Tuesday, 4 October 2016

D.Gray-Man: Hallow

I have to admit, I did not expect the D.Gray-Man anime to continue. Ten years after the original began, and with the manga first going from weekly to monthly with the switch from Jump to Jump SQ, then going on a two-and-a-half-year hiatus, I just never thought we’d see an animated continuation. Which was a shame, because I’ve always had a real soft spot for Allen Walker and his motley crew of exorcists.

This short, 13-episode season continues where the last season left off, and unfortunately the chapters it covers are a bit haphazard and uneven. It’s good that the show gets to ease in again with the introduction of Timothy, whose blue mullet and cute shorts and amusing powers I’ve always enjoyed, but the problem is that no sooner is he introduced than he becomes an extremely minor background character, where he remains to the current manga chapter.

Then we have fan favourite Kanda getting his emotional backstory, as the mysterious Third Exorcist Project is undermined by the Millennium Earl by revealing Kanda and the mysterious Alma were created in the Second Exorcist Project, and using this knowledge to cause chaos. Allen gets to witness an extended memory sequence of adorable shota versions of Kanda and Alma, blessed with great strength and a healing factor, but doomed to be torn apart by the truth. It’s a nice, self-contained background story, but eats up almost the whole of this season, completely ruining its pacing.

This leaves only the final episodes to tease the story to come – which is extremely convoluted and confusing. The Millennium Earl’s true face is revealed as various new Noah make their appearance, a few of them looking way too similar to one another, and the relationship between Nea and Mana is teased. It’s a very unsatisfying cliffhanger to leave the season on, especially with so little build-up, and if this season could be kicked off by the quick and easy Timothy / Phantom Thief G story, next season would begin with – without spoiling the manga – several episodes of slow, dull, rather confusing chapters from probably the worst period of serialisation. This makes me worry we won’t see any more of the show, but where Hallow left off was a very poor end point, so I hope that’s not the case and they find a way to have the next season start in an interesting fashion, even if it means original material.

For all the small qualms I had, though, the central point is that it was a delight to see the show on the screen again. I didn’t mind all the changes in voice actors at all, though Lavi sounded a bit strange. Allen Walker remains a favourite character and with Timothy and the flashback to Alma and young Kanda, this section of the manga had a huge focus on cute adolescent boy characters. It’s nice to start seeing more depth to the Millennium Earl, and Road gets some good moments, too.

I’m still a manga reader, and that’s not going to change, but the more the manga gets adapted to an anime, the happier I’ll be, and if we get an adaptation right up until the manga’s eventual conclusion, I’ll be very happy indeed.

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