He is voiced by Hidenobu Kiuchi in the Japanese version of the anime, and by Jason Liebrecht in the English version of the anime.
Hei is a man of slender build with black hair and dark blue eyes. When in his Li Shengshun persona, he wears the casual attire of an exchange student. When operating as a Contractor, Hei dons a bullet-proof trench coat and a white pierrot-inspired mask that fully conceals his face.
After the events that transpire at Hell's Gate, Hei lets his hair grow out and neglects shaving. His trenchcoat has become worn and he mostly wears a ski jacket.
Shortly after learning that Yin is still alive and in danger, Hei cuts his hair back to normal length, shaves, and returns to his "Black Reaper" attire.
As a member of the Syndicate, Hei regularly takes on false identities and personas for his missions and day to day life, such as Li Shengshun (李生舜 (リ・シェンシュン), Ri Shengshun): a good-natured, timid Chinese exchange student who tries to help others but otherwise generally keeps to himself.
Hei is a calculating assassin. Unusually for a Contractor, Hei exhibits and sometimes acts upon emotions. Hei also has a huge appetite, often surprising people with the amount he can eat. Despite having the power of a Contractor, Hei still has his human emotions. He deeply cares for his sister, Bai, and searches for her after her disappearance.
After Yin's disappearance, a drastic change came upon Hei's personality. He takes up drinking, becomes more ruthless, gets angry easily and would often lash out at Suou, slapping her across the face whenever she said something that angered him. He rarely showed such behavior prior to this, but after learning of Yin's whereabouts, Hei reverts back to his previous attitude showing his care for Yin, while also developing feelings of care toward Suou.
BackgroundBefore he became a Contractor, Hei was a caring older brother who looked after his little sister Bai. Despite his age Hei was like a guardian to Bai. During a meteor shower his sister became a Contractor, with the ability to control and change matter on a molecular level, causing her to become the original BK-201. Soon after, Bai was recruited into the Syndicate. Although Hei hated killing, he became a mercenary in order to watch over and be with his sister. Due to his exceptional combat capabilities (martial arts, usage of improvised weaponry, and speed) he became feared even amongst contractors, earning the title of "Black Reaper. However as "Heaven's War" went on Hei became appalled by Bai's actions and began to have thoughts of killing her, however his love for his sister prevented him from doing this.
During the "Heaven's War", Bai went missing with the rest of Hei's team. Unknowingly to him Bai had merged her being with Hei, giving him her powers and the star BK-201. He continued to serve the Syndicate in hopes of finding out what happened in South America's Heaven's Gate, and more importantly what happened to his sister. Hei also has a past history with the leader of the Evening Primrose and former Syndicate co-worker, Amber and hopes to find her in order to discover the truth.
Peak Human Condition: Hei's contract powers are especially useful because of his amazing agility, speed, endurance, dexterity, and natural strength.
Expert Hand-to-Hand Combatant: Hei is obviously extremely skilled in martial arts and is an accomplished acrobat easily able to do backflips and mid-air cartwheels with little effort in terms of physical strain. Hei's natural abilities are so impressive that even without his contractor powers Hei is easily able to take on other contractors. A combination of these physical attributes coupled with what appears to be the most powerful contractor power as well as a lack of obeisance arguably makes Hei the strongest character in the series.
Tactician: Not unlike many Contractors, Hei possesses a very pragmatic and resourceful intellect; demonstrating a knack for improvisation during the heat of combat. Since Hei's contractor ability can only kill once in direct contact with the intended target, Hei often relies on taking his opponents by surprise in order to gain the advantage (as evidenced by his gambit during his first fight with Wei). His tactical unpredictability and resourcefulness coupled with his almost bullet-time speed makes him a daring foe.
Molecular/Electricity Manipulation: Hei possesses the ability to generate and discharge electricity through conductive media (i.e. he cannot discharge it through air or concrete) at sufficiently high amounts to kill grown men or short out a building's electrical systems. The power is more than simple electric shocks, as he can alter matter on the quantum level. He has shown the ability to transform integral particles on the quantum level. He is capable of special particle luminance, meaning he is able to change molecules similar to how humans are changed into contractors. This ability is also one of the most, if not the most, powerful and coveted powers known as it is the only one capable of altering gate particles at will. This ability is not actually his as he is really only human, but it was granted to him when his sister fused with him. While in possession of the Meteor Fragment, Hei's powers were amplified to the extent that he was able to destroy a large portion of South America almost effortlessly.
