[A review of Darker than Black]
After my Bleach rant a couple of weeks ago, I wrote down a list of some of the shows that annoyed me (I’m very free these days). Darker than Black was right up there, in that list.
I think this was a rather popular show at one point because I had heard of it long before I decided to give it a go. Given the good ratings and positive reviews, it’s difficult for me to accept its mediocrity. In this case, because of the all the good things I’ve heard, I suppose my expectations were rather high, and I set myself up for a perfect disappointment.
With a title like ‘Darker than Black’, I expected a very deep storyline with many layers of mystery and well… darkness. Instead, all I got was confusion. The confusion comes from the seemingly deliberate attempt on the part of the show’s creators to explain close to nothing about the premise. There were so many questions and so few answers.
Many times, I would have to re-watch parts of the show just so I could take in some minute detail that I thought could be important. The show leaves the audience to figure almost everything out and it was utterly irritating.
I am not asking for hand-holding or an elaborate explanation for every single thing. For example, I pretty much understood the nature of the Contractors and their ‘renumeration’ without any explicit explanation. However, more abstract aspects of the show such as the meteor fragment, the dolls and the nature of the gate should have been better explained, to facilitate our understanding of the plot. Because the show failed to explain some of these crucial elements, I was pretty clueless about many things that happened towards the end of season 1.
I understand that the show’s creators may have wanted to produce something unusual by not explaining every single thing. Perhaps they felt that it would add to the sense of enigma that they were trying to create. However, if at the end of the show, I am left with so many questions – questions which prevent me from even understanding some of the key plot elements that took place – then it has gone too far.
That is not to say that the show was a complete failure. There were definitely moments that I enjoyed. In particular, the fight scenes were rather well done – quick, decisive and difficult to predict. Hei, our protagonist, is extremely skilled but also a quick thinker who improvises during fights and does not overly rely on his Contractor gifts.
It was also interesting to see his ‘double life’ – Hei is all the more frightening when we realise how normal he seems when he is not BK201. It made me wonder how much of it was an act, and how much of it was a reflection of Hei’s true nature, a part of himself that he had perhaps buried deep beneath the Grim Reaper.
Altogether, I did not hate the show, although I found it wanting in many ways. I did have to drag myself to finish it though (only season 1 because I couldn’t bear to watch any more). This is a show with a somewhat interesting setting that could have been so much more. I am never watching it again though.