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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Manga Review: D.Gray-man GN 21

D.Gray-man volume 21
Author: Katsura Hoshino
Viz Media
200 pages

Major spoiler warning: Review contains spoilers for the D.Gray-man series so far. Read on with caution!

Allen has been dropped into a flashback of his surly colleague Yu Kanda's past, where a parade of disturbing secrets reveal themselves--including one that could at long last explain what makes Yu tick!

I honestly do not know what to make of this most recent volume of D.Gray-man except that holy shit, Kanda, even your issues have issues. Hot sexy skinny super-powered issues with a whole lot of ho yay and foe yay between the both of em. Err. Ahem. Aside from that, Katsura Hoshino manages to cram a whole lot of something into one single volume, which in the hands of any manga-ka would quickly become a hot mess of confusion and artistic frenzies. In Hoshino's hands, it only becomes a slightly better than most volume of confusion and artistic frenzies.

Let’s be honest. If you are still struggling to follow the wibbley wobbly plotty wotty line of this story, volume 21 is going to infuriate you. Unless you are like me, who has decided to keep calm and forget about following a dang thing over just following the pretty art and angsty characters.

Read the rest of the review after the jump!

The main focus of this volume, naturally, is Yu Kanda and his childhood friend turned nemesis or something like that, Alma Karma – who has quickly turned from mysterious boy casually sleeping within the headquarters building to an over-powered demon-looking boy on a rampage, now with additional dark make-up. His relationship with Yu is fifty degrees of messed-up; it’s like a more demented version of the relationship in a certain other shonen manga series about ninjas (which makes Yu an exorcist-type Naruto? – I shudder at the thought of it).

Hoshino’s evolving art style since she resumed from her hiatus a couple of volumes ago, however lovely it may looks, makes it a little difficult to make out who is Alma and who is Yu when the mess hits the fan and everyone and their sister is in the battle to stop Alma from blowing the whole place up. I have to admit, though: Allen looks better than he did pre-hiatus, even if his face scar seems drastically different than before.

Luckily, near the end of the volume it is revealed the true reason why the Millennium Earl staged this fight between Alma and Yu in the first place. And to no one’s surprise (at least those who have been paying attention the whole time) it all has to do with Allen Walker and his dubious status as the once and future Fourteenth Noah. Yes, it seems like the series is finally getting back on track with Allen’s connection to the Earl and the akuma; it’s one of my favorite current plot lines in the series which hopefully means following volumes will contain a lot more things relevant to my interests. Like, perhaps, more Allen Walker back story? One can only hope!

And then the volume ends on a very weird note with a cliffhanger that makes absolutely no sense – I seriously can’t even tell you what happened in the last handful of pages, it is just that unclear. Which may be what Hoshino was going for, so readers would be more pressed to find out what happens next, but for me it is just a tad frustrating with all this lack of clarity going around.

Perhaps volume 22 will shed more light on the current status of Alma and Yu and Allen. All I know is, I’m kind of glad the Yu flashback arc seems to be over, as much as I enjoyed looking into the back story of a character I had spent the earlier part of D.Gray-man being apathetic towards.