Darker than Black, also known as Darker than Black: The Black Contractor, is an anime television series created and directed 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.
A sequel titled Darker than Black: Gemini of the Meteor premiered in Japan on October 8, 2009.
On January 21, 2016, it was announced that Funimation, the North American distributor for the anime, no longer holds the license for the first season.
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 made its North American television debut when it started airing on the Funimation Channel September 6, 2010.
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. 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. 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. 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).
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: 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 had licensed the second season. The opening theme is “Tsukiakari no Michishirube” 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.