D.Gray-man Review

Back when I was starting to become interested in anime, there were a couple of shows that grabbed my attention. A story of a boy sent to an organization to become an exorcist in order to fight against the demons of the world was one of those animes. I would like to reflect back and review a series that helped grow my interest in anime. This is my review of Katsura Hoshino’s D.Gray-man!

Let’s jam!

The Story

It’s the fictional end of the 19th century. Religion as we know has manifested into a supernatural state. A young boy by the name of Allen Walker is sent to an organization known as The Black Order in order to become an exorcist… a person who wields the power of Innocence in order to combat the evil Millennium Earl and his brand of Akuma demons.

The anime takes us through most of the manga, however, due to a myriad of circumstances involving accusations and plagiarism, the author’s health, an injury to the author’s hand, and multiple hiatuses, the source material for D.Gray-man began to wear thin and the anime was cancelled after 103 episodes. While the manga continues today, D.Gray-man still managed to cover a vast majority of the content.

The anime showcases the journey of Allen Walker through the Black Order and how he adapts to becoming an exorcist. On the flipside, we have the Millennium Earl looking for The Heart… a piece of Innocence that is said to be the origin of all Innocence. If the heart is destroyed, then all Innocence will disappear, meaning that the one thing that can defeat the Earl and cause him harm will vanish from the world and it will lead to the world’s destruction.

The Millennium Earl isn’t doing this alone, however. He manipulates people into handing over their loved ones in order for them to be turned into Akuma and the exchange of the other’s life. The Akuma become soulless demons that will obey the Millennium Earl’s every command. The exorcists exist in order to “save” these demons by destroying the Akuma and setting the soul of the person free so they may finally rest in peace. Among the demons are the thirteen members of the Noah Clan. They are named after the same Noah that built the ark and saved the animals from God’s flood. Each member of the clan represents a different part of Noah himself. They, too, serve the Millennium Earl and possess extreme powers. They are The Black Order’s greatest threat next to the Earl himself.

The series itself doesn’t end with a resolution since the source material ran out, but it does leave things open for a second run if Hoshino’s D.Gray-man ever returns to prominence within the manga world. It would be nice to see this series continue on as there is enough material to cover at least another fifty episodes, but time will tell on that aspect.

The Characters

The characters themselves are very rich and diverse in their history and like any long-running shounen battle series, there are quite the number of them. Katsura Hoshino did an amazing job with her story-telling and character development to the point where you feel attached to every single one of her characters.

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Allen Walker – He is the series’ main protagonist. He bears a curse mark over his left eye which turns red when Akuma are present, giving him an edge above all other exorcists in the fact that he can tell who is Akuma and who is truly human. His innocence starts off as a demonic-looking hand that can transform into an arm cannon of sorts or into an energy sword. Over time, his innocence goes through some trials and tribulations, but gets to evolve over time. This is seen in the whole Crown Clown arc where Allen receives his typical main character power up. There are many secrets revolving around Allen Walker and even some that are still being revealed in the manga today. He is, probably, one of the most dynamic characters in anime because of this and is really well built all around. There are many different faces of Allen Walker and Hoshino has made him wear each one very well.

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Lenalee Lee – She is our lead female protagonist who sees Allen as a love interest, but they never really state that. Just through the subtle nuances of the character… the tone and inflection in the voice acting, her actions and body language, you know there is an interest there, but it’s one of those relationships where it’s not blatantly obvious, but it’s just subtle enough to where you tip your hat at it and give it the slight nod of acceptance. Even in the manga today, they never show any signs that the interest is there, but sometimes, it’s best to let the viewer’s imagination run wild. Lord knows many doujinshi artists already have. Lenalee as an overall character kind of reminds of me Sakura from Naruto… except not nearly as useless. Some things happen to her throughout the show that don’t exactly paint her as a strong heroine, but unlike Sakura in Naruto, Lenalee actually gets a moment to shine and achieves some redeeming qualities to her character. Perhaps Kishimoto-san should take notes!

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Yuu Kanda – Kanda is the stern, serious, disciplined swordsman of the anime. He finds all things annoying and he posses one of the most amazing pieces of Innocence in the anime. His sword, Mugen, has many different stages, each growing in power. As we see Kanda evolve as a character, we seen his powers do as well. Kanda has a bit of a tragic backstory to him as well which makes him a relatable character and it certainly explains how he became the way he did and why there are certain aspects about his character. He’s another well-balanced character that really shines in the series… plus, thanks to him we get a nice running joke to where he keeps referring to Allen as “Moyashi” which is Japanese for bean sprout due to how thin Allen is to which Allen will always reply with “Allen desu” which roughly translates to “It is Allen” or in this context “My name is Allen.” Good stuff!

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Lavi & Bookman – I’m lumping these two together because they go hand in hand. Bookman is the current head of the war archives division of The Black Order and while he and Lavi possess fighting skills, their main job is to tag along with the exorcists and document everything that happens. Every battle.. every war… every event doesn’t escape the Bookmen. In fact, we never learn Bookman’s real name because there is no need for it. Due to his profession, he only needs the title of Bookman as a label. Lavi is Bookman’s protege and is being trained to be his successor; however, events transpire and those plans end up changing.

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Arystor Krory – Krory is introduced during an exorcist mission to investigate his mansion. Many have mistaken Krory as an Akuma, however we learn it was actually Krory’s love interest that was one all along. His Innocence consists of vampire fangs so he takes on a Count Dracula-style character which is pretty interesting in and of itself. He joins The Black Order and later on has an amazing fight that needs to be seen! He is rather timid, but that changes over time. His backstory, personality, and his growth have made him a great character!

