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Anime Darker Than Black: Kuro no Keiyakusha


Dagger
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[B]Director: [/B]Tensai Okamura [Wolf's Rain, parts of the Cowboy Bebop movie, storyboards for many episodes of Cowboy Bebop TV]

[B]Animation Production:[/B] BONES [FMA, Wolf's Rain, RahXephon]

[B]Music: [/B] Yoko Kanno [Cowboy Bebop, Wolf's Rain, Escaflowne]

[CENTER][IMG]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v632/DaggerIX1/dtb.jpg[/IMG][/CENTER]

So! This series is an urban fantasy that mashes together the likes of Witch Hunter Robin and Cowboy Bebop and yet manages not to feel completely derivative. It has a bi-episodic structure, and the director has said they'll use this to introduce both comedic and serious stories.

Its mythology is a little complex. Near Tokyo, a territory called Hell's Gate appeared and made the city lose its real sky. In its place appeared a sky filled with fake stars, each one of which represents a Contractor with paranormal powers. Each time he uses his power, a contractor has to pay some kind of price (which can range from breaking his own fingers to--I kid you not--eating dandelions). Along with the Contractors emerged the soulless mediums called Dolls.

The main character, Hei, is a Contractor who carries out missions from a typical shadowy organization while meeting pretty, tragic women and dodging the police. He's a great actor and manipulator and generally very good at what he does. His power involves [spoiler]electricity, and the price for it appears to be eating obscene amounts of food.[/spoiler] :animeswea

Anyway, it's not as self-consciously cool as Bebop, but both the show and its protagonist have a kind of smooth assurance that makes them fun to watch.

~Dagger~
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I've watched the first 2 ep's and this is going to be a great anime !

I like how it went right into the story (and action) and you learn about the characters as it goes - as opposed to taking the first few ep's to introduce everyone and not having much action at first.

i can't wait to see ep. 3 !
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[COLOR=#0e1030][SIZE=1][FONT=Trebuchet MS]I took a look at this yesterday and I am mildly interested in it. The first couple of scenes of episode me reminded me or Ergo Proxy (which was awesome). Yet that quickly faded away.

To sum it up I really have no idea what is going on since I [I]just[/I] started on ep. 3 and all I could gather was[spoiler] The cat effing talks, guy controls electric stuff and that girl makes things go KABOOM![/spoiler] But I'll more than likely stick around for future episodes.[/FONT][/SIZE][/COLOR]
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From the first two episodes, this looks to be one I'll enjoy watching. I loved the atmosphere of the first episode - rather creepy but a bit stylish with it. The second episode was a real shock, with so much information coming all at once towards the end. I haven't watched the third yet.

I find it curious that the payments for being a Contractor differ so much. I wonder if there's a relation between the kind/level of power a Contractor acquires, and the price they have to pay.
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[COLOR=DarkOrange]oi! After watching the first 3 episodes with my little brother, i can safely call this show awesome! Kei is simply freaking cool being a perfect actor and a causer of beautiful death. This show gives me the intense feeling of reading/watching Batman. The doll who can see with water channeling and the talking cat are both awesome. Is it just me or is Kei receiving information through those constantly shimmering telephone lines?

Anywho, the first 2 parts were great. Pretty girls in distress - dangerous mobsters - it felt very movielike only without being a long boring movie. So far the characters' powers have been cool if nothing particularly new -- but that's where the conpensations come in. Holy crap those things get hilarious (dandilions?!) I crack up every time I see Kei shoveling monstrous amounts of food down his yap.

Ai, then we've got the ending of episode 2 and one of the coolest fights I've seen in a while. [spoiler]Of course there was the whole interesting plot-twist but I'm not interested in talking about that. The battle was too cool. When the explode power guy blew up his own buddy I had to pause for a second just to go 'OH SNAP!!!' And then when the guy did the wall thing and pulled that chick's heart through it took a second to register, but when i realized it was her heart a mixture of creeped-out and brutal delight was abundant.[/spoiler]

So far, I look forward to this series continuing. [/COLOR]
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I've predictably fallen head-over-heels for this series after very few episodes. I'm an absolute sucker for great big mysteries (Hell's Gate, Contractors, Dolls ... I'm reminded of Tokyo Jupiter in Rahxephon) and subtlely handled super powers (it's nice that they haven't explicitly explained Hei's power yet, and that none of the Contractors start scraps with "fear me, for I control gravity!").

