Ah, Darker Than Black; a series I picked up in the fourth installment, backtracked to the first and now will attempt to asses this the 5th. My sporadic route to getting here aside, the fifth Funimation release of the gritty superhero drama follows the format of the prior four volumes in terms of structure and runtime.
Containing episodes 19-22, Darker Than Black 5 comes in at a runtime of 100 minutes even. Just like in the previous sets, the four episodes within are actually a pair of two-parters. Wearing an appropriate TV MA rating (17+), DTB makes frequent use of violent sequences and occasional gore. Language leans toward the adult side but vulgarity is certainly not gratuitous. Additionally there is no real nudity or sexual situations to report.
These four episodes come packaged on a single disc within a standard sized DVD case (with cool foil art wrapping). Extras come in the form of an English cast commentary over episode 22, production artwork stills gallery, textless songs and Funimation trailers.
Language options are typical sub & dub meaning the option of original Japanese dialog track (stereo) or an English dub (5.1 Dolby Surround) and English subtitles available under either.
The show, for those who know nothing about it, can best be described if the Japanese were to develop a serious incarnation of what we Americans might consider comic-book superheroes. Mutations and superhuman abilities abound only unlike the American take on the same scenario, we have religious fanatics, alcoholism, and the unique concept of power use coming at a consequence. Each application of supernatural power by a user (called a Contractor here) results in a cost of use that can range from anything from having to smoke a cigarette to rapid aging.
If you are familiar with the show, let me say simply that these four installments are requisite material to the ongoing story arcs and actually do well in revealing vital information that has been long in development.
The first episode(s) of the two focuses on the masked rogue BK201 (the Black Reaper) and his ongoing thread. This time he finds himself in the middle of an epic struggle that forces him to reconsider his opinion of what he thought was his most hated rival.
Pacing is downright spectacular once you come to understand the Darker Than Black formula. Episodes fly by without ever bogging down even though the action sequences are often staggered (and few and far between at times). The secret to its success lies in several intertwining story arcs that develop with what could only be described as being deliberately drawn out. The grander story is told from several varying threads through characters that you'll find yourself slowly coming to care about (a fear that was needlessly stressed over in the earlier installments).
Like most Funimation properties, it could be said that the English dub is easily on par with the emotion captured in the Japanese dialog.
My only complaint with this installment (the same one that I have with Claymore) is that these four-episode releases tend to come to a halt just as things start heating up. It's a lot like a serial (or maybe even a soap opera) in that cliffhangers are to be expected and unfortunately, there's little one can do but wait until Funimation releases the next set. A complete box set release of this title would be very welcomed indeed!
What did you think of this review?