D Gray Man Hallow – From Beginning To End – A Dramatic But Not Fulfilling Viewer’s Journey

The original D Gray Man anime came out in 2006 and ran for 103 episodes before just kind of abruptly ending more or less mid-battle and the series vanished from notice. Which is a shame because I absolutely loved it and it was a case where even tracking down the source material wouldn’t help because the manga kept going on hiatus as well and wasn’t finished.

So with the announcement in 2016 of a return for D Gray Man with Hallow, I was thrilled. Would it be a reboot and kick the series off again? Turns out no. It was a continuation but with new character designs and quite a few other new things thrown in as well. That said, D Gray Man Hallow ended up being an interesting enough watch even if it didn’t quite hit the spot I’d hoped for.

Anyway, the story is about Allen Walker who is an exorcist of sorts, but Hallow more or less kicks off with him being accused of siding with the Akuma and Hallow is not something you can jump into without having watched the original series. So for fans of D Gray Man, yay. For everyone else, there’s a lot of episodes to watch but even unfinished this series is kind of fun (dark but fun).

Below are my episodic thoughts of the series.

D Gray Man Hallow Episode 1

So D.Gray-Man Hallow (other than adding even more punctuation to the title than I remember) tossed us straight into the narrative. We get a brief fight sequence where we see our core exorcists fighting (just to remind us what their weapons are and that they are awesome) and then we are heading to the new exorcist headquarters (the old one was kind of destroyed – watch the previous episodes).

No time to breathe as we get into the usual Allen/Kanda bickering before Allen is hauled away to continue the ongoing plot where the Black Order suspect him of having ties to the Noah and the Millenium Earl. It works and doesn’t stop for any explanations or recaps so it isn’t friendly to the uninitiated but it gave me exactly what I wanted and that was the story to keep moving.

There’s also a great cliff-hanger ending and some more hints about what the Bookmen are up to. Yay!

Still not 100% sold on the new character designs but it isn’t as though they are ugly, just different.

Loved this episode and really looking forward to the next.

D Gray Man Hallow Episode 2

D Gray Man Hallow Episode 2

This episode is classic D Gray Man in everyway imaginable (good and bad). While we get a few moments and discussions around the greater battle and the exorcists plan as usual Allen and crew are mostly in the dark so let’s put aside the main plot and go investigate a random thief who may or may not have Innocence.

Well, there’s a reason the show already ran 103 episodes but has actually progressed the plot about as far as most anime do in 24. That isn’t to say that this episode is bad. As I said, it’s just the way D Gray Man has always been. And it flips the switch between random and ridiculous humour in a fight sequence to deadly serious (and hey, soon to be dead orphans) so quickly.

It makes you laugh, groan, roll your eyes, fill with curiosity about all the things you don’t know, support the exorcists (or at least the ones you like) and fear the enemy (which isn’t easy given their frequently clown like appearances). I know that this aspect of D Gray Man always rubbed some people the wrong way but for me, even though the tone is all over the place, it just feels right.

All the different elements come together and combine with overly dramatic music and fight sequences that just make you sit up and take notice. Besides, other than Kaneki (Tokyo Ghoul), I’ve yet to meet a protagonist other than Allen Walker who I genuinely feel is in peril on a regular basis.

Oh, and Kanda was awesome this episode.

D Gray Man is available on AnimeLab. If you haven’t watched the original, you really have to before you can watch this, but it is worth at least trying (this is one of the few series that hadn’t been given any kind of resolution that I still rewatched over and over). Of course, if you don’t like your anime dark than maybe give it a miss because this one has some real pain in store for its characters even if it isn’t as visually confrontational as some of the more contemporary anime.

D Gray Man Hallow Episode 3

Image from D Gray Man Hallow Episode 3

Spoilers abound if you haven’t watched the episode. Normally I avoid critical plot points in episode reviews, but this one kind of needs to be here.