What's most interesting about it, and what sets it apart from the thousand and one other Trigun/Bebop clones out there, is Hei's double-faceted character. [spoiler]He's your typical goofy, likable guy that eats loads of food but suddenly gets incredibly serious in battle. So far, so Vash the Stampede. Except the serious, uncaring, soulless side that appears when he puts on his coat is the real him, and it's the goofy guy that's the assumed persona. The main character of the series is essentially an utterly reprehensible lying scoundrel that worms his way into people's (so far, exclusively women's) affections purely for the sake of the job, then discards them without remorse.[/spoiler]

I want to see how they deal with that in terms of character development ... I kind of want to see him stay like that till the end, just because it hasn't really been done before, to my knowledge.
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[COLOR=DarkOrange]Episode 4 was totally great, and it was come to my attention that this show is going to be insanely gory. So far most contractor powers have had effects with the sole purpose of beautifully flashy deaths, and it looks like that was continue.

As for the noted unexpected pancakes in episode 4... no kidding!!![spoiler] She killed her own friend AND her dad! That part was sick, man,[/spoiler] this show is seriously brutal and it only serves to reinforce my opinion that this show must draw heavily from American comics. Kei's cold heart and battle-readiness are truly what make this show great.

I've decided to stop reading it to my brother, though, for two reasons. A. because I can't read fast enough, and B. the mythology has totally lost him, lol. Personally, I love the scientific side of this story, namely because it takes place in it's own world, and while the type of backgrounds of the scientific backgrounds are at least mildly cliche if not very, I think the show pulls it off well. It strikes a terrific balance between telling and showing, and I love that about it.

And now the highlight reel. [spoiler]Of course, any of us look at the part where the one evil contractor dude tore those cops to pieces, but the part where Kei storms the base is pretty great as well, namely for the animation at that part. [/spoiler]Am I the only one who likes to think of Kei in the same light as Raidou Kuzunoha?! And i love that he doesn't hesitate to [spoiler]straight-up kill the guards[/spoiler]. nice.

So far the only thing that hasn't fully pulled me in is the basic stories. Both of the characters we've seen so far had highly cliche comic-book backstories and [spoiler]endings[/spoiler]. I can see this improving, though, over the course of the series. i'm placing my faith in Bones.[/COLOR]
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His name is Hei, not Kei. Or Li Xiengshun, if you like.

I'm interested to see exactly what his relationship is with Huang and Yin. ANN describes Yin as Hei's partner, but thus far he's hardly been in the same shot with her. Who's the boss? Huang seems to hand down the jobs to Hei, but is there someone above him, detailing the contracts?

[spoiler]And what's with the talking cat? Is he a contractor, with 'being a cat' his weird remuneration?[/spoiler]
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[COLOR=#0e1030][SIZE=1][FONT=Trebuchet MS][spoiler]My best bet is the cat is a contractor that somehow lost his body seeing as having a remuneration [I]that[/I] log seems unjust[/spoiler]. But hey, I could be wrong.

I'm pretty sure that they all work under some kind of an organization that is yet to be name thus far. They all (Mao the cat, Huang, Hei and Yin) are probably just one subdivision of this unknown organization.

Yin (I think) has the power to "see" using water. I'm pretty sure that she uses that to find wherever someone is hiding an relates them to Hei somehow.[/FONT][/SIZE][/COLOR]
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I'm a bit late to episode 4, but oh well. This is definitely BONES' most violent show yet--for a second or two I had unbelievable Elfen Lied flashbacks. :animeswea Unlike Elfen Lied, though, the gore is used pretty sparingly & with a less gratuitous purpose.