- Obeisance: None. This inheritance means that, unlike other contractors, Hei doesn't have an Obeisance. The reason behind this is that he is actually a human who has fused with his sister, a Contractor, therefore he has no price to pay.
- Mask: Hei wears a white mask with a purple lightning symbol over the right eye. It also has a thin red slit across the mouth.
- Knife: His trademark weapon is a knife on a metal wire, which he uses as an offensive weapon, a grappling hook, or as a conduit through which to discharge his electricity.
- Wire: In addition to using it with his knife, Hei also uses his wire with a carabiner attached to the end, which allows the wire to anchor to any object that it wraps around. This is also used to wrap around enemies necks and allows Hei to deliver lethal shocks.
- Black Trench Coat: Hei's long black trench coat is bullet proof (often used as a shield), and works only with his powers.
- Crossbow: To aid in infiltrating a building, Hei has made use of a collapsible crossbow to fire a rope large distances. He keeps the crossbow in a satchel.
- Lie Detector Sticker: Hei wears a transparent sticker on the back of his neck to pass a lie detector test and conceal his identity as a Contractor while inside PANDORA.
Part in the Story
The Black Contractor
Not long after arriving in Tokyo, Hei corners the Contractor Louis on the rooftop of a building. When Louis attempts to throw his opponent into the air, Hei grapples onto the railing and also onto Louis himself. This starts choking Louis, and he’s soon forced to the ground. Hei asks about a stolen item, but Louis only knows that a woman has it. Hei then contacts Yin to ask about the police, and she tells him how close they are. Hei then kills Louis despite his other partner’s objection. The next morning Hei arrives his new apartment building under the alias of a Chinese student named Li Shengshun. The landlady, Misuzu Oyama, mistakes him for the repairman and has him fix her TV. He accomplishes this after hitting the TV a few times and a surge of electricity somehow fixes it. The landlady eventually shows him up to his room but the two first run into his new neighbor, Shinoda Chiaki. She, however, doesn’t say anything to him and just leaves.
Later that night Shinoda runs to a nearby park and finds Hei there observing the stars with his telescope. Realizes that she’s being chased, he pushes her against the tree and kisses her so that the policemen only see what appears to be a couple kissing. Once they are gone, Hei apologizes for what he did. Hei introduces himself as Li, though she responds by thanking him and running off. Shortly after, Jean attempts to knock her out, but before he succeeds, Jean is knocked out by Li, who leads her away. As the two pass over a bridge, Jean suddenly materializes from a stone structure and knocks Hei over the railing as a train is passing below. Hei survives the fall off the bridge and uses his abilities to free Shinoda from the building she is being kept in. Shinoda runs a distance in the rain before she runs into Hei again at a street corner. He catches her as she collapses onto the ground and holds her as she starts to cry.
Hei carries Shinoda home, listening to her story as he goes. With her apartment having been ransacked, Shinoda stays at Hei's. Hei offers to run away together and says that coming here and meeting her was fate. When they hear footsteps outside, they go to a restaurant where he manipulates the situation to get Shinoda to offer to sell some of the classified information she has. While Shinoda is in the bathrooms, Huang warns him to quickly get what they’re after. Hei then notices Jean’s two men are coming into the building and he escapes with Shinoda. Thanks to Hei's usage of everyday items as weaponry, they manage to get out the back. Shinoda bandages up Hei's injured arm and laments the encounter with the Contractor that killed her parents. Hei suggests that it would have been better if she had lost her memory about the Contractor, but Shinoda feels that if she lost it, then she would lose herself. Eventually, she gives Hei a key. The next day, the two take the train and eventually arrive at row of lockers. Shinoda’s key opens one of them and inside is a book. Hei notices that Jean and his men are coming after them, so they hurrying away. On the street, he sees a police car and some officers in front of them, so he orders her to forget. She suddenly stops in her tracks and falls unconscious, but Hei continues walking.
