So as a fan of the first Darker than Black series I was very happy to find out that there was a sequel, a continuation to a great series! I had jumped into it right away, without reading anything on it. I was confused, where was Hei and Yin? He doesn't show up right away? Okay I can deal with that...wait, he's a drunk? Why the hell does he look like that?!
And with disgust I had dropped the show after three episodes, vowing to never watch it again and pretend that it was never made.....until I decided to suck it up and watch it two years or so later.
I'll admit, it wasn't that bad.
Now I wouldn't say that the story in Ryuusei no Gemini was a direct continuance from the original. It's sort of it's own storyline with throw-ins from the last season with many of the same characters and names (IE The Syndicate). There is a two year gap between the first and second seasons and many things have happened to both Yin and Hei that are never directly answered (although there is a gaiden arc between the seasons, but I haven't seen it yet). Instead we are just left in the dark and are supposed to deal with it. Which may or may not be good, if you consider the fact that Hei comes into the show looking like a haggard empty shell of his former self that has a drinking problem, and WE DON'T KNOW WHAT MADE HIM THIS WAY.
If you're expecting a lot of Mao, Hei, and Yin action-- or any answers to questions you had in the first series then you will be sorely disappointed. Ryuusei no Gemini focuses on Suou, a 13 year old Eurasian/Russian girl; she is THE main character, the star of the show. Hei and Mao are kind of nothing more than mentors and guides for Suou to become the gun wielding emotional teen girl that she is. Yin doesn't show up until near the end, and she is incorporated into the plot in a way that you wouldn't expect.
This is rather disappointing because the first series had enough to go on to continue it, to try to answer some of the questions that it left unanswered. However, instead we get a separate story and a new main character that is vaguely (barely) connected at all. Ryuusei no Gemini is also considerably shorter too, which definitely gave no room to expand on anything but instead forcing us to gun through the plot.
Don't get me wrong, the story was good--on its own. If you let go of practically everything from Kuro no Keiyakusha then you should be alright.
As always the art was great. Keeping true to the style of the first season Ryuusei no Gemini introduced some interesting looking characters as well as brought back characters that are easily recognizable. The animation was pretty great, but unfortunately not as heavily involved as in Kuro no Keiyakusha. This is because there are less actions scene compared to the first season. Mixed with the different color schemes and style, you can see just how tired and different Hei has become, and just feel when the mood is supposed to be dark or lighthearted (which the story/character interactions failed to complete) .
In terms of heart pounding sound to get you pumped up for the upcoming scene, Ryuusei no Gemini did a great job with it's techno/electronic soundtrack, which seemed to fit the mood perfectly. The opening theme kind of didn't do it for me. I know I know 'but it was upbeat and refreshing!' you are telling me, I get it. I'll admit, it does have a certain charm to it, and I could probably listen to it over and over again.
Hei! Why!? Hei was the single most reason I dropped the show in the first place. I HATED the fact that he had sunk so low, that the man known as BK-201, the Black Reaper, had turned into this drunken mope who slapped Suou around. But now that I came back I can see the importance of making Hei be like this. Even hero's fall, and anyone can hit rock bottom. Hei was our fallen hero, and it hurt to see him like that...but as the show went on, he became less and less of an important character and his problems were swept under the rug by the star, Suou. If Ryuusei no Gemini would have focused more on Hei and the Syndicate then him being the way he is would have been powerful.
Speaking of Suou, I kind of hated her. Yes, I get the fact that she's going through a bunch of tough ordeals in the series, and she's trying to struggle with who she is and how she's supposed to be. But it was because of this that I felt like I was just watching a girl go through puberty. And as we all know, puberty is never fun.
Other characters seemed rather unimportant to me. They were either there just to serve as a plot mover, a shit stirrer, or for cheap laughes (which there was a lot of). Many new people come and go in Ryuusei no Gemini, and a lot of them had potential to be great. Unfortunately, the time constraints of the show gave them no time to expand on any particular background story, leaving most of the cast two dimensional, and largely unsatisfying. Largely, I felt absolutely nothing for the vast majority of them.
This is a tough one for me to rate. I was holding onto Kuro no Keiyakusha for dear life, and ended up largely confused and unsatisfied with the ending. But the ride along the way was actually pretty great. I wish that they would have given Ryuusei no Gemini a longer season, because it might have made the show even better.
DARKER THAN BLACK: S2 REVIEW
I watched DtB Season 2 the first time around without having had the benefit of watching the OAVs (which explained a lot of what had happened), so I was extremely confused. First time through, I couldn't stand the new protagonist, Suo, or "Hobo" Hei's drastic change of character, or the crazy supernatural plot. In other words, I hated it.
But I think I didn't give it a fair chance that first time around. I have now properly watched S2 from beginning to end after having watched the Gaiden OAVs. And while I still think S2 is considerably inferior to S1, it was still . . . pretty decent.
Much of my previous critique remains, of course. I still hate that "Hobo" Hei is a scraggly, child-abusing drunkard who doesn't eat anymore. Sure, he's depressed from losing Yin, but it's just SO out of character that it was not really believable. And boozing as depression was just . . . an uninspiring, cliched turn. The Hei from S1 seemed to me to be the Cold Fury Type. It would have been more consistent and much more interesting, for example, if Hei had gone on a vengeful, unremorseful psychotic killing spree. Instead, we got "Hobo" Hei, a pathetic stumbling drunkard who doesn't shave and wears jackets that look like they are from the '80s.
