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The eye and the arm,
This review is from: D Gray Man - Series 1 Part 1 [DVD] (DVD)If Tim Burton were ever to attempt a steampunk horror story, then I imagine the results would be something like "D.Gray-man."
And the first thirteen episodes of this gothic, deeply quirky anime attempts just that kind of atmosphere. "D.Grayman: Season 1 Part 1" starts off relatively slowly as it introduces the main storyline, the akuma and the sweet-natured Allan Walker. But the story really blossoms as our likable, haunted hero begins his new life among other exorcists.
Two cops are investigating an abandoned church when Officer Moore encounters a strange boy with a deformed hand, Allen Walker. After her partner is killed, Allen manages to save Moore from an akuma -- an enslaved human soul under the control of the evil Millennium Earl. When Allen is placed under house arrest in Moore's home, he reveals that the akuma is nearby... and its origins lie in a horrific tragedy from Moore's own past. Only Allen can stop it.
Later Allen arrives at the clifftop Exorcist Headquarters to introduce himself as an official exorcist. But things don't go very smoothly -- he's mistaken for a spy, the exorcists are weirdos, and the place is governed by mad genius Komui and eerie Hevlaska. But Allen finds out just what "Innocence" is, and why the exorcists are racing to find it.
His first missions are no less stressful: first Allen is called to accompany antisocial swordsman Kanda to an abandoned city haunted by a "ghost"... and a shapeshifting akuma. And he encounters a young boy determined to fight the akuma, but unaware that someone close to him is one -- and a face-to-face encounter with the Earl reveals the horrifying reason Allen became an exorcist.
Then Komui's sister Lenalee is sent with Allen to a town that is repeating the same day over and over -- and only the pitiful Miranda Lotto notices. But their mission is complicated by a mysterious human girl who has come to locate the hidden Innocence... and take it for the Earl.
Cyborg demons, cross-embedded magic arms, virus-filled biobullets, giant glowing worms with collagen lips, and a mountain fortress filled with eccentric exorcists out to save the world from a grinning, rotund demon who looks like a Blue Meanie and may (or may not) have rabbit ears. Yup, "D.Gray-man" is not your typical manga series, even as quirky horror goes.
And "D.Grayman: Season 1 Part 1" does an excellent job sticking to Hoshino Katsura's manga series, introducing a gothic Victorian world and introducing the akuma, the Earl, and the exorcists. It also lays the groundwork for what the Earl's plans are, and what the exorcists are doing. It's a pretty standard "get the artifacts before the bad guys do" goal, but with a couple interesting twists.
And along the way, we're given plenty of explosive, horrific action with macabre creatures, graveyards, little shadowy towns, and the tragic, horrific origins of the akuma. But lest the series become too grim, we get plenty of funny stuff as well -- including an entire episode devoted to Komui's deranged robot rampaging through Headquarters, trying to operate on the exorcists.
Allen is a pretty endearing hero from the start -- polite, apologetic, selfless and courageous, even when people are nasty to him. But he becomes truly striking character it's shown how got his cursed eye, white hair, and ability to kill akuma. He's backed by a solid supporting cast -- the snotty Kanda, sweet-natured Lenalee, eccentric Komui and frenetically depressed Miranda. And the Earl is a very creepy villain -- not just because he wants to kill God, but because he smiles cheerfully even as he destroys people.
"D.Grayman: Season 1 Part 1" has a few episodes that don't quite reach "superb," but it's an excellent start to an outstanding anime series. Absolutely brilliant -- and promises to get even better.