Darker Than Black was awesome, like Cowboy Bebop meets X-Men, and the news of a sequel was always going to be welcome with open arms. But when you see series 2 rushing towards you with a tween age lead character in tow, those arms starts to pull back. Pandering to the Japanese masses, Darker Than Black is back with fan service and a lesbian ninja. Way to lower the tone, guys!
The new lead is Suo, a young red-head who enjoys taking pictures with her rather expensive looking camera, and she enjoys a fun-filled life with her school buddies. It’s all very twee, but it isn’t long before the contractors come into the picture and Suo finds her brother Shion on the run and her father dead. A contractor is a human who has special abilities and must pay a price each time they use their power, an example being a psycho who puts people to sleep by shutting down their body then has to draw pictures for his price. Or a ninja who must kiss someone after using her sword like a projectile weapon. Suo gets wrapped up in this world due to her brother being a contractor and everyone seems to want to find him. Suo sets off with leading protagonist of the last series, Hei, a doll called July and a talking flying squirrel to track Shion down and also a doll called Yin who has taken a turn for the worse. It’s a complicated tale, sometimes needlessly so, full of twists, fights and weird characters. Like a paedo agent.
Gemini Of The Meteor follows a linear one arc story structure rather than the collection of miniature stories of the first series. It leaves less time for fun and variety, but the moody tale is worthwhile thanks to the strong character development of Suo and Hei, especially now that Hei is an alcoholic child beater, plus the watching the mysteries unravel is immensely satisfying. It all happens to a thumping techno soundtrack which immediately gives it a different feeling to the jazz centric original and it stands on its own even when it brings forth tacky character types, like the lesbian ninja I keep repeating and an older teen in love with little Suo. These characters feel like they’ve been shoe horned in just to appeal to the crazy otaku fanbase rather than adding anything natural and fitting to the story, and it seems to be a trick studio Bones have been playing with all their series since. I’m not sure if having a younger lead and a school start-up brought in more fans, but it certainly might push out any older anime fans who want to enjoy a mature adult story without any moe and sniper rifles forming from a naked girl. Thankfully they rarely detract and series 2 ends up being a suitable follow-up to the brilliant sci-fi original. When you can follow it.
Another problem regarding Gemini Of The Meteor is how convoluted the story becomes by the end of it. Terms and names are dropped without any explanation and there seems to be so many factions it’s hard to keep up with who’s after who and why. It gets particularly harsh on the poor old brain in the climax when dream like elements come into play on top of the deal with super powers Izanami and Izanagi ready to meet up and cause some unknown destruction. Series 2 comes accompanied by an OVA Gaiden series which links series 1 and 2 together and helps make sense of what’s taking place with Yin in Gemini Of The Meteor. Closer to the original in terms of action the four episodes are a blast and it’s a mandatory watch to get the most out of Gemini. It’s weird that it wasn’t the opening of the series, but I guess they wanted to put Suo in as quick as possible rather than have Hei and Yin enjoying a holiday together.
Darker Than Black Gemini Of The Meteor may have tainted itself with a crass cast and pretentious plot, but it stills has the beautiful darkness which is darker than black. Super black they call it.