yin and hei

A post that has neither thigh meat, giant robots, or typical harem moments but chock full of typical shounen nonsense jargon and delicious… collarbone? Egads!


I originally panned Darker Than Black last year:

One can probably tell that this new series from BONES is a frontrunner of AoMM’s Derailed’s coveted “Best Use of Random Jargon” award for 2006. Darker Than Black tries to be too slick and ends up confusing me in the process… honestly, can we get through one action anime series that doesn’t have it’s own dialect of buzzwords? Contractors? Hell’s Gate? Dolls? Gimme a break. Anime shouldn’t be a Scrabble game. Anyway, Darker Than Black is yet another slick dystopic future series in a season crowded with them.

And since it seemed like X-Men… err… Contractor of the week, I let it sit and stew on my pile while a lot of more enjoyable series took center stage. Honestly, that was just a killer season with Gurren Lagann, Guardian of the Sacred Spirit, Lucky Star, Hayate, and such.

Since this season past season has been so weak, I’ve been catching up on some older series, with Darker Than Black being one of them. After finishing the series, I’ve come to the following conclusions:


1. My original thin slicing was right. No, not about the buzzwords but: “Mitigating factor: The main detective, Misaki, reminds me of Coyote Ragtime Show’s detective. Now everytime I see Misaki, I fully expect her to be munching on a roast turkey leg or something.” Bingo! It’s revealed during the series that, yes, Misaki is also a glutton! Every character just reminded me of other anime characters. I know anime is derivative, but Misaki and the CRS girl had similar roles, similar bodies, similar quirks, and similar eating habits. And I’m not even going to get into the Amber/C.C. and Pizza Hut thing. On a completely unrelated note, I am dying for some stuffed crust pizza.

(Though Darker Than Black replaced Code Geass in the TV lineup, so maybe they had to extend the Pizza Hut promo. What I don’t get is why aren’t there Pizza Hut ads in Gundam 00? Saji’s a pizza delivery boy for Kryio’s sake. Though the odds for Stuffed Crust Gundam ain’t that great now.)


2. Figure 17 doomed anime to be consumed in 24 minute bites. While Figure 17 wasn’t a horrible series, it had no business being a 48 minute episode experiment. There was just no reason beyond, “Hey, we can do it!” The narrative didn’t call for it, and they padded it with a lot of filler to get up to cohesive 48 minute episodes. I’m convinced it killed hour long anime since there hasn’t been anymore hour long anime since Figure 17. (The fact that anime are really just gloried infomericals nowadays don’t help either.) Darker Than Black? Screams for 48 minute episodes. The first twenty episodes are partitioned into two episode chunks of semi-self-contained stories, and the 48 minute format would have been great for it.


3. I think it’s funny how when after Darker Than Black first aired, everyone was still a bit “WTF?” over the ending and praying that the DVD bonus episode would answer some questions. Nope. It didn’t. It’s BONES! Never expect their OVAs and movies to answer questions. Never. In fact, their movies and OVAs tend to generate more questions like Conqueror of Shamballa and the “What were you smoking when you remake this?” A Girl in Gaea. But I don’t think Darker Than Black was a series that desired to be seriously analyzed. It just wanted any excuse to be a flashy action series, and I think it did its job fine with that. I never thought it should be dissected to the point that most people tried to dissect it. It’s like trying to pick apart an Adam Sandler movie or a Derailed post. Sure, it’s easy and you can do it, but… why bother? Sit back and enjoy the ride. Especially on Billy Madison’s nudie magazine day.


4. November 11 reminded me a lot of a cross between Graham Acre and Ladd Russo. After Graham went batshit insane going after Setsuna, it’s definitely Graham’s personality in Ladd’s body and not the other way around. (Difference, of course, is that Ladd is actually sane behind his insanity while Graham is insane behind his sanity.)


5. Have I mentioned the dense jargon? Regressor? Moratorium? Heaven’s Gate? Hell’s Gate? If I have to pause and episode to hop on Wikipedia because I forgot what something meant from an hour ago, the show has issues. Jargon should be used to encompass a viewer and make the viewer feel like he’s in their world. Pausing and visiting Wikipedia (and hopefully no one derails me with Mako-cakes e-mail during this critical time) just doesn’t do it. They seriously could have used less jargon or at least have a Nani Naze Dark Than Black segment to explain it, much like Nadesico‘s version. (Oh well, at least Hei’s mask is now well-parodied… kinda.)


