On the recommendation of one of my very good friends (Brandon D.), I looked up the anime Darker Than Black on Netflix. He told me that as he had watched he felt that there were many noir elements that deserved a closer look. Yesterday I completed four full episodes of the film noir anime, and to be honest it left me with mixed feelings. It was very sci-fi film noir/anime action in genre, with a bit of ne0-noir peppered on top. Here is the groundwork:
Contractors are post-humans with super powers (gravity control, matter disruption, etc.). The only caveat to their power is that they must complete some compulsory action each time they wish to exercise their abilities. These can range from breaking their own fingers, folding every page of every book they touch, singing a certain tune, or eating large amounts of food.
Dolls are psychic mediums or hollow personality-less vessels. They are always depicted as females who lack pupils in their eyes. By submerging one of their body parts in water, they are able to sense with great clarity anywhere else that has an abundance of water. Hence, in the rain they can see every happening in the city simultaneously.
Moratoriums are neither Dolls nor Contractors. Uncontrolled power courses through them recklessly and endangers the lives of all those around them. After a short period of power expenditure and destruction, Moratoriums lose their abilities and become comatose Dolls. The reason they are so feared is twofold: 1) they have no control over their power, and 2) they don’t have to pay any price to use it like Contractors must.
I absolutely loved the first two episodes of Darker Than Black. They certainly had a large dose of science fiction, but the noir elements were undeniable. Femme fatale is in trouble, an anti-hero loner is her only hope, and feelings of love develop quickly between the two that plunge them into deeper trouble. The most fascinating noir element I felt was the homme fatale factor. The main character uses his charm and confidence to coerce and influence even his enemies. He puts up the front of a trustworthy ally, when inwardly he is a ruthless Contractor who cannot be trusted. Very homme fatale.
By the fourth episode, I was bored. I may watch some more in the future because the idea was intriguing and the art was superb, but I felt that it was grasping at noir without fully gripping it. It couldn’t measure up to our noir definition. You can watch the whole series on Youtube as well as Netflix. (Click here for Darker Than Black videos).