Allen is back, and as the Black Order gears up to fight what seems to be a major offensive by the Millennium Earl he and Lenalee have been sent in search of Allen's mentor, General Cross. Which would be find, except that no-one has the faintest idea where he might be...
What They Say
The battle between good and evil has a new cast of villains - the horrifying Clan of Noah. Summoned to Earth by the Millennium Earl, they are determined to recover the all-powerful Heart of Innocence and destroy all that is good. But young exorcist Allen Walker and his Black Order brethren will stop at nothing to halt the rising tide of darkness and preserve what little light remains in their world. Should his mission end in failure, humanity will lose more than just a hero - its soul will be devoured by demons of old.
Audio for this release comes in Japanese stereo and English 5.1 surround varieties - I listened to the Japanese track for this review. It manages to give a decent amount of oomph to action sequences, while placement of sounds and dialogue is handled well. The audio is generally clean and clear, with no obvious problems.
Video is provided in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The series is heavy on blacks and dark colours for most of these episodes, which limits the opportunity for it to go to town as far as detail and visual flair is concerned. What there is, though, comes across well - there's very little in the way of visible problems, barring some banding on gradients. Not a bad-looking show, all things considered.
No packaging was provided with our review copy.
As seems to be usual for Manga releases these days, the main menu on both discs is a static affair, featuring some the characters striking a pose against a patterned dark background (Kamui on disc one, Krory on disc two), with options provided for Play All, Episodes, Audio and Extras. There are no transition animations between the screens, making it all quick and easy to use.
There are creditless versions of the opening and closing sequences, and that's your lot.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
At the end of the last volume, the Earl proclaimed him intention to bring war in the Order by killing one of their most experience Generals - seems to have spooked the Order, and now they're trying to gather their forces to protect the four who survive - of which General Cross, Allen's sponsor to the Order, is one. It's been four years since Cross was last heard from, though, so they're not even sure if he's alive or dead, and Allen has been tasked with tracking him down. His first stop with Lenalee is Liverpool, on their way to visit someone who may at least have pointers to Cross' location, and the boat from Europe to Liverpool gives Allen a chance to reminisce about his time with the General. While that keeps Allen's attention occupied, we also get to follow the adventures of Kanda and others in Europe, as they attempt to join up with General Tiedoll there - no easy task as he's the target of another attack by the Earl's forces...
All of which sounds more action-packed than the set really is. There are 13 episodes here, with proceedings split up and padded out with filler to the point where it often doesn't feel that there's much of a war going on. While the Earl made a big splash at the end of the last volume with his declaration of war, it's near the end of this volume before we see him and the Clan of Noah again. While there are hints dropped here and there that the various Akuma attacks dealt with are leading up to something, it's not until around episodes 36-37 that the focus of events - Barcelona and General Tiedoll - is made clear, with everything up to that point essentially falling into the filler category.
Some of it's not great filler, either. Both Krory and Miranda get their own episodes early in the set, with neither of them making for particularly good viewing - Miranda simply doesn't work for me as a character, as her depressed nature just infects everything around her and neutralises any appeal that the story may have; and while Krory is a more interesting character, he doesn't get the best run in terms of story here. We also have to deal with Kanda (whose temperament hasn't improved much since we last saw him) and a recurring Finder who really isn't suited for the job in any possible way - neither of whom are particularly easy to watch.
Fortunately, there's a decent amount of good to balance out the bad. Allen's visit to the Lake District and the buildup to events in Barcelona are both handled very well, while the eventual appearance of the Earl and, consequently, the release of the Clan of Noah back into the world both bring the focus of he show back to the Earl's war. The way he and his allies didn't appear for so much of the volume had seemed a bit strange, so it was definitely good to get him back in the mix.
D.Gray-man is so far avoiding the trap of getting into multi-episode battle arcs, which for me tend to kill a series, instead keeping things short and sharp. With each of the Clan of Noah having a designates Exorcist to kill, though, the danger of going there still exists, so we'll have to see what happens from here. So far, though, so good...
Japanese Language 2.0, English Language 5.1, English Subtitles, Textless Opening and Closing
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.