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. The series has also been adapted into two manga series, which are serialized in Monthly Asuka and in Young Gangan. 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. 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, finished serializing in Square Enix’s Young Gangan seinen magazine under the title Darker than Black: Jet Black Flower 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.
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 and 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.