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See You Chinese Electric Batman

This reminds me of Mouryou no Hako!

It’s interesting how Darker than Black never explained what has ‘sealed’ the Earth’s sky, caused Hell and Heaven’s Gate to appear and triggered the world’s first generation of contractors; and quite frankly, if it turns out to be aliens from the Moon, I’d rather not know, but my point is, ambiguity is exciting, and yet like everyone else watching Ryuusei no Gemini, I was confused by its last episode, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing either.

Immediately after seeing it, for the first time in years, I went looking for interpretations on every forum and blog I could find. Did the lack of a ‘conventional’ end ruin the series, or merely add to its mystique? Does the ambiguity equate to bad writing, or is it intentional?

Yin

Much of this disappointment stems from thinking of Ryuusei no Gemini as Hei and Yin’s story, when it is actually Suou’s instead; we conclude with her journey finished, while Hei and Yin’s continues, but off-screen. Sadly, it is as much Suou’s story as her tragedy.

Hei and Suou

People don’t get off lightly in Darker than Black, and despite the superficial reset, the likable Suou we’ve come to know clearly dies when her memories slip away with her tears. It’s a bleak moment, and unfair given the trauma she has struggled against, but I wouldn’t change it either. It’s exciting that this a story unafraid of taking darker twists, yet it’s just so… sad, too.

Hei, July and Suou

I liked Ryuusei no Gemini. I just wanted to put out there. I liked that it began in the autumn forests of Russia, with Hei all messed up and Yin as the enemy, just as I liked that Suou’s contract was specifically to conjure a huge rifle out of her chest in such amusingly traditional magical girl style. I really liked the soundtrack too, and even preferred it to the first season’s; Yasushi Ishii is the man responsible, and apparently one of the few able to better Yoko Kanno.

So, despite the questions raised by its finale, I found the sheer, chaotic scale of Ryuusei no Gemini was thrilling and evocative. I really hope this isn’t the end for Darker than Black, not to sate a desire for answers, but because it has given birth to a fascinating world with mythology and mystery enough to last forever.

Comments

MushroomSamba says:

Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention, but there was a lot to the ending that didn’t make much sense to me. It felt extremely rushed compared to the rest of the series’ pacing, and it didn’t help that they tried to cram in unnecessary stuff either (like the Magician coming back for no apparent reason). It’s one thing to try and be thought-provoking and mysterious, but it’s another to be ambiguous due to poor writing. I know a few will disagree with me on that, and maybe it’s my own damn fault for not being astute enough, but that’s the impression I came away with.

Aside from that ending though, I absolutely dug the sequel. It was a risky gamble with all the drastic changes they made from season one (in fact, it hardly felt like I was watching the same show at all), but boy did it pay off. I’m a lot more forgiving of the ending now that I heard there’s an OVA and a possible season 3 to further flesh things out, but I really wish we got a better conclusion than that jumbled mess.

bateszi says:

Out of interest, what didn’t make sense for you? I must admit when I went through the last episode for the first time, I embarrassingly totally missed the whole “other Earth” thing and only on reading a few episode summaries and then watching again did I notice that the thing in the sky was another Earth (and not a fake Moon, like I first thought!) Also, I totally missed the significance of the Izanagi and Izanami myth.

The Yin and Hei stuff made more sense (as long as you aren’t looking for a detailed scientific explanation!) I think it’s very much a Ghost in the Shell ending, in that the kid we see waking up at the end is a combination of both Yin and Shion; a new lifeform; exactly what caused Yin to ‘go postal’ in the first place is probably going to be the subject of the OVA series.

One of the things I really like about Darker than Black is that so much of it is mysterious/ambiguous; I like that we still don’t know why Hell’s Gate is important, or why the Meteor Shard seems to hold a strange power. It’s an interesting way of approaching a genre usually bogged down in complicated exposition and ludicrous explanations.

Ivy says:

Omg I need to catch up with all the shows airing! I have this immense backlog and it doesn’t want to go away! This is exhausting. Anyways I need to watch this, will probably be the first shows I watch since my last show (the terrible umi monogatari). There is this level of polish and dynamism found in Bones show I can’t explain…it just looks so kinetic! And an OST surpassing the godly Yoko Kanno consider my interest peaked. Even with a measly one cour Darker than Black can probably create an interesting narrative, hope this isn’t the end though.

bateszi says:

I’m in the same situation, Ivy. Last year I basically just stopped watching a lot of newer anime and went more into some older stuff, which now sees me catching up on all these 2009 series one at a time. Next on my list is probably Tokyo Magnitude 8.0; another BONES anime! 2009 was totally their year!

Peter S says:

There’s too much to explain for there not to be more. As for missing out on things, it’s nearly impossible to catch everything in a show like this, especially when episodes only come out once a week. It’s hard for any show (the reason I was slow to warm to Toradora) but with so many characters and organizations, well, nearly impossible.

But in terms of delivering an episode this show was magnificent. The halfway card (shouldn’t they have updated to squirrels?) would come onscreen and I’d think: “Already? That was twelve minutes?” It just sucks you in so you don’t notice how much time had passed.

Absolutely, Suou was the heart and soul of this show, which makes her “demise” sadder to watch. I did like how Rei was almost shunted off as a side character late in the game, just one of many stories they were trying to pull off in a too-short season.

My favorite musical thing was that slow guitar noise that suggest great threat and import every time I heard it. Used in talky scenes, as I remember.

bateszi says:

Totally agree! I condensed the whole thing into last week, and can’t even imagine how hard it must have been to keep track of it all, week-in, week-out like that. DtB rewards its fans, I think. It’s a good franchise to rewatch every now and then.

