Review by: Clive Owen
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $59.98 US
Running Time: 300 minutes
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now
What price would you be willing to pay to bring back the dead?
You wouldn’t know by looking at him but Allen Walker is a powerful young Exorcist with the power that shocks even the seasoned Exorcists that have waged a war against the Akuma threat. If you know who Allen Walker is then you are familiar with the Shonen Jump Advanced manga of the same name as FUNimation brings us the first 13-episodes of Season One Part One of D. Gray-Man.
In a nineteenth century alternate version of England, a 15-year old boy with snow white hair gets out of a coach looking for a cat that was entrusted to him that hopped out into the street where a female police officer comes into contact with a demon that is known as an Akuma. As fellow officer are slaughtered right before her eyes, this young boy with the white hear turns to face it with his left hand suddenly turns into a weapon and an eye that can see into the Akuma’s very being. This boy is Allen Walker, a young Exorcist who happens to be the apprentice of a famous Exorcist.
Under the order of his mentor, Allen has come to England to join the Black Order of exorcists that fight the Akuma. More importantly, Allen is here to put an end to the reason there are Akuma in the first place and that is to stop an evil force known only as the Millennium Earl. Who is the Millennium Earl and why does he wish to see the world burn? All we really know is that Earl shows up to convince those grieving from the loss of a loved one with the offer to bring said loved one back from the dead … for a price he never really mentions until the risen dead devours the one that turned him/her into a vile-looking demon capable of twisting its body into a weapon.
Unfortunately, Allen isn’t exactly welcomed with open arms when he does manage to find the Exorcist’s headquarters and immediately angers a fellow exorcist named Kanda who also happens to be a swordsman as well. He does find that the Black Order has more than enough resources to get the job done thanks to a science department run by a likeable Chief. His abilities are quickly noticed by his new comrades who have never seen powers quite like his and it soon becomes known that Allen Walker is cursed … but in a good way. I’d explain but I’d be ruining a big part of the story you really must see for yourself.
Unlike the manga, the anime gets the explanations out of the way rather quickly, spelling out the Black Order’s true mission is to collect fragments – called Innocence – of an ancient cube dropped on Earth. This mission isn’t going to be easy seeing as the Millennium Earl is also after the fragments as well. Speaking of missions, Allen takes on his first mission with Kanda and a Finder (an operative that sniffs out the Akuma) named Toma to an abandoned town called Mater that is haunted by a ghost. What they discover is a very dangerous clown-like Akuma as well as a young man and a young girl … all of which could be the famous “Ghost of Mater.”
On their way back from their lengthy and intense mission in Mater, Allen encounters a town where a young man has cried Akuma one too many times that all the people that know him are finally tired of him. The only one who believes him is Allen who discovers that this boy is the son of one of the exorcists working in headquarters. In order to protect him, Allen heads back to the town just in time to discover that the boy’s friend leads the kid to the Millennium Earl. It is here that Allen Walker meets face-to-face with Earl in a fight that reveals a lot about the young man. It’s lucky that Allen gets some backup from the Chief’s cute sister, Lenalee.
In another mission, Allen and Lenalee head to a town where a woman named Miranda Lotto who is living the same day again and again to the point that the poor girl is going crazy. As the two Exorcists try to discover the cause of this strange phenomenon, Millennium Earl’s “family” sends an agent of evil to find the cause as well. This agent comes in the form of a goth girl named Road Kamelot that proves to be quite intimidating and overly dangerous. They battle to save Miranda who they see as a key to the location of Innocence.
The battle between Road, Allen and Lenalee leaves the two Exorcists badly injured to the point that Allen begins to worry about his right eye that allows him to see Akuma quickly. Without the eye he becomes a target for Akuma attack but thankfully he meets a new friend named Lavi that befriends him. The battle against the Millennium Earl is but the beginning of a bigger picture, it seems.
Fans of the manga will quickly find out that the anime pushes the action above the story and thus really doesn’t give you a chance to warm up to the rest of the cast of characters much like the manga does. Secondly, the English dub is all over the place when it comes to the accents that doesn’t make the series feel like it takes place in Europe. It is good to see that the series does capture some of the lighter moments of the series, like the single episode where one of the Chief’s robot creations chases Allen and Lenalee around headquarters or Kanda’s insistence in calling Allen “Short Stack.”
In the end, D. Gray-Man, Season One Part One is a decent version of this excellent manga series albeit not a very perfect anime. With an emphasis on action rather than building character or offering a more inspiring story, the series does have its really fun moments that should be entertaining enough for devoted fans of the manga or those who never picked up a volume of the series at all.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
In a world where souls can be corrupted by a powerfully evil force known as the Millennium Earl, a young Exorcist named Allen Walker dares to challenge him in an attempt to not only cleanse the troubled souls but also save them. We follow Allen as he looks into the a few cases that has a boy fighting against Akuma, a “ghost” that haunts an abandoned town and a woman experiencing the same day over and over again.
VIDEO QUALITY: B+
The series sports some amazing fight sequences and you have to love the unique visual style that makes everything from clothing to the Millennium Earl himself really stand out. The series can be a tad too dark but it fits the D. Gray Man theme nicely enough.
AUDIO QUALITY: B-
This is a case where the Japanese voice acting is far more superior seeing as the mishmash of accents in the English dub feels a bit out of place given the location and year the story takes place. This is not to say that the dub is bad but just not handled rationally. The opening song “Innocent” by the abingdon boys is a great song and the closing song by NIRGILIS is cool too.
There’s an audio commentary track for Episode 2 in the first disc and textless songs and a few trailers on the second DVD. Other than that, there aren’t many bonus material to enjoy.
Fans of the manga will certainly enjoy a lot about Season One Part One of D. Gray-Man while complain about the few noticeable issues that could have made this a superior anime adaptation. The few problems there are, however, don’t really take away from a great viewing experience for those new to the world of Allen Walker.