Darker Than Black 2: Russians Know Everything About Japan

These are more “impressions” as opposed to a formal “review”. Why? Reviews have plot summaries, and since I have to go on Wikipedia to remember all of the different factions in DTB, I’m not going to do one!

In the far off year of 2007 Darker Than Black struck Japanese airwaves and incited a decent amount of excitement amongst fans living in both the east and west. Based on assumptions derived from promotional artwork and videos, as well as some of the people behind the show, I expected a television program on the same level of Cowboy Bebop. Naturally, I was severely disappointed with the show, and made it clear to the whole internet that I wasn’t really all that keen on it whenever someone brought it up. I did finish the whole thing. Looking back on it, it wasn’t that bad, but it could have been better. I was unsure about watching the sequel when news of it first made its rounds throughout the internet, but promotional artwork promised the addition of a new lolita to the cast of emotionless killers, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to check it out.

DTB2 proves more engaging than its predecessor right down its series composition–as opposed to being made up of many 2-episode-long arcs, this one cour sequel opts for a serial structure. Cliffhangers and plot twists are what keeps the series going, as opposed to singular story arcs that sometimes don’t have enough time to resolve. The opening episodes put forth a number of interesting mysteries–as well as gets us acquainted with the adorable lolita of the series, Suou–which starts the series off running. The brilliantly composed action scenes sure don’t hurt either.

As the series progresses, the action gets toned down, and instead the writers dump a bunch of random plot elements laced with some degree of ridiculous techno-babble onto the scene. All of this stuff is interwoven between scenes of Suou being cute, and varying degrees of excitement, but the proportions are a bit different from the proportions employed in the opening episodes. The random plot elements and techno-babble aren’t bad–some of them are kind of neat–but DTB’s backstory never stood out to me as anything other than generic fluff. It’s somewhat entertaining, but nothing inspiring. This would be fine, if wasn’t for how it all comes together–or how it doesn’t come together–in the end.

As something of a seasoned anime viewer, I’m used to lame endings, so the DTB2’s ending didn’t outright offend me. It’s just lame and typical–few things are resolved, things happen for no reason, and all of humanity gets sucked into giant vaginas in Rei’s hands. It does hit some okay emotional chords and has some nicely composed scenes, but on the whole it’s just lame.

Even though it does have a shitty ending, I did like DTB2 a lot better than season 1. The serial storytelling was far more engaging than season 1’s episodic structure, and Suou as a character didn’t hurt either. She has a kind of cuteness that deviates from the typical anime moe model, and falls more towards behavior similar to that of a real adolescent girl. Not sure what that says about people who are nuts about Suou. But aside from that creepy stuff, the animation was really was great, and really shone during the expertly choreographed action sequences. Some of the girls were pretty hot, too. Too bad the one I liked died horribly.

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