6. My favorite characters are Guy and Kiko. BONES should spin the two off as their own comedy series with Yin joining as Kiko’s costume rape victim. Best non-lesbian detective pair that I’ve seen in anime in the past year. (Another thing anime has taught me, besides how to carve wooden starfish, is that detectives are always hurting for cash. It’s just not a profitable business… I don’t understand why they don’t switch careers and be something like an auto mechanic. My mechanic charges $200 an hour.)


7. After Guy and Kiko, it would have to be Yin, who is just a poor man’s Yuki Nagato. I didn’t really care for any of the other characters. I did like Hei whenever he glimpsed Amber, much like Van and Claw Man in Gun x Sword. Though it’s notable that Misaki could be an injury substitute for the Rukia All-Stars.

8. A tier or two lower than Cowboy Bebop (8.44 vs. 8.9 on ANN) seems about right. This one’s just a fun action series, nothing more. It’s not a philosophical commentary. Much like how Higurashi is best enjoyed brainless, so goes Darker Than Black. (I’ll be lying if I didn’t enjoy the brotherly/sisterly love between Hei and Yin. Hell, I think it’s one of the stronger themes of the series… and not in a Jun/Noe type of way.)


9. Delicious… collarbone?

23 Responses to “yin and hei”

  1. I’m tempted to do a “Why so serious?” impersonation everytime i see that mask.

    I remember being semi-excited over Darker than Black, the prospect of a noir-ish anime excited me…

    Oh well, didn’t turn out the way i expected. I think i gave up the show halfway, mainly cause I couldn’t really grasp the plot (was there one? I can’t remember).

    Maybe one day I’ll check back and finish what i started. This season looks slow, with only Mecha-Soap Opera to watch. Good time to catch up with older anime. I mean, we get 2 fanservice shows this season. That’s something to say…

  2. Delicious collarbone? Oh shit, we’re all doomed.

    Wait… isn’t that a guys collarbone? Oh, nope… I forgot, this is the place that has over 40% of the readership going nuts over cross dressing mako-cakes. I should have remembered this place was a pit of insanity. :P

  3. The ‘collarbone’ thing Jason keeps on mentioning is a little plot point in DtB’s episode (comedy) 26, where one of the policewomen on the team tracking the Contractors (who amusingly enough also happens to be a yaoi fanfic writer of small reknown) recognized Hei as the masked Contractor by, well, his exposed collarbone.

  4. Oh hi, it’s Pink Supervisor!

  5. When I first watched darker than black I though ” Oh no anohter gloomy anime in a glommy future with muders, pain ect…. I’m gonna be sad for a week….”
    well that wasn’t that true, THANKS TO RIN (and a little to Fei).
    no really I think I’ve enjoyed this movie x10 than I first thought I will.
    But I’m not shure there is totally none of existential/philosophical questions/subjects in this anime.
    Even if Bones didn’t mean to, if people watching at Darker Than Black think there are some, the result is just the same than if Bones wanted to montion this kind of subjects.
    A French well known artist said something like “the art is not only maid by the artist but also by the person who is watching at it”. I do think it is exactly the same for animes.(do I ?)

    :X geez what am I saying??? would I’ve been talking of philosophy or something?
    waaa all my apologies for this, it won’t happen again :D ( I hope)

    Anyway I enjoyed DTB quite much, kind of B+ class anime (do not try to undersand my marks B+ is B+ nothing else.)

  6. I loved every second of this series, I have no problem with jargon and I could enjoy it as a action series even when I was thinking about the thin plot line. Someone I know related the amount of new made up words of this show to Shakugan no Shana, I believe him though after rewatching the first ep of Shana, if jargon bothered me in the least I would have been very annoyed by that series.

  7. I rather enjoyed DtB as ‘a fun action series’, which suits my tastes. I never bothered to investigate the jargon or think too hard about it, but I think it’s a mistake to think people are dissecting something because they feel they should. They do it because it’s fun. One man’s boring essay is another’s delicious thigh meat, so to speak.

  8. I got the Coyote Ragtime Vibes from Misaki, too, especially once we find out she has the hots for Hei.

    Also, Yin is awesome. Cutest blind musician in anime ever. Of course, the only other blind anime musician I know is Madoka from GetBackers, but she’s pretty cute too.

  9. Of course, the only other blind anime musician I know is Madoka from GetBackers, but she’s pretty cute too.

    There’s also Sara from Samurai Champloo, whom I at least found attractive.