So I guess Mai [spoiler]is going to join the organization that employs Hei & co. now? It would be interesting to see them work together or against each other in some future episode.[/spoiler]

I really want to see Amber (the C.C. clone from the OP), but I'm guessing she won't show up for a long time. Maybe she'll be the Julia of this series...

~Dagger~
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[QUOTE=2007DigitalBoy][COLOR=DarkOrange] Is it just me or is Kei receiving information through those constantly shimmering telephone lines?
[/COLOR][/QUOTE]

This is explained/reviled in ep. 4.
Did you catch it ??
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I'm pretty content to wait until it's explained more fully, but the surveillance sprites appear to be a feature of Yin's water-related power. If I remember right they've appeared in pools and puddles of water before, and only ran along the phone lines when it was raining outside.
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Guest Boy
[size=1][color=darkred]Mrah! I would really like to see this series! But, I must admit, that is mainly because Yoko Kanno is doing the music. I am a sucker for that lady and her compositions.

The story lines seems interesting, but I am worried that I am going to idealize this show before I even get the chance to watch it, and then be slightly let down. Oh well. It will be a risk I'll have to take.[/color][/size]
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Episode five sheds even more light on the surveillance sprite issue; I knew this was a professional enough series to explain stuff gradually as it went along. The little boy from [spoiler]MI6 - presumably a Doll like Yin - seems able to make them appear in glass, or maybe plastic (he had his hand on the car window and later on the sign by the staircase)[/spoiler]. So it would seem Dolls can each monitor things through a different medium, like water or whatever.

Looks like we'll get some Hei backstory in episode six, anyway. And the remunerations in this episode were pretty genius.
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I really like the months. (Especially November 11 and his jokes!) April and Havoc's character designs are both very cool. And with Kazuhiko Inoue and Shinichiro Miki, this arc has put me in seiyuu heaven. Can't wait for episode 6.

~Dagger~
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So, episode six kind of suggests that [spoiler]eating loads of food[/spoiler] is something Hei has [b]always [/b]done, and not actually his Contract remuneration. Havoc said something along the lines of [spoiler]"I've seen no sign of your remuneration ... are you actually a Contractor?"[/spoiler]

I'm sure it'll all be explained, and that it'll have something to do with the [spoiler]Heaven's Gate, which used to be in South America and then disappeared, and which Hei, Havoc and Bai were somehow involved with[/spoiler]...

And I'm [b]very [/b]pleased that the months look like they're sticking around. They were too cool to write out after two episodes.
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[SIZE=1][FONT=Trebuchet MS]Episode 6 really was good, [spoiler]I was saddened to see Havoc go. She was really beginning to grow on me but characters with her purpose usually die early anyways. She does get credit for one of the oddest remuneration so far.[/spoiler]

About South America though. [spoiler]I am certain in an earlier episode, I saw that Heaven's Gate actually was in South America taking up a good portion of Eastern Brazil but not all of it. So unless it was that, that took away part of Brazil or I'm just mistaken or something. Yeah, please fill in the gaps.[/spoiler]

It would be ironic if [spoiler]Hei's real remuneration was to have feelings or something, the irony would be just too much for me.[/spoiler]

[/FONT][/SIZE]
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I may have to watch the last couple of episodes again to catch all the explanation, but I'm pretty sure when November 11 was standing by the map of South America ([spoiler]which did indeed show a large portion of the continent occupied by Heaven's Gate[/spoiler]) he mentioned something about "[spoiler]the disappearance of Heaven's Gate X number of years ago[/spoiler]".

Ditto on Havoc, but rather that than her going back to her old self.
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[COLOR=DarkOrange]episode 5 (which I'd like to talk about a small bit before watching 6) was totally great. Call me a bandwagon jumper, but I'm so joining the November 11 fanclub. That guy's awesome. Hei's still cool though, to, with the way he mysteriously appears from no where. Also, yes! black lady! That's what i like to see. Well, the suspense is killing me, time for ep 6.

