Darker Than Black, Gemini of the Meteor: I Swore At My Computer At The End

I had high hopes for this second season, and they were kind of met. But not really. They were between halfway and completely met.

We also have the introduction of a new character.

The second season of Darker Than Black (directed by Tensai Okamura) takes place a couple of years after the events of the first season. I believe there are OVAs describing what happened in between, but I haven’t seen them. Hei (voiced by Hidenobu Kiuchi) is now on the run after betraying the Syndicate in the first season and, for a time, works for the CIA. Suou Pavlichenko (voiced by Kana Hanazawa) is the main focus now, and tells her story after her life changed after an incident with a meteor shower.

I know I shouldn’t compare them, but the first season was better.

However, although this second season didn’t quite explain what I was looking for, it was still enjoyable. Plot-wise, it was still very intense, complex, and interesting. Character-wise, there were still interesting and developed characters that I enjoyed watching. Development-wise, it was all very good until the end.

Okay, Hei got a little bit less cool with the long hair, but whatever.

The thing about Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor is that it gives no closure. There was an ending and there are no more episodes after that, but I felt no sense of closure, no sense of satisfaction that I finished this show.

So I swore very loudly to my computer, which obviously didn’t change anything.

The second season is very similar to the first in that they reveal everything through very vague and subtle ways. The humanity of the dolls is also addressed in a similar manner like Yin in the first season, but with July in this second season. I just wished they had given me more concrete facts to deal with, because while I liked this theme of humanity, I wanted to know more about it, but I felt like I didn’t get any answers at all.

I really liked July. I’m glad he was a main part of this second season. Even if he didn’t really talk much.

While the subtlety of Darker Than Black, both the first and second seasons, played well into the entire charm and feel of the show, I just really wished they could present the information in a way that felt like I could fully understand it. I just wanted my questions to be answered in a very straightforward way.

But at the same time, I really liked the subtlety of it. I liked being shown information that I can infer my conclusions from.

What I really want is the same sense of subtlety with a sense of closure, but that seems hard to achieve.

In the end, I still enjoyed watching this, but I felt like I got no satisfaction out of it, even though I did, because I really did like it. It just also made me slightly angry at the same time.

I also would have liked to have known more about this society and Hell’s Gate and just the many other aspects that were only lightly touched on. There’s just so much to this world that I want to know about, but unfortunately, the show just doesn’t answer all of my questions.

Conclusion: Filled with an interesting and complex plot, intense action scenes, and the very cool main character Hei, Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor is fascinating and seat-gripping all the way until the end, which unfortunately drops off at a steep angle, leaving the audience with unanswered questions that go way beyond ambiguity. Bonus points for July though. 7/10.

Darker Than Black (2007): I Almost Broke My Record Of How Fast I Finished a Series

A total of 26 episodes, Darker Than Black took me three days to finish. (If you’re wondering, my record is currently Mirai Nikki, also 26 episodes, which took me less than 24 hours.)

His hair was actually black, which made his code name and the title much more relevant, but whatever.

Darker Than Black (directed by Tensai Okamura) takes place in a world where this mysterious phenomenon dubbed as “Hell’s Gate” takes place in Tokyo, replacing all the stars in the sky with false ones. At the same time, people with supernatural powers began to appear, and whenever they use their power, the star that corresponds with that person shows activity. However, as powerful as these supernatural people, called “contractors,” are, after any usage of their power, they are forced to undergo “remuneration,” which ranges from eating a certain food, repeating a meaningless action, or even self-harming.

Our main character is a Chinese contractor, Li Shun Sheng (Hidenobu Kiuchi) with the code name of “Hei,” or “black” in Chinese, who works for a secret organization.

He’s super cool. He’s one of the reasons I like this show so much.

Not only is the premise extremely interesting and original, there is also a pretty intense plot that I followed along for the most part and plenty of badass action scenes. There were some moments where I felt as the clarity was a little bit iffy and I had some unanswered questions, but at this moment, I am hoping the second season will still clarify some details.

I enjoyed seeing the types of abilities each of these contractors had, because most of them were very creative, so creative that I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. In short, it was super cool.

I also particularly liked the character development. Contractors are supposed to suppress their emotions with rational decisions, making them more like killing machines that intelligence agencies exploit to their advantage. This gave room for each of the characters, although it was mainly Hei, who expresses compassion and remorse, to really explore who they are as a person and what their identity is, but it also draws on one of my favorite questions: “What is it that makes humans human?”

