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Darker than BLACK – Gaiden 04 (END)

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Another two months and two BD/DVD volume releases later, we have the final episode of the Darker than BLACK Gaiden prequel to the events in Ryuusei no Gemini. The best part of this finale is that it actually made sense of the ending we saw seven months ago, which many will recall came somewhat out of the blue. More specifically, I’m talking about the appearance of another Yin within Izanami, the cloning of the entire Earth that resulted in the revival of Suou, July, and many others, and Hei’s decision to go along with it. At the time, the sudden appearance of the “white Yin” came as a total surprise already, so the duplicated world shown in the epilogue proved to be even more difficult to grasp. Given the lack of explanations, I dare even say it was this jarring conclusion that took away from the sequel as a whole. However, with this Gaiden chapter shedding new light on why that happened, my original opinion has changed for the better, leaving me questioning the decision to try and tell the Ryuusei no Gemini story without the proper foundation. Hell, the meaning behind the “Ryuusei no Gemini” subtitle didn’t even make much sense to me until I finished watching this final episode of Gaiden.

As it turns out, Izanami’s ability to seemingly kill both Contractors and Dolls alike with absolutely ease is actually her way of collecting samples to recreate a world just for them. Learning of that not only gave a whole new perspective on the sudden creation of a second Earth and Hei’s acceptance to that idea when confronted with the real Yin within Izanami, but also on the meaning behind “Gemini of Meteors”. The way I see it now, the prophecy documented in the 50-year-old Mikata Documents involves Izanami creating twins (gemini) of all the shooting stars (ryuusei) that result from the death of Contractors in a new world where they can coexist in peace. Naturally, she only targets Contractors and Dolls because humans are the ones that exploit their abilities for their own benefits, but her power has been shown to be able to collect samples from humans as well. The twist of sorts lies in the fact that no one — especially not us as the viewer — had any idea that Izanami had some utopia-like goal in mind when everyone’s understanding only extended to the point that she’s been “killing” Contractors and Dolls indiscriminately.

For all intensive purposes, it was probably fair to interpret it as such, since there was no guarantee whatsoever that Izanami would recreate everyone as they were on the new world, so that in conjunction with Yin’s resistance towards Izanami taking her over and her hope to save Hei from any unnecessary suffering by begging him to kill her provided the underlying conflict to make everything work. To that end, the sudden creation of a Gate-like zone where she awakened and the Agency resorting to the use of a Gate Particle Beam to momentarily suppress her added to the urgency and severity of the matter. I just wish I knew about this earlier on, since it makes me appreciate Hei and Yin’s internal struggle a lot more over the course of everything else that happened when all the organizations join the mix. It also changed my perspective on who the antagonist in this series was, and left me feeling that there really wasn’t one since everyone merely acted as a cogwheel in some prophecy outlined in the Mikata Documents. However, the fact that it never came off as such due to all the groups acting out of personal gain or fear of an apocalypse, meant the lack of a true antagonist didn’t take away from the story’s search for answers.

For this Gaiden arc, I can’t even see guys like Claude, a.k.a. Shichi, as one, since he was only helping Izanami awaken just to see if she’ll lead Contractors to a world where they aren’t subjugated by humans. Some may disagree since it was revealed that he did assume Amagiri’s appearance to deceive all the other ex-EPR members into killing Hei, but it’s worth noting that the actual deaths of everyone last time was the work of Izanami herself. Claude himself was only spared because Yin managed to suppress the awakening at the time from the baby’s crying after all, and even went on to act irrationally in pursuit of his goal to the point that he got killed by the Chinese secret agency that he once worked for. If anything, he was a curious extreme activist at best who helped realize the prophecy, but far from being a true antagonist. In contrast, we had Contractors such as the female stray dog from last time (who’s still only listed in the credits as such) working with Hei to try and prevent Yin from falling into wrong hands, only to wind up as another piece of the complex puzzle. Everyone seemed to have a part to play, but the struggle itself was probably against “destiny” more so than any particular individual or faction.