Martin says:

Now I’m coming to the end of my rewatch of the first season, I was worried about being disappointed with what the second season has to offer. If it’s good enough for you, that allays my fears a bit!

The change of OST composer for instance didn’t bode well: Kanno’s electro-tinged jazz suited the material so perfectly but I’m not familiar with Ishii’s work at all so I had no idea if it would work or not. In any case, I can rest assured that I’m likely to enjoy Ryuusei no Gemini after all…and of course, explaining everything and handing the ending’s meaning over on a plate was never part of Darker than Black’s MO in the first place!

bateszi says:

You’ll like it, I’m sure. Especially the first three episodes, which span the Russian arc. There were certain scenes where I was expecting Kanno’s music to cut in, but I think you’ll be interested in this soundtrack; it’s very different to almost any other anime soundtrack I’ve heard.

Xerox says:

I started off really hating this series for how different it was from the first. But Gemini got everything right towards the end. The ending was rushed and it confused the hell out of me but, is there really any other way to end a series like Darker Than Black? Something tells me there’d be more of an uproar if they chose a conventional ending. At least, I wouldn’t have liked it at all. Gemini was the ‘conventional’ version of Darker Than Black (Suou and her magical school girl gun?) and had it stayed within conventional boundaries (without the mindfuck ending) I would’ve been all the more disappointed. And I have to agree, the soundtrack on Gemini was amazing. You chose my favorite track. ;)

Re says:

Ryuusei no Gemini was amazing imho. Simply because it was Darker than Black but it was totally different. Yep, like you watched two different series yet about the same characters. Each of them has something the other one doesn’t. The first series is a collection of smaller separated stories, you can feel something nostalgic about it and there is plenty of Li-kun. (The OST fits prefectly to this atmosphere.)

On the contrary, Ryuusei no Gemini has a gripping story from the very beginning and manages both, to excite you with an awesome OST and to set you laughing though it’s full of darkness all the time. Well, if people don’t laugh at least at Hobo Hei, his vodka and the wedding fraud poster with his photo, then they’re probably friggid xD. I loved that it was set up in Russia, I liked the character designs even more than in S1 and the group itself was more atractive for me. Suou is a very good character, both her versions, Hobo-chan is… absolutely the best replacement of Huang I could ever imagine XD Mao is just as great as in S1 – a black cat or a flying squirrel – both can cause funny scenes. And July! I just love his character. He is way better than Yin, he somehow seems to be way more lively though on the beginning he should be less evolved than Yin was. I mean… I didn’t doubt existence of his personality not even for a while. Something about me made me sure it is there somewhere (deep inside ;)). Vice versa, Yin never convinced me about that in her case. Even her not-a-doll-yet stadium seemed to be just as colorless and empty being. She is not… realistic to me.

Yes, I must admit than one reason why I enjoyed this season more is the absence of Yin. When I saw her first in the S1, I though “Oh no… An emotionless and ultra cool character again… and probably paired with the main hero – AGAIN…” During the series I began to like her quite and if I haven’t searched for some DTB pictures I wouldn’t even think about Hei x Yin again. Unfortunately, people seem to be bewitched by her for some reason. Ok, I would be able to get over seeing more pictures of Yin than of Hei BUT… I damn hate when they match them together ><! I can't stand seeing pairings that simply can't work. There is no spark of anything romantic between them half because Yin is unable to feel something this strong and half because… well, it's impossible for me to imagine Hei under control of a romantic feeling ^^;. He fits perfectly for the guy which has a deep care for the others. Hei, who stayed alone only with Yin… it's logical that he needs her – to have someone he can care for, someone who makes him feel he is not alone and that it all hasn't ended yet. But seeing the pairing everywhere makes me sick of these two together X_X.

Unfortunately, outside my country (here it is the oppossite, phew) everyone seems to be maniac about Yin. I wonder why, I planned to ask people if they could teach me how to like her, to show me anything I could like about her. I'm confused, lost, helpless – I hate being surrouned by something I can't identify myself with not even by 1%, something I can't understand to :[

Sachi says:

I actually really enjoyed this season. It was a lot different than the original season, which added a new flare to it, and yet it managed to maintain its own essence. Though, I can sort of see why a lot of people didn’t like this season.

And regarding the ambiguity, I love shows that don’t give you all the answers and actually require you to think about it a bit. (It only makes sense that Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of my favorites.) Darker Than Black has pulled this off well, and still remains as a thrilling action show, which is probably one of the reasons it’s my new favorite show!

I have actually reviewed both seasons on my blog, and I’ll have the OVA reviewed once I finish it. If anybody’s interested:

http://sachi13.wordpress.com/2010/03/21/sachis-review-darker-than-black/
http://sachi13.wordpress.com/2010/04/20/darker-than-black-gemini-of-the-meteor/

On a side note: Chinese Electric Batman FTW!

Yju says:

You know, I don`t remember the last time, when I got so exited because of an anime…
I really enjoyed The 2nd season of Darker than Black))
I couldn`t stop watching it, I`ve really got addicted to it! And I liked the end.
I don`t know why, but I found it quite touching:)
Actually, I am a russian who lives in Estonia. And those first episodes in Vladivostok really interesting for me to watch)) When I saw that barman in this apron with the word “пить” (“drink”) on it, I laughed so hard, that walls almost cracked^^“
In my opinion, the second season is more interesting than the first.
And some moments, like a man with 2 pony tails I found quite charming xD

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