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Mangakissa – Darker Than Black by Bones, Tensai Okamura and Nokiya
Kana’s father was killed during a mass murder . . . or was he? No one believes her when she is certain she has seen him on the street, walking around just like any other passerby, so she wonders if she is losing her mind from grief or if, somehow, he survived the massacre. Why wouldn’t he return home, though, if it was really him? Her mother has been living in a fantasy of his continued existence, behaving as if he has been alive all along, so Kana is excited at the possibility of making her mother’s waking dream a reality. She begins to actively search for her father, which draws the attention of the mysterious Klang.
Klang is a contractor, a human possessed through another dimension called Hell’s Gate, hidden by a government-built wall in an attempt to protect the unaware and innocent citizens from a supernatural danger. The contractors are puppet-like, emotionless figures who become violent when opposed and hold specific powers of control; unfortunately for Kana, she finds her father and discovers that his life has become that of a contractor. He abducts her at Klang’s request, but his attempt to deliver the goods is thwarted by another contractor, Hei, who has control of electricity. Her father controls water, so the ensuing battle is magnified by the contrast and by Hei’s strangely empathetic concern for Kana. Kana’s father finds his way home to his adoring wife, who has convinced herself that he has been alive and is easily led to believe that he is unchanged and their life together is restored; but he kidnaps her and literally stabs her in the back, fulfilling his mission as a contractor, a killing machine.
The dynamics of the contractor social – if you will – structure unfolds with some complication; readers are liable to be as confused as Kana trying to figure out what is happening and why. Project Wiegenlied, led by Klang, is determined to create an army of puppet soldiers to continue killing humans by direction. How does Hei maintain a level of sympathy for those who should be his victims, and why does he help Kana?
This fantasy/adventure/horror tale is a follow-up to an anime series of the same name, but stands alone as a chapter in the post-Hell’s Gate inception world. The sharply drawn features of the characters along with the deep reds and blues of the few color pages enhance the dark dreary feel of this rather confusing drama. Time spent sorting out the relationships and motivations, which ultimately do not seem fully explained, is well worth it, however; this fast-paced trip is a roller coaster diversion into a dark realm of cold malevolence where humanity can still prevail.