The story so far
In the previous set, Allen has regained the use of his innocence and renamed it Clown Crown. Using a strange device called Noah’s Ark he quickly rejoins his group which is in combat with the Millenial Earl and colossal Akuma. Having traveled to Edo believing that General Cross might be there to do battle with the Earl. Allen comes into combat with the Earl, even with his power up he’s outmatched but the Earl is unable to make a solid attack. While Crory, Lavi and Bookman attempt to destroy the Akuma.
The story in this one
Pushed to their limits because of their injuries and the power of their foes, they are all rescued by the timely arrival of a general as well as Kanda in his retinue. After the fight, Lenalee is kidnapped through an opening in the ground causing several of the nearby characters to jump in after her. They find themselves trapped in a collapsing Noah’s Ark with only three hours until everything collapses into nothingness. Informed by Tikki Meek there is only a single exit somewhere in the city, they begin to scour the city. Encountering powerful opponents, can the group find the means to escape this death trap?
You would think with the ramp up in action that there wouldn’t be much room for character growth. Even I thought there was going to be a long gap before we got the chance to see characterization for awhile. I was wrong, forgetting that there are plenty of shows that have managed to subtly sneak in past stories. This set isn’t any different for the protagonist, but oddly takes the extra time to grow the characters of the Noah. Forgetting that they actually are people themselves, I thought that it was really…well cool to see this. I know that this isn’t something new, Fairy Tale does the same thing. But, it’s still something interesting when it happens. And it can also make even the victories of the heroes rather bitter sweet for the viewer, as the vested interest in the new character is cut down.
There’s even a chance for growth from characters that we thought we had figured out from previous seasons. Both Kanda and Crory both get a chance to fill in the few remaining gaps in their backstory. It isn’t much, but then again they’re both fairly well rounded at this point. So it’s mostly just some polish for them. Still, it’s welcomed when it’s delivered in this fashion.
What isn’t is when characters receive rapid development, such as when tertiary characters begin to receive large amounts of character growth, it gives away the plans that the series has for them. Not to mention when you see that character doing something rather impossible in the opening sequence. One such character gets multiple flashbacks during one of the fights and it’s not surprising at all that he gains the power of innocence. It’s not at bad thing, but would have been better to surprise us with the elevation first and then during some crisis have the flashbacks.
Animation and Music
Things get a bit flashier here, with large single combat fights. For instance, Skinn Bolic’s armor, which we got a glimpse of in the final episode last season, is impressively designed. The lighting effects coming off of it are impressive as they catch the overhead illumination as well as the illumination from Kanda’s swords. Their attacks also come off as unique to the fighting styles of the fighters, adding a little bit more flash to the scene.
There are a few old musical scores that make a return here. Each is melancholy and appear during times of impending doom. They add weight to the sacrifices that all of the characters need to make. And what’s more, it adds to the decisions that they make further on. The audiences sees what’s happening when the others don’t. Of course, when that same music start playing again later on it does give away what’s going to happen. Not that the fact this is a very Shonen series didn’t do that already, but red flags tend to block the vision of the plot.
Pacing feels a little off in this part, mostly because of the large scale fights that are happening. It’s hard to tell if time is just flowing awkwardly in the Ark. Or more than likely, the ticking clock is sped up for dramatic effect. Either way it throws the flow of the show to go from large amounts of time to just a handful of minutes, when if you look at how the series is running, there’s only a few minutes of actual time passing. Coupled with the flashbacks, which as I said earlier were important for character building, do take away from the urgency of the situation.
The Box Art
Switching back from the light box art from the last box set, this one goes to a morose dark to better match the mood of the series. The choice for Kanda is a bit of an odd one given he only is in two episodes. A better choice might have been Lavi as he has a much higher impact and growth than the other characters. The inner art on the inside of the casing is a nice touch, and a bit of a spoiler. So if you haven’t watched it, don’t take out all the discs until you’ve watched enough of this box set.
I liked the overall fights. They might have fallen into a predictable pattern of how they would play out, except for the last one, but they were still fun to watch. I liked the advancement in characters for not just the heroes but also developing the Noah. So I strongly recommend that if you like the D.Gray-Man series, you pick up the first half of season four, or watch it since it’s up on Funimation’s streaming service.
Until next time…
D. Gray Man - Season 4, Part One
- Fight scenes for everyone!
- Character growth for everyone, even the enemies
- Unique fighting sequences for each person
- The flashbacks bog down the urgency
- Spoilers in the opening sequence and the box art