Darker than BLACK – 17
In the time that’s passed since the bombings, Misaki’s boss Hourai has received a claim of responsibility for them from a group named evening primrose. This claim also demands the public acknowledgment of Contractors’ existence and the respect of their fundamental rights. Remembering seeing Hei with them, Misaki asks if BK-201 has any connection, so Hourai discloses some highly classified information: the mastermind of this terrorist group is a former MI-6 agent who went by the name of February with a Messier Code of UB-001, and she was at the battle of Heaven’s Gate five years ago. At this same moment, an Organization agent is telling Huang about how Amber betrayed them and led to the annihilation of Hei’s team in South America. Back at the police, Hourai continues his own explanation, saying that it was in that place that they observed the first twinkling of a star – hers. A lot of stars began twinkling in response, including that of BK-201, and immediately after, everything in a 1500 kilometer radius around the gate disappeared.
Meanwhile, at Hei’s apartment building, his neighbors are having a drinking party that gets the landlady angry. Hei doesn’t join them and instead heads to work as a waiter at a hostess bar, but on this day, a particular customer doesn’t want to pay up because he supposedly forgot his wallet. When this customer pushes aside the manager, a younger man known as Sakurai Kenji of the Nakazawagumi enters the room to stop him. Kenji tries to warn the unruly customer about not paying, but the man responds by punching him into a table. In turning back around, the man accidentally bumps into Hei who is trying to present a bill, and it gets him so angry that he tries to punch Hei too. Fortunately, Hei defends himself with the metal tray and he manages to dodge all of the subsequent punches as well. In the end, it is a guy who Kenji refers to as his older brother who shows up and subdues the man in a painful hold. While Kenji’s brother and his goons are beating that customer up out in the alleyway later, Hei gives Kenji a towel for his bruise and introduces himself. Recognizing Hei’s name Li as being Chinese, Kenji thinks that Hei was using Chinese martial arts earlier.
Once he’s finished with kicking the unruly customer’s face in, Kenji’s brother calls Kenji over, hits him, and gives him some money to take Hei out to eat. As morning breaks, Hei and Kenji eat at a gyuudon shop where Hei proceeds to wolf down many more bowls than Kenji is able to handle. Afterwards, Kenji takes Hei home via moped, but the bike starts spewing smoke along the way. They make it back to Hei’s apartment building, and because the bike seems broken and it starts raining, Kenji goes inside. In trying to get to know more about Hei, Kenji notices how sparse the apartment is and learns that Hei is studying abroad. Their conversation, however, is soon interrupted by the loud noises coming from the band practicing downstairs, so Kenji decides to go have a word with them. He then rushes downstairs, kicks down the door to the apartment of the noisy group, and tries to threaten them in his best Yakuza manner. Unfortunately for him, the landlady also shows up and smacks him up a broom for breaking the door. All of them work together to fix it, and afterwards, the landlady offers them lunch.
Kenji finds out while eating that the girl in the noisy group is from the Philippines and sends money back to her family. Still, she jokes that the Japanese are rich and perverted, which garners a good laugh between her and Kenji. Also in the group is a guy who calls himself the preacher of rock music, a guy from Israel who came to study Japanese animation, and a quiet black man. Kenji has a lot of fun in this international atmosphere, but his attention is eventually drawn to how Hei is eating tons of food again despite their earlier beef bowls. Once lunch is over, the residents decide to have another drinking party, however Hei turns them down because he promised to meet someone. Kenji does opt to join them, and in talking about Hei after he leaves, Kenji comments on how lonely Hei’s back seems. Hei meanwhile heads to meet with Mao and Huang where they discuss the man Kenji referred to as his older brother whose name is Hitotsubashi. Huang thinks that some goods will arrive within a few days and advises Hei not to get in the way of the deal, though Mao is more concerned about what Hei is going to do about Kenji.
When Hei returns to the apartment, he finds Kenji outside working on his moped since everyone else had fallen asleep, and Kenji soon rides off. Hei attempts to head to work again that evening, but upon getting there, he learns from the manager that the club will be closed for construction work on the restrooms. Hei of course knows that something is going on, and inside, Hitotsubashi is telling Kenji that the group is splitting, and he brings Kenji to see a crate that contains a girl inside. The girl gets up on Hitotsubashi’s command, and he explains to Kenji that this is a doll that will do anything she’s ordered to. There are rich people who want this toy, and Kenji’s job will be to care of what Hitotsubashi calls an important piece of merchandise for a few days. Hitotsubashi tells his other men in the car later that he involved Kenji because anyone not at the level of stupidity would damage the goods and because he believes Kenji doesn’t have the courage to betray him. Still at the hostess club, Kenji laments how he thought he was going to be able to be a hitman, and his interest soon causes him to ask the female doll for her name and where she’s from. When she doesn’t answer, he assumes that she doesn’t understand Japanese, and although he gets uncomfortable with the way she just stares at him, he also wonders what’s going to happen to her.
Around this time, Misaki is on the phone with Kanami again, this time about BK-201 and evening primrose. She doesn’t like having to pursue them without knowing much about them, such as if they’re enemies and what their goals are. Misaki then asks Kanami for any new information regarding the Stargazer’s words, but Kanami is too tired to talk about it now, so she asks Misaki out tomorrow on Misaki’s day off. Back at the hostess bar, Hei sneaks in with Mao to find the manager knocked out and no one else around. Huang thinks that it’s because they got noticed, but Mao doubts that they screwed up like that. With Yin also unable to find their target, Hei suggests that they back off, but Huang notes that it’s not their decision whether to continue the mission or not. Since they’re on standby for now, Hei returns to his apartment, only to find Kenji and the doll there waiting for him, and Kenji begs for refuge for a while.
This episode makes some decent strides to keep the evening primrose and Amber story going – mainly through Misaki – but overall I was rather disappointed that this fell back to a one-shot arc deal that had a distinct lack of Contractors (in other words, not part of the main Hei/Amber/Bai storyline). In fact, if this arc is going to reveal to us more information about Dolls like I suspect it will, then it might have been better placed earlier in the series when concepts were still being introduced every arc. As it is, I felt that a lot of the momentum they had built up from last week was lost, though admittedly I had half expected that to happen because it seemed unlikely that Darker than BLACK would stick with the main plot for the entire remainder of the show.
Perhaps the one redeeming part of this arc (aside from the Amber stuff in the beginning) is the fact that the doll Kenji is taking care of is rather intriguing because of how completely emotionless it is – even more so than Yin or July. I’m curious what we find out about her next week, and if anything happens when she meets with Yin, as shown by this creepy shot in the preview.