I’ll cover the bad first. The animation and character designs took a serious dive in the second half of this episode. Which in a series where the original was way too dark and the animation was passable but worked with the atmosphere and now the reboot has taken extreme liberties with the colour and character designs seems risky. Change was fine after a long break but further reduction in quality isn’t.

From a plot point of view this episode nicely wraps up the orphanage story, introduces yet another type of Innocence and has someone who doesn’t possess Innocence defeat an Akuma (which if you haven’t watched a lot of D Gray Man won’t seem like such a big deal except that it is a major plot development). Now I want to know what the Crows are up to and how underhanded they’ve been to acquire that power and I’m positive it is going to have some really nasty consequences down the line.

And Allen… Okay, we knew right from the first episode of Hallow that there was some serious focus on what was going on with Allen and whether or not he is part of the Noah, but this was fantastic. When his sword stabbed him I kind of had an ‘oh no’ moment because I remembered what happened when he used it on a Noah in the previous series and yep, this was not good.

Though, in true D Gray Man style, rather than let this happen now, they give us just a taste of the disaster awaiting our characters and then Kanda swoops in and snaps Allen out of it. Though, I’m going to be honest, I felt like Allen was off for the remainder of the episode and I wonder if that is deliberate or just a by-product of the change in character design. Really wanting to know where this one is going.

So, still in love with this show but would really appreciate some consistency in the animation quality – not asking for amazing animation because that would be out of character for the series, but just stable performance. It is really rare for an action anime to get me this emotionally invested but D Gray Man succeeded in the original series and it has managed to maintain that feeling now.

D Gray Man Hallow Episode 4

Image from D Gray Man Hallow Episode 4

It may just have been me, but I felt all the characters were excessively chatty this episode. So many new bits of information dumped very quickly in fairly awkward lines of conversation, to the point where we jumped into a battle mid-way along and really don’t know where they are fighting or why because nobody bothered to tell us that. I’m thinking this is probably necessary when we’ve only got 13 episodes, but that doesn’t make for great story telling.

Don’t get me wrong, this was still good fun and there are so many looming catastrophes you just kind of feel like you’re waiting to see which one manages to hit them first, or whether they’ll all strike at once.

My main complaint would be the Millenium Earl. In the original series he was an amazing villain. Yeah, he laughed and did all the cliché villain things but there was a sense of genuine malice about him. Unlike most villains, I really believed he intended to destroy the world. New Millenium Earl is just kind of meh. It took a lot of thunder away from the episode.

Meanwhile, Allan is definitely having some identity issues and Kanda seems to be the next character to finally get some sort of details added into his back story. Given everyone else, I’m thinking this is going to be tragic.

Looking forward to whatever new tragic past and future disaster this show will bring us next week.

D Gray Man Hallow Episode 5

Image from D Gray Man Hallow Episode 5

Right, I’m back to fangirling.

This episode was amazing. From start to finish I loved it. I loved that the scientists had some focus time, and I really, really hope they don’t die tragically in the next episode or two, though given it’s D Gray Man, they actually might kill them off. It would be too much to hope that the directors of human experimentation (and I know that isn’t their title but it really should be) get killed off instead.

The Noah attack on the base, Allen coming to the rescue, the brief moment of comedy before the fourteenth tried an extreme hostile takeover on Allen, the scuffle that followed and ending with Allen seeing Alma and Yu’s memories… It was a near perfect episode. Okay, the pacing was all over the shop and the comedy, while very D Gray Man, probably interfered with what was otherwise a super tense moment, but I just loved watching this episode.

I think this show highlights what I enjoy about D Gray Man. Allen charges in to save a comrade and lands on the Millenium Earl and has to be first told that he has just landed on the main villain, meanwhile he’s looking around at all the other hostages and Noah thinking ‘what is going on?’.

The following exchange that goes from deadly serious to comedy to slapstick and back again might rub some people the wrong way but it is what I love about this show. And then it ends just when things are getting even more interesting meaning I now have to count the days down to the next episode.