Here we have Huang, Yin, Hei, and Mao, all working for the Syndicate.

The motif of humanity is not as obvious as Parasyte, but it still plays a major role in characterization. Hei seemed a little typical at first, seemingly friendly but quiet person, but ruthless when it comes to killing others and carrying out his assignments. However, as the series continued, even though this fact didn’t change, I couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was different about Hei, but he just felt different from the other obligatory cool character from other series. As a character, he was one of my favorites. He also had really cool action scenes.

Not quite an action scene.

There are still so many characters that I feel like I have neglected to mention, but they are all interesting, and with the exception of one, I didn’t find any of them annoying; they were all interesting, enough back story was revealed to satisfy me, and they were all very different.

However, especially towards the end, there were just a few too many details that I wished were covered more thoroughly. I understood most of the plot, but many elements of Hei’s back story still felt unexplained, and then there was the whole situation with Amber that I just didn’t quite get. But, as I mentioned above, I have high hopes for the second season to answer some of these questions.

Conclusion: Darker Than Black shows that intense action doesn’t need to take away from interesting and complex plot or well-developed characters, entertaining the audience from beginning to end with creative supernatural powers, character development, and just a hint of philosophy, all balanced equally well to meld into one marvelous series. Bonus points for Hei, because he’s super cool. 8.5/10.

Parasyte (Kiseijuu Seu No Kakuritsu) (2014): Someone’s Head Got Eaten In the First Episode and I Thought It Was Awesome

Note: Parasyte has some pretty intense scenes, so if you’re not comfortable seeing gruesome images, then you probably shouldn’t read on.)

Not gonna lie, I wasn’t all that keen on watching it, but my brother finally convinced me to watch the first episode.

I was so excited. I thought this was going to be so cool.My mouth literally dropped open.

In Parasyte (directed by Kenichi Shimizu), Shinichi Izumi (voiced by Nobunaga Shimazaki) is a quiet high-schooler that seems pretty normal. He has parents, he goes to school, life is normal.

It looks cool, doesn’t it?

One night, Shinichi sees this worm-like creature crawl into his hand, and up his arm. Obviously the right thing to do was to stop the flow of blood in his arm with a pair of headphones, so that is exactly what our quiet protagonist did.

As it turns out, the thing that crawled into Shinichi’s arm was a new type of “parasite” that takes over a human’s brain, then goes around eating people. The one in Shinichi’s body failed to take over the brain, only controlling his right hand, earning the name “Migi” (voiced by Aya Hirano), which I believe is the Japanese for “right.” (I have basically zero knowledge of Japanese, so correct me if I am wrong).

Look at how weird and cool this is.

The premise of Parasyte is extremely interesting–parasites that take over humans and then eat humans. I was highly intrigued by the plot in the first twelve episodes, however, after that, it stopped being so amazingly cool. I’m not even sure exactly what happened, but it just lost the original charm it had.

Not that it wasn’t good. It just wasn’t as good.

The characters themselves were also not as interesting. Yes, there was development, but it didn’t feel very deep. It was hard to get attached to them. It almost felt like the characters weren’t really important. For many of them, if I switched them around, it would’ve have made much of a difference. They just felt kind of…bland.

What I enjoyed the most however was the motif of humanity. Because Shinichi has been “infected” or “possessed” or however you want to phrase it by this other, inhuman creature, he is no longer one hundred percent human. Shinichi often deals with morality issues, while Migi makes decisions based on the likelihood of survival.

What makes humans human? This is one of the important questions that Parasyte tackles. While it doesn’t really give a definitive answer to the audience, the theme of it that lies in almost every episode is what interested me.

Obviously, this is not human.

What really pulled me in was the animation. This is obviously very uncensored, with episodes and episodes of bloody, gory images of people getting eaten and ripped apart and and their faces splitting open to unsheathe knives attached to limbs. All in high quality.

The first episode where someone’s head got eaten really did catch my attention. Other than the interesting, original way of killing someone, it even involved an uncomfortable topic like cannibalism (kind of). I was curious to see where it would lead.

I have not read the manga, but you get my point about the gruesome images.

