Darker than Black

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Darker than Black
Cover of the first English Darker than Black DVD volume, featuring protagonist Hei
(Dākā Zan Burakku -Kuro no Keiyakusha-)
Created byBones
Tensai Okamura
Written byTensai Okamura
Illustrated byNokiya
Published byKadokawa Shoten
English publisher
MagazineMonthly Asuka
Original runFebruary 24, 2007November 24, 2007
Anime television series
Darker than Black: The Black Contractor
Directed byTensai Okamura
Produced by
  • Yoshihiro Oyabu
  • Ryo Ōyama
  • Hiroo Maruyama
  • Osamu Hosokawa
Written by
  • Tensai Okamura
  • Shotaro Suga (#13– 25)
Music byYoko Kanno
Licensed by
Original networkJNN (MBS, TBS)
English network
Original run April 5, 2007 September 28, 2007
Episodes25 (List of episodes)
Original video animation
Beneath the Fully Bloomed Cherry Blossoms
Directed byTensai Okamura
Written byShinsuke Ohnishi
Music byYoko Kanno
Licensed by
Madman Entertainment
Manga Entertainment
ReleasedMarch 26, 2008
Runtime25 minutes
Darker than Black: Jet Black Flower
Written byTensai Okamura
Illustrated byYuji Iwahara
Published bySquare Enix
MagazineYoung Gangan
Original runMay 15, 2009January 21, 2011
Anime television series
Darker than Black: Gemini of the Meteor
Directed byTensai Okamura
Written by
Music byYasushi Ishii
Licensed by
Manga Entertainment
Original networkJNN (MBS, TBS)
Original run October 8, 2009 December 24, 2009
Episodes12 (List of episodes)
Original video animation
Darker than Black: Origins
Directed byTensai Okamura
Written byShotaro Suga
Music byYasushi Ishii
Licensed by
Manga Entertainment
Released January 27, 2010 July 21, 2010
Episodes4 (List of episodes)
Wikipe-tan face.svg Anime and manga portal

Darker than Black, also known as Darker than Black: The Black Contractor (DARKER THAN BLACK ー黒の契約者ー, Dākā Zan Burakku -Kuro no Keiyakusha-), is a Japanese anime television series created and directed by Tensai Okamura and animated by Bones. It premiered across Japan in April 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.

A sequel titled Darker than Black: Gemini of the Meteor premiered in Japan on October 8, 2009.

In North America, the anime was licensed by Funimation. In January 2016, it was announced that Funimation no longer holds the license for the first season.[3]


Ten years ago, a mysterious spatial anomaly now known as "Heaven's Gate" appeared in South America, shortly followed by the opening of "Hell's Gate" 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—called "Contractors"—emerged, each capable of different supernatural feats. Each Contractor has a corresponding fake star, 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 rationality. 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 or completing meaningless tasks, to self-harm or changing their bodies 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. It eventually reveals a plan of the Syndicate to erase the existence of contractors, and a resistance put up by contractors from the Syndicate itself and various espionage agencies.



Season one[edit]

Darker than Black was conceptualized by Tensai Okamura and produced by Bones and Aniplex. The series premiered on MBS TV and TBS Television'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.[4][5] 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.[6] 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.[citation needed] The series made its North American television debut when it started airing on the Funimation Channel September 6, 2010.[7]

The series has been released in Japan by Aniplex across nine DVDs, each containing three episodes, except for the first DVD, which had only two.[8] The ninth and final DVD included an original video animation, which expanded upon the romantic relationships between characters.[9] The DVDs were released between July 25, 2007 and March 26, 2008 by Aniplex.[10][11] FUNimation received the license for the series in Region 1 and has released one DVD compilation with two more coming in the future.[12] 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.[13][14][15] Volume 4 was released on May 5, 2009[16] with Volume 5 released on June 23, 2009.[17] 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.[citation needed] The Blu-ray Box was released in Japan on September 30, 2009 with a guidebook with several unreleased music tracks not available in the OSTs.[18][19] The opening themes are "HOWLING" by Abingdon Boys School (eps 1-14) and "Kakusei Heroism ~The Hero Without A Name~" by An Cafe (eps 15-23,25) and the ending themes are "Tsukiakari" by Rie fu (eps 1-14) and "Dreams" by HIGH and MIGHTY COLOR (eps 15-24).