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D Gray Man Hallow Episode 6

Image from D Gray man  Hallow Episode 6

It must be the week for flashback episodes because D Gray Man sees us spending almost the entire episode inside Kanda’s memories. This episode is particularly affective because the audience have always known the the dark order were not exactly the white knights of the world and that they have been up to some pretty despicable things, however seeing it from the viewpoint of 2 children, with Allen thrown into the mix, really hits home and makes you wonder who the villain of the story really is.

That said, I am going to criticise the constant over the top expressions this week. Seriously, at times you could have mistaken Allen Walker for Atsushi from Bungo Stray Dogs from the way his face was twisting around. While the comedy elements of D Gray Man usually hit home and make a nice relief from the otherwise overwhelming darkness, this week it just interfered with what was in all other respects a pretty compelling episode.

Kanda also suffered from some really ridiculous facial contortions this week which just felt out of character, even for a younger, test subject Kanda.

Alma is an interesting character and while we mostly see him from young Kanda’s viewpoint, seeing him toward the end from Allen’s point of view just adds to the many mysteries surrounding him. While at first he seems like the annoying little brother character found anywhere, he actually has surprising depth for a character we’ve only just met.

Road is back. She was always one of my favourite among the Noah and she doesn’t disappoint in her few moments of flirtation with Allen. While I’m not sold on this voice for Road, her playful tone undercut with a whole lot of malice is still well in effect and as always you just have to wonder whether she likes Allen or wants to kill him or both.

Lastly, Wisely gave us an excellent line early in the episode prior to getting buried in the flashback when one of the exorcists asked him to leave Alma alone. “We’re the Noah. We have no mercy to show you guys.” This kind of sums up why the Millenium Earl and the Noah are among my favourite villains ever.

Yeah, they are kind of trying to destroy the world which on the surface seems like a stupid goal, but unlike so many other self-proclaimed super villains on a mission to the destroy the world, you kind of believe that the Noah are actually committed to the goal and have the power to back it up. There’s an absolute callousness about their characters that tells you that they can and will cross any and all lines.

In the original 103 episodes, there are a lot of events with the Noah that back this up. They aren’t all talk. They aren’t the gloaty villains sending their minions out while they criticise their efforts. These guys bring pain with them.

So that’s my overblown thoughts on episode 6. Clearly I’m still very attached to this series and even with the idiotic facial animations this episode still dragged me into the story and didn’t let up until the credits rolled.

D Gray Man Hallow Episode 7

Image from D Gray Man Hallow Episode 7

When D Gray Man first came back, one of my biggest worries was that it wouldn’t be the dark and emotionally turbulent story I knew and loved. The last two episodes have really put that worry to rest. I am really thankful for previews of the next episode now because I was genuinely worried about the fate of one character this episode and got no closure before the credits on whether he was still alive.

On this episode, we continue our journey through Kanda and Alma’s memories until Allen decides he’s had enough and breaks out. However, as Road points out, it’s just a little bit too late and things in the real world are only getting worse. Still, that final shot of Kanda is all kinds of awesome so looking forward to next week.

D Gray Man Hallow Episode 8

Image from D Gray Man Hallow Episode 8

Is it possible to become darker and more tragic than child experimentation in the name of saving the Earth? D Gray Man makes a good attempt at answering that question this week when Allen is given a choice of ending the fight between Kanda and Alma by joining the Earl.

Obviously he refuses, but that’s more or less what the Earl had in mind and things only get worse from there. We do get a very classic Allen and Kanda moment mid-battle but it is a brief reprieve and by the end we realise that no matter what the outcome of this battle is going to be, Kanda is going to be even more emotionally damaged than he was going in, and that cannot possibly be a good thing.

Amazing episode. Still loving D Gray Man.

D Gray Man Hallow Episode 9

Image from D Gray Man Hallow Episode 9

Too much to say. Firstly, Alma and Kanda Yu’s saga decided to take things and make them just one step sadder and they were already pretty devastating.

