It’s time to take a look to the sequel to the original D. Gray-Man anime. It hasn’t been so long since I saw the original so it’s nice to see the characters return. This was around the part where the manga started to go off the rails though with the artwork taking a dip and it never quite reached the parts that the original show adapted. Perhaps it would work better in anime format? Well, I can definitely make sense of the events a lot better and you can follow the action really well. Unfortunately, the show is not able to salvage these arcs to the point where it can hold a candle to the first show.
The show has 13 episodes and mainly focuses on two arcs. First up we get a mini arc adding a new kid to the cast. Allen and Kanda are sent in to investigate a possible new exorcist who can possess Akuma. Considering what a bother those enemies have been over the years this would definitely be a very valuable asset to have in the field. The heroes will have to hurry though because the Akuma are also after this kid. It’s a pretty reasonable first 3 episodes. I don’t really care for the kid but it did feel like the original days a bit. It also gave us a chance to see most of the characters and some quick fights.
After that we focus on the Alma Karma arc. This is definitely the darkest arc in the series as we see the shady experiments that the order runs on the Exorcist candidates or clones that can be disposed of. In the present we find out that Alma was actually kept alive and the Earl decides to use him to help awaken Allen as the 14th and possibly eliminate Kanda in the process. With the Order acting so questionably the heroes will have to decide if they really are on the right side.
Finally, we end with the debut of Apocryphos as one of the best villains in the series. He attacks and Allen’s arm resonates with the character which makes it difficult for him to stay with the order. At this point Allen is the host for quite a lot of beings so he has to go on the run. The Exorcists are given the order to destroy him so we will have to see which of his allies will remain loyal and which ones will decide to destroy him. Either way Allen better keep his guard up.
Right from the start Hallow positions itself as a much more intense take on the series. It gets quite violent as now even the Akuma all bleed like living things. It’s always been an odd take to have the monsters all bleed like this and many titles do this off and on. How I see it you should just keep the Akuma hollow. The series goes into the next level with this during the Karma arc though which is what ultimately holds the series back the most. It just gets way too dark with the kids effectively being murdered over and over again with their healing factors keeping them alive.
It also makes the Order look completely evil to be condoning these experiments. The Earl even points out that the Order seems to be just as evil as the Noah. It’s also ultimately pointless since the Earl has control over all Akuma so these experiments just ended up helping the villains even more. Even if they were effective it wouldn’t make these decisions any better. The fact that all of the higher ups are in on this makes it worse because even if you like the main Exorcists you have to now acknowledge that they are working for an evil organization. All the good they are doing is just protecting the villains above this. The arc goes too far in making you dislike the Order because now you have no one to root for.
The season does its best to get back on track after this. The final arc with Apocryphos is a lot more enjoyable and feels more like the classic adventures. We get to see Tyki Mikk and Road appear again to fight off the new villain. Apocryphos has a pretty great design and he can actually fight which is important. Allen gets framed and the episodes are pretty suspenseful with solid action and a good story. It also leads us to a pretty solid end for the series. The second last episode probably works better as an ending than the actual finale but either way I was satisfied with the ending. The manga hasn’t been super consistent since then so I don’t really think there is enough material for another season but eventually we’ll probably get another installment.
Allen continues to be a strong lead here. He’s doing his best to fight off the 14th and the total corruption of the Order. He’s in a tough spot here since no matter what he does someone tends to get upset. He is a full fledged Exorcist at this point though and can even hold his own against Kanda which is important. You still get the feeling that he won’t be beating the Noah anytime soon but who knows, maybe he could take them at this point. He just needs some allies because 13-1 are not good odds. Right now Allen has handled every situation admirably.
Then you have Kanda who definitely got a really big role in this series. He was rather mean to Karma throughout so you’ll feel bad for the kid. In the present he didn’t handle the situation well at all until Allen knocked some sense into him. Kanda seems to have mellowed out by the end of the series so it’ll be interesting to see how he handles himself in future arcs. He’s still a fun character regardless. The guy isn’t as heroic as some of the others, but doesn’t pretend to be either. He does what he wants at this point although some of his tough rhetoric doesn’t land since he is still working for the Order after everything they’ve done to him.
Lenalee and Lavi don’t get a whole lot to do here. Lenalee’s abilities still look really cool so I’m hoping she will get a real fight soon. Lavi gets kidnapped but that’s about it for his role. He’s pretty strong willed so hopefully he’ll come out of this okay. Cross gets a minor role as well, but he looks pretty terrible. So much for being a General and getting a lot of hype right? When it was clutch time he folded like a trading card.
Link is one of the new characters and I actually liked him a lot more here than I did in the anime. While he did start out as a watchdog for Allen he ultimately did gain some real personality. He made the wrong choice in stopping Allen during the fight with the thirds, but he made the right choice against Apocryphos. He may not have been the strongest fighter around, but his stats were still pretty good and he seemed like a nice guy. He was just in a little over his head.
