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D. Gray-Man: Season One, Part One (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 1, 2010 by  



An entertaining anime series with cool characters and character design plus a captivating and action-packed storyline.  The first long anime TV series on Blu-ray from FUNimation Entertainment and another series worth having in your anime on Blu-ray collection!

Images courtesy of © KATSURA HOSHINO/SHUEISHA, TV TOKYO, DENSETSU, TMS. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE:D. Gray-Man: Season One, Part One

 

DURATION: 13 Episodes (300 Minutes)

 

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition 16×9, Dolby True HD English 5.1 and Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0, Subtitles: English

 

RATED: TV 14

 

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: January 5, 2010

 

Originally Created by Katsura Hoshino

Directed by Osamu Nabeshima

Scenario/Script: Reiko Yoshida, Tatsuhiko Urahata

Music by Kaoru Wada

Character Design by Hideyuki Morioka

Art Director by Toru Koga

Sound Director: Toru Nakano

Director of Photography by Eiji Tsuchida

Animation by TMS Entertainment

 

 

Featuring the voices of:

Sanae Kobayashi/Todd Haberkorn as Allen Walker

Shizuka Itou/Luci Christian as Lenalee Lee

Ai Shimizu/Cherami Leigh as Road Kamelot

Hiroki Touchi/Christopher R. Sabat as General Cross Marian

Hirosh Yanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Daisya Barry

Hozumi Goda as Suman Dark

Junpe Takiguchi/Jason Liebricht and Todd Haberkorn as The Earl of Millenium

Katsuyuki Konishi/J. Michael Tatum as Komui Lee

Kenichi Suzumura/Jason Liebricht as Lavi

Kenta Miyake/Sonny Strait as Skin Boric

Kiyoshi Kawakubo as Kevin Yeegar

Megumi Toyoguchi/Colleen Clinkebeard as Miranda Lotto

Mitsuo Iwata/Eric Vale as Arystar Krory

Ryotaro Okiayu as Reever Wenhamm

Takahiro Sakurai/Travis Willingham as Yu Kanda

Takaya Hashi/Jerry Russell as Froi Tiedoll

Takeshi Aono/R. Bruce Elliott as Bookman

Toshiyuki Morikawa/Brad Hawkins As Tyki Mikk

Darkness is moving in, and young exorcist Allen Walker is humanity’s greatest hope against the wicked forces conspiring to bring civilization to its knees. Akuma – cruel spirits born of tragedy and lost souls – lurk in every shadow, willing and eager to do the bidding of their leader, the dread Millennium Earl. With an eye cursed to see evil in its truest form and blessed with an arm to slay soul-devouring demons, Allen stands ready to confront the gathering storm. Should he fail, Innocence will be lost forever.

 

In 2004, mangaka Katsura Hoshino’s “D. Gray-Man” was serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump Magazine with 19 manga collected manga volumes currently released.

With the manga series popularity, in 2006, “D. Gray-Man” received its anime adaptation and in three years, a total of 103 episodes were featured in Japan on TV Tokyo and also received various video game series, soundtracks and also novels.

FUNimation Entertainment began releasing the series in the US via 13-episode volumes on DVD (with the most recent release being the season two part two) and now the first 13 episodes (season one part one) is being released on Blu-ray.

“D. Gray-Man” focuses on the 15-year-old character, Allen Walker, who is an exorcist who works for the Black Order, an organization that is trying to stop the main antagonist Millennium Earl.   Earl wants to destroy humanity by creating an army of akuma.  What Earl does is go to those who grieve for a love one that passed away and asks them if they want to see their love one alive and if they do, they just have to call out the deceased one’s name.

In this case, Earl brings up this metal skeleton in which the soul of the dead comes alive and takes over the metal skeleton that are now akuma.  Earl then urges for these akuma to kill the person that wished them back and take over their body in order to inflict more harm on humanity.

It is the job of the exorcists to stop these akuma and kill them but for Allen, unlike others who work for the Black Order, he understands their anguish of being revived to kill and having no control over what they do.  Allen knows this from experience as he was tricked by Earl when he was young and ended up bringing his dead father Mana back to life as an akuma.  And Mana cursing Allen with an eye that can detect and see the anguish of the soul that inhabits an akuma body.

