Like all standard action-packed shounen anime, D.Gray-Man focuses on the age-old struggle between good and evil. In this case, evil arises in the form of the Millennium Earl who intends to use his army of ‘Akuma’ – demons – and the powerful Noah Clan to bring darkness upon the world. Fighting against him are the Exorcists of the Black Order, who each play host to a fragment of the ‘Innocence’ – mankind’s only weapon capable of defeating the akuma.
The series starts out slowly enough, following its central protagonist, fifteen year-old Allen Walker, from his arrival at the Black Order and through his various assignments. Initially the show centres on fighting akuma and investigating paranormal occurrences linked to missing Innocence fragments. Though the beginning of the series had me hooked, only when its central plot emerges, does D.Gray-Man truly get a chance to shine.
D.Gray-Man creates a feeling of unease by including surprising plot twists, which shatter the preconception that the ‘good guys’ will always win. Removing the certainty of the protagonists’ victory creates a more compelling narrative, allowing the series to maintain its viewers interest. Unfortunately the series’ best material only manifests itself during the second season (episodes fifty-two onwards). One or two less than stellar filler arcs precede this and, in particular, I found myself regularly stalling during the Lulubell storyline. However, make it through the twenty-odd episodes of filler and a reward of the impressive Edo and Noah’s Ark saga prove well worth the wait. One reason for this comes from the fact that none of the battles drag on for longer than two or three episodes, a stark contrast to other shounen series like Naruto, Bleach, and especially One Piece, which typically dedicates ten, twenty or possibly more episodes to a single fight. By condensing the action into fewer episodes, each fight creates a more intense atmosphere and makes for captivating viewing.
The balance of comedy and kick-ass action demonstrates another positive aspect of D.Gray-Man. From the jokes surrounding Allen’s relationship with Cross to ‘Komurin II’ rampaging through headquarters, in allowing the drama of the story to mix with some genuinely humorous moments, the series succeeds in providing all-round entertainment.
D.Gray-Man’s biggest disappointment is its lack of resolution. Though it is foolish to expect a full conclusion considering that the manga is still ongoing, I felt the series left too much unexplained. Adding to my frustration, I found that even during the final set of closing credits I was adding to my number of queries! While it guarantees that I will watch any future series, this does not excuse the lack of fulfillment it leaves.
With splendid animation such as the activation of Allen’s cursed eye and the realistic movement demonstrated in fight sequences, D.Gray-Man’s characters receive an added vibrancy. The series’ visual design, while pleasant to behold, remains standard and provides no innovative style. Nevertheless with its smooth motion and agreeable character design, D.Gray-Man delivers a pleasing ocular experience.
The voice acting perfectly fits each character and brings out the various aspects of their personalities.
D.Gray-Man’s handful of opening and ending themes work nicely with the series, often choosing an upbeat rock track to open and a soft, gentle song to close. This nicely mirrors the harmony between action and emotion portrayed throughout the series. Accompanied by a wonderfully orchestral score, the series’ soundtrack leaves very little to complain about.
D.Gray-Man’s cast improves upon an already captivating (well, for the most part) plot. Displaying a medley of different personalities, the majority of the characters are complex. Most demonstrate contradictory personality traits, such as sociable Lavi who bears the lonely fate of a ‘bookman’ – a clan charged with the job of impartially observing and recording history. This makes them more intriguing, with the exception of Lenalee who, as the series’ weakest character, takes on the role of ‘the nice one’.
The Millennium Earl is one of the most intriguing characters in the series and on the surface he merely resembles a portly old man. This harmless façade makes him appear a feeble villain, but this is where D.Gray-Man’s excellent characterisation comes in. While his grandfatherly exterior encourages a sense of security, the occasional glimpse of his terrifyingly evil eyes, which hide behind glasses, remind viewers not to get comfortable.
Alongside D.Gray-Man’s impressive characterisation comes equally impressive development. Throughout the series, most of the protagonists face their own personal hell. These individual struggles allow each person to evolve; while demonstrating nothing new, this development effectively executes itself within a limited time rather than stretching across two to three hundred episodes. Following these gruelling trials in a more condensed time frame results in a greater emotional investment in this small group of exorcists.
While the concepts of contrasting personality traits, personal improvement and a seemingly harmless antagonist seem like clichés expected of any action-based series, the characters turn out to be anything but generic. By not overemphasizing their flaws or traumatic pasts, and incorporating them into the series’ laudable plot and darker tone, D.Gray-Man’s characters gain an unexpected freshness.
Though not perfect, this series has many positive attributes, which compensate for the tedious filler episodes and the series’ lack of completion. Sure, D.Gray-Man conforms to the basic formula for its genre, but with its sumptuous myriad of characters, stimulating plot twists and striking battles, it stands as one of the better shounen series out there. So while easy to rest on the belief that ‘seen one shounen anime, seen them all’, I would advise at least giving it a chance.
Notice: This review covers both the old series, and its sequel, Hallow.
D.Gray-man is another example of what happens with the progression of every new fighting shonen after it gains some popularity. It’s considered amazing at first, then it begins to slow down, something similar comes out, and before you know it everybody forgets about it and moves to hype the new title. This was the story of D.Gray Man, a combo of Bleach and Soul Eater, which was overshadowed by their popularity when the manga went on a prolonged hiatus.
There were of course more reasons other than that, such as TMS Entertainment being a studio with not big enough budgets to keep the anime looking slick. The gothic motif of the setting is quite remarkable as far as backgrounds are concerned, but beyond that the animation is fairly standard and there are lots of stills for saving money. The character designs are fairly eccentric, but they are otherwise simple decoration for a by the numbers cast of clear-cut good guys and bad guys. There is the theme of morality and sin flying around, but it’s more of an afterthought. Although everybody seems to have a lot to show at first, eventually the protagonist and the main villain are the only ones who move the plot forward, with all the rest being no more than irrelevant side stories.