Ultimately, what I felt was missing the most in the sequel was the revelation that Yin was still battling with the Izanami within her and managed to suppress it herself with her “feelings” towards Hei in mind. This prequel also showed her reasoning with it and convincing it to hold off on the awakening, and exactly how Hei had fallen to his alcoholic levels of depression when he thought Yin was dead. The scene with Hei frantically restraining himself from killing Yin, and the latter’s ability to save Hei from getting absorbed followed by her tear-filled confession and goodbye put a much more emotional aspect on their relationship, which I wish I had an understanding of going into the events of Ryuusei no Gemini.

 

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Final Impressions:

Rationally speaking (like a Contractor), I gather the decision to leave all this to a prequel was due to BONES only getting the budgeting for a 12-episode run despite the original season’s twenty-six, so the producers went with a story that began with a lot of questions surrounding Yin and used them to drive the progression. In retrospect, I find that it actually worked well in one regard, as not knowing about the details in this prequel behind her awakening allowed the sequel to focus on Suou and her situation, while having Hei work towards the end goal of reuniting with Yin provided the overarching story. I honestly don’t know how much I would have cared about Suou’s story and how she became a Contractor if I knew then what I do about Yin’s situation now. Of course, the trade-off in this approach is that the ending made little to no sense at the time, leaving me on the fence about which was the better way of going about it. I guess that’s why I’m not the director.

As a viewer though, I’m leaning towards watching the prequel first if I had the choice to do it all over again, simply because the story covered there is too crucial and affects the understanding of the sequel far too much to the left out. All I need is to be reminded of how a lot was left to be desired at the end of Ryuusei no Gemini to make that blatantly clear in my mind, and how it would’ve remained that way indefinitely if this Gaiden arc were never produced. While I still feel that the thunder of Suou’s story would’ve been stolen to a degree knowing that Hei doesn’t really give a damn about her in comparison to Yin, a good twelve episodes straight of just her would have likely been enough for her character grow on me. All the while, the pursuit of Yin would help propel the story forward just as much as Suou’s one of self discovery. As such, if anyone’s seen season one and has yet to get into the sequel, I wholeheartedly recommend watching Gaiden before Ryuusei no Gemini now that you have a choice.

For broadcasting purposes, the logical break is undoubtedly the time period right after Yin’s awakening and Hei getting invited to the CIA by Madam Oreille, so I can completely understand the decision to leave these four episodes off as bonus OVA ones. However, it’s my firm belief that the series as a whole works better if it’s perceived to be 16-episodes long with a time-lapse between the end of Gaiden and the beginning of Ryuusei no Gemini. In the end, BONES delivered the story they were after, just not in the order that would’ve made it more of an instant hit in my eyes.

July 24, 2010 at 6:22 pm
44 comments »
  • July 24, 2010 at 6:34 pmkws

    A rational review (like a contractor) lol.

  • July 24, 2010 at 6:47 pmchaos

    well its ok overall and i like how it developed the relationship and i think its fine. I do hope that more darker than black will be produced because it is a great concept and story.

  • July 24, 2010 at 6:53 pmLaN

    *sigh* This is one of those stories I really want to see continued. The strife of this world just doesn’t feel “over” to me. Maybe it’s just that they are continuously averting disaster, but still. I’d love to see another sequel. I was also a fan of the HeixYin scenes in gaiden.

  • July 24, 2010 at 6:53 pmYalvyn

    why don’t they make the Gemini to 2 season anime, with this whole 4 ova can be seen by the flashback.

  • July 24, 2010 at 7:08 pmOne-Winged Angel

    Hell, Wait to see this subbed! It looks great!

  • July 24, 2010 at 7:16 pmexia

    I feel like I got the whole complete story now that I finished the last episode. This really does answer a lot of questions. I was so confused half the time when I watched Gemini.

  • July 24, 2010 at 7:28 pmMegas

    This seriously came WAY too late but atleast the story has been told, finally.

  • July 24, 2010 at 7:47 pminfinite

    I think I understand it a little better after reading ur review. Hey, will u be covering black rock shooter?