Along with others in the Black Order, Allen learns through his visits to various villages of the evil of Millennium Earl but also that he has others working for him.  And a race is on for both sides to look for 109 pieces of the “Innocence” which can be turned into anti-akuma weapons that the exorcist need to fight Earl and his akuma, while Earl wants these pieces to make sure that he can destroy them.

The main characters of “D. Gray-Man: Season One Part One” are:

  • Allen Walker – A 15-year-old exorcist.  Originally adopted by Mana Walker and after Mana passed away, Allen turned him into an akuma in hopes to resurrect him.  Instead, Allen was cursed and his eye was sliced.  Allen now sports a red eye which can detect disguised akuma and his left metallic arm has become an anti-akuma weapon.  Walker now works for the Black Order Headquarters.
  • Lenalee Lee – A 16-year-old exorcist whose parents were killed by akuma.  She lives with her brother Komui and both serve the Black Order HQ.  Has the ability to use the innocence and her dark boots to run very quickly, walk on water and utilizing sound waves.  Her kicks from her dark boots also cause major damage.
  • Yu Kanda – A cold exorcist who doesn’t like Allen’s compassionate style and thus he and Allen are always at odds with each other.  Yu is an exorcist that fights akuma and destroys them with no questions asked.
  • Komui – The chief and a scientist of the Black Order who is Lenalee’s brother.
  • Lavi – An exorcist who wants to become a Bookman, a person who records the history of the world.
  • The Millennium Earl – The main enemy of “D. Gray-Man” and the head of the Noah family.  He tries to tell those grieving for the deceased that he can bring them back alive but his goal is to use this treachery to create an army of akuma and destroy humanity.

“D. Gray-Man: Season One Part One” features the following 13-episodes on 2 Blu-ray discs. Here is a spoilerless summary of each episode:

Disc 1:

  • EPISODE 1 – The Boy Who Hunts Akuma – The introduction of Allen Walker and while on his way to the Black Order, runs into a police officer who is being attacked by an akuma.
  • EPISODE 2 – The Black Order – Allen arrives at the headquarters of The Black Order and is given a tour by Lenalee Lee.
  • EPISODE 3 – The Ghost of Mater – Allen’s first confrontation with the exorcist Yu Kanda.  Allen goes on his first major mission for the Black Order with Yu.
  • EPISODE 4 – Old Man of the Soil and a Lonely Night’s Aria – While on his mission with Yu, an akuma has found a way to mirror Allen.
  • EPISODE 5 – Let Me Hear the Lullabye – The Iga clan try to surprise the Kouga clan in their own home territory with a surprise attack.
  • EPISODE 6 – That Which Calls Out Disaster -Continuing the story of Allen and Yu on their mission.  Yu also, gets to learn more about Allen’s power and limitation.
  • EPISODE 7 – Tombstone of Memories – While returning back to the Black Order, Allen runs into a child named John who’s father works as a scientist for the Black Order.  John believes he can protect the town and fight the akuma.
  • EPISODE 8 – The Black Order Annihilation Incident – Komui’s new robot goes haywire inside the headquarters, causing destruction and goes after Allen.
  • EPISODE 9 – The Rewinding Town – Allen and Lenalee arrive in a town in which the day has repeated itself for three months straight.  Both go to the town and investigate.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 10 – The Bad Luck Woman’s Innocence – Allen and Linalee try to help Miranda, meanwhile Road Kamelot of the Noah family continues her observation of Allen and Lenalee.
  • EPISODE 11 – Miranda Lotto’s Feelings – We find out why the town has been living the same day over and over and why Miranda is immune to it.
  • EPISODE 12 – And Snow Falls Over the Town – Allen and Lenalee take on Road while Miranda displays her power of the innocent.
  • EPISODE 13 – With the Coat – With Allen’s injuries and not having the ability to use his akuma-detecting eye, Earl looks to create more akuma in another village.   Meanwhile, Allen meets the exorcist Lavi.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“D. Gray-Man: Season One Part One” is featured in 1080p High Definition (16×9).  Overall, picture quality varies from episode-to-episode.  The animation and character designs are well-done.  I actually like how the characters are animated and although not a vibrant anime series (since a lot of the scenes take place indoors or during the night time, especially with a foggy atmosphere), there are colors that come out from the various visual effects from the red that comes off of Allen’s eye to the green light aura around his arm, the blue of Yu’s innocence sword or the orange and red from explosions and fire.

