It has been eight years since D.Gray-man has been on the air. After an impressive 103 episode run and several hiatuses of the manga, it looked like any hope of D.Gray-man returning to television was dwindling into nothingness. Then, last year, a miracle of miracles happened. It was announced that the manga was returning, albeit, quarterly. This was a start as the glimmer of hope returned and then it happened. It was announced soon after that a new anime season of D.Gray-man was green-lit and would air in 2016. With D.Gray-man being one of my favorite animes of all-time, you could imagine my excitement! Did the sequel live up to the awesomeness that the original run had? I’m about to answer that question!
The story of D.Gray-man Hallow picks up right where the original run left off…. Sort of. At the end of the original series, the Black Order was attacked by a Level 4 akuma and was nearly decimated. Left in shambles, they transferred to the North American branch. Here, we join Allen Walker and company on a mission to defeat some akuma, among them is another Level 4. Thanks to the power of their newly blood-infused Innocence (which was shown off at the end of the first series), the battle against the Level 4 goes a lot more smoothly, but it is still rather difficult to defeat. This served as a nice reintroduction to our cast of characters which included Lenalee, Lavi, Krory, Kanda and Miranda.
After our re-introduction, the anime begins to rapidly blow through the source material. They skipped a lot of material in favor of going right into the Third Exorcist Arc where the Order revealed that they have been experimenting with fusing exorcists with akuma to create a new breed of exorcist. This bleeds into the Alma Karma arc where we learn about Kanda’s past and who Alma Karma truly is. After this, the show wraps up with the 14th Noah beginning to awaken in Allen Walker and the introduction of Apocryphos. The series ends with Allen leaving the Black Order with Tikki and Road, thus stopping the anime right before the Searching for Allen Walker arc in the manga.
The storytelling here is bittersweet because while it does stay true to the manga, it really summarizes a lot of what the manga had to offer. It’s a plus because these adapted chapters were during a time where the creator, Katsura Hoshino, was dealing with a hand injury and her art REALLY suffered in her releases. It was so bad that, at times, you couldn’t’ tell who was who and it make reading the chapters really difficult. Couple that with the deep and seemingly convoluted story and you had one big giant mess on your hands. The anime clears a lot of that up and it also serves as a nice refresher for those who are reading the manga for the current story (which isn’t too far ahead of the anime at this point due to its quarterly releases.)
The downside here is the fact that they only gave D.Gray-man Hallow thirteen episodes to work with and if they wanted to use the Searching for Allen Walker arc as a stopping point, then a lot of cuts had to be made and boy did they make some cuts and/or rush things. By the end of episode 2, they had adapted SEVEN chapters of the manga. Typically, an anime episode will adapt 1-2 chapters. A lot of condensing was had, but at the same time, the arcs that were condensed were some of the uninteresting arcs as well so it was kind of good, but kind of bad at the same time. Fans of the series looking for a more fulfilling adaptation didn’t get it here, but even with rushing the content, it still managed to follow the manga without any deviation.
Allen Walker’s backstory is starting to unfold and it is getting really interesting. The revelation that he was the 14th Noah isn’t anything new. We saw that at the end of the original run of D.Gray-man… especially when he could play the 14th’s piano to control the ark. Here, we were only teased with the full backstory of the 14th and his relationship with The Millennium Earl and Allen Walker, but there was no way for the anime to actually tell the entire story because the manga hasn’t even completed the backstory as of the time of this review.
In fact, the manga has finished the Searching for Allen Walker arc and now they are just a couple of chapters beyond that as they are now talking about Allen/Nea/Mana/Earl’s history. We saw the situation that Lavi and Bookman were in during the anime. They had been captured by the Noah and were being questioned about the 14th. In the manga, they still haven’t been recovered and their fate is still unknown.
This is actually pretty sad, to be honest. Here it has been EIGHT YEARS since the original D.Gray-man ended and after just thirteen episodes, the anime almost caught up to the manga. That is a testament to how many times this series had been delayed in print form. That after eight whole years, there was only enough adaptable material to cover one more arc which, honestly, could have been adapted in one to two episodes. Three if you really wanted to stretch it. With the pace that the manga is going at now, in which they are releasing a 20-35 page chapter every three months, I highly doubt we will see this animated again any time soon, which is really sad.
The cast has not changed all that much since the original series. I have a review of the original run of D.Gray-man here on The Outerhaven so if you want some details on the original characters, please refer to that review (which you can do so by clicking here.)
What I am going to talk about is how poorly these characters have been portrayed. The entire cast had been changed and everyone who voiced a character on this show eight years ago were either not contacted or made the decision not to reprise their role. This meant that an all-new cast was set up to voice our beloved characters and because as such, nobody felt like they were the same. Not only were some of the voices off, but some of the character’s personalities were off as well. The new voice actors just couldn’t nail down the original personalities of the characters and long-time fans of the series found this change very distracting.
This, of course, didn’t matter for the new characters introduced, such as the Third Exorcists, Alma Karma and the remaining members of the Noah Clan because these were the first time we have seen them in animated form, but for everyone else who had been a staple of the series, it was a complete and total letdown.
There are a couple of new characters to touch upon though so let’s have a look at them
He is the newest exorcist to join the Black Order. He is a young orphan that has a unique power in the form of a spirit that resides in a jewel embedded into his forehead. This spirit grants him the power to take over any akuma equal or lesser size than him and use their powers. It’s very similar (in fact it’s completely identical) to Axl’s power from the Mega Man X video game franchise. Timothy’s personality is that of a little brat, but his world gets turned upside down one day and while he does retain some childish nuances, he does end up maturing a bit. He does cry a lot, though and that got a bit annoying, especially with the new art style which I’ll touch upon later. Timothy does get relegated to background duty once introduced, only making an appearance towards the end of the series where he gets his moment to shine once again.
