Darker than Black: Kuro no Keiyakusha (DARKER THAN BLACK -黒の契約者- Dākā Zan Burakku -Kuro no Keiyakusha-?, literally "Darker than Black: The Black Contractor") is an anime television series, created, directed and written by Tensai Okamura and animated by Bones. It premiered across Japan from April 5, 2007 on MBS, TBS, and its affiliated broadcast stations, with its satellite television premiere in Japan on Animax in May 2007. The music for the series is composed by Yoko Kanno. The series has also been adapted into two manga series, which are serialized in Monthly Asuka and in Young Gangan. The anime also was awarded Best Original Anime of The Year by GoGoplex, a popular magazine for teens.
A second season titled Darker than Black: Ryūsei no Gemini (DARKER THAN BLACK -流星の双子（ジェミニ）- Dākā Zan Burakku -Ryūsei no Jemini-?, lit. "Darker than Black: Gemini of the Meteor") premiered in Japan on October 8, 2009.
Ten years ago, an inscrutable and abnormal territory known as Hell's Gate appeared in Tokyo, altering the sky and wreaking havoc on the landscape. The real stars disappeared, replaced by false stars. During this time, people possessing various special abilities emerged, each capable of different supernatural feats - these are known as Contractors. Each fake star has a corresponding Contractor, which reacts to their activities. As such, Contractors are usually identified by their star's Messier catalogue number. Kept secret from the masses, these individuals are known to murder in cold blood, smothering unnecessary emotions with logic and rationale. Their incredible abilities, however, are gained at the cost of their humanity - Contractors are thus named because of an involuntary compulsion to "pay the price" each time their power is used, which can range from eating particular foods and completing meaningless tasks, to self-harm and having their bodies change in peculiar ways. Various nations and organizations around the world train and utilize Contractors as spies and assassins, resulting in violent battles for valuable objects and information. Following the disastrous Heaven's War, the United States lost its dominant position as a superpower to a mysterious organization named the Syndicate. The story revolves around a Chinese contractor codenamed Hei as he undertakes various espionage and assassination missions in Tokyo under the direction of the aforementioned Syndicate.
- Hei (黒 Black?) Voiced by: Hidenobu Kiuchi (Japanese), Jason Liebrecht (English)
- The main protagonist and an elite Contractor with the Messier Code BK-201. In his team, Hei acts as the spy and assassin, swiftly dealing death without fail. Hei's "mundane identity" is a gentle-hearted student from China named Lee Shenshun (李舜生（リ・シェンシュン） Ri Shenshun?), but when "working" he takes on the role of a seemingly (at first) affectless and ruthless killer nicknamed 'The Black Reaper'; this alias was earned based on stories of BK-201's accomplishments as an assassin during the war at Heaven's Gate. His huge appetite, lack of the typical rational reasoning demonstrated by all Contractors and seeming lack of obeisance (the 'cost' paid for using Contract Powers) shroud his true character in mystery. Part of an organization with unknown ambitions known only as the Syndicate, Hei is searching for information regarding his sister Pai; Pai was a Contractor - the original BK-201, in fact - who disappeared during the implosion of Heaven's Gate several years prior. It is only after her disappearance that Hei gains Contractor abilities (in particular, the same abilities his sister had) as well as the BK-201 designation. Prior to the incident at Heaven's Gate, Hei was not considered a Contractor and lacked any supernatural powers; he also despised fighting. However, he still accompanied Pai for the duration of the Heaven's Gate war, using his physical abilities in martial arts and other combat techniques. Hei's Contract allows him to generate and manipulate electricity, and to alter matter at a quantum level. Hei is hotly pursued by the Japanese government for his suspected involvement in multiple assassinations. It is later revealed that Hei is not a true Contractor, but has "merged" with his sister and acquired use of her powers. This also explains why Hei has no payment for his contract.
- Yin (銀 Silver?) Voiced by: Misato Fukuen (Japanese), Brina Palencia (English)
- Support personnel in Hei's team. Her primary function is to use her observation ability to locate individuals, usually assassination targets, for the team. Yin is a "Doll," a type of medium that came into existence with the appearance of Hell's Gate. Dolls have an affinity for certain substances or elements which, when they are in contact with that substance, allow them to project "observation specters" to any location the substance is also present, and let the Dolls remotely view that location. Yin's medium substance is water. Like all Dolls, Yin seems to be incapable of understanding or displaying any type of emotion, and is often very passive and quiet; however, she gradually reveals that she is not entirely devoid of personality, sometimes making involuntary movements (like grabbing Hei's arm) that seem to indicate some kind of attachment to Hei and the other members of her team. Yin shares an exact resemblance to and possesses memories of a girl named Kirsi (last name unknown), who lived in Finland and was studying the piano under the tutelage of famed pianist Eelis Kostinen.
