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DVD Review

DVD cover

Series 1 - Part 1


Starring (voice): Sanae Kobayashi, Ai Shimizu, Hiroki Touchi and Hiroshi Yanaka
Manga Entertainment
RRP: £22.99
Certificate: 12
Available 22 February 2010

Allen Walker isn’t your average fifteen year old boy, for a start he has a piece of innocence material embedded in his left arm, which allows the arm to be transformed into a monstrous claw, a claw he uses to destroy the Akuma. His power makes him a natural exorcist and a worthy addition to the Black Order, a group of exorcists dedicated to stopping the evil Earl and his army of Akumas...

D.Gray-Man (2006-2008) is a gothic horror anime series based on the manga written by Katsura Hoshino, detailing a long standing battle between good and evil. The show ran for a total of 103 episodes and this current DVD set covers the first thirteen episodes of the show's fifty-one episode first series.

The series visual look remains faithful to the original manga with the Millennium Earl looking like he’s just stepped out of Yellow Submarine (1968).

The first episode, The Boy Who Hunts Akuma, introduces us to our young hero as he arrives in London. He immediately gets embroiled in a case where the police suspect him of murder; little knowing that it is the work of an Akuma. Apart from introductions the show informs the novice about Akumas. When a loved one dies, if someone curses God, the Earl will arrive offering to return the soul of the departed. Many accept this offer, but in doing so the Earl uses the dead soul to power an Akuma, a fighting machine. And, to add insult to injury, the recently resurrected soul tears the skin off the other person so that they can pass into the world unseen - unseen that is except for Allen who has a unique eye that can see into souls allowing him to detect even disguised Akuma.

Both factions, The Black Order and The Millennium Earl, are scouring the planet for the one hundred and nine fragments of Innocence, a mental which can be made into a powerful weapon, which was scattered during the great biblical flood.

Episode two, The Black Order, is where the story really begins, with Allen arriving at the order's door only to be mistaken for an Akuma and attacked by Yu Kanda. This relationship will eventually drive much of the conflict in the show. Having attained admittance the show settles in, introducing the main characters until Allan and Yu are sent of their first mission to recover a fragment of innocence.

Episodes three, four and five - The Ghost of Mater; Old Man of the Soil; and A Lonely Night's Aria, Let Me Hear the Lullaby - make up a single story with Allen and Kanda travelling to the deserted city of Mater. At this point we are introduced to another level in the Black Order, the Finders, who quite literally go out into the world to find innocence for the exorcists to recover. This is a bitter sweet tale about the love of a man for a doll; the company they provided for each other has kept them both alive. Of course along the way Kanda and Allen run into a clown Akuma who has killed the city's Finders.

The series stops to catch its breath with a couple of short stories. Episodes six and seven - That Which Calls Forth Disaster and Tombstone of Memories – has Allen returning to the Order and on the road meeting a young boy who wishes to fight Akuma without any real idea just how dangerous they are. On his return the show pauses to fill in some of Allen’s background before episode eight - The Black Order Annihilation Incident - which is a story about an out of control robot, played strictly for laughs.

Episode nine, ten, eleven, twelve and thirteen - The Rewinding Town; The Bad Luck Woman's Innocence; Miranda Lotto's Feelings; And Snow Falls Over the Town; With the Coat - represent another mission for Allen, this time teamed up with Lenalee. The two are sent to a town where the same day keeps repeating and only a single resident appears to be aware of this and that awareness is driving her mad.

The audio on the set comes in two flavours either a very respectable English 5.1 track or the original 2.0 Japanese track. Disc one comes with a full length commentary for episode two with Todd Haberkorn (the director and voice of Allen), Lucy Christian (Lenalee) talking about the show and how they approached their characters. On the second disc the extras are a textless opening sequence - 'Innocent Sorrow' - and a textless closing sequence - 'Snow Kiss'.

The show is well balanced and, apart from the stories which are designed to be funny, remains skewed more towards drama. It is a well draw show with a high level of animation, but then so many shows start off this way only to degenerate over time. At the outset it looks to be a show worth collecting especially if all future releases contain thirteen episodes.


Charles Packer

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