Speaking of the story, D.Gray Man suffers from the same problems as Bleach. The initial episodes are marvelous in themes and tension, as the bad guys exploit human grief in order to create demons out of the souls of the dead. The first arcs were great at establishing a drama between mortals and monsters, as everybody seemed to be a tragic victim of selfish love, instead of a 1 dimensional good guy or bad guy. Even the battles were cool, since they involved a lot of body horror that was very uncommon in shonen at the time.
Fast forward a few dozen episodes, and all that is gone. More and more characters keep being introduced with nobody getting enough screen time to matter, or an actual purpose to accomplish that is not simply support for the protagonist. The monsters stop having individuality and a sad backdrop story, and become mass produced mindless cannon fodder than the good guys are killing by the hundreds without any emotional attachment. The body horror is still there, but it means nothing without some emotional attachment with what is going on.
Even the pacing slows down and many episodes become fillers, where no matter what happens, there is zero significance once it is over. And even the canon material is not that interesting either, as a big part of it, is just more character introductions and the older characters gaining powers-ups instead of character development. Before you know it, what began as a tight story revolving a small and well fleshed out cast, became a clusterfuck of hundreds of people who come and go, are defined by levels and statistics and special attacks, yet are otherwise not doing something to push the plot forward.
Just like pretty much any shonen, it replaces personality with fancy special attacks. Giving the monsters level ups was ok the first time, as it was giving them individuality and personality. You know, like the Menos in Bleach. Anything after that though was just leveling up for the sake of leveling up. There was no point to them other than creating fake tension that is taken away when the good guys gain extra power right when they need it the most.
There was not even a payoff for all this mess, since the manga was discontinued for many years and viewers lost interest. By the time it continued and they finally made a sequel many years later, very few were giving a damn anymore, and even they were disappointed with the changes in the plot, the artstyle, and the voice actors. It was no longer the show they used to like. It’s as if it was dead and returned as an Akuma. (wink-wink)
Even after the sequel is over, the plot is still far from over and lots of things have not been explained yet, but nobody cares anymore. The protagonist at this point is just a pretty boy that is constantly being punched around for torture porn and is given blurred memories to make his already bland personality even more insignificant, the villains are chasing mcguffins because they have nothing better to do, and there is a crazy powerful dude who is killing people for some conspiracy bullshit nobody cares about. This is why I always say a show never gets better. There is no getting back up after you fall down. People moved on and they are now hyping My Hero Academia or some other generic nonsense. D.Gray Man has been clinically dead for years, and this Frankenstein monster they created out of its corpse, stinks a lot. Not good, not recommended, go on with your lives instead of trying to resurrect the dead, only to be eaten alive by them.
Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood
Ao no Exorcist
D.Gray-man is an anime dear to my own heart so this review is biased in every way, but honestly how can you watch it and not love it, the story is captivating and the characters (for the most part) are so lovable it made it easy for me marathon 20 episodes a day. i was so emersed in this anime and the world it created. the best part about it, it wasnt that fillery for an anime with 103 episodes, despite having 6-7 comic relief episodes usually after a tough loss for the exorcists. it also didnt have the good guy win every time, i mean even at the end it hinted toward the power of the earl, kinda crazy isnt it? not many anime will do that.
the story of this anime follows an exorcist by the name of allen walker and his friends on journeys all over the world, fighting the millennium earl and killing demons that are created when humans call our loved ones back from the dead. to fight these demons they require special weapons called innocence, which can be seen in a large viarity of weapons, and when i say viarity i mean out of around 30 you dont see any of the same ones on diffrent characters. they also have to fight these "humans" called noah who are "gods chosen" according to the noah, i say "humans" in quotes because they used to be humans but are not human anymore.
the animation for the first half is kinda shaky, it looks old and at some points just plain terrible, but the 2nd half really took off and had some of the best animation ive seen concidering how much action was in each episode, i can only imagine how much it cost to produce this anime.
the sound was alright. i typically watch anime subbed and this one was no diffrent.
there are several characters that stand out, while allen walker is defenetly the lead, the secondary characters get more screen time than most secondarys do, infact they tend to get their own mini arcs so there is plenty of development for around 7 characters in the show, the main ones being allen walker, lenalee, lavi, crowly, and konda
i defenetly recommend this one, its my all time fav and is a great watch with some friends or even alone, its got epic action, decent humor, and the good guys dont always win, and when i say they dont always win, i mean they lose like 80% of the time in this anime so be prepared to be angry :D
This is a good anime because it is really good and the story line of the anime is really good and also easy to follow. I love most of the characters in this anime becasue they are really awesome people and they also protct others witch is just plain old epic. The animation of this anime is really good.
Positive: Great story that really draws you in. You can also really get attached to the characters.
Negatives: fillers. Allen a little over powered
Out off all the animes ive watched this is my top 5. They had a great story line that really gets the viewer into the series. I did have a problem with some of the fillers though but sometimes i didnt even notice them until a friend told me they were. They battles that took place were very interesting. I didn't really like how powerful Allen was. His 'weapon' had the ability to change its form into diffrent types but no other person could do that, if it was a sword it was a sword but with Allen it was a sword, a gun, and a giant hand. I didnt like that they cut the series sort and didnt finish the story line they were running which upset me very much. The just all of a sudden stop making more shows. They do continue the manga though so if you really want you could get the end of the story.