FUNimation, the largest anime company in the US, continues
to dominate the market with fairly frequent Bl-ray releases. Their latest one is D. Gray-Man
Season One Part One, a 13 episode collection set in a
mythical 19th Century world.
It concerns a young man who becomes an exorcist, a secret
fights Akuma, demon-like entities that are trying to take over the
world. The show gets off to a good start
fans should note that there is a synch error in one episode that makes
impossible to watch that one installment in English.
(See the audio section for more details.)
Living in a 19th century world that is almost the
same as our own, Allen Walker is a traveler.
An orphan raised by a migrant street performer and later my a
general, Allen has been taught a unique set of abilities.
As the story opens Allen is heading to the
Black Order Headquarters in order to join their fight against Akuma,
creatures with a human soul trapped inside of them.
The Akuma are created by the Millennium Earl
(what a great name for a villain) who tricks grieving relatives into
their recently deceased loves. These
Akuma, who always kill the one who revived them and wear their bodies
they are indistinguishable from normal humans, can evolve over time,
stronger and gaining new abilities.
While most of humanity thinks that Akuma are just the thing
of legend, Allen and the Black order know they are real.
The Akuma are looking for an ancient magical substance
called Innocence, and the Black Guards are trying to beat them to it. In his fight Allen has a couple of things in
his favor. First is his cursed left
eye. With it, he can see the tortured
inside an Akuma and it also lets him spot the creatures in their human
disguises. The second thing he has going
for him is his
left arm. It is an anti-Akuma weapon
that he was born with. When fighting the
demons the arm grows to an immense size and turns into a sharp claw
slice through an Akuma's metal casing and free the soul trapped within.
In this first set of episodes, Allen makes it to the Black
Order's Headquarters and, after a slight misunderstanding, becomes one
them. He's quickly sent out on his first
mission to retrieve some Innocence that has been detected in the city
Mater. He's accompanied by a gruff and
aloof Exorcist, Kanda, and a Finder, a member of the Black Order who
reports of strange phenomenon to see in Innocence could be involved.
Allen has fought Akuma before, so when they get to the city
he thinks he will soon have everything under control.
Unfortunately this Akuma has evolved making
it much harder to defeat, something even Allen and Kanda may not be
able to do.
This show does start off a bit slow. Not
because there isn't any action, there's plenty,
but because they don't take time to give us a reason to care about any
people. This is a character driven show, and if you don't like the
what's the point in watching?
Luckily they do spend some time filling in back stories and
presenting the various characters as fully formed well rounded people. That's when the series starts to pick up,
about half way through this set. While
the first mission that Allen is sent on has a 'monster of the week'
feel to it,
though the battle does span several episodes, the second one is much
In that story they create a twist on the events in the movie
Groundhog Day. There's a
town where every day is Ocotber 28th
and no one can enter or leave. Allen and
another Exorcist, Lenalee, manage to get in since they both control a
bit on Innocence
themselves, but they can't leave and what they find inside is quite
interesting. It also introduces someone
who turns out to have a hell of a powerful ability.
For that story the characters were more
fleshed out and therefore it was a better adventure.
I have high hopes for the future of the
The first 13 episodes come on a pair of Blu-ray discs, with
the episode count split 9/4 between the two.
The discs are housed in a single width double case that comes in
The 1.78:1 1080p AVC encoded image was okay, but not outstanding. The main problem was aliasing, something most
1080p encodes manage to avoid. Fine
lines will break rather than being smooth, especially in the
backgrounds, in several
scenes. The colors were fine, though
there was some evidence of banding in a few places.
Neither defect was very egregious, but it
they were present making this a so-so transfer.
On the plus side the blacks were nice and inky and the lines
The set comes with the original Japanese soundtrack in Dolby
Digital stereo and with a Dolby True HD 5.1 English dub.
Unfortunately there's a problem with the dub for
episode 10 (the first episode on the second disc.)
The audio is horribly out of synch (I'd guess
by about 30 seconds) due to the fact that they included the English
audio to the
introductory speech that isn't present on that episode.
That throws everything off for the whole episode.
Luckily it's only that one show that is
affected but it's a major flaw. That one
show is unwatchable with the dub track.
Aside from that the show sounds very good. Once
again the surround track in more
enveloping and fun to listen to when compared with the Japanese stereo
but the original language sounds a bit better overall.
I ended up preferring the Japanese track
The extras are pretty meager, as they were in the SD DVD
release. Included here is a commentary
track on episode two with English voice actors Todd Haberkorn (Allen
also doubled as the director) and Luci Christian (Lenalee Lee). It's nothing special, as they mainly talk
about casting. There's also a clean
opening and closing as well as a selection of trailers.
While the first few episodes didn't really grab my
attention, the later ones did. It's all
a matter of presenting interesting characters, and once that happened
was more fun to follow. I'm looking
forward to the next set, so this one comes recommended.