And I still hate that Hei loses his electro-power after episode 2, which sucks the fun out of the action sequences; 10 of 12 episodes without the show's iconic Chinese Electric Batman is just disappointing. Sure, he can still kick ass, but . . . I want to see some FRYING.
As for the new main character, Suo, I still thought her a little bit annoying. She had adolescent problems and crushes, and for the whole season, she was trying to figure out what "love" was. All of it was really tiresome. I wanted the writers to spend more time exploring why she was a contractor, and yet still seemed to have these strong human emotions. That never got fleshed out quite to my satisfaction. I did appreciate Suo's feisty-ness much more during the second viewing, though.
Still, I will not retract my statement about Suo's contractor ability being literally the dumbest thing I have ever seen: she can spawn . . . get ready for it . . . an anti-tank gun with 6 rounds of ammo. Yup, limited ammo. Oh, and the gun needs to be summoned every once in a while for maintenance and repairs. What the eff??? With all the cool things that contractors can do on this show, you have her summon a huge gun with limited ammo that needs maintenance?!
In general, the side characters in S2 made me miss the side characters in S1, whom I had poo-poo'ed on in my S1 review. In particular, every time Norio, the dreadlocked kid who had a meaningless and pointless insta-crush on Suo, was on screen, I wanted him to die a slow death. His cross-dressing father had the potential to be more interesting, but the writers did very little with him, so the whole family ended up just sucking away screen time from properly developing Suo as a character.
I did love 2 of the side characters introduced/developed in this season, though:
(1) Mina Hazuki, aka "Lightsaber Lesbian," is a kickass wielder of energy weapons whose remuneration is to kiss men. The show hinted at a murky and potentially fascinating family backstory for Mina, but unfortunately it was not further developed. Too much screentime for stupidass Norio, and not enough for kickass Lightsaber Lesbian. Well, in my book, anyone who can kick Hei's ass is friggin' awesome, with extra bonus because she has a low voice and is smokin' hot.
(2) July, the Mi-6 doll from S1, who joined up with Hei and Suo. I love him because he's friggin' British, wears a British schoolboy uniform, and is just plain adorable, even if he's not particularly interesting as a character. Again, watching a doll evolve is like watching paint dry, but . . . July is adorable Oliver Twist-ian paint, so I forgive him.
As for the plot, even on the second viewing, and with the benefit of having watched the OAVs, S2's plot was still pretty much incomprehensible. There were a million different factions, and syndicate groups, and intelligence agencies, and I still have no idea who Madam Oreille was. They were all fighting for increasing murky, unexplained, and crazy reasons. There was no rhyme or reason to any of it, and mostly the plot just went off into cuckoo land--kind of like the end of Evangelion.
That said, it was still a decent season of anime. Good action sequences, well-animated. S2 just fell far short of both the OAV and, especially, S1.
But Mina Hazuki, I kind of love you.
I must say that Darker than Black is one of my favorite animes. So when I found out about the sequel, I was hyped. Now, because I like the first one so much, I expected the sequel to reach the same level, or even higher than its predecessor. Sort of like Birdy the Mighty Decode.
To be frank. I was dissapointed.
First of all, some things are pulled out of thin air. Apparently, Yin was Hei's "woman". What? Where the hell did that come from? Based on the first series, Hei treated Yin only as a good friend. What ever "romance" (if you can call it that) went on in the first series was between the police detective and Hei.
Another dissapointment was that they showed Mao's human form. I know that's a simple thing, but, that air of mystery of what Mao looked like gave Mao a certain charm. At least for me. Think of it like this. Naruto fans, the fact that Kakashi hides his face adds a bit more to his character. You want to see it, but he never shows it. It just adds something.
The pacing of this show also bothered me. One episode would be action packed and leave you on the edge of your seat, only to have the next episode be the Suo just shopping.
Oh, another thing that bothered me. Apparently Suo falls in love with Hei. Great. A thirteen year old girl, madly in love with Hei, a man beyond his years of twenty.
Also. The ending was completly rushed. I was watching the episodes, and then I realized, that there were two left. "Two?" I asked myself. "How is this possible? Nothing really happend to create an ending!"
It just threw the words Izanagi and Izanami around, attempted to create a major plot twist, (that would have been major if it was paced well!)
I'm being extra harsh on this series because I loved the original one so much.
Animation was pretty good. I've been watching a lot of animes lately with spectacular animation, so everything after that isn't really mind blowing.
Again, the first series had a better soundtrack, even though it wasn't that amazing. To be honest, you don't pay attention to it at all. It leaves no impression what so ever.
This series could have expanded on Hei. I know A LOT was explained in the first series, but Hei still could have developed further. Suo also didn't leave that much of an impression on me. Even after several plot twists occured, (which by the way, were so poorly paced, that these twists didn't even faze me).I would have also liked Misaki's and Hei's relationship to be expanded. Not just simply thrown away. Despite that they had something going on in the first series, this one just made Misaki be all like "I like Hei. Where is he?" Meets Hei, and then you never see her again.
This series could have been a lot better if it was longer. This way, they just sort of threw important facts into your face at the last second and pulled random facts out of its arse. I was dissapointed. Maybe for people who didn't like the first series that much, will find this one to meet their standards, but for me, it was way below average.
The shittiest ending ever. Nice story and characters and despite Hei looks like homeless drunk it was interesting to watch first part of the season. But last episodes feel like writers just quit and some random people tried to finish the story in one episode. I don't know if it was based on manga or not but anyway conclusion is a piece of shit.
p.s. opening song is great.
story, action, animation gets a downgrade in this series, nothing amazing here, hei losing his power made it less interesting. Not a great ending, lacked any satisfaction to it