features title
Guilty Crown (Blu-ray), Early Review
Mobile Suit Gundam (DVD), Review
Who Is the Man of Steel?
features title
Darker Than Black- Volume 1, Early Look/Review
By Marc | November 9th, 2008

A show I’ve heard people talk about for awhile.  Darker Than Black is probably one of the better shows in recent memory.

Hard review to write for alot of reasons, but the main one is this show is complex, and very deep.

So let’s take a look at Darker Than Black and see what’s what.

Let’s start with the packaging today.  Darker Than Black v1 comes in a relatively sturdy clear case.  The disk may be held a little to softly in the hub, but worst case scenario, disk gets scratched up and you have to return it.  The coverart is very nice, but isn’t completely accurate to what Amazon and other places have.  That picture of BK201 is used on the cover, but there is no background, it is instead a reflective silver.  It’s both eye catching and sort of boring.  The silver catches your eye, but the artwork doesn’t really tell you much in general.  (You can also get v1 with a box for the series for a bit extra).

The menu is nice and clean.  It’s a very quiet menu with somber music playing in the background, which does give you a bit of foreward to what you will be watching without being obvious.  The only issue with the menu, is the return to main menu button on all the submenus is at the top of the screen, completely aware from the rest of the text you see.

Darker Than Black as a show is… wow, where am I gonna begin this one.  The vast majority of what I can say would be spoilers, so I have to tread lightly.  In the world of Darker Than Black there are ‘people’ known as Contractors.  We are told they aren’t human, even though they look it, and they each have a special power.  Whenever they use these powers they have to do something that is different for each Contractor (hence the name).  We are also told the stars in the sky are fake, and that each star represents a Contractor.  Having seen only the 5 episodes on this disk, you don’t quite get enough answers to know what is really going on, nor even 100% if our main character BK201 (named as such by the police for his star) is a hero, a villain, or something else.  Darker Than Black is interesting because while it has hyper violence, and really great action, the stories it’s told so far are surprisingly deep and interesting.  I noticed no real flaws in the storytelling or the show.

The only issue I had, was that for some reason the show never really grabbed me.  I know plenty of people who swear by the show, and I can understand why.  It is great in every way that I can tell, but I always felt like I just didn’t care.

Video quality is relatively good, not spectacular.  I wouldn’t judge the video quality by the screen captures.  While the intro has some video effects and camera shots that cause the video quality to break up like crazy (like Haruhi’s intro), the color scheme and the style of the show just doesn’t look good screencapped.  The show looks very nice in motion though.  And as a bonus, the DVD does appear to be 480p.

Audio is about the same as video, good, but nothing overly amazing.  Voices are reasonably loud on both tracks that you never have to struggle to hear what anyone is saying, music comes through nice and clean, and sound effects are smooth.

The dub is good, if a bit boring.  Most roles are cast well.  Jason Liebrecht stands out as Hei, and his alter-ego BK201… or is Hei the alter-ego?  Regardless the role is done very well despite attitude changes based on what the character is doing.

Bonus material looks like, but there is actually quite a bit.  We get an English commentary for episode 2 by Colleen Clinkenbeard and Jason Liebrecht.  There are also nearly a dozen cast auditions.  Next we get what the disk calls ‘production’ artwork, but it is quite a bit more indepth than that.  We get two different galleries, characters and settings, which shows off a bit of artwork, and also gives us information on the characters and some of the locations (and objects that count as locations, such as cars) that the series takes place in (warning, the galleries have spoilers).  We also get the obvious clean Opening and Closings.

The disk overall is really great,  as is the show.  I haven’t found that ‘thing’ that hooks you to a show yet, but I think I’ll find it in a later episode (although I nearly laughed when someone asked Hei, “Can I really trust you?”, and his head turned and looked right at the camera).

Show: B (A great show in nearly every way, I just can’t find that hook for myself)
Packaging: B (A normal clear case, with clean art on the cover, but it doesn’t stand out much for such a deep show)
Video Quality: B+ (Good video quality, nothing amazing thoiugh)
Audio Quality: B+ (Ditto for the Audio)
English Dub: B+ (Good dub, the lead stands out, always a plus)
Extras: B+ (Not a huge selection of extras, but a bit beyond what we are often used to.

Overall (not an average): B (Like I said, the show appears to be great in nearly every way.  If I had gotten hooked I’d give it an A, but that is just me).

One thing to say to the guys at Funimation.  Get this show on Adult Swim.  Do that and you will likely have another top franchise you can resell again and again like Fullmetal Alchemist.

Gallery under ads. All caps are lossless PNGs taken in VLC, feel free to request more. (Caps are sized 853×480 so as to display properly on computer monitors, as encoded the disks are 720×480, but having the caps be 853×480 emulates how they are meant to be seen using the widescreen ‘flag’ put on the DVD).

Categories: Anime Review, Early Looks
  • Talyn

    Awesome, thanks! Keep up the always solid work!