  • July 24, 2010 at 7:52 pmmetalsnakezero

    Its interesting how they were able to work a weird setting and concept in to something great. I do hope they will make a season 3 (A interview with the director hinted at a possibly future project).

  • July 24, 2010 at 8:35 pmWindaerie

    Thanks for the review, Divine!

    I was pretty confused as to what was going on, but your write-up definitely helped (although I feel like I need to re-watch the first season, Gaiden, and then the 2nd season again to really attempt to grasp the whole picture).

    So in the end of the episode, Yin is talking to Shion about waiting for Hei to show them when it would be appropriate to create the “copy” world…? But the ending of RnG was ambiguous as to what happened to Hei, Izanami, and Yin. I really hope they continue the series, it’s been very captivating so far.

  • July 24, 2010 at 8:51 pmShinjiro

    On one end, I have tried and failed to push aside the emotional build between Hei and Yin. Their relationship was knowingly to be be a doomed one. On the other end, I also wanted to get more answers Gemini had raised and thankfully Bones delivered just that. Sadly enough, having watched the sequel before the prequel had drastically lowered the story impact when I felt Hei and Yin’story deserved much more that what had been given out. I doubt they will make another DtB but I can certainly wish to see the two of them happy forever after…And whoever would bring DtB’s universe once more, should do so with more than 12-16 episodes in mind.

  • July 24, 2010 at 9:11 pmCantQuiteGuess

    This episode definitely shed some light on RnG’s murky ending. The thing I’m annoyed about is there’s still question as to whether or not Yin dies at the end. Here we have Izanami(or whatever) telling Yin it’ll grant her wish when the time comes, and yet the last shot of Yin in RnG has Yin looking very much dead. Having said that, Id say a rewatch of RnG is in order considering I’ll probably enjoy it more now.

    • July 24, 2010 at 10:22 pmarmando001

      this episode definitely made RnG’s ending a lot better, and i like how the ova’s expanded on the hei’s and yin’s relationship and i hope they have a happy ending. However like someone said above we don’t know if she’s alive or dead at the end of the series and what wish she wanted to be granted. I’d welcome another season where we see more of hei and yin’s story

  • July 24, 2010 at 9:20 pmN

  • July 24, 2010 at 9:59 pmahelo

    This episode was totally giving tsubasa chronicle vibes.

    This made me feel that Ryuusei no Gemini as an epic love story of hei searching for Yin rather than that short journey of Suou’s with Yin only showing up cameo-evil like and Hei being a drunkard for nothing (which was good in its own rite). Thank god this made the ending of Ryuusei no Gemini less WTF.

  • July 24, 2010 at 10:11 pmahelo

    Oh yea.. in the end of ryuusei no gemini, who the hell was that kid in the coffin looking like yin?
    http://randomc.net/image/Darker%20than%20BLACK/Darker%20than%20BLACK%202%20-%2012%20-%20Large%2045.jpg

    • July 25, 2010 at 1:52 amAizen

      Yin wished to become a little boy to please Hei. She knew that Hei truly wanted shota, not loli. Evidence: He took in July without second thoughts. Also, he was furious when he found out that Suou wasn’t Shion (he was looking for the shota, remember?). The frustration, of course, resulted into many instances of loli abuse (like this: http://randomc.net/image/Darker%20than%20BLACK/Darker%20than%20BLACK%20-%20Gaiden%2004%20-%20Large%2017.jpg ).

      Thus, we have the shota Yin in the Gemini ending as the product of Izanami’s genie powers. Everything makes sense now.

    • July 25, 2010 at 4:50 amGP

      The boy, if you remember snatched the souls of the contractors who opened the coffin up, so it’s basically a physical rebirth of Izanami at the end, leaving it open for yet more DtB ofc.

      That’s about it, It’s now out of Yin and has it’s own body who’s male and looks like Yin’s twin.