SPOILERS BEGIN HERE
Alma is one of the children, along with Kanda, that were experimented upon by the Black Order as part of the Third Exorcist program. After they were deemed as failures, they were to be disposed of, but when Alma witnessed Kanda about to be put to death, he went on a rampage and attempted to take Kanda away with him, but Alma couldn’t evade the Order. Alma was captured and imprisoned by the Order. Alma became the progenitor of the third exorcists as they fused his cells with new candidates to create, what would eventually be known as, The Crows.
Alma had a big heart and only wanted a friend. Despite his loneliness, he always tried to keep a smile on his face. This irritated Kanda and caused him to push Alma away, but Alma never gave up. The two of them fought over and over as kids, but after Kanda was captured by the Order post-escape attempt, he ended up battling a more deranged Alma. Kanda ended up believing that he killed his friend. After the backstory arc we see that Alma is alive and well and had been awakened by The Millennium Earl. The awakening of Alma Karma was to induce emotion in Kanda which would, in turn, induce emotion in Allen Walker for the sole purpose of awakening the 14th inside of Allen.
SPOILERS END HERE
They briefly touch upon what Apocryphos is, but he is a being created by The Black Order to protect The Heart. The Noah let Allen escape back to the Order so that they can lure out Apocyphos, which they do. Tikki and Road try and get information out of him, but Apocryphos is an incredibly powerful monster and it causes them to retreat. Masquerading as a cardinal for The Black Order, not many people realize just who he is. Levielle and a few of his investigators are the only ones who know the cardinal’s true identity. I would akin his personality to that of the liquid metal terminator from Terminator 2: Judgment Day. He is very monotone and tunnel visioned in his objectives. He is extremely hard to stop and will continue pushing forward until his objective has been completed.
The new characters were rather interesting and Alma Karma had to be the best out of all of them. The Crows were just starting to get interesting at the end before the series wrapped up and they realized that they were merely tools for The Order and they decided to embrace their akuma sides and serve The Millennium Earl instead.
The new members of The Noah Clan, I just couldn’t get attached to because we had so little time to get to know them. At least in the original run we were introduced to them one by one so we had a chance to know them. By the time the known members were revealed (being Tikki, Road, Skin, Jasdevi and Lulubel), we had known about them, their pasts, their powers and their purposes. Now, they just happened to dump all of the remaining Noah characters onto us at once with no backstory and the only one that got any kind of highlight was Wisely. Wisely even had more of a spotlight on him in the manga, but here in the anime, even he was trimmed down just a bit.
It was a completely overload and was poorly handled. Hell, this series could have run for about 52 episodes if they planned it right. They could have started out the series with a recap episode to get people caught up to speed, followed by the missing arc they cut out. Actually adapt each chapter a bit more to flesh out the story and possibly do some filler where we are introduced to the newest members of the Noah Clan one by one before continuing on with the main story. Even though people hate filler, I’m sure Hoshino would have provided some backstories for TMS Entertainment to work with. They could have really stretched it out and given us more information (i.e. more clarification) as to who these characters are rather than just dumping them all one us. In case you’re wondering, the manga also did the same thing so it’s not a problem with the source material lacking.
Art, Animation, and Sound
TMS Entertainment did the original D.Gray-man as well as D.Gray-man Hallow. After seeing the two side by side, I have to wonder just HOW IN THE BLUE HELL did TMS screw up the character designs THAT BADLY. Everyone looked “like” their former selves, but they were NOT their former selves at all. Hell, Miranda had black here in the original and here she’s a brunette! Allen’s scar and akuma eye were changed along with his eye color. In the original he had grey-ish eyes and here his eyes were light purple.
In addition to the characters looking really off, the art style was also changed as well. It looked like someone took Microsoft Paint and glopped some color over some sketch drawings. Like here are a couple of comparisons from the 2008 version to the 2016 version so you can see them for yourselves. Everything just looked completely flat and half-assed. Not to mention that the animation was a bit choppy and they really made this feel more “cartoonish” compared to the original.
The OST was highly disappointing. I don’t know if they did it for nostalgia or were just lazy, but they just reused the original OST from the 2008 version of the show. I mean, the original OST had 3 volumes released so there was plenty of music, but come on… it’s been eight years, give us something new. The OP song, “Key – Bring it on, My Destiny” by Lenny Code Fiction grew on me. At first, it didn’t have the same kind of tone the first three openings to the original D.Gray-man had, but the song itself was great and as a standalone track, I love it. The ending theme though was beautiful and I do think that actually fit the motif of the show. Then again, “Lotus Pain” was performed by Mashiro Ayano, who previously did work on Fate/stay night Unlimited Blade Works which carried the same kind of atmosphere about it so it was a great pairing for the series.
I’m a huge D-Gray-man fan and if it weren’t for the fact that I wanted to make sense of the manga, I would say completely skip this. While the story was good, it was rushed too much. You didn’t get enough time to absorb yourself into the new cast of characters and the cartoonish way they treated a lot of the scenes in this series, really detracted from the drama that the manga brought forth. I believe it was a poor adaptation that should have been handled a lot differently, but perhaps they were aiming for a different demographic. Who knows?
All I know is that this adaptation seemed like a slap in the face to D.Gray-man fans, but at the same time, while we all wish it could have been better, we are thankful that we did get what we were given because at the very least we could see the story animated. Maybe since I’m a huge fan of the series, I’m being a bit too harsh here, but that’s the beauty of having an opinion. I get to express it and all of you have the right to agree or disagree and/or share your own.
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Great for discerning the manga, but the rushed nature and the way they just throw new characters at you makes D.Gray-man Hallow a less than desirable adaptation.