Timothy is not nearly as interesting. He can possess ghosts which is cool but his personality isn’t all that great. I think it’ll be a while before he matures more and becomes a character you can root for. I’ll give him props for fighting valiantly later on though. If he keeps this up for another arc then he should rise up. We get a new Noah member in this show named Wisely. Technically there are a bunch of others but most of them haven’t done much yet. This guy gets some hype because he did take out Kanda in one hit which is hard to do. I think he should make for a very enjoyable Noah member.
The Millennium Earl appears a lot here and we finally see more of his human form. Unfortunately it does destroy his character. You can’t take him seriously when you see his human form constantly crying. He also seems like less and less of a fighter every time he appears and his obsession with the 14th could very well ruin all of his plans. The guy doesn’t seem to have a great plan laid out so I can see why his followers are getting very frustrated at this point. He may ruin it for all of them.
Road is a fun enough villain as always. She doesn’t do a lot here but does like messing with the heroes aside from Allen. Tyki Mikk gets a good role as he tries to fight Apocryphos even if he isn’t successful. He’s always gotten more personality than most of the other Noah members and that continues to be true here. He’s just a fun guy to have around. Then you have Apocryphos who is pretty great as I mentioned. It’s excellent to have a third party villain here especially since he seems to be a very radical “good guy” who just wants to protect the Innocence. It seems like he’ll murder anyone who gets in his way and if he is the ultimate enemy of the Noah it makes you wonder where the Exorcists stand. I want to see more of this guy.
Finally we have Karma. He’s a very tragic character since he started out very happy and then everything eventually broke him. By the end of the series he was a total villain. His whole reincarnation plot was a bit wacky but beyond that he got a cool super form and did give us solid action scenes. Battles between fighters with healing factors can always get pretty intense. I liked Karma. He may have cracked in the end, but he did a good job of making sure he saved Kanda and held out hope for as long as possible.
One thing that’s pretty noticeable with this show is that it throws in some random humor to try and get your mind off the serious stuff. To an extent most shows or movies will do this as throwing in a more light hearted moment helps to cut the tension of a dark one. This show just isn’t very subtle with it so it can be pretty jarring. I can’t say I’ve ever noticed it to the extent as I did with this show. A character might have just been stabbed or in trouble and suddenly he will have a comic relief face or a deadpan moment where they make a joke. It happens a lot in this season and so it seems to me like the show knew it was getting really dark. It can be a bit off putting but not the kind of thing that will hurt the score or anything. Maybe if I really liked the dark stuff I would mind more.
In D. Gray-Man as I pointed out in my original TV show review there is still one element that is hard to ignore. The whole story doesn’t really make sense because the Akuma should have just won by now. The show continually points out that the Exorcists are completely outmatched in numbers and power. A single Level 4 was able to take out almost all of the strongest Exorcists and the Earl can mass produce hundreds of them. Why has he not just stormed the base at this point? The only reasonable explanation is that the Earl wants to keep the Exorcists alive but then why launch attacks on them in general? Everything he does seems half hearted.
In most titles the heroes are outmatched at least a bit but in this series it is incredibly one sided. The heroes really have absolutely no chance of victory which is just odd to see. When watching the show you know that they can’t win and so unless the heroes get a massive power up then it’s all futile. One episode here even illustrates that as the Earl sends the Noah in and they absolutely crush all of the Exorcists, but decide to spare most of them for kicks. The heroes are definitely lucky but surviving purely on your opponent’s whims is not a good spot to be in.
The animation is definitely solid though. We get a lot of striking colors and the dark color palette stands out. You’re always able to see what is happening and a lot of the visuals are adapted really well. I like how the feathers were implemented and Link’s various attacks were cool. It was consistently great during the show. Then you’ve also got a pretty solid soundtrack from the show. The opening for Hallow is also very catchy. I’ve listened to it quite a few times and the images are also solid. It definitely sets up the atmosphere quite well.
I’d say the best thing I can attribute to Hallow is that it is very interesting. At this point in the series there are quite a lot of pieces moving on the board which makes for a lot of interesting plotlines. You certainly won’t be bored during any episode. At most the final one has some slow scenes with the flashbacks but the rest of the series is very fast paced with something always happening. It’s definitely a positive for long running titles like this one because the longer they go on the more plots you have to juggle. With only 13 episodes Hallow definitely had to keep going at full speed.
Overall, D. Gray-Man Hallow wasn’t exactly the sequel I think it could have been. It goes too far in trying to be violent and gritty as it gets a lot darker than the original series. The first series could also be pretty dark but more in terms of atmosphere than just giving everyone a hard time throughout. If you cut away the Karma arc then the title gets considerably better. To an extent I suppose a show can only do so much with the source material but that’s where deviating can come in handy. Regardless if you’re a big fan of the original anime then you should definitely check this sequel out. It is still following all of the classic characters and continues the story so you want to see where things are going.