  • July 24, 2010 at 10:44 pmvin-nii

    unlimited water works ;-;

  • July 25, 2010 at 1:27 amEliteF22

    To me the story still feels kinda off, especially with the whole YinxHei thing just seeming meh. The whole first season just felt like she was his surrogate little sister and she’s eternally stuck in a 14-16 year olds body.

  • July 25, 2010 at 7:23 amdamian

    I need to rewatch the 2nd season now, cause I forgot what the hell happened.

    But who was that glowing yellow identity Yin was speaking to at the end, and what was the purpose of that? Was that Izanami? Isnt Izanami a girl and more sinister sounding? I got confused there.

  • July 25, 2010 at 8:24 amvortex

    nice review.

    it still was a little sudden though, the twist. the world within a world concept doesn’t really sit that well, and other questions like, why only yin? there are other dolls too… are they all going to awaken also?

  • July 25, 2010 at 8:25 amCRC

    The most confusing issue in my mind was apparent fact that the Mitaka Documents were written 50 years ago, and that the Syndicate was founded around the same time.

    Didn’t the whole fake sky/contractor formation thing begin only 10 years previous to this OVA (12 years before Ryuusei no Gemini)? So that means there were people who had an idea of what was going to happen long before. Interesting.

    There is a whole lot of room for another sequel (a 25/26 episode one at that). Remember, the issue with what the hell is actually happening to the world would have to be discussed at some point.

  • July 25, 2010 at 10:22 amZepwich

    This needs a season 3, not another prequel. Just a full 24/26 episode season!

  • July 25, 2010 at 11:46 amrasone0104

    After watching this and refinishing Ryuusei no Gemini
    one thing came to mind. This show is a freaking master piece

  • July 25, 2010 at 5:56 pmLaN

    I sure hope Claude didn’t use his illusion stuff again to survive. They cover his face with a rock at the end, so he may still be around.

  • July 25, 2010 at 9:46 pmRaiju

    I definitely agree that these OVA eps should have been shown first before Season 2 for any of the ending to make a lick of sense. But doing that would have made Suou’s character even more irrelevant knowing that Hei was just using her as a means to an end (Yin). That said, I really hope BONES continues with another season but with a bit more QC in their storytelling.

  • July 25, 2010 at 9:47 pmRaiju

    Oh, and that Chinese Triad mafia dude was totally earthbending, hahaha.

  • July 25, 2010 at 9:58 pmMachinegungeek

    After rewatching the season finale of RnG i believe the gathering samples line to not mean the souls Izanami collected but to refer to the memories and data collected by the super computer built by Madame Orielle and Dr. P. This makes since, as the gold being resembled Shion/Izanagi and not Izanami.

    I do wonder what happened to Hei/Yin though. It’s interesting to see that it was Izanami this time (not Yin) who mentioned the killing and in a somewhat light-hearted joking matter. This seems to imply to me a lack of killing and perhaps a joining together. IDK.

    Finally, WTF with the shota Yin (looks like a Izanagi/Izanami cross to me). It seems to have killed a contractor and normal humans (the soldiers. Though now we know that Izanami could always kill regular humans) and absorbed the souls vampire style. Is the non-copied world doomed?

    Finally, did Shion make the copy Earth out of meteor core or something, because that seems to be necessary to keep memories, hence the whole importance of Suou’s journey as an experiment. The ending was very vague with that. It was like, “Suou’s journey was an experiment whose results we are implementing by *handwave*”.

    Oh and the whole prophecy 50 years ago bit is creepy and screams 3rd season.

  • July 25, 2010 at 11:10 pmKurotetsu

    Yeah, I’m definitely going to have to rewatch this and Ryuusei no Gemini to fully understand what the heck is going on.