Season two[edit]

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.[20] 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.[20] This information regarding Fullmetal Alchemist, which had never been previously released, was later proven to be true on January 2009.[20] 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."[21] 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.[20] The second Darker than Black series was confirmed in the 12th issue of Square Enix's Young Gangan Magazine.[22] In the 14th issue of Young Gangan, the title was revealed as Darker than Black: Gemini of the Meteor (DARKER THAN BLACK ー流星の双子ー, Dākā Zan Burakku -Ryūsei no Jemini-). The sequel began airing in October 2009 and ended in December 2009.[23] At Anime Expo 2010, Funimation Entertainment announced that they had licensed the second season.[24] The opening theme is "Tsukiakari no Michishirube" (ツキアカリのミチシルベ; "Guidepost of the Moonlight") by Stereopony (eps 2-) and the ending theme is "From Dusk Till Dawn" by Abingdon Boys School.


These OVAs, also known as Darker than Black: Origins (DARKER THAN BLACK 外伝, Dākā Zan Burakku 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 in Okinawa, 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. The ending theme is "DARKER THAN BLACK" by Yasushi Ishii.


A manga, illustrated by Nokiya, was serialized in Monthly Asuka. Naoshi Komi released the series to two tankōbon on August 8, 2007 and January 26, 2008 respectively.[25][26] The series has been licensed for a North American release by Yen Press.[27] A second manga, illustrated by Yuji Iwahara, the original character designer for the anime, finished serializing in Square Enix's Young Gangan seinen magazine under the title Darker than Black: Jet Black Flower (DARKER THAN BLACK ー漆黒の花ー, Dākā Zan Burakku -Shikkoku no Hana-) in March 2011. This is a separate one from the first and it is a new story taking place one year after the events of season 1 and it replaces the events of both the OVAs and season 2 completely.[28]


Anime soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedJuly 25, 2007
GenreAnime soundtrack
LabelAniplex Inc.

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).[29] It peaked at number 57 on the Oricon albums chart.[30]

1."Go Dark"3:14
2."HOWLING — TV size ver."1:29
3.""High-Heel Runaway" (ハイヒールラナウェイ, Hai Hīru Ranawei)"3:28
5."Sid (シド, Shido)"2:04
8."No One's Home"2:43
11.""Contractor" (ケイヤクシャ, Keiyakusha)"3:34
13."Black (クロ, Kuro)"3:38
14."Deadly Work"3:36
15.""Stargazing" (テンタイカンソク, Tentai Kansoku)"0:45
17.""Moonlight" (ツキアカリ-TV size ver., Tsukiakari TV size ver.)"1:32
18."Water Forest"2:11
19."Blend in"3:14
20."Yin's Piano (インのピアノ, In no Piano)"3:11


The series has received positive reviews, with praise directed at its use of noir themes and plot development compared to other action anime. The anime also was awarded Best Original Anime of The Year by GoGoplex, a popular magazine for teens.[citation needed] In the 2007 Japan Media Arts Festival, it was one of the jury's recommendations from the category "Animation Division/Long Animation."[31]


