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D. Gray-Man Vol. #22 Manga Review

3 min read

The stakes just keep getting higher and there’s no time to waste on things like relaxed pacing.

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

What They Say
Struggling with mounting turmoil over his own identity, Allen meets The Cardinal. Who is he? What is he? Why is he interested in Allen? The answers are startling, and arrive with a vision that shocks the young demon fighter to the core!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Continuing on with the strong push from the previous volume, volume 22 of D. Gray-man helps keep the momentum going and really knows how to captivate its audience. The volume begins with the end of the fierce, violent, and tragedy-filled battle against the Millennium Earl, the Noah, and the Third Exorcists. These chapters are really terrific but slightly confusing for readers that read only whenever a new volume comes out. It’s been nearly a year since I read volume 21 and all I remember was the backstory of Yu and Alma as well as the conclusion to that battle. Volume 22 starts off with a couple of battles against Third Exorcists who have become half-akuma and honestly, I was lost! Thankfully, the nature of the series (always a free-giver of information) and the tremendous artwork allowed me to get right back into the story.

Also, thankfully, the war is over after just a couple of chapters. It is this shift to a new storyline that saves this volume from just being more of what we’ve seen before. There is barely any time for our characters to rest and recoup, Allen is imprisoned, and a new character simply called the Cardinal arrives and sets things in motion. The new storyline builds off of the whole Fourteenth Noah arc and lets more uncertainty enter the arena. I’m a sucker for ‘great benevolent organization may be worse than they appear and vice versa’ trope, and after everything that has happened so far in this series, this added element has a much stronger impact. Allen Walker has developed greatly over the course of the series that no matter what situation is thrown at him we still root for him. I don’t want to delve too much into story specifics but the book ends with a new type of innocence introduced, allegiance uncertainties, and the beginning of a Lone Wolf journey.

The issue with this volume is the same issue that has plagued the series for a long time. There’s no new entry-point for people to get into the series. This same storyline has been going on for the past 6 volumes or so and while the plot has grown and evolved greatly, it has made the series impenetrable. Even if a reader was to look past this and, say, read spoilers online, the storylines in this volume are not strong enough to pull that reader in. It presents a very “oh that’s kind of cool” vibe but there’s no meat. It’s a damn shame too because the series has been getting better and better over the last few volumes and it’s something new readers would love…if only they could just jump in with something strong enough to hold them.

In Summary
In the scope of D. Gray-Man, this volume is terrific! It has everything readers want and the execution of the battle scenes and the buildup to the new arc are briskly paced and written with all the right elements. In the scope of manga in general, this volume is very…middling at best. There’s no truly standout moments that would convert people to the D. Gray-man fandom, but nothing that would turn them away either. It’s just so…there. But for fans, this is a huge turning point! The absolute abandon in which the series kills off characters and introduces new horrors is something to be admired. If only it was able to reach beyond its role as a piece of a greater pie.

Content Grade: B
Art Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: B+

Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: July 3rd, 2012
MSRP: $9.99