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D. Gray-Man Vol. #04 Manga Review

7 min read

With his greatest advantage over the Akuma temporarily sealed will Allen fall as the Earl makes a major offensive?

Creative Staff
Story/Art: Katsura Hoshino
Translation/Adaptation: Toshifumi Yoshida/Lance Caselman

What They Say
Allen starts to question the Black Ministry about the “Clan of Noah” and the reason he became an Exorcist. With his left eye injured and incapable of detecting akuma, he has come to understand the constant fear of not knowing whether the person he is talking to is truly human! Despite his confusion, Allen is sent on a mission to seek out his master, Cross, one of the Marshals of the Black Ministry, and find out why the akuma have suddenly started targeting leaders of the Ministry.

Content: (please note that content portions of review may contain spoilers):
The battle against Road Kamelot may have been won but the wounds from the battle have barely begun to heal as Allen finds that even with the impressively accelerated healing that his Innocence provides him his arm needs time to recover- but worse for him his Akuma seeing eye has been damaged leaving him powerless to tell just what person walking down the street may be an Akuma. If that weren’t bad enough Lenalee is still in a coma, a state that has caused her brother to rush to her side and call in a specialist healer who calls himself Bookman. Concern for his sister isn’t the only reason for Komui’s presence however as the mysterious order that Bookman belongs to has knowledge of the Clan of Noah which the Exorcists will need as their appearance signals that the Earl is stepping up his plans.

As Allen walks among the people in the world he learns fear in a way he hasn’t known before as ever since learning of the world of the Akuma he has possessed his cursed eye letting him see what danger may dwell all around him, but without it he feels the constant chill of not knowing if what lurks behind each person’s face he sees might be an Akuma- a paranoia that turns into frightening reality when he is ambushed on the streets in short order. Luckily for him Bookman had brought another young member of the order named Lavi along with him, a member who is able to use his size altering hammer to cover Allen’s back as he has the same mindset as other Exorcists without Allen’s vision in that they must always be on guard as the uniform they wear is a challenge to Akuma announcing their intentions.

And it isn’t just these two under attack as once they manage to survive and regroup with Bookman, Koumi and the now out of her coma Leenalee who survived their own assault the Exorcists learn of a dangerous new escalation in their war with the Millennium Earl as one of the five generals of the order has been killed and left as a message for the order that the Earl is looking for a way to take them out for good. To do so he is searching for a very special Innocence known as the Heart which powers all of the other pieces and if destroyed will cause the other pieces to lose their power and bring the Earl instant victory with no one left to oppose him. In order to try to stop this Allen, Lennalee, Lavi and Bookman will attempt to hunt down and protect Allen’s mentor General Cross while other Generals will also have teams sent to provide backup as it seems the Earl thinks one of these great men’s Innocence may be the one he is looking for.

But the mission won’t be easy for Allen as he has some conflicting feelings about meeting up with his mentor again and to top things off Leenalee seems to be giving him the cold shoulder for some reason he can’t figure out. But if things weren’t already hard enough, just for a cherry on top Allen finds that his mentor left a “present” behind which he now has to deal with as Cross instructed a town he helped that if in danger they were to grab the next person they saw wearing a black uniform and cross and now they need it as their town vampire seems to have run amuck and Allen is the first member they see. With danger at every turn and his greatest weapon neutralized is Allen going to be overmatched or will he finally have to take stock of just who it is that surrounds him and learn to operate as a team in order to survive?

There is an old adage that “Time waits for no man” and the events of D.Gray-man 4 seem to be following along with this as the action and danger flow from the pages with few moments for the series protagonist to take a break and assess and adjust to just what is going on around him. Probably the most interesting display of this is found in Allen’s temporary loss of his ability to see Akuma which allows the author to give the audience a glimpse into just how scary the world she created is for those who know of the existence of Akuma and try to fight it without being able to distinguish between normal humans and monsters before the monsters choose to reveal themselves. Up to this point the readers have traveled along with Allen and at times had the ability to “see” through his eyes the dangers in advance, and even when they haven’t they have been following with someone who could and wasn’t taken by surprise which lead to a sense of security even in the face of peril.

The latest twist though shows the audience a new spin with its (temporarily) depowered hero having to face the fear that comes with loss of foreknowledge of just who around him is a potential threat ready to spring up and take his life at any moment. This is a fantastic move that helps ground Allen even more as being human when it could be easy due to his powers to think of him as something quite beyond normal even considering the limits to his abilities and fighting prowess that have been shown since his first appearance and even at the beginning of this volume as fear of the unknown isn’t something he has demonstrated much of in the past. When added to the revelations Allen starts to make about his past spent with General Cross and the life he lead with him to his traveling companions it feels like the character is finally opening up not just to those around him but to the reader as well.

In contrast to this, at the same time the story is showing deeper levels to its protagonist it also introduces two new characters that it is careful to shroud in some ways as the youthful and somewhat overly zealous Lavi and his more mature and guarded mentor Bookman make their first sustained appearances. This dichotomy between Allen reveling more and these new and somewhat shrouded characters creates an interesting undertone to the events of the book but it does leave the impression that it also scatters the focus a bit more than is most effective and that the revelations of Allen and the new parts of his personality just being glimpsed might play better when seeing them reflected off a character the audience already knows to fully experience the importance of events. Beyond that though the author gets some time to be able to demonstrate the series’ sense of humor both in the form of the tales of Allen’s travels with his mentor and some of the interactions with the somewhat childish at time Lavi as they bond through travels and in confronting the supposed vampire and when coupled with the other events of the book it leaves a very strong entry into this series.

In Summary
The events of the previous volume haven’t had time to sink in yet as both Allen and Leenalee are suffering heavily from their encounter with the mysterious Road Kamelot and things aren’t going to get any easier as their encounter seems to have just been the opening salvo in a brand new offensive front launched by the Millennium Earl. Will the introduction of two new members be able to give this team of walking wounded a chance to heal as they are suddenly dispatched to guard Allen’s former mentor or will the frenetic pace of travel and Akuma be able finish them all off…assuming that a vampire doesn’t get them first of course. With its stylish action and humor, D.Gray-Man finds a way to add even more danger to the mix though perhaps its most shining part comes with the revelations and challenges of its series protagonist as the already well above average series turns in a far above average next volume in its exploits.

Content Grade: A-
Art Grade: B
Packaging Grade: Digital Review
Text/Translation Grade: B

Age Rating: 16+
Release Date: February 6th, 2007 (Print)
MSRP: $7.99 Print / $4.99 Digital