But towards the end, it backfired. The last few episodes were really just a bloodbath, and the plot just felt slow and sluggish; honestly, it was like the animators just wanted an excuse to draw lots of decapitated and otherwise dead people.

Conclusion: Thoroughly enjoyable with interesting plot, animation, and even a hint of deep, meaningful life philosophies, Parasyte is an anime worth watching, even though there are some lacking aspects and the conclusion felt a little weak. Bonus points for cool and gruesome parts. And for the first episode where someone’s head got eaten. 7/10.

Psycho-Pass (2012): The Perfect Utopian Dystopia

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve been on here. But, starting from now, I’d like to get in the habit of posting something every week. In the meantime, I’ve decided to get involved in social media, so I now have a Twitter, if you want to contact me, talk to me through social media.

Moving on then.

I watch my fair share of anime. Psycho-Pass (directed by Naoyoshi Shiotani and written by Gen Urobuchi) has made it into my top three; it has also become one of my favorite dystopian societies.

First of all, their guns (Dominators) look really cool.

Psycho-Pass takes place in a future society where people are constantly scanned by the Sibyl System for the likelihood of their committing of a crime. Their emotions affect their Hue, which changes colors with the change of moods and the brain scan quantifies the probability of an individual crime into a Crime Coefficient. When the Crime Coefficient is constantly over a hundred, it labels that individual as a latent criminal and they are banned from doing anything really, effectively shunned from society.

Akane Tsunemori is a new Inspector at the Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division, working with the Enforcers, one of the only jobs that a latent criminal can get. Their choice of weapons is the Dominator, a complex, awesomely animated gun that measures the target’s Crime Coefficient, and thus deciding on Paralyzer Mode or Lethal Mode, depending on their Coefficient.

The plot is intense and fascinating, but one of the major aspects I applaud Psycho-Pass on is the antagonist–or rather, antagonists. On one hand, we have Shogo Makishima, cool and intelligent with clear motives and a fascination with Shinya Kogami, one of the Enforcers, that pulls the audience along; Makishima plays everything like a calculated game that keeps the plot engaging.

And, of course, he’s rocking that white hair that at least one character has to have.

On the other hand, the Sibyl System is also implied to be the antagonist. That in itself is one of the most significant aspects I can come up with. The Sibyl System is essentially the backbone of this future society and it is what keeps the society together and it prevents crimes.

This is why the universe in Psycho-Pass is the perfect example of how this seemingly utopian society is a dystopia. It differs from societies like The Giver where the people have their emotions taken away so that they don’t know that they’re missing something. In Psycho-Pass, no one has changed, physically or emotionally (in a certain sense), other than the reliance upon this system.

Under the Sibyl System, society seems like a utopia, not because everyone is happy (it is shown that people still have some worries about how they do on their aptitude test that determines their job through the Sibyl System), but because society functions smoothly under this complete reliance for this system that weeds out criminals before they even commit crimes and also the aptitude tests to fit each individual to a certain job.

However, despite how smoothly this society seems to run, the “utopia” is destroyed through the lack of free will.

I use the term “free will” loosely. It’s not so much free will as choice. The entire police system is based on the probability of an individual committing a crime. It brings up several questions. Can people who have never committed a crime be considered criminals? What if they can manage their psychological stress and refrain from committing crimes? How can we ever know if they die or get incarcerated before having a chance to prove themselves?

I hope I got my point across. I know I deviated slightly a review of the anime, but this is the reason why I like it so much. It makes me think. Its running motif of choice and free will and society just really fascinated me.

Conclusion: Psycho-Pass captivates the audience with a thrilling plot and a fascinating future society that questions the nature of humans and also other aspects that I can’t get into without entering the spoiler zone. Granted, the antagonist and the dark and mysterious Kogami and also the blonde computer lady that can do everything with a few taps of the keyboard is just a tad cliche, but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it. Bonus points for making me think. 9/10.

American Horror Story, Asylum (2012): A Showcase of Really Good Acting

Having been blown away by the first season, I immediately started on the second season.

And also I saw that Zachary Quinto was one of the main characters and I got really excited.

Set in the 1960s, the second season takes place in a mental institution known as Briarcliff, hence the very descriptive name, that has sketchy origins and sketchy staff and sketchy people and also the Devil for most of the part.

