Welcome to this week’s article of The Good, Bad, and What The?, where we took a good, long look at characters in movies, video games, anime, and books and put them on the judgement table to see if they are worthy to be in their respective stories. I strongly believe that well developed characters are more important than anything else in a good story, so I always judge them hard. At the end of every character’s evaluation I will give them one of four ratings: Good for those characters that are developed and deserve their place in the story, Bad for those characters that have no place being made or interacting with anyone else in the story, What The for the characters I just can’t figure out, and then the characters who are dull as dishwasher will get the rating of Sack of Potatoes. Today on the judgement table: Hei, the protagonist of “Darker Than Black.”
The world of “Darker Than Black” is inhabited by humans and a special type of super humans known as Contractor. These Contractor have one special power they can use but also must always do some sort of strange task after using their abilities called a obeisance. These Contractors are also emotionless warriors who can kill freely without a care. Because they lack emotion they are used as assassins and spies by secret organizations like the Syndicate. Regular humans fear the power and ruthlessness of the Contractors and are constantly battling to control. Hei is a special Contractor who is only fighting for his own agenda. He uses his ability to electrify anything he touches to defeat any foes he comes across.
Before going on, I would like to say that I am only talking about the first season of the show because I could not get myself through the ridiculous second season.
Right from the beginning, Hei is clearly not an average Contractor. He, unlike the others, has emotions and has no obeisance, although he does keep his emotions very much under control due to his training. Unlike the other Contractors who work simply on the whim of others as weapons, Hei has his own plan and agenda to fulfill. This makes Hei an odd conundrum that you want to learn about. The problem is the anime never seems to fill in the holes. You are curious about Hei but the anime gives little back story and doesn’t seem to explain his difference. There is implication that Hei’s lack of obeisance has to do with his late sister and him not being a normal Contractor but nothing seems to be clearly said-unless I totally missed it, which is doubtful. It is actually very aggravating because I wanted so badly to learn something interesting and got very little information. The curiosity does make Hei compelling at first but then it just gets annoying. Hei’s strange control over his personality is something that stays interesting throughout his time in the first season though.
Hei was training to be a killer spy and master assassins from a young age. He was nicknamed The Black Reaper even before getting his electrical powers because he was so good at killing on the battlefield. Part of this training was to be able to assume a perfect false identity. Hei’s joke nick name is Chinese electric Batman as he fights by night and acts normal during the day. During his normal day, he is Li Sheushun a very quiet calm nice boy who doesn’t say much. He expertly has no one suspect he is a famous killer. Seeing him swapping between what is basically two different characters makes it kind of entertaining. It makes it fun to see how he keeps up the cover and if he will slip up or someone will figure him out. At the same time, though, it gets kinda boring when he basically never gets in trouble of having himself be revealed. I wish there was a point where he was struggling to deal with a guy who knew everything about him or was working to find out about Hei but that only happens in small doses really. In the end though the appeal to Hei is his calm cool collectiveness in the face of the enemy and his skill for the kill.
Hei is pretty much an anime Batman. He wear a long black trench coat with a cool looking mask to hide his face and murders people with ninja kung fu moves. Although the mask always ends up breaking, which is dumb because he looks better with it on but whatever.
Let’s focus on his killing. He never breaks cool and is always alert. Everytime the enemy thinks they are ahead, Hei was already three steps ahead to their death. He doesn’t show remorse he only gets the job done with efficiency. He is that secret agent kind of cool which isn’t crazy unique but it is done pretty well and makes him cool to watch. The anime does suffer from the “two punch syndrome” as I call it. This is a phrase I coined that means when a fight occurs in the anime there is usually two or three clashes or hits and then that’s it, it either skips the rest of the fight or the fight is simply over. It is pretty annoying, but Hei skill gives it some excuse although not totally. He simply calm and cool and it makes you wish you could see more of his awesome fighting than the anime actually shows. I suppose it does leave some wonderment for you to make for yourself though.
Down to the verdict. Hei gets the verdict of What The?. I don’t totally hate him because he is an interesting concept and a cool character, but he is lacking. A lot of his build up just didn’t get fleshed out enough for me so it got me annoyed. It’s much better when character are given an interesting story that is slowly fed to you but gets completely finished to a satisfying conclusion.