Allen's back, and facing a few more missions for the Black Order: there are Innocences to be found, documents to be delivered '" and world-changing plans by the Millennium Earl to be thwarted, which isn't going to be easy, given how long he seems to have been planning for this'
What They Say
Valiant demon-hunter Allen Walker and his comrades remain steadfast in their quest to recover the lost Innocence while slaying the undead minions of evil's most terrifying army. When the treacherous Millennium Earl senses a shift in the balance of power, the wicked leader of the Akuma summons forth a band of rogue warriors that will shake the Black Order to its very core. The battle to decide the fate of mankind has begun. Should Walker fail, Innocence will be lost forever.
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 one of the characters striking a pose against a patterened dark background (Lenalee on disc one, Lavi 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.
Not too much here, unfortunately. Disc one includes an audio commentary for episode 18, while disc two has the obligatory creditless opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Two discs, thirteen episodes, four distinct story arcs '" that's what we get from this set. As ever, there are good bits and bad bits (and if I told you that Kanda tags along for one of the missions this time around, you could probably figure out where the bad bits are), so let's see what we've got.
First up is an Innocence hunt, to a town that's experiencing unusually cold weather. The Order thinks may be related to the presence of an Innocence in the area, and so Allen is tasked with investigating. Unfortunately, he's been partnered with Kanda for this trip, not to mention a few hangers-on who have insisted on coming along for their own reasons, so even before he leaves the Order, Allen knows he's in for a tough mission. Shortly after they arrive at their destination, they find an old man and young girl passed out in the blizzard - Allen helps the pair reach the safety of their hotel, where they first hear of the Leaf of Revival, an old Norse artefact that legend has lies in the area. Could this be what they're looking for..?
The travellers are young girl Elda and her father, who is carrying some emotional baggage that could well make him a candidate for a visit by the Earl sometime in the future. The Leaf of Revival, rumour has it, has the power to raise the dead, and Elda's father is hoping to use it to save Elda's elder sister, who was killed when their home burnt down. The search for the Leaf becomes something of a race, between Elda & her father, Allen, and the group of Akuma that the Millennium Earl has sent to retrieve it for him. This arc is probably the weakest on the disc, as it doesn't throw anything in the way of surprises at the audience '" the story is laid out very clearly, and the show doesn't deviate from the way that you'd expect it to play out. It's okay as far as it goes, but nothing spectacular.
Likewise the following arc, which takes a thousand-year-old story of love and tragedy and does not an awful lot with it. The ongoing search for General Cross, though, gets us back on track with the best arc of the series so far. It's been a while since the Order last had any contact with the General, long enough for Komui to be worried, and since Allen has had past connections with him, he's been chosen to go find him. His search takes him to a remote village, where as soon as the locals see the crest on his uniform he's arrested and very thoroughly bound. It seems that a vampire lives in a nearby castle, going by the grand name of Baron Krory - he'd left the villagers alone for many years, but recently seems to have begun feeding again. Since Allen's crest matches the one of a man who prophesied that someone would follow him who would kill the vampire, he's just found himself with an unexpected job to do...
The man who left the prophesy was General Cross, natch, and it's only since his visit that Krory has been acting so strangely. Whether that's the fault of Cross himself, or of the Baron's new woman Eliade, is just one of the mysteries that the arc works itself through, and along the way there's plenty of action, a few neat little story twists and turns as Eliade's true identity is explored, and some fun along the way as well (giant man-eating plants that make triffids look harmless? Score!). Eliade herself is one of those 'guest' characters who you just wish could be kept permanently '" she has attitude, loyalty, and a score of other qualities that make her great fun to watch, and she steals the show in pretty much every scene she appears. Krory, on the other hand, isn't quite so much fun to watch, but he's not without his charm '" a man who, left to his own devices, would be as peaceful and harmless as you're ever likely to meet, but who through no fault of his own is now having to deal with a growing vampiric nature. He's more of a negative character than Eliade is, but his story is no less important.
Toss in some comedy, with Komui doing his best to interfere in Lenalee's love-life (with highly-destructive results), and the beginning of the Millennium Earl's plan to unleash hell on Earth '" which begins during the final episode in this set and will run on to the next '" and there's plenty here to keep you entertained.
At its heart, of course, D.Gray-man is a shounen fighting show, and the action that goes along with that is rightly at the core of the show. It's a side of the show that, personally, I don't much care for either way, but the series wraps it with some decent characters and storylines that do work for me. Not my favourite fighting series (yet?), but getting there.
Japanese Language 2.0, English Language 5.1, English Subtitles, Audio Commentary for Episode 18, Creditless Opening & Closing Songs
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.