Hei puts on his black coat and notices that the book is filled with blank pages. Jean and company catch up to him, aware that he is the one who killed Louis. Shinoda appears nearby and can’t believe what she just heard. In response, Hei reminds her of what he said about Contractors being liars. Alain then raises his gun at Shinoda, so Hei gets in the line of fire to protect her, but Shinoda is the one who fires. After Hei falls to the ground, Jean explains that this woman is just a Doll with Shinoda Chiaki's memories which they used as a trap to lure out Hei. Alain then shoots Hei a few more times in the back, but Hei then proceeds to kill Jean's goons. Jean then attempts to use his matter-exchange power on Hei, but Shinoda gets in the way and is killed instead. Jean escapes by exchanging himself with water. Huang then arrives on the scene and wonders if this was a decoy too. When he asks why Hei didn’t kill the Doll, Hei explains that she wasn’t a Doll - she was alive. Huang nevertheless still thinks of her as a Doll and of Contractors as killing machines. After Yin tracks down Jean, Hei is able to find and kill Jean quickly.
Shikkoku No Hana
Following the Tokyo Explosion incident, Hei flees with Yin to Okinawa. They pose as newlyweds on their honeymoon while Hei tries to find a way out of the country. While there, he becomes concerned at how Yin starts acting on her own. Hei runs into a woman at the hotel who looks almost exactly like Amber. Yin notices this as well, and after seeing Hei talking with the woman and later feeling distant from him, Yin uses of her observation spirit that night. Although Hei wakes up and stops her from doing anything drastic, Yin sees enough to be able to say that the woman was not Amber but was indeed a Contractor. Yin tries to suggest that he get out of there, however Hei hugs her and vows not to leave her by herself.
The next day, Hei hears from the manager that the person who looked like Amber was actually a man. Realizing that the woman he had seen was an illusion, Hei find that Yin is gone, and he is subsequently attacked by more Contractors. Hei soon tracks Yin to an old building where he is attacked again, this time by the person who looks like Amber. This person’s ability is to control his opponent’s actions, but Hei is saved when she suddenly shots herself in the head, with Yin’s observation spirit appearing behind him. Hei then kills most of the rest of Yin’s captors and saves her, and he tells the remaining kidnapper to tell the Syndicate that he’d thwart whatever they conspired to do.
Hei and Yin make their way to Hong Kong, where they conspire with Qin to trap their pursuers by pretending to sell Yin. They are contacted by Xiao Jie and meet with her and her brothers to discuss the sale of Yin. The deal falls through when Yin says that Xiao intends to kill them anyway and Hei fights Xiao while Qin and Yin flee. Hei is rescued from a tough battle by Yin's awakening power, which causes Xiao to kill herself with her own ability. He is then confronted by Yin's observer spectre, which he initially mistakes for Yin herself due to its tangible and human appearance. He realises it is not really her and is soon confronted by the surviving Xiao brother, who is killed by EPR survivors, including Amagiri.
They are brought to EPR's hideaway in the jungle where Hei recovers from his injuries. Amagiri tells him about how the Mikata Documents prophecize that a girl would appear with the power to change the world, and asks him about Yin's evolution. Later, Yin tells him that there is something trying to talk to her and that it is more prevalent when Hei is with her. Hei says that they should part ways, but Yin refuses. Hei is then lured into the jungle by Xi-Qi under the pretext of meeting with Amagiri, but is ambushed by some of the EPR Contractors, who try to kill him. Despite being injured, Hei defeats some of his assailants and escapes. When he finds that Yin is missing, he returns to the jungle only to find the Contractors are dead. The Dog tells him that it is the work of Xi-Qi.
With the assistance of The Dog and her Syndicate Doll, Hei attempts to rescue Yin from Xi-Qi. After stopping potential buyers for Yin from approaching Xi-Qi's location, he battles his way passed several Contractors and finds Yin and Xi-Qi. He grabs Xi-Qi and electrocutes him, but Xi-Qi reveals that he was making Hei see things and he was in fact holding Yin, whose awakening quickens. She kills the others present while The Dog possesses Hei and forces him to jump out a window. Outside the building, Hei is confronted by the both the observer spirit and Yin herself. Yin tries to make Hei kill her, but he refuses. There is an explosion and afterward Hei believes Yin to be lost. He returns to Qin's shop and begins to drink heavily. One day Oreille makes contact with him. Asking him to work for the CIA, she tells him that Yin is still alive.
