Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor

There are three things that I really hate about most sequels. Now every sequel is undoubtedly guilty of these things to a certain degree, but it really all depends on the execution. When done wrong, these are the three things I really notice:

1) Dramatic changes taking place between the first and second story that largely happen off screen and are not resolved until the end of the second series. This essentially creates a rift between the two stories when the whole point is to create a sequel, is it not? Again, I'm the kind of guy who likes to have a certain "flow" and when that flow is disrupted it gets on my nerves.

2) Dramatic changes in tone and presentation. Oftentimes movies and shows will change the central theme while bringing back some familiar characters and also adding wholly original ones. New settings are typically used and as a reference to what I just mentioned a above, a drastic story change has taken place off screen which somehow leads to the change in location or to half of the familiar characters being gone.

3) The "cheat" ending. You know what I mean. The ending that isn't an end, but is really a cliffhanger meant to lead into a sequel providing the ratings warrant one. But if the ratings are not there than most of the main story lines are tied up in a rush job (and typically not fully explained) and many characters live to fight another day.

Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor is guilty of all three things I just mentioned. Half the characters are gone. The location is different. The manor of storytelling is also different. And the ending is a cheat.

Now... I won't say it is a bad show. It's not. It is actually quite good for the most part, but the ending is rushed. This sequel series is only 12 episodes compared to the first series which clocks in at 26. The story this time around is much more linear and it really is one story instead of a bunch of sub-plots gradually telling a story like the first show was.

I like that difference.

The story opens two years after the ending of the original show with Hei being employed by the CIA to track down a boy named Shion in Russia. Only he winds up with a girl named Suo, Shion's twin sister. Hei is still on the run from the Syndicate in Tokyo and he seems to have misplaced his good friend Yin somewhere along the way. Apparently, she was possessed by something, but the series leaves it vague. I suppose that's why they made the 4 part OVA to bridge the missing time between the first series and the second series, but I have yet to see the OVA series since some moron put it on the last disc after the final episode of the second season. A lot of fans call the 4 part OVA Darker Than Black Gaiden so I suppose I'll have to make a separate review for that after I watch it.

The girl named Suo becomes the new protagonist of the show as Hei more or less loses his abilities as a Contractor during a skirmish and Suo essentially absorbs Hei's abilities to a certain extent.

This creates an interesting dynamic between the two, but I began to get the feeling that too much time was being spent on the girl's story. This was Hei's story, after all, and there was still a lot from the first show that did not get resolved in this show because so much time was spent on an essentially new character. Yin's evolution as a character, which was quite profound in the first series, was brought to a screeching halt because Yin wasn't even in this series until the very end and even then she wasn't technically herself.

This show, more and more as I got into it, felt like a stop-gap between the first series and what should have lead to a real sequel. So, while I did enjoy the show, I have to say that this is a terrible sequel. None of my questions have been answered and now I'm left with even more questions than I had before.

There must be a third season somewhere along the horizon. I don't see anything on the slate for 2013, but there must be one sometime. Hell, even another OVA would be fine. Or movie. Something.

Seriously. The first show is built on the mystery of Hell's Gate, but at no point is Hell's Gate's mystery revealed. The second series comes back to Tokyo towards the end and somehow Hell's Gate is brought up again into the story, but nothing about the Gate is explained... again.

The appearance and disappearance of Heaven's Gate isn't explained, either.

The false stars... nope, not explained either.

If you want answers and you liked the first show then you'll hate this show.

But I suppose I found enough about this show to like it and warrant a few subsequent viewings. Like the Phantasm movies or the second season of Big O... I may have no idea what the hell I watched, but I did find it rather enjoyable.

Now I want a real sequel, damn it.

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