  • July 26, 2010 at 12:47 amGabriel

    Even after seeing this 4 part OVA I still think DtB Season 2 sucks, IMO they ruined it. :(

  • July 27, 2010 at 5:08 ammatt_shade

    This is my theory based on certain clues (so it’s probaby all wrong LOL):
    A government project yielded the beings now called the Moratorium, super-evolved humans with non-human thought processes. The Gates and the false sky are either results (created by the first Moratorium) or a cause of this (the survivors of the Gate phenomenons opening became the first Moratorium). The first Dolls, superhuman blank slates, were created with the Moratium, by the Moratorium or from the Moratorium (by human interference or just all by themselves). The Contractors are a side effect of the project trying to create (or make more) Dolls, programmable superhumans with Moratorium-like abilities (possibly even unexpectedly resulting in the Gates being created).
    The humans think they have the superhuman types figured out but as Amber says the superhuman psyches are not above changing.
    Izanami is basically Yin’s superhuman psyche and is more like the first Moratorium than any superhuman before her. But Yin’s human psyche made a wish to return all of Izanami’s ‘samples’ to a better life and Izanami made a deal with Shion (Izanagi) to accomplish this, since his duplication ability was perfect for the task. A new being was created as prophecied (Yin’s twin, which I call Niy) which is neither Doll, Contractor or Moratorium.
    The ‘shooting star fragments’ are simply objects from inside the Gate particularly infused with its properties (allowing Contractors to like the first superhumans).

    I sometimes picture it like the first super-evolved humans simply leaving their physical bodies beind and the government studying these bodies, finding a way to re-program the bodies. In attempts to create more Dolls the government tries to duplicate the phenomenon but somehow causes the huge Gates to appear and the Contractors begin appearing in the general populace.

  • July 28, 2010 at 4:06 pmSinamon

    I don’t believe Hei killed Yin…if he wanted to, he would have just used his weapon but instead he used his powers that he just got back, augmented with the meteor core from suou’s shattered pendant and did this thing. The effects of what he was doing is exactly the same as what was going on with him and Amber at the end of season 1. So, if Hei wasn’t “too late” according to Yin, what did he exactly do that he wasn’t too late for?

    Did he stop the Izanami/Izanagi prophecy? No, because it seems that the “new being” talked about in the Mikata Documents that would cause untold suffering indeed came to pass (boy Yin in coffin). So what was Hei’s actions supposed to yield? Didn’t Yin want Hei to kill her initially because she didn’t want this whole thing to happen? But it did so what was he supposedly preventing?

    Or was Hei’s actions supposed to be the final thing that separates Izanami from Yin completely. Yin was doing a pretty good job of it herself as seen in her differentiating herself between Yin in Black and Yin in White. If Hei’s actions were to finally sever the connection between Yin and Izanami, why would Yin have to be killed off? Why couldn’t she keep her own consciousness since they were separating anyway.

    • July 29, 2010 at 4:22 pmmatt_shade

      Hei’s ability is much like the Gate. So yes, I’d say it’s possible he separated Yin and Izanami so they could wake up in separate bodies. I wonder if anyone knows for sure who was Izanagi (Shion, Suou or Hei).

      • August 1, 2010 at 11:58 pmSinamon

        Pretty certain there’s no question that Izanagi was Shion.

      • August 3, 2010 at 5:30 ammatt_shade

        Only seen Gemini once but isn’t it only the Section 3 people who call Shion Izanagi and one of them point out they’re not sure Shion is Izanagi (when it becomes clear Suou is running around too) so we never find out what their “criteria” for “Izanagi” is? To my recollection it’s kinda like “We have this prophecy and Izanami is definitely interested in this scientist in Russia, say what, he has a Contractor son?! It must be Izanagi! Wait, his other kid is a Contractor too?! And hanging out with the Black Reaper?! And everybody’s making their way to Tokyo?!”

      • August 7, 2010 at 3:13 amSinamon

        i’ve watched gemini several times and it seems to be the widely accepted notion that shion was izanagi’s physical manifestation as he was making deals with izanagi directly. suon really didn’t seem to have a role other than being the sympathetic character that seems to have a life only to find out that all of her memories were implanted and she’s only a copy made by her brother. i dont think she was made to be or developed enough to lead up to being izanagi. secondarily she seemed to be only a means to keep hei’s power until izanami untwittingly released it as a plot point. also some people think that the “shiny gold entity” that was inside yin was iazami’s spirit manifestation. i can see that too but it says “but i have collected so many samples already” which makes me think it’s izanami as she has been consuming so many souls in order place them on the newly copied earth. furthermore, why would izanagi be inside of yin’s consciousness anyway?! that’s what confuses me most.