Gemini of the Meteor
In Russia, Hei infiltrates the Pavlichenko home during a Russian raid of the house, where he finds Mikhail Pavlichenko and kills him. He leaves the house and finds April with Suou Pavlichenko. He fights and kills April and, mistaking Suou for her brother Shion, tries to get the Meteor Core from her. She escapes as Hei is attacked by Mina Hazuki, with both Hei, and his opponent retreating from the battlefield. Later he meets with his superior at the CIA, and discusses the events that took place. As Hei walks down the street, he sees wanted posters on him, which were put up by Suou. He tracks her down, and as he searches her for the Meteor Core, he finally realises that she is in fact Suou, and not Shion. As MI-6 and the Russian military arrive to capture Suou, he saves her, and attempts to escape. August 7 tracks them and a battle commences. Hei, defeats August 7, but is stopped from killing him by Suou. However, a trap was laid for Hei by the same people who he battled earlier. Some form of electric traps are set off and Hei's star vanishes.
After Suou saves Hei in a trance by diving into the sea with him, Hei and Suou later have a tense conversation in which Suou states that he's catastrophically changed her life, and in which she says that Hei would be fine with killing even the person he loves, which Hei responds angrily to. Despite this, however, the two eventually bond to escape to Japan after Hei identifies a place through picture's in Suou's bag as Ikebukuro in Japan. They eventually reach a station, but are greeted by Russian agents who attempt to stop them, Tanya being among them. During this battle, Hei discovers that he has lost his Contractor powers, but still efficiently deals with several Russian agents and manages to fight somewhat equally against Tanya and her ability. He is trapped under a train carriage, and Tanya is in a position to kill him until Nika Lobanov intrudes, and is seemingly killed in the process. Hei escapes in light of this distraction, only to have a runaway train, commandeered by Genma, rush towards him, which he dodges. He later witnesses the activation of Suou's dormant Contractor abilities, and watches as she targets Tanya, Mina Hazuki and Genma Shizume, stopping a teary-eyed Suou from finishing a defenseless Tanya off.
Later, he, Suou, Mao and July travel by boat to Japan. Hei mentions Yin again, and sternly states that he'll kill 'her', which actually meant that he wants to kill Izanami. Upon arriving in Japan, he forces Suou to undergo training in sniping, close combat and physical exercises. He treats her very harshly, including physically beating her when she does not fully comply.
When Suou shoots a hole in the outside wall of the hotel they are using, Mao explains to Hei that she was killing a cockroach, suggesting it was caused by memories of Tanya's ability. The pair discuss her behaviour, with Mao commenting that she was incomplete as a human. Later that night, they are attacked by Section 3 agents, including a Contractor. Hei orders Mao, Suou and July to flee while he fights off the enemy. The team regroup and Hei immediately orders Suou to kill a living target, insisting it is to wipe out her irregularities as a Contractor. Having been given a mission for Suou, Hei changes the orders and appoints Suou as a back-up in case he fails. He storms the convoy of trucks transporting Izanami, but it turns out to be a trap and he is trapped in the truck.
The truck is driven away from the harbour by Genma Shizume, who soon stops the truck to fight Hei. During their battle, Genma reveals that Izanami is in fact Yin. Hei abandons the fight and rushes to the harbour. He stops Suou at the last moment from shooting Yin by calling Suou's name, and wrapping his metal wire around the barrel of her gun, causing her shot to miss it's mark. He sends the others to a rendezvous point while he leads Mina Hazuki away from them. Powerless without his contractor abilities, Hei is unable to stop the submarine carrying Yin from leaving Sapporo. He later talks to Oreille, questioning her motives and what she knew before refusing to work for her anymore as she is untrustworthy. He then joins up with Suou and the others once again. July tells him that Yin's observer spirit was present when Michiru died, prompting Hei to say that she is responsible. Later, while he is cooking food for the group as he does not wish to eat weeds again, he asks Suou not to shoot anymore. She asks him not to drink anymore in exchange.
