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Darker Than Black: Volume One

18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Everyone Wears A Mask.

A new and deadly breed of covert agent walks the streets. Known as Contractors, these assassins and spies wield bizarre supernatural powers to carry out the dirty work of others. They thrive in the underworld, between rumor and reality, their loyalties always in question. One among these operatives is more mysterious than the rest; the masked killer BK201, the Black Reaper. His true identity and intentions remain unknown, but as his path weaves through the shadows and alleys of Tokyo, blood is spilled on both sides of the law. It's a new age of confusion, and the rules of engagement have changed.

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Ten years before the opening of the fantasy-adventure Darker Than Black (2007) a mysterious barrier called Hell's Gate appeared in Tokyo. At the same time, Contractors, humans with mysterious powers appeared on the scene. Since then governments and private industries have used Contractors to do their dirty work, from assassinations to waging war. One of the most powerful Contractors, Hei (a.k.a. "The Black Reaper," a.k.a. BK201) fights a complex battle against government agents, the CIA, and the hired thugs of a sinister corporation. Hei's allies include squat, cynical Huang; Yin, who can trace humans through water; and Mao, who takes the form of a talking black cat. His most dangerous foes are Moratoriums, humans with even deadlier powers and--less conscience--than Contractors. Darker Than Black delivers plenty of fast-paced, hard-hitting action, including well-staged battles in which Hei slices up his enemies with a sort of piano wire-whip. But the story is so convoluted, it's virtually impossible to sort out, even with frequent Morris-the-Explainer scenes. (Rated TV MA: violence, violence against women, grotesque imagery, alcohol and tobacco use) --Charles Solomon

(1. The Fallen Star of a Contract (Part 1), 2. The Fallen Star of a Contract (Part 2), 3. A New Star Shines in the Dawn Sky (Part 1), 4. A New Star Shines in the Dawn Sky (Part 2), 5. Red Giant Over Eastern Europe (Part 1))


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Animated, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: Japanese, English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Funimation Prod
  • DVD Release Date: November 25, 2008
  • Run Time: 125 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001F2U728
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #80,083 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Darker Than Black: Volume One" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By The Matrix Fan VINE VOICE on August 22, 2009
Format: DVD
Years ago I watched the movie Akira and thought it was the most groundbreaking animated film I ever laid eyes on. One thing I learned from my introduction into Japanese Animation is this: without a compelling story, no one will want to know more. After watching Volume 1 of Darker Than Black, it looks like I've found another story that piqued my interest.

Darker Than Black takes place in the not-too-distant future of Japan, where an area simply known as "Hell's Gate" is shrouded in secrecy. Once Hell's Gate appeared, the Contractors showed up soon after.

A Contractor is a person with a unique superpower such as levitation, electroshock or teleportation, among others. Each time their superpower is used, the Contractor must "pay their price" and complete an obsessive/compulsive action afterward such as eating a plant, dog-earing book pages, eating, smoking, or even breaking one's own fingers. Since they feel no guilt, Contractors are the perfect tools for spying and assassination.

Over the course of 5 episodes on this disc, we follow the adventures of a Contractor known as BK-201/Hei, living a double life as an exchange student called Li. He comes into contact with other Contractors, Dolls, government agencies, and much more. Japanese Animation usually leaps right into the storyline and explanations are revealed further down the road, and Darker Than Black is no exception. While nothing about Hei or his companions is fully explained, we are given just enough information to pique our curiosity and watch the next episode.

The animation was quite good - I included a few screen captures.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C. Hill HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on January 12, 2009
Format: DVD
I enjoyed "Darker Than Black" more than it likely deserves. Being that this only contains one disc, with only 5 episodes, it is hard to fully judge the series.

No spoilers from me, but the storyline is set in the near future, the Hell's Gate has opened and all of the stars in the sky have been replaced by fake stars that are representations of "Contractors". The episodes on the disc somewhat slowly bring us up to speed on the back story of beings with special abilities, like "Contractors" (remorseless assassins with special powers that come with a price), "Dolls" (basically blank humans who can be implanted with temporary memories/personalities or who can perform specific functions like remote sensing and observation), and some hybrids thrown into the mix as well.

There are several groups of players interacting, including a special police unit that tracks "Contractors", The Syndicate (including the main "Contractor" Hei/Bk201), various governments (references to French, Americans, and British spy agencies), and other criminal groups (all employing "Contractors").

As the storyline unfolds it becomes apparent that not all "Contractors" follow the stereotype and in the cliffhanger final episode, we learn something about Hei's motivation (again, no spoilers). It was enough of a hook that I will likely buy the next volume: Darker Than Black, Vol. 2

The animation was passable overall. It has some truly beautiful artwork in some scenes and some of the flattest animation in others. There was anime style blood and gore, but far less than I have come to expect.

Overall this is an interesting series, recommended for fans of the genre.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 29, 2008
Format: DVD
An area of paranormal space called Hell's Gate formed near Tokyo, around the time people with mysterious powers -- called "contractors" -- started appearing.

That's the concept behind the anime series "Darker than Black." While the concept -- mysterious people with dangerous psychic powers and a powerful young man hunting them -- doesn't sound terribly interesting on its own, the way it's handled makes it a truly memorable experience. Countless mysteries, solid writing and a bloodspattered noir atmosphere boost "Darker than Black Volume 1" above the norm.

Not many anime start with the anti-hero brutally killing someone -- Hei, a mysterious young man in a black coat and mask, hunts down and kills a blond man on a rooftop. Meanwhile, a young woman with a tragic past is being pursued by the police and a band of contractors, and her new neighbor Li -- who is pretty obviously Hei -- is her only hope for escaping them. Their goal seems to be a mysterious item that her boyfriend left with her, but is it their real objective... or are they really after Hei?

When Hei gets to his new job, he encounters a broken, reclusive scientist who once actually went into the Gate -- and the man's daughter, who seems to have fires pop up randomly around her. Hei befriends the girl as he tries to figure out if she's a contractor or a moratorium -- a contractor with uncontrollable powers. The answer to this puzzle lies inside her father's experiences inside the Gate....

And MI6 brings a mysterious woman -- a "regressor" named Havoc, who has lost her powers -- into Tokyo for research, along with a charming, brutal MI6 contractor named November 11.
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