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D. Gray-Man Omnibus Vol. 1 (Vol. 1-3) by Hoshino Katsura (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

June 28, 2013 by  



Hoshino Katsura’s “D. Gray-Man” is a fantastic manga series that manages to deliver when it comes to a dark, exciting and action-packed storyline with wonderful artwork!  The storytelling is the manga’s strong suit and the characters are also fun, exciting and well-utilized.  If you are a fan wanting an exciting action manga series, “D. Gray-Man Omnibus Vol. 1” is highly recommended!

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Image courtesy of © 2004 Katsura Hoshino. All Rights Reserved.

MANGA TITLE: D. Gray-Man Omnibus Vol. 1 (Vol. 1-3)

STORY AND ART BY: Katsura Hoshino (星野 桂)

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Shueisha, Inc.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC

RATED: T for Older Teen

Available on July 2, 2013

In a fictional 19th century England, Allen Walker is a 15-year-old boy who roams the earth in search of Innocence. Washed away to unknown parts of the world after The Great Flood, Innocence is the mysterious substance used to create weapons that obliterate demons known as akuma.

A born exorcist, Walker’s primary anti-akuma weapon is the cross that’s embossed on his red, disfigured left hand, which contains Innocence. But not only does Walker destroy akuma, he sees the akuma hiding inside a person’s soul! Together with his fellow exorcists fighting under the command of the Black Order, Walker leads the battle against the Millennium Earl, the evil being out to destroy mankind.

For mangaka Hoshino Katsura, the manga artist first caught attention of readers with her first work titled “Continue”.   In 2004, Katsura moved on to create a new series titled “D. Gray-Man” which was serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump Magazine with a total of 23 manga volumes collected and currently Katsura is on hiatus as her focuses is on a new anime series titled “Valvrave the Liberator”

With the manga series popularity, in 2006, “D. Gray-Man” received its anime adaptation and in three years, a total of 103 episodes were featured in Japan on TV Tokyo and also received various video game series, soundtracks and also novels.

And now, Viz Media will be releasing “D. Gray-Man” as an omnibus with the first three manga volumes featured in one omnibus in July 2013.

“D. Gray-Man” focuses on the 15-year-old character, Allen Walker, who is an exorcist who works for the Black Order, an organization that is trying to stop the main antagonist known as “The Maker” who’s real name is Millennium Earl.

The Millennium Earl wants to destroy humanity by creating an army of akuma (weapons from the dark side created to prey on humans).  What Earl does is go to those who grieve for a love one that passed away and asks them if they want to see their love one alive and if they do, they just have to call out the deceased one’s name.

And in the process, a person becomes an akuma, a living weapon with a soul embedded to it.  The soul is ruled by the “Maker” and the lost souls that are tormented by their sins, hate the world and the akuma feeds upon pain.

In this case, Millennium Earl entices one in pain by bringing them a metal skeleton in which the person in pain uses their voice to bring the soul of the dead back to life inside a metal skeleton which then brings an akuma to life.  The Maker then urges for these akuma to kill the person that wished them back and take over their body in order to inflict more harm on humanity.

It is the job of the exorcists to stop these akuma and kill them but for Allen, unlike others who work for the Black Order, he understands their anguish of being revived to kill and having no control over what they do.  Allen knows this from experience as he was tricked by Earl when he was young and ended up bringing his dead father Mana back to life as an akuma.  And Mana cursing Allen with an eye that can detect and see the anguish of the soul that inhabits an akuma body.

Along with others in the Black Order, Allen learns through his visits to various villages of the evil of Millennium Earl but also that he has others working for him.  And a race is on for both sides to look for 109 pieces of the “Innocence” which can be turned into anti-akuma weapons that the exorcist need to fight Earl and his akuma, while Earl wants these pieces to make sure that he can destroy them.

The first volume of “D. Gray-Man” introduces us to Allen Walker and introducing the reader to what an akuma is and how he became an exorcist.  Eventually he joins the Black Order and meets Lena Lee who gives Allen the tour of the area but is also attacked by Yu Kanda, a cold exorcist who was not sure if Allen is a akuma or an exorcist.  Eventually, the Black Order realize that Allen is a true exorcist sent to the Black Order by the General.  And the remaining volume focuses on the Black Order testing Allen and trying to determine what kind of exorcist he is.

Allen learns about his anti-akuma weapon embedded in his hand created by a crystal known as “Innocence” and learns that through prophecy, the Earth has been destroyed before (which correlates to “The Great Flood” from “The New Testament”) but now through prophecy, the world will come to an end once again and it will be known as “The Three Days of Darkness” and thus the reason why Millennium Earl is trying to build an army of akuma.