- Huang (黄 Hwan?, Yellow) Voiced by: Masaru Ikeda (Japanese), John Swasey (English)
- Huang's position can be interpreted as that of field supervisor. He is the only normal human on the team and primarily serves as a strategic advisor. He has a general dislike for Contractors and Dolls and voices it regularly in spite of having to work alongside three of them. Huang is also the only member of the team that seems to have consistent direct contact with the Syndicate, relaying the Syndicate's orders to the team and occasionally sharing information that he has learned from them. Outside of "jobs," Huang has very little to do with the other team members. In spite of his said-dislike of Contractors, Huang sacrifices his life at the end of the first season in order to help the team stop an experiment that would kill all Contractors if completed.
- Mao (猫?, Cat) Voiced by: Ikuya Sawaki (Japanese), Kent Williams (English)
- A Contractor who has lost his original body and now resides within that of a black cat. As the cat's brain is not fully capable of containing Mao's human consciousness, a server installed in his collar is utilized to support some of it. If he were to lose contact with said server, he would become no different from an ordinary cat. Possibly related to his computer-based existence, Mao shows some proficiency as a hacker. His Messier Code is HM-432. A very practical character, he is very interested in watching Hei react to situations in an unorthodox manner. Although he fears the Syndicate's disapproval and on occasion is able to receive direct orders from the top, he often protects the members of his team by withholding information about them from the Syndicate. His contract allows him to possess other animal bodies, although he sometimes has difficulty adjusting to them. In season 2, it is revealed that Mao lost his body when an explosion occurred during his mission to spy on the activities and research of Professor Pavlichenko, Suou's father. Since losing his human body seems to be considered an extreme form of obeisance, he can use his Contract power of transference freely. After the dissolution of the Syndicate and the events at Hell's Gate, Mao loses contact with his server. However he is found by the CIA and given a new server, identity and body, acting as Suou's pet flying squirrel.
- Misaki Kirihara (霧原 未咲 Kirihara Misaki?) Voiced by: Nana Mizuki (Japanese), Kate Oxley (English)
- The Section-Chief of the Foreign Affairs Division 4 who investigates incidents involving Contractors. Misaki has long brown hair and glasses and rarely smiles or laughs. She has a strong sense of justice and a sharp intuition. Misaki became a policewoman in order to protect the weak, has a distaste for smokers due to their smell, and is sensitive about the exposure of her body. She drives a blue Porsche 997 Carerra in the series. Misaki likes eating greasy food but claims to stay fit because she works out. Her father is Superintendent Supervisor Naoyasu Kirihara of the National Police Agency. She is obsessed with finding the identity of BK-201, whom she suspects is involved in many of her cases. Throughout the series, she encounters Hei in his alternate persona "Lee" (as Hei/Lee is spying on her), and it is implied that she becomes attracted to Lee, unaware that he is the person she is hunting. Later in the second season, she is scouted and recruited by Kobayashi from Section Three of the Japanese Intelligence which is formed after the final event of season one. Throughout the series, she is seen to primarily use Smith & Wesson 908S as her main side arm.
- Kana Shinō (師能 奏 Shinō Kana?)
- Kana is the main character of the first manga. While exploring the mystery of her father's "death", she meets Hei. She is kind and caring. Her mother was killed by her father, and her father is killed by his boss.
- Evening Primrose (EPR) (イブニングプリムローズ Ibuningu Purimurōzu?)
- A powerful organization of Contractors led by Amber, a former MI6 agent codenamed February. They aim to reveal the existence of Contractors to the general public, and to promote their status as a new race/group of humans. Special rights and privileges for Contractors are also on their list of objectives.
- Hell's Gate (地獄門(ヘルズ·ゲート) Heruzu Gēto?)
- A mysterious and chaotic area of space that appeared in Tokyo ten years before the start of the series. Its appearance led to the rise of Contractors and Dolls. A massive wall has been constructed around it to keep civilians – or anyone else, for that matter – from entering. Several countries, including Japan, are cautiously conducting research on the Hell's Gate, exemplified by a top-secret research facility PANDORA built next to the Gate Wall.
- Heaven's Gate (天国門(ヘヴンズ·ゲート) Hevunzu Gēto?)
