April 12, 2013

Darker Than Black Critique

I love anime. I’m not crazy about it like I used to be though. I don’t get to watch it that much anymore, and it wasn’t helping that there was a plethora of high school themed anime’s out there. I recently finished Darker than Black and I wanted to provide my thoughts on the show without spoilers.

I’ve always had a problem with anime being cut short to 24 episodes or less. Still, there have been respectable series out there that finish within 24 episodes or extend to a second season. It used to be about ending the series period at 24 episodes, but since we have moved into 2010; people (probably in Japan) have been demanding more of their favorite series- extending anime episodes. So in a way, you could treat Season 2, Episode 01 like Episode 25, assuming that season 1 ended at episode 24. Enough of the technicalities. Darker than Black was long enough, and since there is a second season, I won’t harp on the length of the first season, as I wanted more to begin with.

The story I think is where the series takes the biggest hit. Don’t get me wrong- [DTB] is a great series with a great story- but I felt it kind of lacking in respect to other series that get deep into the lives of characters. I felt like I knew Hei and a couple of the other characters, but the series didn’t dig deep enough to build a substantial relationship between me, the viewer and the character. I think that is very important in an anime series that isn’t about fan service or goofing off, so I docked the series somewhat hard in that respect. Still, the story kept me interested and following each episode.

I did not watch [DTB] in the original Japanese audio. I listened to the dub. I have heard a lot of dubs over the years. Although I heard some familiar voice actors for [DTB], a lot of them were original and fitting of the characters. This adds authenticity to any series, and [DTB] was not painful to listen to. The voice actors were into their characters- something very important if you want your audience to take the series seriously, even if it is for goofing off.

Another thing I do not like about anime these days are the common use of cliché’s. For example, one cliché may be the high school girl theme, or perhaps the expected kill-off mid series. One of the most abused cliché’s is the theme of fighting an enemy each and every episode in some kind of pattern. Naruto is guilty of this, but let’s stay on topic. 

Although [DTB] followed a pattern of cliché, it managed to expand upon the mundane by keeping the series interesting by wrapping the story into it along with excellent cliff hangers. It’s a technique to not clue the viewer in on some of the details of the story- which is fine, but bad if overdone. [DTB] went borderline in this respect, but managed to keep you “in the know” just enough to keep you hooked, lined and sinker.

[DTB] is a refreshing series in a sea of cliché and mundane. It does everything very well and has enjoyed enough success in Japan to continue the IP. I believe the story needs more depth and definition, which is a critical fault with the series. However, the creator/producer keeps you hooked in with excellent action scenes, plenty of mystery/detective work and room for expansion.

Greatest strength: Excellent english dub
Greatest weakness: Story depth leaves a little to be desired


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