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Darker Than Black Volume 5

  • Jun 19, 2009

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!

Cover art for Funimation's release

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June 21, 2009
Hey Woopak- thanks for the kind words my man. It appears as though there really aren't a whole lot of anime heads here on Lunch yet. And congrats on hitting the #2 spot on top contributors- it's well deserved. Yes the show went 26 episodes (actually 25 + an OVA) and Funimation is planning one more DVD release after this one that will consist of episodes 23-25 plus that final OVA. I would definitely recommend this show assuming you can wait until the whole thing is released because these 4-episode releases do drop off suddenly at the end each time. It can be frustrating waiting for Funimation to drop the next installment.
June 24, 2009
I'll have to wait for the collection, they're a lot cheaper. wwhhhaatt?? I'm # 2?! last time I checked I was at # 3 or 4...But thanks for the congrats, I reached that mark because of people like you, who gave me support.  my reviews are nothing w/out readers.  plus I was on vacation last week LOL! I'll catch you later, buddy!
June 21, 2009
It somewhat bothers me when an anime volume stops when the story is about to hit a key part in the series. I will keep this in mind, and will probably rent a volume to check it out--I'll wait for a boxed set to come out. Do you think this series will last more than 26 episodes? nice review as always.
About the reviewer

Ranked #14
Jason Rider (AKA OneNeo on Amazon.com) is the author of the successful children's fantasy novel series The Uncommon Adventures of Tucker O'Doyle from Bellissima Publishing.      … more
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