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Miranda Lotto – Just like Krory, she, too, joins The Black Order after the exorcists investigate the mystery of the rewinding town. Turns out it was just Miranda’s Innocence.. the power to control time in limited fashion, that was causing the anomaly. Miranda’s character is very sheepish and shy. She feels as if she is a burden to society and doesn’t wish to be bothered. She would rather spend her days alone, however, she, too grows, and comes out of her shell and becomes an amazing overall character. She still has some hints of her original character about her, but her confidence and her strength shine through making her very relatable!

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General Marian Cross – Cross is one of the four Generals of the Black Order and is the only member of the Black Order that has the power to wield two difference Innocences. Cross was a friend of Mana D. Campbell… Allen Walker’s father. When Allen turned his father into an Akuma, Cross was charged with taking care of him and it was Cross that sent Allen to The Black Order. Cross, however, is a very eccentric man… hopping from tavern to tavern and leaving without paying, however, he does set it up to where an unsuspecting Allen walks in and ends up having to pay off his debt every time by working hard at said random tavern. Allen spends most of his childhood chasing after Cross with his only clues being the taverns he drank and never paid his tabs at… and the occasional free range chicken wearing his hat.

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Komui Lee – He is the head of this particular branch of The Black Order. He’s the one who sends Allen out on missions and is a bit of a mad scientist and an airhead at the same time. He also loves his coffee.

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Millennium Earl – The main antagonist of the series. I outlined him a bit above, but he also has taken a keen interest in Allen Walker. There is something about Allen that seems all too familiar to the Millennium Earl and in addition to finding The Heart, the Earl feels that he is destined to cross paths with Allen, but he never truly understands why.

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The Noah Clan – While there are thirteen members, we are only introduced to a handful in the anime: Road Kamelot (The Dreams of Noah), Skin Boric (The Hatred of Noah), Tyki Mikk (The Pleasure of Noah), Jasdero & Devitt aka Jasdevi (The Bonds of Noah), and Lulu Bell (The Lust of Noah). While more were revealed in the manga, these five serve as the main force that stand in the way of The Black Order. Road has the power to trap people in dreams as well as control the Ark.. a gateway system allowing for teleportation and transportation. Tyki has the ability to reject reality and pass through things he decides he doesn’t want to touch. He also has cannibalistic butterflies that can turn people into a breeding ground for more of them. Skin Boric possesses the power of lightning and can electrify anything that he touches, Lulu Bell possesses the powers of shapeshifting, and Jasdero and Devitt can combine into one being known as Jasdevi and use their hair as a sinister weapon. As separate entities, they share a pair of golden guns that contain different colored bullets which can summon fireballs, trap people in slime, or paint masks on people’s faces forcing them to see illusions. They combine by shooting each other in the head.. how lovely.

This rounds out the main cast of characters. There are many side characters, but discussing some of them may lead to spoilers.

Art, Animation, and Sound

For an anime that aired from 2006 to 2008, it looks pretty good. The characters are all designed to stand out and the level of detail that Allen Walker gets towards the end of the series is simply amazing! Some of the characters go through some physical transformations throughout the series, but nothing so drastic to the point where you say “Who is that?” They are all instantly recognizable.

The soundtrack for this show is hit or miss. The theme that plays during the Suman Dark arc is really amazing and then there are some tracks that just feel flat and are really forgettable. The scene in the end with the piano, though… that song was pretty beautiful. I won’t go into detail because it will spoil things, but when you hear it, you’ll understand.

Overall Thoughts

This is one of the most iconic animes from the mid-to-late 2000s and the amount of positive reception from fans has been overwhelming. The absence of the manga was painful for all and the amount of joy over its return shows just how popular this series was and still is. If you haven’t seen or read D.Gray-man, you are doing yourself an injustice. Had this series not run into any roadblocks, there is no doubt in my mind that it would still be running today and giving shows like Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, and Fairy Tail a run for its money.

The plot is straight-forward and the characters are very well-built. I actually haven’t seen character building like this since Fullmetal Alchemist and that’s saying a lot since FMA had some tremendous character building as well. Every character is relatable and none are forgettable. Even a “throwaway” character like Chouji is engrained in all of our minds because of the way they were handled.

Katsura Hoshino is a complex individual, but her talents cannot be denied. Before Steins;Gate came along this show was my number one favorite anime. It still sits at number two on my top ten list, but that’s only because Steins;Gate took my favorite sci-fi genre and did it justice. I gave this a perfect score many years ago and reflecting back after having seen all of the anime that I have (over 300 series)… my opinion has not wavered one bit.

My apologies if I skipped over anything.. it has been years since I’ve seen this anime, yet, this review was written completely by memory. I’m pretty confident I got most of the facts straight, but there may have been a few that I may have missed. If so, I apologize.

If you wish to comment on this review, or give me a recommendation for a show to review, send an E-Mail to joshpiedra@theouterhaven.net. If you feel so inclined to do so, you can follow me on Twitter @TheAnimePulse

Until next time,

Ja ne!

D.Gray-man

One of the best animes of its time.

Had this series not run into any roadblocks, there is no doubt in my mind that it would still be running today and giving shows like Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, and Fairy Tail a run for its money

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About The Author

Josh Piedra

Josh (or J.J. as some have come to call him), is a long-time geek culture enthusiast with a deep passion for anime, manga and Japanese culture. Josh also has a Bachelor of Arts in Game Design and is a creative writer who has created original content for over 20 years! He is also the author of the original English light novel Final Hope.