What They Say:
Allen trains with the Asia Branch to reclaim his lost Innocence. While he fights on, his comrades make the dangerous journey to Edo only to come face to face with the Millennium Earl. The battle for Japan begins and their only hope lies with God’s Clown.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo and encoded at 192kbps. This is a good mix overall as it handles the action just right and there’s a fair bit of directionality and placement both in those scenes and with the dialogue. It’s not exactly a standout piece but it fits the material well. The English language mix gets the bump up to a 5.1 mix encoded at 448kbps and that has an obviously stronger feel to it when it comes to placement and clarity, particularly during the action sequences. The music is still generally the biggest benefactor when it comes to the 5.1 mixes for shows done in stereo and this is no exception as both the opening and closing songs sound much better overall. We didn’t have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2007, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. This set contains thirteen episodes across three volumes with six each on the first two discs while the third has one episode along with the extras. A large percentage of the series takes place either indoors or at night so there’s a lot of darkness to the show overall, though not an overpowering amount. The transfer for the show is pretty good overall as there isn’t a ton of noise and the backgrounds remain mostly solid throughout. There is noise to be found and the show does have some gradients that are pretty visible from the source material, but they don’t get bad or distracting. Colors are generally solid looking and quite pleasing, especially with the Exorcists uniforms, and when there are brighter exterior scenes it shines even more.
The packaging for this release mirrors the overall look and design of what we had before bit skips out on the thinpaks for the discs inside and instead goes for a clear DVD keepcase to hold the three discs. The slipcover is nicely done with a good framing border with elements from the show while the interior has Allen looking all intent and serious with the shadows wrapping around him in a good way. With a white background, it highlights her character design more and the starkness of it since it’s a black and white suit look to it that works well, especially against this background. There’s some real vibrancy here though and plenty to draw the eye to with the colors that are there. The back of the slipcover is very dark with just an interior shot that you can barely make out which adds to some of the eerie factor of it all. The summary is painfully short though and the shots from the show are even smaller and harder to discern. The discs extras are clearly listed though but even with all this blank space they still push the technical grid to the bottom. I do wish they had laid out more clearly which episodes are included with this set since calling it season three doesn’t quite line up with how the seasons are marketed in Japan and that can get a bit confusing..
The menu design for D.Gray-Man is rather simply but it has that kind of classic elegance to it. Using the same structure as the front cover artwork with the framing as part of the background, it’s mostly just a black filled background with character artwork that’s different for each volume. With the static image and framing/background to it, these are good looking menus overall though a bit minimal in the end. Submenus load nice and fast and navigation is standard material from FUNimation. As is usual, the discs didn’t read our players’ language presets and defaulted to English language.
The extras section is located on the third disc where it contains the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences. We also get a video commentary for one episode and an audio commentary for another. The main new extras here of note is a twenty-two minute piece with Todd Haberkorn essentially doing a run through of the series and its premise. It’s fun and charming but would have been better suited for the first set of this season as well as being put out on streaming to reacquaint fans with it all ahead of the actual releases. It also works as a good primer in general to try and draw fans in with.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Getting back into the D.Gray-man world with the previous set after being away from it for what felt like a decade wasn’t easy. The “season” essentially started in the middle of an ongoing storyline and one where the characters are in different places and conditions. It was not the best way to do things but there weren’t a lot of options since Funimation wanted to get things caught up so they can release the Hallow series. With this set, bringing us thirteen more episodes and halfway toward finishing the back half of the first series, it smoothes events out a bit more and gets into a groove and rhythm that works even if it is still largely standard serialized storytelling stretched out more than it needs to be.
Similar to the previous set this one essentially focuses on two arcs that end up coming together toward the end. The primary arc involves Allen as he continues his training to try and get his Innocence in working order again so he can utilize and have a left arm. We’ve seen the struggles since waking up in the previous set and there’s a decent bit of that here as well, though he’s starting to show flashes of getting it figured out. Not surprisingly, Allen’s a special case that bends the rules to some degree and it looks like the Innocence he had before was essentially a raw and unstable form. So as he begins to master is anew with real training and help here, especially from Fo (when she’s not trying to get him to handle his stuff better by shapeshifting), it ends up taking him to a whole other level. It’s no surprise that he gets back on track and better than before, that’s shounen material for you, but it just feeds that mindset so directly that it’s paint by numbers.
The other main arc involves Kanda and the rest as they make their way to Edo. That’s been a slower and less interesting storyline overall as we struggled through it last time around and this one at least changes it up a bit. Their journey has them dealing with the Akuma there that are not normal as there’s a lot of Akuma on Akuma chowdown action taking place and Chomesuke provides a little context as she does her best to smuggle the group in. There’s some decent smaller moments here but she drives me nuts with “cho” being added to the end of everything and the constant trying to get everyone to call her by a particular name. The Edo storyline does ramp up in intensity fairly quickly as Allen’s return to the field gets closer and even the Earl gets involved along the way with some sizable destruction that paints a clearer picture of just what he’s capable of, even to the point of impressing the Noah’s. That at least serves in reinforcing what they’re doing for him.
Naturally, Allen’s getting back into the swing of things, a transportation device in the mix, and tensions rising in Edo brings everything together so that Allen is back in the field. It’s a kind of chaotic mess and it comes as Lenalee is having her own star shine a bit more as her Innocence is also undergoing a transformation to protect her, further providing easy signals with what to expect from her and the pairing with Allen down the line. The fight with the Noah side of things, getting caught in the ark as it’s being “downloaded” and the fights that ensue are fairly standard pieces. It gets a bit more wonky here with the way events unfold and how they’re trapped in the ark and have to fight their way out while dealing with a sizable opponent in the mix, particularly as you get Tycky essentially being all snobbish and aloof about the whole thing elsewhere, but this is kind of standard-fare in a way. The plus side is that everyone is back together and we’re starting to get some forward progress again after far too much wheel spinning that was going on.
While I’m starting to warm up a bit more to the series after such a long time away and a really awkward reunion, the series still has its structural issues because of its origins and the drawn out nature of it in animated form compounding that. This batch takes about half the set to work through things so that we get some forward momentum again and that definitely helps in the grand scheme of things. Like the previous set it’s a decently put together one with some fun extras for the dub fans and it’s good to just have these legally available for fans so they can continue the story. It’s struggling with the lost momentum that was expected but hopefully it’ll do what it needs to do and the story picks up as we get into the two remaining sets before the Hallow release.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Todd Haberkorn Presents: D.Gray-man, Episode 72 Commentary, Episode 77 Commentary, Textless Opening & Closing Songs
Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: December 12th, 2017
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.