Review: DARKER THAN BLACK: Ryuusei no Gemini

I was going to do some others first…but then I saw the first OAD and realised that it would really affect this review if I put it off any longer!

DARKER THAN BLACK: Ryuusei no Gemini was one of the series that I followed closely last season. I was quite excited when I found out about it, because the first series was one of the highlights of 2007, despite its less than satisfactory ending. The mere thought of seeing more fights involving BK201 had me grinning in anticipating, tempered only by the memory the of the ending the left so much to be desired. I should have remembered that BONES is also responsibly for such WTF finales as Eureka 7, Wolf’s Rain and RahXephon, though admittedly, I think I’ve read enough to understand the ending and movie for the latter.

Ryuusei no Gemini (Twins of the Meteor) picks up 2 years after the end of the original series, and gave all returning fans a pretty big shock. Misaki had been removed from her original position in her department, and Yin and Hei had parted ways. My favourite character from 2007 had somehow become an unshaven drunk. Needless to say, without even considering the plot revolving the new main character, Suou, the series had a lot of questions to answer. However, the OADs are answering the question of Hei’s ‘fall’, so let’s get to the rest. Warning: spoilers abound!

As the title suggests, the focus of Ryuusei no Gemini is no longer on Hei, but rather on a pair of twins. Suoh Pavalichenko already knows of the existence of contractors, for her twin brother has been one since he was hurt during a metor shower two years before. Suoh’s carefree life in Russia is disrupted suddenly when one of her close friends becomes a contractor, and several opposing groups of contractors close in on her scientist father. And one of them turns out to be the Black Contractor…

DTB: Ryuusei no Gemini starts of remarkably well, all things considered. The action scenes, whilst short, lived up to the first series. They also showed that whilst contractors can augment their own powers by using their surroundings to great effect, an astute combatant can also employ it to neutralise and even kill a opponent who otherwise has an advantage over them. The best examples of this are April effectively turning rain into bullets in the first episode, and Hei using his jacket to turn the tables on The Magician in the second. Furthermore, whilst the loss of Hei’s contractor powers were initially met with groans and unhappiness, witnessing him brandish the intelligence and skills that gave him the name 「黒の死神」 (The Black Reaper) was more than enough to make up for it.

Moving on to characters, many people were a bit nervous about having a loli-esque lead at first (which goes completely against what the first series was, really!), but it became a non-issue soon enough, when Suoh turned into a contractor. Speaking of contractors, the new powers ranged from the creepy (Tanya’s) to the fantastical (The Magician’s), although many may not forgive the ridiculous ‘transformation scene’ through which Suou would get her gun. The renumerations were more interesting, with moxybustion amongst them, although having to kiss a guy definitely takes the cake!

Despite the initial trepidation, Suou’s story arc turned out to be quite interesting due to various mysteries surrounding her. The retention of her emotions even as a contractor caused many people to wonder if Hei’s power had indeed been transferred to her (though she has a renumeration – folding origami), but instead, it is used to bring into question the assumption that all contractors lose their feelings forever, especially when she managed to spark a memory in Tanya. One could say that this series suggests that contractors, to a certain extent, have to relearn the balance between emotions and rationality once they are reborn as contractors, but with their minds suppressing their hearts as the new foundation. However, if we compare her development as a contractor with Tanya’s, Suou retained far more of her original personality, suggesting once again that Hei has a huge effect on the dolls and contractors he comes into contact with. But speculation aside, Suou’s development is definitely one of the strength’s of this series.

Most of the other significant characters were familiar faces – Misaki, Hei, July – and in one case, a voice, Mao. Besides her obsession with BK201, Misaki was a tool that allowed the writers to take us closer to the members of section 3 – Golgo (what is his real name?), Hazuki and Shizume – who are also in possesion of Yin. As the various factions play a cat-and-mouse game all the way back to Tokyo, there was a lot of anticipation about how BONES would bring them all together again, i.e. the plot.

Dropping the 2-episode per mini-arc format of the first season, Ryuusei no Gemini is a much more focussed piece of work. The story advances in a logical fashion, as the characters struggle their way towards Tokyo. The bit-part characters that pass by our protagonists with each change in location serve were occasionally annoying, but useful, even Guy and Kiko didn’t overstretch their welcome. These characters not only helped Suou form her new identity as a contractor, but functioned to deepen the mystery surrounding what Yin has become. The twists in later episodes, especially the big revelation about Suou, were very well constructed and ending up setting heavy expectations for the ending.

Which turns out to be where Ryuusei no Gemini will make it or break it for the viewer. Like it or not, it is an ending that you probably need to discuss with others in order to notice all the clues that help explain what happened. Without revealing anything too important here, I’ll just say that they answered most of the questions raised in the second season, but not those from the first – except where they revealed Mao’s rather interesting back story – or from the missing years. Some of these mysteries will be revealed in the OADs, which were announced halfway through the season. Unfortunately, the knowledge that we had more to learn gives the ending even more of an incomplete feeling than it might have had otherwise.

In summary, DTB: Ryuusei no Gemini is, for the most part, a more succinct venture into the world of Darker than Black. However, leaving more unanswered questions for a yet unreleased set of OADs that are set BEFORE the timeline of this series weakens it slightly for me. Whilst the impact of knowing what actually happened to Yin might actually make it even weaker, the best approach may have actually been to include it in the course of the show, through flashback or other means. Well, won’t know until all the OADs have been released. 7.5/10

p.s. The [ action scenes => characters => plot ] format of this review leaves a weird taste in my mouth…but focusing on the things that I loved about the first season (the action and the main characters) seemed to be the best place to start.

About karice
MAG fan, freelance translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

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