangelion. I guess my appreciation for the weird and supernatural only goes so far.
Oh well. Anyway, I enjoyed the OAV because of aforementioned kickass action sequences. Black Reaper = badass. But . . . Gaiden really doesn't really live up to Season 1 . . .
The series takes a tense heartwarming twist here, alot of suspense and action in this ova
ok ending connects DtB first and second series together
If you have yet to watch any of the Darker than Black series, it is vitally important to watch it in this order:
OVA1 is really just Episode 26 of Season 1 but the 4 episode OVA 2 is a *crucial* link between Seasons 1 and 2, so much more about Season 2 makes sense if you watch this first... I was very grateful that they made this, as I so do wish for more of this series and it really explains a *LOT*.