Saturday, January 28, 2012

anime can be awesome: DARKER THAN BLACK

For Americans, Japanese Anime is a very daunting prospect.  There are giant robots, strange card games, and weird animals being captured and forced to fight other weird animals to the death (Pokemon is a death sport, right?).  The biggest challenge I've found while watching some Anime is that it's clearly not for us.  It's literally from a world away, it references things we've never heard of, and of course there's the subtitles (or even worse, terrible terrible dubbed voices).  So why on earth would anyone bother with it?  There's some awesome stuff hidden in between all the bullshit.  Case in point: Darker than Black.

Darker than Black is set in a world like ours, in the present day, but with one major difference.  One day, for no apparent reason, normal people woke up changed.  They were stripped of all emotion, and became hyper-rational beings... and they had superpowers.  Everything has a price however, and for these newly changed people, that price is quite literal.  If you use your superpower, you have to pay for it by performing an action in response.  I'll give you an example.  One character has the ability to freeze water, even going so far as to create javelins of ice which he uses as an offensive weapon.  The price he has to pay is smoking a cigarette afterwards.  Another character has to line up row after of row of small pebbles.  Another has to break his own finger.  You must pay your price every time.  If you can't... you die.  These people are called Contractors.

Not everyone who was changed got something good out of it.  Some people didn't just lose their emotions, they lost their memories, their desires, their sense of self.  The show calls them "passive mediums," or Dolls.  People who suddenly forgot that they were people.  A person who's lost his person-hood might just be a pliable sort.  Someone you can tell what to do.  Someone to follow instructions...

Contractors and Dolls are recruited, and put to work.  Governments, criminal organizations, public advocacy groups, you name it, they recruit these Contractors and Dolls to work for them.  The series follows several different syndicates as they jostle for information, technology, and power.  Some syndicates represent countries, and they work in a reasonably aboveboard manner.  Others... not so much. 

Darker than Black follows an independent syndicate, the police that try to catch them, a mysterious advocacy group with murderous intentions, and enough Government conspiracies to give the X-Files a run for its money.  Maybe take a look.

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