The beauty of Darker than Black season one is that it was able to craft an excellent story by utilizing episodic plots that eventually connected to an overarching plot at the end. These plotlines explored a variety of contractors and their abilities, as well as developing Hei and his team. It’s one of the few series that has been able to use episodic plots so eloquently. Season two decided to abandon this method of storytelling and instead stick with a serial plotline. While season two is flawed and isn’t quite as brilliant as season one, it still does justice to the Darker than Black series and proves an entertaining ride.
Two years after season one, Gemini of the Meteor starts off in Russia with thirteen-year-old Suo. She lives with her father, Dr. Mikhail Pavlichenko, and her twin brother, Shion. Prior to the start of the series, the family was camping and watching a meteor shower when one actually crashed down on them. It was during this moment that Shion awakened as a contractor (humans with supernatural abilities but lack emotions) and lost the use of his legs. After an odd day at school, Suo returns home to find her family under attack by various agencies. These agencies are after Shion and the meteor shard that hangs around Suo’s neck. Shion, however, has disappeared and all of these agencies come to believe that Suo is actually him, since they are twins. Hei is also in the mix, trying to find the meteor shard. Through a series of events Suo, ends up under Hei’s care, with his mission to train her when she awakens as a contractor. The two find themselves getting mixed into a prophecy foretold about two forces known as Izanami and Izanagi coming together and destroying the world. As it turns out, Yin and Shion are these forces. Yin has been detained by Section 3, the same agency hunting Suo and Hei. As Suo and Hei search for Shion, they find themselves under attack numerous times and must fight to survive.
When Suo was first introduced I was apprehensive about her character. She had a cute, innocent design, and some shows would use that design for blatant fan service. While are were a few questionable moments in Gemini of the Meteor, for the most part Suo is a great addition to the cast. Her entire story is pretty sad. First, she witnesses the death of her father; then her best friend is killed in front of her; and then a later revelation makes her question her purpose. In spite of that, she has some genuinely happy moments, as when she develops a small (innocent) crush on Hei. She fits perfectly into Darker than Black‘s distinctively grim atmosphere. Her contractor abilities were a bit lame though- a large rifle forming from the meteor shard.
Section 3 is the most notable addition to the cast in Gemini of the Meteor, as they fuel the Izanami/Izanagi plot the most. Section 3 are the ones that detained Yin, who evolved to a point where she could kill contractors. Hei finds out that Section 3 has Yin and makes it his mission to find Yin and kill her before it is too late. Misaki from season one makes a return and joins the group. Instead of evolving as a character, though, Misaki just ends up acting like a lovesick teenager, obsessing over Hei and doing anything it takes to find him. There is a point where he almost kills her, and she still has a thing for him. Genma and Mina are the contractors on the team. Genma is able to turn any object into armor while Mina can charge any object with energy. Though Genma appears to be all fun and games at first he has his own motives that are revealed by the end of the series. He is a rather sick individual, getting enjoyment out of crushing people. Mina was actually a lot of fun to watch, because she is more or less a female Hei. Her combat abilities are impressive, and when she fights she uses her abilities in intelligent and creative ways. The fights between her and Hei are particularly enjoyable to watch. Another positive for Mina is the glimpse into her family life. It makes her appear cold-hearted, but in reality she grows to have romantic feelings for Yoko Sawasaki.
But Madame Oreille is an addition the cast that feels forced. She is an information broker and knows about everything going on with each agency and the gates. She acts as the catalyst for Misaki to figure out the Izanami/Izanagi prophecy and pushes the story along. The prophecy is fairly simple- when Yin fully awakens and comes into contact with Shion they will merge and form a creature that can kill humans, dolls and contractors alike. The problem is that Madam Oreille’s insertion just feels like sloppy story telling. It seemed the writers didn’t know how to detail certain events in the story, like when Suo is searching for her mother, so they introduced Oreille to provide answers. This wouldn’t have been as bad had Oreille’s methods for obtaining this information been revealed, rather than vaguely hinted at. Shion is another character that feels very convenient. He comes off evil almost the entire season, and then at the end it is revealed that everything is did is for Suo. His abilities allow him to duplicate any item, so his plan at the very end is to actually create a new Earth. The Earth he creates is his “gift” to Suo. Shion could have benefited from more development, but ultimately the story is about Suo and how she comes to terms with what she is.
New characters aside, Gemini of the Meteor marks the return of Hei, also known as BK201 or the “Black Reaper.” The Hei we have come to know and love is no more, as the loss of Yin has driven him down a path of sadness. In this sadness he has turned to alcohol and looks homeless. After taking a mission from the CIA to find the meteor shard, he encounters Suo and ends up taking her under his wing when she awakens as a contractor. Though he is rough with her, often hitting and correcting her, they grow to form a bond, and she ultimately transforms him back to his usual self as they go to kill Yin and find Shion. Hei finds himself in a tough spot, does he kill the person he loves or does he let her become a monster? The season explores this conflict as Hei gets closer to finding Yin, and ultimately he must make a decision when he sees her awakened as Izanami. Some fans may find it disappointing that Hei loses his powers in episode two, after getting trapped in a device meant to take away contractor powers. Personally, I did not mind this development. Hei is so formidable without his powers that they were always just an added bonus. We knew that he had gotten his “Black Reaper” nickname before he was a contractor, and this allowed us to see why. Mao and July also return and get substantial development. In fact, they got more in these twelve episodes than they did in the entirety of season one. We learn how Mao lost his human body, and like Yin, July’s emotional response towards people is growing. When July is kidnapped it provides for a nice side story that benefited both his and Suo’s character.
Gemini of the Meteor’s plot starts off deceptively simple. It seems at first that it is a game of cat and mouse, with the various agencies chasing after Suo in order to obtain the meteor shard. This game continues when she is trained by Hei, except now both of them are being chased. Then the two (and July and Mao) make their own move–Suo wants to find Shion and Hei wants to kill Yin before she becomes a monster that will destroy the world. And then the prophecy comes full swing and suddenly the show is cramming several plot twists into the last few episodes. Most of these plot twists are important revelations about a particular character and crucial to the end game of the story. The twists themselves aren’t bad, but there are just too many and made for a rushed ending. This rushed ending is ultimately Gemini of the Meteor‘s greatest flaw. The ending also leaves a lot of lingering questions unanswered, and doesn’t do the entire season justice. It wasn’t enough to ruin the entire season, but it was a letdown.
Included with season two is Darker than Black: Gaiden, four OVAs that detail the events that take place between season one and two and Yin’s transformation into Izanami. FUNimation was very smart to include these four episodes, because they are a fantastic addition to season two. Yin is sidelined until the last episode of season two, so these OVAs give some much needed love to her character and also explain her chilling transformation. In general, the OVAs keep the shows great balance of characterization, action and drama and act as a smooth transition into season two. Some of the gaps in season two are filled in just by watching these four episodes. We also get to see some cute and touching moments between Hei and Yin before fate rips them apart. With that in mind, I fully recommend starting with disc three in the set. The extras include fun commentaries for episode four and OVA 1. I enjoyed hearing how the cast settled back into their roles and how the new actors approached the show.
Gemini of the Meteor offered a lot of positive character additions to the series. The evolution of dolls and contractors is a fascinating story to explore, and it is a shame that season two will be Darker than Black’s last. Though the plot ends up feeling rushed, for the most part the story works, and it really just needed more than twelve episodes to work with.