The Innocence was washed away during the great flood and have been dispersed all around the world.  There are a total of 109 Innocence and if they are found, it can be used to destroy the Earl.  But the akuma are after the Innocence as well,

In volume 2, Allen goes on his first mission for the Black Order with Yu Kanda to find an “Innocence” in Italy which the akuma are after. But when they arrive, the akuma they are after, has found a way to mirror itself after Allen.

In volume 3, Komui’s new robot Komlin has gone haywire inside the headquarters and is trying to go after Allen.  Sent on another mission, Allen teams up with Lena Lee and arrive in a town in which the day has repeated itself for three months straight.  But as the two arrive in the new town and try to protect a woman named Miranda (the only person in the town that realizes that something unusual is going on).  Meanwhile, the Clan of Noah who work for the Earl prepare their attack on Allen and Lena.

 

 

The main characters of “D. Gray-Man” are:

  • Allen Walker – A 15-year-old exorcist.  Originally adopted by Mana Walker and after Mana passed away, Allen turned him into an akuma in hopes to resurrect him.  Instead, Allen was cursed and his eye was sliced.  Allen now sports a red eye which can detect disguised akuma and his left metallic arm has become an anti-akuma weapon.  Walker now works for the Black Order Headquarters.
  • Lenalee Lee – A 16-year-old exorcist whose parents were killed by akuma.  She lives with her brother Komui and both serve the Black Order HQ.  Has the ability to use the innocence and her dark boots to run very quickly, walk on water and utilizing sound waves.  Her kicks from her dark boots also cause major damage.
  • Yu Kanda – A cold exorcist who doesn’t like Allen’s compassionate style and thus he and Allen are always at odds with each other.  Yu is an exorcist that fights akuma and destroys them with no questions asked.
  • Komui Lee – The chief scientist of the Black Order who is Lenalee’s brother.
  • Lavi – An exorcist who wants to become a Bookman, a person who records the history of the world.
  • The Millennium Earl – The main antagonist of “D. Gray-Man” and the head of the Noah family.  He tries to tell those grieving for the deceased that he can bring them back alive but his goal is to use this treachery to create an army of akuma and destroy humanity.

Hoshino Katsura’s “D. Gray-Man” is an entertaining, dark and action-packed manga series.

In some way, I found “D. Gray-Man” as appealing and similar to series such as “Fullmetal Alchemist”.

The primary goal of the series is for the Black Order to find all 109 “Innocence” crystal shards in order to develop a weapon to fight against Millennium Earl, who has come to destroy Earth several times and bring it into darkness.   Reviving the dead and making them into these weapons known as akuma.  But to fight them are exorcists such as Allen Walker and 19 other exorcists with their own temperaments and styles of taking on the akuma.

As the first volume is more of introductory stories to the concept of the Black Order and the akuma as well as the powers of the innocence that the exorcists have to fight against the enemy, the race is on for both sides to find each “Innocence” crystal and thus Allen being paired with another exorcist in missions to acquire an Innocence but to also fight whoever Earl sends at them.

Character-wise, so far I’ve enjoyed the supporting characters such as Lenalee Lee, Yu Kanda, Komui and a few others.  Although, I wonder if the entire series primarily focuses on Allen (which it does so far) or if it’s a teamwork driven storyline.  Once again, it does remind me of “Fullmetal Alchemist” without the alchemy but I get a feeling that the series will introduce plenty of characters and so with each mission, we’ll get action-packed missions but also character driven storylines focused on introducing an exorcist working for the Black Order that Allen will team up with.

But so far the pacing is done well, nothing confusing, only a few main characters are introduced, so readers don’t get too confused about who’s who in the Black Order. Hoshino Katsura’s drawings are also well-done and not at all confusing.  A few manga artists tend to get over excited by action-scenes and keep line art towards the light side with not much shading.  This is not the case as Hoshino is not afraid to use a lot of black and shading with her characters and environments.  But character design, artwork and storytelling for this manga series has been quite positive and I look forward to reading more!

Also, another positive to the “D. Gray-Man” Omnibus is that in the long run, readers will save much more money than purchasing each single volume separately.   There are a total of 23 volumes of the manga series thus far, this first omnibus features the first three volumes.

Overall, Hoshino Katsura’s “D. Gray-Man” is a fantastic manga series that manages to have a dark, exciting and action-packed storyline with wonderful artwork.  The storytelling is quite strong and the characters featured so far have been utilized quite effectively throughout the three volumes.  If you are a fan wanting an exciting action manga series, “D. Gray-Man Omnibus Vol. 1” is highly recommended!

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