  • August 5, 2010 at 8:58 pmphilip

    I am still confused…. Why was Yin struggling against Izanami? Why did Yin want Hei to kill her? Did Hei kill Yin at the end of Gemini?

    • August 5, 2010 at 9:10 pmphilip

    • August 6, 2010 at 1:50 ammatt_shade

      Here’s one nutty theory: Dolls are humans exposed to ‘Gate particles’ whose minds have ‘evolved’ and left for elsewhere. Yin is Kirsi’s body that has ‘regrown’ a mind of its own and while inside the Gate was somehow wishing to be whole and what used to be Kirsi came back.

    • August 7, 2010 at 3:22 amSinamon

      yin was fighting against izanami because she felt/knew that she would be lost as a person if izanami was to come fully into being. also, she probably knew/felt that the awakening might cause terrible suffering, not only to her and hei, but to the world at large. yin wanted hei to kill her because she thought if she died then the awakening wouldn’t happen. your last question about whether or not hei killed yin is a subject of HUGE debate. i personally believe he, using his newly returned powers and the meteor core (as seen by his star shining brighter than ever), was able to separate yin from izanami and ultimately save her. he is seen carrying her off and it’s unclear whether she’s dead or just unconscious. it may be cheesy or optimistic but i choose to believe the latter. hei has proven to be able to choose the 3rd option that no one else can see. so, instead of just not saving the world or killing yin and saving the world…he was able to see the 3rd option: save the world and save yin.

      there’s a couple of possibilities as to who that boy is (who looks like a young version of a boy yin) depending on what you think happened in the end to hey and yin:

      1.) it’s the “new being” that the prophecy talked about who will be the result of izanami and izanagi joining and come to earth to cause chaos and suffering. this is if you think hei did not prevent the awakening (as yin said it was “not too late”).

      2.) it’s the new physical manifestation of izanami since she/he was separated and ousted from yin’s and prevented the full awakening. so izanami had to find a new form.

  • August 8, 2010 at 3:08 pmDexter

    That is one hell of a review. Thanks for that and Amen. Love your work in thinking like a contractor.

  • September 23, 2010 at 12:29 pmWhalegator

    Just finished watching it. NOW it makes sense, Altough it feels like we need another season/Ova of the aftermath

  • October 3, 2010 at 7:11 pmStefano De La Cuesta

    Now we have two parallel Earths: One is the original with Heaven and Hell’s Gates, the false stars and with Contractors and humans locked in espionage power struggles; the other is a new Earth in which Contractors and Dolls and even humans live out normal lives in a new “blank slate” earth untouched by those crazy space-time continuum altering phenomena of the original. I wonder if (that’s a big IF because apparently DTB was never financially successful in Japan or the US)the next series in the franchise will touch on the transition of some peoples lives to this new Earth or the interaction between the two dimensions like that J.J. Abrams show Fringe (which has become quite good compared to Lost and Alias). Perhaps Hei will decide to become the Dark Knight of Tokyo? Will Misaki ever lose her virginity? What’s left for the contractors left over on the old Earth? Will the old Earth be considered irrelevant and/or destroyed? What caused the Gates and the False Stars? Is that even important? Most importantly: WHEN WILL I GET MY REGION 1 BLU-RAY OF THE WHOLE SERIES (SEASON 1 & 2 +ALL THE OVAS)? Don’t get me wrong, the Japanese voices are brilliant and the dub does falter in librties and quality often but since the cast hs a large portion of non-Japanese characters (British, American, Chinese, Russian, French, some other European etc) it makes little sense for non-Japanese Characters to be speaking fluent Japanese 100% of the time even when they are in Europe so a necessity for some dubbing (English is the International tongue between businesses and Goverments) is called for.