I loved how Allen helped them this episode and feel that if anything ‘good'(?) was going to come out of it, Allen found the best possible solution to one of the worst situations for two characters to be in. And the brass’ reaction is pretty much expected at this point and time. Brand Allen a traitor. Because nothing inspires loyalty in your troops like doubting them, arresting them, performing medical experiments on them, etc.

Why does anyone even still work for the Order? It isn’t like they are doing such a great job in fighting this war. Maybe the exorcists would be better off forming their own order. One that isn’t crazy and sadistic.

Anyway, despite being told he’s committed an act of treason and that if he doesn’t retrieve Alma he won’t be an exorcist anymore, Allen continues to try to save one of the exorsists that has Alma’s cells inside of him going crazy. And you know, he was even kind of succeeding until Link shows up right at the end just in time to make things worse. Yeah, we know there’s a whole thing going on with Allen and the Fourteeth, but time and place Link.

On the other hand, Kanda actually thanked Allen. I couldn’t believe it. Over a 100 episodes and for once, Kanda is actually grateful for Allen’s well-intentioned soft-hearted intrusions. Admittedly, Kanda has been through a lot in the last three episodes, but that was unexpected and totally heart breaking simultaneously.

If I have to complain about something, it would be the fact that the Earl and the others seems to be sitting around having a tea party while the exorcists are doing all this in-fighting. Hello, Earl, are you actually serious about defeating anyone? Because this episode would have been the perfect time to do it.

And from the preview of next episode it looks like after this the bad guys are just packing up and leaving even though right now they really could crush the Order and there really isn’t anyone left to stop them.

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D Gray Man Hallow Episode 10

Image from D Gray Man  Hallow Episode 10

Just what the show needed, more infighting on both sides and more complications (I’m being a little sarcastic).

This was a great episode. Characters reflected on the previous battle and began manoeuvring for the next rounds. There was a good balance between depression and feeling sorry for themselves and the desperate humour that the characters interject in order to stop the audience falling into a chasm of self-loathing. Allen and Link’s discussion in the prison was touching.

Lenalee and friends being force-fed to try to get over the losses in the battle and to think about the next fight was both funny and sweet as we once again realise the bonds these characters have built up throughout the series. And the leaders of the order continue to be completely arrogant and I really wanted the ceiling to fall in on them. Oh, and Lavi and Bookman look like they are in some serious trouble.

Plus Road showed up again. Even when she isn’t doing much, Road appearing is fantastic. A lot of emotions in a fairly low key episode when you consider that action-wise almost nothing happened.

D Gray Man Hallow Episode 11

Image from D Gray Man Hallow Episode 11

Does Link actually taking action for Allen this week redeem him for not trusting Allen in the first place? Probably not, but at least Link made a decision and didn’t blindly follow orders. While they didn’t show us his ultimate fate, it kind of seems like that’s more or less it for Link at this time.

We still didn’t find the heart but we now found a ‘special’ kind of innocence that exists to protect the heart and we now know who killed Cross but we don’t know why. That said, the Cardinal’s actions force Allen out of the Order and the thing is, it kind of felt like going with the Noah was the less horrible decision to make which given some of things they’ve done really makes you wonder what the Order is up to that the Noah are a better choice.

Of course, Tyki and Road are just kind of awesome so if Allen had to go with the Noah at least it was those two (cruel and twisted though they both are).

I just need to mention Lenalee. For most of Hallow she’s either been background or absent, which is a shame because in the early days of D Gray Man she was a very tough fighter and she helped Allen out a lot. Okay, she did go through that whole part where her innocence broke and she couldn’t fight but she finally overcame even that. Seeing her spring back into action at the end of this episode was definitely a great moment and I am looking forward to seeing some more next time (assuming they continue with this and don’t go off on some weird tangent).

