There's a reason why superhero origin stories get retold so often. The public if only by osmosis is generally hip to how Bruce Wayne became the Batman so the artist or film maker is free to put something of his own stamp on the tale and not have to worry about losing the non geeks in the audience. Batman: Year One was first a graphic novel and now a DC direct to DVD animation thatis about Batman's first year on the job.
Except it isn't.
The nice thing about this particular retelling is that the real hero our favorite police man, Jim Gordon. This is his first year in Gotham as well, and he has to worry about corrupt cops and his pregnant wife and now some weirdo is running around dressed as a bat. Obviously, a very stressful time for Gordon. He tries hard to be a good man in a very bad year, but he's not a superhero. Sometimes he fails, as when he fools around with another cop. It is Gordon's struggles that make this a compelling story.
Other parts, not so much. I don't like the retcon of making Catwoman a prostitute. It just seems lazy thinking to me, and doesn't really fit the character of Selena. Batman's part of the story is so well known that it can't help but feel by the numbers at time. Though I do like that they show that because under the batmask he's still just a man that wounds just don't magically heal on their own. As an aside, when Bruce dies the M.E. is going to have a field day looking at the scars. Parts of his body must look like an old oak tree.
So, over all I liked it, but its not a perfect show. DC has done better, but they still do better with animation than their track record with movies. There is no DC animation equivalent to "Batman and Robin."