- Another chaotic area of space that appeared in South America and disappeared five years before the beginning of the series, along with everything in a 1500 km radius around it. Its exact nature at this point is unknown in the series. Its appearance apparently started a large-scale war, one in which Great Britain and Argentina participated. Amber, Havoc, Hei, and his sister Pai, were involved in the War and were adversely affected by the Heaven's Gate's sudden disappearance. The area where the gate was has become inaccessible. Interestingly enough, Heaven's Gate and Hell's Gate are located on opposite ends of the globe and are considered exact opposites of each other.
- PANDORA (Physical Alteration Natural Deconstruction Organized Research Agency)
- A UN-operated research facility dedicated to studying the phenomena of Hell's Gate. Located on the edge of the gate within the walls, an international team of scientists examine the properties of the gate via manned and unmanned expeditions within. Paranormal phenomena akin to ghosts are not uncommon here, likely due to the lab's close proximity to the gate. Though run by the UN, it is not impervious to intelligence agencies; both the Syndicate and CIA have infiltrated almost every level of the research center. PANDORA has a heavily armed security force, consisting of armed soldiers possibly of various nationalities and armored vehicles, meant to protect its facilities and personnel.
- Contractor (契約者 Keiyakusha?)
- Contractors are individuals who have gained supernatural powers due to the appearance of the Hell's Gate and Heaven's Gate. In Kuro no Keiyakusha Gaiden it is revealed that Contractors are defects that emerge when humans are unable to become Dolls. The existence of Contractors is kept a secret from the general public by most governments around the world, but they are well-known to the higher echelons of society and in the criminal underworld. Contractors possess two other traits that give them a rather sinister reputation: the need to perform remuneration, which is a bizarre, obsessive compulsive "payment" for the use of their powers, and a generally pragmatic, Machiavellian world view. This is described by the Contractors themselves as a lack of emotion in general, but not much evidence exists to verify this claim. Many Contractors exhibit at least some forms of emotion, including love, joy, guilt, and sorrow.
- Later in the series it is explicitly revealed that Contractors are capable of experiencing emotions, but that those feelings do not play a prominent role in their thought processes. They are described as being totally rational, and totally amoral. The general rules seems to be that they feel no guilt, and they cannot form or retain social bonds. A normal Contractor cares, in essence, only about their own well-being, and everything is reduced to a cost/benefit analysis: Any other issues like laws, emotions, or the question of the sanctity of human life are irrelevant to them.
- Doll (ドール Dōru?)
- Emotionless "mediums" created to mimic the forms of humans. Dolls can form a variety of functions; the most commonly seen in the series is their use of observer spirits, which serve as reconnaissance. Dolls have different mediums through which they can send their observer spirits and must be in contact with this medium while observing; for example, Yin's medium is water, through which she can send her observer spirit anywhere else there is water. A Doll can also act as the perfect sleeper agent. It can be given the memories and personality of another person and assume a person's personality perfectly, mimicking all their habits, dreams, and feelings until the time is right. Interestingly enough, a Doll by the name of Shinoda Chiaki seemed to have some "life" of her own by saving Hei from being killed by another Contractor. This suggests that Dolls, like Chiaki, can go beyond their "set" characteristics and become something else. Other examples include when Huang discovers Yin crying, July expressing confidence in himself and November 11 as a team, and Sakurai, a doll stolen by the yakuza, smiling as she runs away with one of their own.
- Moratorium (モラトリアム Moratoriamu?)
- An intermediate between a Contractor and a Doll. Moratoria appear to be people with Contractor powers who do not require remuneration as part of their power. Unlike Contractors, they do not have control of their powers, shifting into a hypnotic state of unconsciousness as they use them. Moratoria also suffer from severe mental trauma as a result of their power. According to Mao, the chance of a Moratorium morphing into a Contractor is near zero, but possible.
- Regressor (喪失者 Sōshitsusha?)
- A Contractor who loses their powers in exchange for a flicker of hope for a normal life. There are very few known Regressors, and the way one becomes a Regressor is also unknown.
- Meteor Fragment (流星の欠片 Ryūsei no Kakera?)
- An object coveted by many intelligence agencies and organizations, and once held at PANDORA. It seems to be connected to the appearance of Hell's Gate, however, PANDORA does not believe that it is of much importance as they had already discovered a similar substance in South America before Heaven's Gate disappeared. Its appearance resembles a large lens, and when inside the Hell's Gate, it displays an as of yet unexplained synchrotron light. The Meteor Fragment was first stolen by Nick for the CIA. It was then stolen by Hei who infiltrated the PANDORA installation by orders from the Syndicate. It was then obtained by Amber, who holds it to this day. This object allows entities which do not exist (such as ghosts) to appear, and also allows entities which exist to disappear.