Asylum traces the stories of Kit Walker (Evan Peters), a man accused of killing his own wife as well as killing and skinning several other girls, Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson), a journalist who stuck her nose too far in the asylum business became imprisoned in it, as well as Oliver Thredson (Zachary Quinto), the psychiatrist initially assigned to Kit Walker to determine his sanity. The story of Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) as well as the very sketchy Dr. Arden (James Cromwell) is also revealed slowly throughout the series.

It definitely had a darker feel to it then Murder House and it definitely did not disappoint.

Also, I really like the concept of having this anthology-type show where each season starts fresh with new plot and new characters. Not just because it’s able to explore so much more topic-wise, but it also allows for different characters to portray.

As a whole, I truly enjoyed watching Asylum. It had a captivating plot that kept me somewhat on the edge and interesting characters that I became invested in.

But, maybe because it’s the second season, it didn’t leave as much of an impression on me like Murder House did. I mean, I still got excited while watching it and it creeped me out at certain points, which is a good thing.

I just don’t think about it as much as Murder House.

However, this second season of American Horror Story has made me seriously appreciate acting.

I’m not in the show biz (seriously, the closest thing I’ve come to acting was the elementary school plays we were forced to do—one year, I was a flower), so I don’t really know much about it. But I can tell that these are talented actors, because suddenly, I got to see a different facet of how they can act.

I admit, I was not quite as impressed as others when it came to Jessica Langdon’s performance of Constance Langdon. I mean, it was a great performance, I was just not as taken with her as I was with the other characters (*cough, cough* Tate Langdon).

Well, I’ve changed my mind. Jessica Lange is pretty freaking awesome. Her portrayal of Sister Jude was so different from Constance and yet it was still…it was really, really good.

Amazing character development. And an amazing portrayal that Jessica Lange did.

And I still really like Evan Peters. That hasn’t changed.

And still attractive.

Kit Walker is a decidedly less dark character than Peters’ previous role of Tate Langdon, but it’s still morbid. He is accused of killing his wife and when he tries to tell them it was the aliens that came to his house, he got sent to Briarcliff, where his sanity was to be determined.

This put Kit in a bit of a dilemma: if declared sane, he would be sent straight to the electric chair and if declared insane, he would be locked up at Briarcliff where the head beats misbehaving patients with a cane for the rest of his life.

Then in comes the fascinating psychiatrist, wonderfully shown by the awesome Zachary Quinto.

I actually started watching “Heroes” because of Zachary Quinto. I’m about two-thirds of the way through the first season.

Dr. Oliver Thredson is a wonderfully dark character and the kind of sane insanity he possesses is carefully crafted by Quinto, resulting in a character that captures the audience in a trance.

And also Zachary Quinto is just pretty awesome.

Not only does Asylum reveal well-developed characters, the plot line is also intriguing, with many jumps between time that at some times do get a little difficult to keep track of exactly what year it is, but that’s also not quite as important. Particularly interesting are the jumps to present-day, including some creepy events that happened in the now abandoned Briarcliff as well as a child with dark relations to Briarcliff and one of its patients.

Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson) is also an important character, but I was less interested by her story, although that’s just personal preference. However, I can appreciate the intricacy of the plot she was put in as well as the good characterization of this journalist turned asylum patient turned writer turned reporter.

They also pronounce her name, like, three different ways throughout the entire season.

Conclusion: Truly a good showcase of good acting as several returning actors like Lily Rabe, Jessica Lange, Evan Peters and more reveal a completely different character just as well-portrayed as the previous season. American Horror Story, Asylum captivates the chilling feel of a sketchy mental institution as both the insane and the sane rot behind the cold walls of Briarcliff. Bonus points for the marvelous performances of Jessica Lange, Zachary Quinto, and of course, Evan Peters. 9/10.

American Horror Story, Murder House (2011): I Probably Shouldn’t Have Watched It At 3 am In A House That Creaks

Note: No major spoilers ahead, but it may be hard to understand without you having actually watched the show. So go watch it first, then come back. 

I started to watch American Horror Story because it’s summer and a friend had recommended it to me several months ago and it looked interesting. Also it was free on Amazon Prime.

Look at this. It just rings creepy and that really appealed to me (I like horror movies, okay?)

The series starts out with a couple and their teenage daughter moving into a large and strangely cheap house to start fresh and try to pull their family back together again because the marriage is failing and the daughter is shutting them out.