D Gray Man Hallow Episode 12

Image from D Gray Man Hallow Episode 12

With only one episode to go this show is most definitely going to leave us hanging again (let’s just hope we don’t have to wait that many years for a continuation again). That said, the show is also determined to break our hearts. First we get a reminder that Allen has had his arm destroyed previously (thanks for that memory).

Then we have Road disappearing fairly dramatically after brining us a fresh reminder about Mana’s message to Allen about moving forward. And then we get Lenalee appearing right before Allen uses the gate to leave (possibly for good even if he did promise her that he would always be an exorcist no matter what happened).

Of the three events, that was the one that really got to me because Allen and Lenalee have always been two very broken characters that have used each other numerous times to find the strength to carry on. Inside I was begging Lenalee to get off the ground and dive through the gate after Allen (but we all know that Lenalee couldn’t leave the order or her brother at this point and time because she has no identity outside of that at this point).

While this episode was heart-wrenching for long time fans, was it a good episode? Objectively I’d have to say no. We simply pick up where we left off and essentially set up obstacles to stop anyone who isn’t supposed to get to Allen from getting there.

No new information is revealed and while it is dramatic to see so many sore points raised for a single character, this doesn’t lead to development (although there the preview for the next episode kind of tells us that we have reached a critical turning point for Allen so it will be interesting to see what they do next).

I know I’ve been fan-girling a lot over this series and that isn’t about to change but we’re getting close to the point where I’ll have to review the series as a whole and while there’s been a lot to like the essential problem remains the same: if you haven’t watched the original you are missing too much to really care about any of these touching moments.

If you have seen the original, a lot has changed that you are just having to accept or you are going to be frustrated. It’s going to make any kind of review really difficult.

D Gray Man Hallow Episode 13

Image from D Gray Man Hallow Episode 13

As a season end this was kind of lame (assuming 13 episodes is season end). Nothing is resolved and we have one character on the run, another one returning from being on the run but not really re-joining the team and two characters still in enemy hands but then again, I never expected anything to be resolved in 13 episodes. It’s been a long running series and nothing has ever happened that fast so the fact that the Kanda and Alma story was wrapped up as quickly as it was surprised me earlier in the season.

This episode as an episode was really enjoyable. Seeing Allen and Cross after they first met and getting some more hints about Cross’ involvement with Allen becoming the Fourteenth was interesting. Actually being reminded that Lavi and Bookman are still in the hands of the Noah and the Noah being their usual callous selves was entertaining (though, they hurt Lavi so now they have to die – sorry).

Lenalee being her usual overly emotional self before Kanda’s return felt really nostalgic and the crystallisation of Mugen (while downplayed within an already packed episode) was something I’d kind of been waiting for given the enemies just keep getting stronger so eventually our exorcists are going to have to catch up or die.

By the way, is Link actually dead? I know we saw his gravestone but it just seems really kind of anti-climatic for him to have died then.

Alright, whole season review of this is going to be tough to write but look out for it. If you are still deciding whether to watch Hallow, basically don’t bother unless you have watched the previous D Gray Man. While you might catch up on the storyline, without the emotional connections to the events, it is going to be pretty flat. That said, if you have watched the original, while there are definitely stylistic difference, from a story point of view this is a great continuation, we just need more.

D Gray Man Hallow - Episode Guide

Be sure to check out the full series review.


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4 thoughts on “D Gray Man Hallow – From Beginning To End – A Dramatic But Not Fulfilling Viewer’s Journey

  1. You’ve been spoiled – the UK release of the first D.Gray-Man series stopped at 51 episodes, so we never even got the same cut off point everyone else did. I’m not sure of the issue because Manga Ent. licenced the show rom Funimation who released both seasons in the US, and it was a popular title over here.: -/

  2. I’ve always loved this series. Even a bad D.Gray-Man is good.

    I agree with your notes about Lenalee. She was such a strong character at first. I hated seeing her sidelined.

    1. We definitely need either a reboot or some kind of end. I love this story and feel it is sad that it never got a proper conclusion.

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