- Contract Payment (契約対価 Keiyaku Taika?, also referred to as "Remuneration" or "Obeisance")
- True to their names, all Contractors must pay a price for using their powers, whether they wish to or not. Moreover, it seems that the amount of payment required is dependent on how much the Contractor uses his/her power. Although this payment can be delayed, especially in the midst of combat, it is ultimately unavoidable. Each Contractor has a unique remuneration, reflecting the chaotic nature of the Hell's Gate. Remunerations are typically difficult for the Contractor and range in severity from irritating to painful. However, there have been a few contractors who enjoy their remuneration and at least one who uses it in conjunction with his own ability.
- Known remunerations include
- Alteration of age, swiftly growing older or younger
- Arranging pebbles in meticulously straight lines
- Drinking various fluids, such as hot milk, beer, or the blood of children
- Earmarking the pages of a book
- Eating various foods, such as boiled eggs or weeds
- Inability to lie
- Intaking and regurgitating objects
- Kissing someone
- Placing the shoes of the victim upside down on the ground
- Pulling out hairs
- Regaining human feelings for a brief time
- Revealing a secret
- Self-mutilation or injury, including dislocating fingers, wrist-slitting, or acupuncture
- Singing a song
- Losing function of body parts, such as legs
- Writing poetry
- Making origami sculptures
- Revealing magic tricks
- It is also possible for a Contractor to fully pay off his Contract, but this is an incredibly rare feat, requiring a drastic and traumatic sacrifice. In the series it has only been seen to happen in those Contractors who have the ability to swap bodies, where their contract requires them to eventually lose their original body as remuneration; this is why Mao is trapped in the body of a cat.
Darker than Black was conceptualized by Tensai Okamura and produced by Bones and Aniplex. The series premiered on Tokyo Broadcasting System and Mainichi Broadcasting System's Thursday late night anime broadcasting timeslot, replacing the Sunrise series Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion on April 5, 2007, and similar to Code Geass incorporated corporate sponsorship of Japan News Network partners Pizza Hut and Nifty, where episodes of the series was streamed every week during the series' broadcast run. It completed its initial run on September 27, 2007, and received its broadcasting satellite premiere on Animax from May 8, 2007 to October 23, 2007. The series was also aired in English on Animax Asia, Animax's English language networks in Southeast Asia and South Asia from December 2008 onwards. The series has also been released in Japan by Aniplex across nine DVDs, each containing three episodes, except for the first DVD, which had only two. The ninth and final DVD included an original video animation, which expanded upon the romantic relationships between characters. The DVDs were released between July 25, 2007 and March 26, 2008 by Aniplex. FUNimation received the license for the series in Region 1 and has released one DVD compilation with two more coming in the future. The first English DVD was released on November 25, 2008 and the second and third DVDs were released on January 20, 2009 and March 10, 2009 respectively. Volume 4 was released on May 5, 2009 with Volume 5 released on June 23, 2009. Volume 6 was released on August 11, 2009 and is now available. In May 2010, Funimation released the entire first season in a complete box set; it was originally released in March, but was recalled due to a defective disk.
A document containing information about Bones staff and production details, was leaked onto the Japanese filesharing site uploader.jp, within the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet format, on July 2008. Among other details, including confidential contact information in regards to Bones staff members, it revealed that a second Darker than Black and Fullmetal Alchemist series was in production and were being directed by Tensai Okamura and Yasuhiro Irie respectively. This information regarding Fullmetal Alchemist, which had never been previously released, was later proven to be true on January 2009. In an official statement posted on Bones' official website, co-founder and president Masahiko Minami claimed that the document was not released by the studio themselves but by an unnamed third-party. In a later statement, Minami also stated in regards to the two new series, "It hasn't been decided yet. We are interested in doing them. As original science-fiction works, they were extremely fascinating. With these kinds of dramatic story lines, I feel that there's a lot we could do potentially." Six months later, however, the second series for Fullmetal Alchemist was confirmed to be in production with Yasuhiro Irie as director, thus confirming the document's validity. The second Darker than Black series was confirmed in the 12th issue of Square Enix's Young Gangan Magazine. In the 14th issue of Young Gangan, the title was revealed as Darker than Black: Ryūsei no Gemini (DARKER THAN BLACK-流星の双子- Dākā Zan Burakku -Ryūsei no Gemini-?, lit. "Darker than Black: Gemini of the Meteor"). The sequel began airing in October 2009 and ended in December 2009. At Anime Expo 2010, Funimation Entertainment announced that they licensed the second season and will be released in 2011.