  1. ^ a b Scholes, Sandra (August 5, 2009). "Darker than Black Vol. 1&2 (Advance Review)". activeAnime. Archived from the original on April 29, 2015. Retrieved June 24, 2020. This anime is a series of twists and turns that will keep anyone watching as it twins sci-fi with mystery and weaves it into a strange and promising series.
  2. ^ Ellingwood, Holly (November 20, 2008). "Darker Than Black Vol. 1 (Advance Review)". activeAnime. Archived from the original on October 4, 2011. Retrieved June 24, 2020. Darker Than Black is a supernatural thriller that captivates immediately with its mature storytelling.
  3. ^ "Funimation's Darker Than Black License Expires". 2016-01-22. Retrieved 2016-01-22.
  4. ^ "DARKER THAN BLACK 黒の契約者" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2007-04-16.
  5. ^ Schilling, Mark (2007-03-29). "Nifty adds free content to site". Variety.com. Retrieved 2007-04-14.
  6. ^ "DARKER THANBLACK黒の契約者". Media Arts Database. Agency for Cultural Affairs. Retrieved October 11, 2015.
  7. ^ http://www.funimationchannel.com/schedule/2_e037.htm. Retrieved 2014-07-07. Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]
  8. ^ "Darker Than Black — Kuro no Keiyakusha - 1" (in Japanese). neowing.co.jp. Retrieved 2009-01-19.
  9. ^ "Darker Than Black — Kuro no Keiyakusha - 9" (in Japanese). neowing.co.jp. Retrieved 2009-01-19.
  10. ^ "DARKER THAN BLACK-黒の契約者- 1 (通常版)" (in Japanese). Amazon.co.jp. Retrieved 2009-01-19.
  11. ^ "DARKER THAN BLACK -黒の契約者- 9(最終巻)" (in Japanese). Amazon.co.jp. Retrieved 2009-01-19.
  12. ^ "Funimation to Release Love Hina, Jyo Oh Sei, Darker than Black, XXXHolic, more Tsubasa, more Negima". Anime News Network. 2007-07-01. Retrieved 2009-01-19.
  13. ^ "Darker Than Black, Vol. 1". Retrieved 2009-01-19.
  14. ^ "Darker Than Black, Vol. 2". Retrieved 2009-01-19.
  15. ^ "Darker Than Black, Vol. 3". Retrieved 2009-01-19.
  16. ^ "Darker Than Black: Volume Four". Retrieved 2009-06-22.
  17. ^ "Darker Than Black: Volume Five". Retrieved 2009-06-22.
  18. ^ "DARKER THAN BLACK -黒の契約者- Blu-ray BOX" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2009-10-27.
  19. ^ "Amazon Japan's Darker than Black Blu-Ray Box Page" (in Japanese). Amazon Japan. Retrieved 2009-10-28.
  20. ^ a b c d "New Fullmetal Alchemist Anime's Staff Confirmed". Anime News Network. 2009-01-11. Retrieved 2009-02-15.
  21. ^ "Bones Studio Addresses Allegedly Leaked Document". Anime News Network. 2008-07-06. Retrieved 2008-07-06.
  22. ^ "Darker than Black Tv Anime Sequel Green-Lit". Anime News Network. 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-06-03.
  23. ^ http://pds15.egloos.com/pds/200907/02/50/c0052350_4a4cc679d3803.jpg
  24. ^ "Funi Adds Live Action Moyashimon Live Action, More". Anime News Network. 2010-07-02. Retrieved 2010-07-03.
  25. ^ DARKER THAN BLACK-黒の契約者 1 (1) (あすかコミックスDX) (コミック) (in Japanese). ASIN 4048541153.
  26. ^ DARKER THAN BLACK-黒の契約者 2 (2) (あすかコミックスDX) (コミック) (in Japanese). ASIN 4048541498.
  27. ^ "Yen Press Adds Kobato, Darker than Black, Romeo x Juliet Manga". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2009-07-24.
  28. ^ "Darker than Black, Seikishi, Seitokau no Ichizon Get New Manga". Anime News Network. 2009-04-29. Retrieved 2009-06-03.
  29. ^ "Sony Music Shop". Retrieved 2007-08-09.
  30. ^ "Darker than Black OST peak rank". Oricon. Retrieved 2007-02-15.
  31. ^ "2007 Japan Media Arts Festival Jury Recommends Works". December 25, 2007.

External links[edit]