Part of the problem that I found is that the discoloration problems that were evident on “Samurai Champloo”, “Basilisk” and several recent Blu-ray releases shows up.  During closeups of a face, you can see these green splotchiness surrounding the faces of the characters.  But it is important to note that the splotchiness and artifacting is not as evident as the two series mentioned but it does show up from time-t0-time. But because of this, I’m guessing that for this Blu-ray release, the video is an upconvert.

As for the audio, “D. Gray-Man: Season One Part One” is featured in Dolby TrueHD English 5.1.  Dialogue is clear as it comes from the center channel, music and special effects from the front channels.  During the more intense action scenes, good use of the booming effects as the bass is nice and punchy from the subwoofer and sound effects are strong coming from the surround channels. So, for the most part, lossless English track is pretty solid.  Voice acting was also very well-done on the English dub track as well.

As for the Japanese track, on the back of the package it says that the audio is Dolby TrueHD 2.0 but when you see the menu of the disc, it is Dolby Digital 2.0 and the signal coming from the player and receiver shows it as Dolby Digital, so it’s a missprint on the rear packaging.

I did enjoy the Japanese vocal track and for those who prefer watching their anime in Japanese, if you have a modern home theater receiver and a good 5.1, 7.2 or higher setup, you can have a more immersive setup by setting audio to come out on all channels.  But it is important to note that the Japanese audio track is not lossless and I’m sure that anime Blu-ray fans who were excited about a Japanese lossless soundtrack may have issue with this.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“D. Gray-Man: Season One, Part One” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 2 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary for episode 2 by Asst. ADR Director and voice actor (for Allen Walker) Todd Haberkorn and Luci Christian (voice actress of Lenalee Lee).  Todd talks about the episode and being a voice actor trying out for a role and Luci Christian talks about being a writer and voice actress for the series.
  • Textless Opening and Ending Theme – Textless themes for Abingdon Boys School’s “Innocent Sorrow” and the ending theme “Snow Kiss” by NIRGILIS.
  • Trailers – Featuring FUNimation Entertainment trailers.

“D. Gray-Man” so far is an entertaining anime series.  It happens to also be the longest anime series out on Blu-ray in the US and with over a hundred episodes, it’s going to take some dedication to follow the series with each volume only containing 13-episodes.

In some way, I found “D. Gray-Man” as appealing as “Fullmetal Alchemist” but with only 13-episodes so far, it’s too early to tell how the overall season progresses.  One thing that I did enjoy about this TV series is that each episode is connected and there are not as many filler episodes.  One thing that tends to drag a series is too many stand-alone episodes and the good news about “D. Gray-Man” is that there is always an episode arc in regards to Allen’s missions, so that was quite a positive.

Character-wise, so far I’ve enjoyed the supporting characters such as Lenalee Lee, Yu Kanda, Komui and a few others.  Although, I wonder if the entire series primarily focuses on Allen (which it does so far) and if Lenalee will have her own episodes further into the series.  I also enjoyed the character designs and also the costume designs of the characters.  So, my first impression plot-wise is that for the first 13-episodes, so far, so good.

As for the Blu-ray release, I know that there are people who may be dissatisfied that there is no Japanese Dolby TrueHD soundtrack despite the package displaying a lossless soundtrack but I will say the English lossless soundtrack was very good and well-acted, also there is good use of the surround channels and the subwoofer during the action sequences.

There are not as many special features included on this Blu-ray release and it would have been good to have a few more commentary tracks instead of just the one for episode 2.

Again, it’s important to emphasize that “D. Gray-Man” is a 103-episode TV series, so it is a much longer series compared to the average 13 to 26-episode anime TV series.  I do wish there was 26-episodes included on each Blu-ray release but with this series being released not long after the DVD release in the US (and is still being released in the US at this time), I can understand.

So, before stepping into “D. Gray-Man”, you may want to make sure you are committed to staying the course of purchasing multiple volumes of this series on Blu-ray.  Overall, I found “D. Gray-Man” to be an entertaining series thus far and is another anime TV series worth adding to your anime on Blu-ray collection.

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