These OVAs, also known as Darker Than Black Gaiden, are set in the time between the two series. Hei and Yin have left Tokyo and are on the run from the Syndicate. In the first episode, conflict ensues on a small island, where the agents from the Syndicate attempt to abduct Yin but are eventually unsuccessful. Hei and Yin then leave for Hong Kong. There are 4 OVAs in total, filling the gap with Hei and Yin left between season 1 and 2.
A manga, illustrated by Nokiya, was serialized in Monthly Asuka. Kadokawa Shoten released the series to two tankōbon on August 8, 2007 and January 26, 2008 respectively. The series has been licensed for a North American release by Yen Press. A second manga, illustrated by Yuji Iwahara, the original character designer for the anime, is currently being serialized in Square Enix's Young Gangan seinen magazine under the title Darker than Black: Shikkoku no Hana. This is a separate one from the first and it is a new story taking place one year after the events of the anime.
The original soundtrack was composed by Yoko Kanno in 2007 and contains a total of 20 tracks including the first opening and ending themes performed by Abingdon boys school and Rie fu. Other non-instrumental songs were written by Tim Jensen and performed by Mai Yamane (tracks 8, 10) and James Wendt (tracks 14, 19). It peaked at number 57 on the Oricon albums chart.</small>
- "Go Dark" (3:14)
- "HOWLING — TV size ver." (1:29)
- "High-Heel Runaway" (ハイヒールラナウェイ Hai Hīru Ranawei?, 3:28)
- "Tenderly" (2:19)
- "Sid" (シド Shido?, 2:04)
- "Was" (4:08)
- "Outside (2:36)
- "No One's Home" (2:43)
- "Guy" (2:02)
- "ScatCat" (2:02)
- "Contractor" (ケイヤクシャ Keiyakusha?, 3:34)
- "Shadow" (2:45)
- "Black" (クロ Kuro?, 3:38)
- "Deadly Work" (3:36)
- "Stargazing" (テンタイカンソク Tentai Kansoku?, 0:45)
- "BlueCat" (3:08)
- "Moonlight" (ツキアカリ-TV size ver. Tsukiakari TV size ver.?, 1:32)
- "Water Forest" (2:11)
- "Blend in" (3:14)
- "Yin's Piano" (インのピアノ In no Piano?, 3:11)
The official Darker than Black fanbook was released on October 24, 2009.
- Planning: Seiji Takeda (MBS), Masuo Ueda (Aniplex), Masahiko Minami (Bones), Takuo Minegishi (Hakuhodo DYMP)
- Original Concept: Bones, Tensai Okamura
- Original Character Design: Yūji Iwahara
- Character Design and Chief Animation Director: Takahiro Komori
- Art Design: Tomoaki Okada, Masahiro Satō, Eiji Taguchi
- Design Works: Takayuki Yanase
- Art Director: Takashi Aoi (Green)
- Color Design: Nobuko Mizuta
- Director of Photography: Yoshiyuki Takei
- Editing: Kyōko Ogino (Jay Film)
- Music: Yoko Kanno
- Sound Director: Kazuhiro Wakabayashi (Fonishia)
- Sound Effects: Shizuo Kurahashi, Sō Maibara (Soundbox)
- Sound Tuning: Tetsuya Satake
- Sound Assistance: Fumie Ishikura
- Sound Studio: TV Tokyo Center
- Sound Production: Fonishia
- Music Producers: Keiichi Tonomura, Toshiaki Ōta
- Music Production/Coordination: Aniplex, Borderline, Myrica Music
- Producers: Hirō Maruyama (MBS), Ryō Ōyama (Aniplex), Yoshihiro Ōyabu (Bones), Osamu Hosokawa (Hakuhodo DYMP)
- Director and Series Composition: Tensai Okamura
- Animation Production: Bones
- Production: DTB Production Committee (Aniplex, Bones, Hakuhodo DY Media Partners, Myrica Music, Movic), Mainichi Broadcasting System
- Official homepage (Japanese)
- Official homepage (MBS) (Japanese)
- Animax's official homepage (Japanese)
- anime@nifty (Japanese)
- Darker than Black (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Funimation Official Page
Script errorar:داركر ذان بلاك cs:Darker than Blackko:흑의 계약자 it:Darker than Black nl:Darker than Black (anime)pl:Darker than Blackru:Darker than Black tl:Darker than Black uk:Darker than Black zh:DARKER THAN BLACK