The house is large and eery and really cheap. The realtor tells them that the previous owners were involved in a murder-suicide. Inside the house.

Okay. Kind of cliche, but I was expecting a haunted house, so I let that slide. Besides, what other alternatives are there? The previous owners just got creeped out by the house and moved out? Death is definitely a better hook and much more intriguing.

But as the series goes on, it is slowly revealed just how much death had occurred in the house. There’s a lot of it. One by one, each of the tragedies is explained. I am amazed by the backstories of all these characters, which needed a dark yet wild imagination to create all these stories because each and every one of these backstories were interesting and, more importantly, easily distinguishable so that even with the large number of characters, each of them stayed unique and gripping.

Some of the previous owners of the house include a gay couple struggling with their relationship, Chad and Patrick, portrayed by Zachary Quinto and Teddy Sears, as well as Constance Langdon, wonderfully performed by Jessica Lange, a manipulative and dark mother who had a child with an extreme physical deformation, one with Down’s Syndrome, and also one who was a murderer.

Constance Langdon (Jessica Lange), who is a strange character and I really don’t know how to describe her because she’s just…strange.

Now, with all that being said, American Horror Story is not really a “horror” film (or TV series or whatever), because it’s really not all that scary.

Sure, it’s a haunted house and lots of people have died in various dark and gruesome ways and anyone who dies in the house stays as a ghost/spirit that can’t leave, but other than some really good make-up and effects on the more gruesome characters, there was not much horror.

With that said, I never said that it wasn’t creepy. Especially when it’s three in the morning and my house creaks when the wind blows and I’m the only one in my house that’s still awake. And especially when I watched this on my computer on my bed, meaning that, since the computer is basically on my chest as I lie flat on the bed, the screen is really close to my face.

Other than a couple of cliche jump scares, the creepiness was more from the anticipation of something dark happening rather than what was actually happening. So even if you are like my brother who pretends he really wants to play Infinity Blade to escape watching horror movies, American Horror Story should be okay for you. Just be prepared for some impressive make-up on the dead people.

As a whole, I really, really enjoyed watching American Horror Story. In fact, I’ve already started on the second season. It was a bit cliche, and sometimes the plot could’ve moved faster to explain some of the mystery, but in general, I thought it was awesome.

And it had one of the most intriguing characters I had ever encountered: Tate Langdon, which Evan Peters took and transformed into one of my favorite characters.

Okay, maybe my opinion is a little bit biased because I already really liked Evan Peters from X-Men, but this character just really blew me away.

Tate is a troubled teenager that sees Dr. Harmon for therapy, who happened to fall in love with his psychiatrist’s daughter, Violet, who also happened to be a mass murderer that killed fifteen kids at his high school and many others, who also happened to be dead.

Saying that he is a dark character is a bit of an understatement.

But the thing is, Tate seems very charismatic. He easily befriends Violet and just doesn’t act like a mass murderer.

Look at that smile. No wonder Violet fell for him.

Throughout the series, it is constantly brought up that Tate is a bad person. In fact, he is even described as a monster.

But from what I saw, Tate wasn’t a monster. He seems to genuinely love Violet and wants to protect her and make her happy. Granted, some of his methods of trying to make her happy is a bit twisted, but that doesn’t make him a monster.

However, at the same time, as more is revealed about Tate Langdon, the more his love for Violet seems like only a perversion of love because of his dark actions, particularly regarding his tendency to kill people and the way he tries to make Violet happy, like that time he tried to get her to do a double suicide with him so that they can be together forever.

It is this contrast and uncertainty about Tate that makes him so interesting; and Evan Peters did a truly spectacular job of portraying this complicated character and he definitely made Tate Langdon one of the most enjoyable parts of this show.

Conclusion: With both a wonderful cast and well-written story, American Horror Story not only provides a wonderfully entertaining and creepy story of Murder House, but also managed to write a teenage character who was not a total stereotypical jerk or idiot with Taissa Farmiga, who created a wonderfully unique character that had the easily recognizable “teenager” characteristics and a kind of complexity that really brought Violet Harmon to life. Yes, there are a couple of cliche spots and the plot was a bit hard to get at the beginning, but wonderful acting to everyone, especially Tate Langdon. Bonus points for awesome characterization of Tate and also the attractiveness of Evan Peters. 9/10.