WTF!!! Episode 6 cuts off right near the end!!! Is this a 3-part episode or did the subbers screw up somehow?! WHAT THE HELL?!

*days later*

Okay, finally having completed episode 6 (why'd it take so damn long?!) I can safely call it totally awesome. firstly, Havoc was cool and seems like the kind of character that i'd have pictures of on my computer, lol. Once again, the months were great, and I'm glad that all signs point to them appearing in later episodes. So, plot twist from hell, [spoiler]Hei isn't even a contractor![/spoiler] Which only serves to make him not only more badass, but more batman-esque as well. [spoiler]Also, am I the only one who recalled julia from Cowboy Bebop's death when havoc ate pancakes?[/spoiler] [/COLOR]
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Apparently the next arc will be done by the Ouran team! Color me pumped.

[QUOTE=Raiyuu]
And I'm [b]very [/b]pleased that the months look like they're sticking around. They were too cool to write out after two episodes.[/QUOTE]

Wordy McWord. Episode 6 was [i]good[/i]. What I liked especially was the interesting revelation that Hei used to be [spoiler]much [i]more[/i] brutal and inhumane than he is now. In one sense, this puts him back into the Kenshin pattern--albeit in a way that, to me, comes across as being much less grating and more realistic. He might have mellowed out a little, but there's still a continuum between his past and present selves. I find that a lot more appealing & complex in a character than creating a strict divide between the bloody past & the peaceful present.[/spoiler]

The moments that stuck out the most for me:

1. [spoiler]When Hei silently began to feed Havoc.[/spoiler]
2. [spoiler]Kirihara's ice-slick "Joudan desu."[/spoiler]
3. [spoiler]Yin and Hei at the end. Ouch.[/spoiler]

Also, I was tickled by how much noise Hei made as he cooked. I don't know if that's the effect they were aiming for, but it seemed to me as if he were working off some of his anger by banging the wok around rather harder than he had to. At least, that's what my mom does when she's pissed off. ;)

~Dagger~
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[COLOR=#0e1030][SIZE=1][FONT=Trebuchet MS]Fu, episode 7 was cool if not confusing at first [spoiler]since you don't get Hei till around half way through the episode. And even when you do, he keeps ninjaing in and out of the scene.[/spoiler] But hey, funny antics and other... you know anime stuffs.

The[spoiler] ear fetishes, gratuitous fan service, and a huffing remuneration[/spoiler] for some reason made me laugh which is odd since before this I was yet to laugh at something that wasn't ironic.

You also learn that [spoiler]cat-man want banished to some cat body or some other thing. His remuneration allows him to switch between animals[/spoiler] so yeah.[/FONT][/SIZE][/COLOR]
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The preview made me think we were in for a homage to the Cowboy Bebop episode with Cowboy Andy ... it wasn't, thankfully, but there are similarities between Andy and Gai, namely their role as dramatic irony magnet. In both cases we can see just how wrong they are throughout the episode, but still get to watch them bumble through with their misconceptions.

Maybe Gai will become a samurai after episode 8?

So our [spoiler]wax-eared widow is duping the hapless lovestruck detective into catching Mao for her. It might be that she's specifically after Mao, but if she (or her organisation) is after Mao as a way of targeting Hei's gang, then maybe we'll get some more light thrown on exactly who they are and what they do in part 2[/spoiler].
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[COLOR=DarkOrange]Episode 7 was both awesome and absolutely hilarious! Firstly, the detective and his assistant make a great team, and funny together.

The pink-heaired cosplay-obsessed loli otaku girl was awesome. Not just for those reasons (and not just cuz of the sexy kitty outfit)... okay, mostly for those reasons XD

The entire scene where the detective went into the house I couldn't stop laughing. From the creepy maid to the part where she was cleaning his ears (WTF?!?!) though the best had to be when he said 'I pissed myself a little there' XD

ZOMG at the cat guy's powers revealed![spoiler] But then why do we never see him as any other animal? [/spoiler][/COLOR]
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