Hei organizes for an underworld transporter, Hanako Li, to aid them in getting out of Hokkaido. As a result of July being easily distinguishable as a Doll, they arrange to disguise July as a corpse being returned to Tokyo, with Hei disguised as his grieving father. After clearing the heavy security of Hokkaido, Hanako double crosses them and abducts July. Hei declines to pursue her, saying that July is just a Doll and shrugging off Suou's claims that she needs him to use her ability, saying that he does not want to her to shoot anymore. Suou retorts that he stopped her from killing Yin despite her also being a Doll and rushes off to save July after she spots his observer specter. Hei tracks them down and saves them from Ilya Sokoloff. While Mao questions how he found them, Hei tells them to thank July. They them board a train to Sendai.
Unaware of the fact that their enemies are on the same train, Hei is caught by Repnin, who attempts to recruit him over dinner. Hei rejects his offer. Not giving up, Repnin brings up Izanami, suggesting he would like to use her power to kill Ilya Sokolov, who had killed his niece. Hei, however, turns the tables on Repnin by indicting him for not being able to do anything himself, and he stabs Repnin in the hand with a knife before escaping. Repnin radios Tanya to tell her to stop the train and leave with Suou. Tanya does exactly this, but Hei pursues and is able to buy enough time for Suou to escape. Hei then kills Repnin and heads off to find Suou who was being pursued by Tanya, who was shot dead by a concealed Shion. Hei, July, and Mao arrive on the scene, and think that Suou was the one who fired. Hei tells her that it is okay for her to shoot in order to defend herself, but all of this confuses Suou, and she decides to go a different way than Hei. July follows her, bringing along Mao, and Hei makes no attempt to stop them.
After cutting his hair, shaving and retrieving his bullet-proof coat and knifes, Hei heads to Haneda airport where he disguises himself as a member of the airport's staff in order to lure Yōko Sawasaki away from Mina Hazuki. After knocking her out, Hei is pursued outside by Genma and Mina but is able to evade the former and soundly defeat the latter before picking up Yōko.
Hei escapes by boat and interrogates Yōko and learns of the supposed disaster that’ll happen if Izanami and Izanagi meet and of the old woman who has the memory of the future. Yōko also mentions Izanami killing Contractors and the 18th Research Building before Hei departs. Madame Oreille is waiting for Hei outside and reveals that Suou has been captured. Hei is able to find Suou with Misaki Kirihara, and he attacks Misaki. Suou stops him from killing Misaki, and they leave her. Hei then takes Suou, July and Mao to another safe house, where Suou asks him to call her name like he did when he previously stopped her from shooting Yin. Hei tells her that he doesn’t know her as a copy and that to him, she is the only Suou. This causes Suou to cry, and she tells him her conflicted feelings about him, including how lonely she was away from him. Later that night, Hei and Mao are surprised to see the orange moon in the sky.
The next morning Hei departs, telling the others that he has to settle his own problems himself. Suou makes him promise to come back. Hei finds Izanami inside the Hell’s Gate complex, but the container is empty. Instead, Mina is there waiting for him and attacks him. Mina is eventually able to tie him up, and he tells her that he does not care about stopping any prophecies, but he intends to kill Izanami. Goro Kobayashi steps in and reveals that it wasn’t Hei who killed Yōko. The real culprit was Genma Shizume who had betrayed them for the CIA, and the Americans have taken over control of most of the organizations under PANDORA's control. While Mina goes to deal with Genma, Kobayashi brings Hei to Yin's container. Her body, however, is now only an empty shell, and Yin’s awakened spirit has gone to the center of the Gate.
Hei heads in to the Gate where he finds Yin with Suou, who is losing her memories. He stops Suou from shooting Yin and holds her, telling her that she won’t be needing her gun where she’s going next. He promises that he will always be with her and lays her down beside July after she loses consciousness. Yin then tells Hei that it’s not too late to kill her. Hei's star, BK-201, lights up in the sky, and a bright light envelops Yin as she’s touched by Hei. BK-201's star is shown shining bright in the sky and Hei is seen holding a naked Yin and walking off into the distance, not to be heard from again.
- The number 201 appears frequently throughout the series.
- Hei's apartment room number is 201, as in BK-201
- In the first season, second opening, 0201 can be seen in the pane of glass Hei walks past.
- In episode 11, 201 can be seen twice on Hei's passport, once under his picture (No018-00201). and again under his nationality (AR201).
- In episode 19, Hei is asked to read the page 201 from the Black Book.
- In episode 2 of Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor, the number 201 can be seen in Souo's camera as she's taking photographs of her brother walking for the first time.