Joy Kim

Librarian. Book Reviewer. Coffee Addict.

Hoshino, Katsura: D.Gray-Man, vol. 1

dgray-man1.jpgD.Gray-Man, Vol. 1
Story and Art by Katsura Hoshino
Translation and English Adaptation by Mayumi Kobayashi
Rated T+ for Older Teen
Viz, 2006
(First published in 2004)
ISBN-13: 978-1-4215-0623-4


Set in an alternate nineteeth century, D.Gray-Man tells the story of Allen Walker, a fifteen-year-old boy with a dark past. Allen is an exorcist: his left hand, disfigured since birth, hosts a fragment of Innocence, a mysterious substance with the ability to destroy demons known as akuma. When Allen invokes the power of his Innocence, his arm transforms into a fearsome anti-akuma weapon. With his fellow exorcists of the Black Order, Allen fights akuma and searches for lost fragments of Innocence to prevent the end of the world at the hands of the evil Millennium Earl.

This volume begins with two short adventures clearly intended to introduce readers to Allen’s world and past. Like so many other shonen heroes, Allen carries more than his fair share of personal baggage. He is not only an exorcist with the ability to accommodate Innocence; he also is cursed with the ability to see the suffering souls of akuma, human souls trapped when their grieving loved ones called them back from the dead, as a result of a past encounter with the Millennium Earl. These chapters aren’t an engaging introduction to the series at all; aside from Allen and Timcampi, Allen’s flying golem companion, the characters are uninteresting. It’s a relief to discover that characters like Moa, a singularly clueless policewoman, are not going to part of the recurring cast.

Fortunately the story improves as soon as Allen reaches the headquarters of the Black Order. His welcome is not exactly what he expects to find. From Komui, the head officer who is a bit of a mad scientist, to Kanda, a katana-wielding exorcist with a serious chip on his shoulder, the other members of the Black Order promise to be interesting foils to mild-mannered Allen.

Katsura Hoshino’s art makes interesting use of light and dark, as is befitting in a story with such gothic themes. The nineteenth century backgrounds and the character designs for the akuma and the Black Order are particularly effective. However, readers may find some of the action sequences muddled and difficult to follow.

Evaluated on its own, volume one of D.Gray-Man isn’t particularly memorable, but the premise and characters have the potential to be a lot more entertaining in the future. It’s already clear that being an exorcist may be a burden more than it is a blessing, even for those who haven’t literally been cursed as Allen has. For this reason, readers with a taste for gothic adventures may want to read another volume or two before making a decision to follow or to drop this series.



One Comment

  1. well this is only the first vol. of D.Gray-Man but as the series continues the story plotget more and more instense that u just cant wait what will happen next!!
    i’m a huge fan of D.Gray-Man and i cant wait to see how allen,lavi,kanda,korroy,bookman,and lenalee fight off the akumas and the earl…