  10. As soon as I realized that DtB is going to be only a more sophisticated shonen, I decided to enjoy for what it is, a shonen with better choregraphied fights and less retarded yells and power-ups that plagued the genre too much.

  11. I loved this series, and looked forward to each ep almost as much as TTGL or Lucky Star. I didn’t think the jargon was a problem, unless you’re only half paying attention to the show, and didn’t find keeping up with it to be any worse than the first time watching something like Shana, GITS, or even Star Trek. Then again I’m used to games like Xenosaga and Shin Megami Tensei so I might just be immunized. Besides, one of the main plot points was that no one knew what was up with the contractors or gates so confusion should be expected. As for people trying to deeply analyze it, I think that The Matrix has unfortunately forever associated “guys in trenchcoats using stylish and superhuman fighting abilities in a modern urban setting” with “awkwardly inserted philosophical undertones” in the average viewers psyche. But it’s pretty clear from just the OP what the series is trying to be (Hint: it’s not Mushishi).

  12. I nearly did drop this series at the halfway point. I was starting to loose interest, that is until Guy and Kiko appeared.

    I don’t know why, but the bumbling detective and partner scheme never ceases to amuse me, in whatever form it appears in. I suppose it may have had a larger impact in Darker than Black due to the whole situation surrounding Hei, with the implicit seriousness of his escapades. Adding some random humor seems to have balanced out the series a bit better.

    And nekomimi Yin is just too cute.

  13. Only the detective’s assistant (Kiko, was it?) was any good in that show… well, Yin and Mao were okay but mostly because they had nothing to do with the main plotline of the story. Whenever the story had to focus on them, it just got annoying.

    The jargon thing? That’s what bugs me about Shana too. Some buzzwords are okay. When the show is overloaded with them to the point that explaining them is more vital than having a plot, there are serious issues.

  14. Speaking of detective pairs…. who’s anticipating Mnemosyne 3? :D

  15. Much like Wolf’s Rain, I thought DTB was quite enjoyable until the last couple of episodes where everything the show built up was left as is or fell apart.

  16. I have really nothing to say on the show because i never even watched an episode… but you can just tell that a relevant post that has good content, but devoid of traps, melonpan, spiral energy or costume rapes… just doesn’t bring in the comments like the later group of a-moral traits…. ( well spiral energy is not a-moral) …Does every post have to be packed full of some twisted moe? OTL I look forward for more straight shooting posts and opinion.

  17. I thought the series was a very enjoyable watch, yet another part of a great season. I didn’t have a problem with any of the jargon being tossed around, but again, one wasn’t supposed to understand them at first, and I’m a language major, so maybe I don’t have room to speak on the matter.

    I don’t think it’s a pure action series. I think it very much does has a plot, though its depth is similar to that of Cowboy Bebop’s Spike and Vicious. The plot is there, and analyzable, yes, but not every episode is linked to it, or if so only faintly, until you near the end of the series.

    Lastly, I must firmly agree with one of Jason’s statements: This series DID scream for 48 minute episodes. Screamed for it like…never mind, I won’t finish that analogy…bad thoughts, go away…

  18. I actually love this series. In fact, I loved it very much. Especially the battle scenes. There’s no senseless yelling, no such thing as powerups, and heck, all the contractor powers do have their own limitations, meaning the fights had to be won with a combo of skills, contractor abilities and sheer cunning.

    My character, however, has to be Mao. Best kitty ever!

  19. Btw, Jason, you should check Maid Guy. It has meido of both genders. And the main girl has a generous melonpan.

  20. I’m with Xiphus. The fight scenes were usually well-done and were enhanced by the interesting powers and the vulnerability of the characters, who died pretty damn frequently, and at the end often against faceless goons.

    DtB knew how to make characters seem threatening without giving them an aura of invincibility that makes so many villain deaths seem like deus ex or a bitch kill or main character system or whatever you want to call it.

  21. tidal: mean, we get 2 fanservice shows this season. That’s something to say…
    To Love-Ru
    Are your headliners, but there are a couple that falls under the radar.

    I’d say Kamen no Maid Guy falls under the fanservice show.

    pakxenon: Speaking of detective pairs…. who’s anticipating Mnemosyne 3?

    I’m constantly finding myself on the edge of my seats for subs :(

  22. Haruhiist #3251: Subs are actually out for Mnemosyne 3 already by Doremi.

    As Triad would put it, moaning Kugimiya Rie deserves more attention.

  23. meadbert: To be honest, I expected more from this episode.

    Meh. I’m fine with teh Rei.

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