Thanasis is a writer, professional geek, and assistant editor at MANGA.TOKYO. He started watching anime with the mecha shows of the 70s and hasn't stopped since. He loves JRPGs.
I don’t know if I have to feel grateful for getting these thirteen episodes after eight years of D.Gray-man hiatus or if I have to feel frustrated that it felt more like a marketing attempt to revive the series sales numbers. At least they got a decent run that was worthy of the franchise name.
If you want to read the episodic reviews, there is a list with all D.Gray-man related articles here. This is going to be a quick and subjective summary of my honest and probably biased opinion of how the sequel failed to live up to the expectations and why that was a good thing.
D.Gray-man Hallow was produced by TMS Entertainment who you may know from anime like Yowamushi Pedal, Sweetness and Lighting, and Orange. It is based on Katsura Hoshino’s D-Gray.man manga and is a direct sequel to the 103-episode anime series that ended in 2008.
Allen Walker is an Exorcist for the Black Order, a worldwide religious organization whose purpose is to defeat the demonic Akuma using weapons called Innocence. The Akuma are created by the arch nemesis of the series, the Millennium Earl and the immortal Noah family.
Actually this synopsis can be used for all 116 episodes of the franchise. If you are already familiar with the plot of the first series then this is what you need to know about Hallow:
The problem with D.Gray-man Hallow and newcomers is that many things are left unexplained, not because they love plot holes, but because there are 103 episodes before this. If you are just starting this series, then I have to warn you: you will have a lot of questions. However, I have to give them credit as they tried to explain what was happening in a newcomer-friendly way that could make the series watchable for both fans and new viewers. That said, my advice is this: Either watch the previous series before watching this one, or have the wiki or a wiki-like friend on standby.
The story is an almost direct continuation of the previous series. Last time the Black Order was attacked by a Level 4 Akuma and was almost eradicated. The plot starts as they have just transferred to the North American branch. The first episode served as a reintroduction to the main characters including my dear waifu Lenalee, Kanda, and a personal favorite, Miranda.
Then, the series proceeded in covering as much source material as physically possible in the span of thirteen episodes. I felt like the first couple of episodes were a bit disconnected from the rest of the series (I don’t read the manga) and it seems that I was right: They skipped a lot of source material and rushed through the Timothy storyline to get to the Third Exorcist arc as soon as possible. The story of the half-akuma Exorcists led to the Alma Karma arc and Kanda’s past, and spent the last couple of episodes introducing a Black Order-created humanoid Innocence called Apocryphos. Hallow ends right before the Searching for Allen Walker Arc.
What I’m trying to say is that the story went waaay to fast. At many points I was struggling to keep up with the storyline. The story base was great, but the way it was delivered left a lot to be desired.
D-Gray.man was never the pinnacle of animation quality. The 2006-2008 were just ok-ish with decent animation and quite good fight scenes. What I can’t understand is how they managed to make the sequel so different from the original when the production was made by the same company, TMS Entertainment. Allen’s eyes went from a light grey, silver-like color to a purplish hue. The drawing style was quite different, but not different enough to not make out who the characters are. Miranda probably dyed her hair from black to brunette. That said, the style was different but for me it was slightly better than the previous series. The facial expressions were very good and the fight scenes were decent.
The OST on the other hand was just the same from the 2008 show. Unless it was a last-minute decision, they could have made the effort to create some new sounds effects at least. I wasn’t too disappointed, but hell, some originality wouldn’t hurt. The Opening and Ending themes were great. I still have Key – Bring it on, My Destiny by Lenny Code Fiction on my playlist.
Religion: D.Gray-man draws heavily from religious imagery. I have tried to identify some of them in my episodic reviews. You can check them here. From what ‘Apocryphos’ means to Christian symbols, there is much to find in this series.
New Voices: Most of the cast for the 2016 series is different from that of the 2008 series. Ayumu Murase voiced Allen Walker, Yuu Kanda’s new seiyuu was Takuya Sato, and Lenalee Lee who was previously voiced by Shizuka Itou was voiced by Ai Kakuma. I heard that a lot of fans felt uneasy by that change, but to be honest I didn’t mind.
The Creator’s Eye: Katsura Hoshino is now releasing a chapter every three months and the franchise has gone through numerous hiatuses. In a 2016 interview, the creator said that she hated the first series because it was different from her vision and for that reason served as a supervisor for Hallow.
I think I was saved from utter disappointment because I’m not a huge fan of the series. The story was good albeit a bit rushed. As a stand-alone series it failed to deliver a unified plotline that could make sense, and it felt confusing and messy. Hallow was more a treat to the fans who could bear the changes than a good anime I could recommend to someone who is searching for something new to see. It could have easily been a 52 four-season series and maybe if it was handled that way, we would have had a truly magnificent series. Especially the Kanda arc deserved a few more episodes to fully unleash its potential.
Are you new to the series? Skip it. It isn’t worth the time you’ll spent to see these thirteen episodes. If you definitely want to watch Hallow, the previous series are totally worth it. Start from there. If on the other hand you are already a fan, then see it by all means, but be prepared to feel a slight discomforting feeling depending on your level of fan-bigotry.
Anime official site : http://dgrayman-anime.com/
Twitter : @dgrayman_anime