What the hell happened to D.Gray-man?

What the hell happened to D.Gray-man?

Like the Katsura Hoshino manga on which it is based, the "D.Gray-man" anime was extremely popular when it began airing in 2006. Like "Naruto," "One Piece" and other shonen series of the early 2000s, "D.Gray-man" had the length in its favor, and exceeded 100 episodes. Despite its long run, the series ended abruptly although the manga continued.

Although her fans still remember her fondly, the sudden disappearance of "D.Gray-man" and the poor reception of her resurgence caused interest in her to plummet. The problems that affected the production of the anime and manga did not contribute to this. Even today, fans of "D.Gray-man" are still wondering how the once-popular franchise slowly disappeared from the radar and was seemingly erased from history.

The sad reality about "D.Gray-man" is that, today, few if any anime fans remember him. Those who know it are old enough to remember when this anime was new and promising, while younger fans can be forgiven for not even knowing what it is.

What the hell happened to D.Gray-man?

Like many popular fantasy anime of its time, "D.Gray-man" had a decidedly religious undertone, although its use of Judeo-Christian theology was incredibly lax. "D.Gray-man" was about a group of exorcists called The Black Order, who used an arsenal of mystical weapons powered by "Innocence" to defend the world against the Noah Family. The clan was made up of corrupt reincarnations of the biblical Noah and his followers. Led by the Millennium Count, they waged war against God and his creations. The Noah Familia used Dark Matter to combat the Black Order's Innocence, as well as a means of summoning and controlling demons.

The protagonist of this nineteenth-century anime was Allen Walker: a teenage recruit of the Black Order who had trouble controlling his own mysterious dark powers. The original anime adapted about 210 chapters of the manga, initially starting with an episodic monster of the week format. Hoshino's striking gothic art style, interesting characters, and detailed action sequences earned critical acclaim. This was reflected in the manga's impressive sales figures. Even after years of relative silence and inactivity, "D.Gray-man" still occupied a respectable place in the nostalgic popularity polls in Japan.

What the hell happened to D.Gray-man?

In short, the "D.Gray-man" anime is over, but the manga is not. The first series of "D.Gray-man" lasted 103 episodes spread over three "stages", or four seasons. Following the conclusion of the fourth season, the anime simply stopped. It had a kind of ending, but it left the future of the Black Order uncertain. However, it wasn't meant to be the end of the series. In fact, the fourth season ended with Allen reigniting his determination to defeat the Millennial Count, who was still alive. The abrupt cancellation left fans scratching their heads, especially since the manga still had many chapters to adapt.

The best fans can do now is speculate about the reasons behind the unceremonious ending of "D.Gray-man." The hypothesis that most fans agree on is that the anime was canceled because of its bad rhythm. The anime already had to create an excessive amount of filler stories so that Hoshino would have more time to make chapters for TMS Entertainment to adapt. Although this may sound counterproductive today, it was a common practice among long-running anime adaptations in the 2000s. Unfortunately, some of the fillers of "D.Gray-man" contradicted important events and elements of the manga. At the anime's halfway point, there were no seasonal pauses or filler arcs that could undo these irrevocable changes.

Unfortunately, Hoshino was also forced to suspend her heat on numerous occasions for health reasons. Once he did so after contracting norovirus, and once because of a cervical injury. His poor health prevented new chapters from being published regularly and slowed down the manga's releases. Even when "D.Gray-man" returned to normal publication, it changed the serialization from the publisher Weekly Shonen Jump to the quarterly Jump Square Crown, where it is still published today (sometimes).

What the hell happened to D.Gray-man?

About eight years after its first cancellation, "D.Gray-man" returned in the 2016 sequel, "D.Gray-man Hallow." It was initially suspected that it was a reboot, but "D.Gray-man Hallow" picked up the story where the original anime left off and continued with a fairly faithful adaptation of the manga. Unfortunately, "D.Gray-man Hallow" had the opposite problem to the first anime.

While the first "D.Gray-man" ran out of material to adapt, "D.Gray-man Hallow" rushed in and compressed too many chapters of the manga into too few episodes. It is estimated that each of the 13 episodes of the series adapted almost 10 chapters in one go. This resulted in an anime with a terribly fast-paced pace and a very unsatisfying story. Hoshino, who was initially reluctant to create the sequel, was not surprisingly critical of it. The fact that Hoshino practically disowned "D.Gray-man Hallow", coupled with its disappointing ratings and reviews, possibly contributed to its physical releases being abruptly canceled for "various reasons".

Despite this, the manga "D.Gray-man" continued to go from strength to strength. It even reached a milestone in 2021. The series reached a "main story point" in the summer 2021 issue of Jump SQ Rise. Many were unsure, and still aren't, what this meant for the series, which had sporadic posts due to the aforementioned problems with Hoshino's health. Some suspected it meant the series was ending soon, while others believed it meant a major arc came to an end just in time for a new one to begin.

What the hell happened to D.Gray-man?

Even in today's nostalgia-driven anime landscape and in light of blockbuster revivals like "Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War," it's highly unlikely that "D.Gray-man" will continue. In addition to the lack of popular demand, the production of "D.Gray-man" was too exhausting for everyone involved. Hoshino has shown no interest in returning to anime, and is content to work on his manga with a more relaxed schedule. Meanwhile, TMS Entertainment has been pursuing better-received adaptations, such as "Dr. Stone" and "Rent-a-Girlfriend," so neither party has much incentive to return to the "D.Gray-man" anime.

Perhaps there's no better time than now to reboot "D.Gray-man" from scratch. In this way, it could be more faithful to the manga. In addition, it wouldn't have to rely too much on filler, and it could even air episodes with a more flexible schedule, similar to what the "Shaman King" remake did in 2021. It remains to be seen if this will happen with "D.Gray-man," as the franchise has fallen, in many ways, out of the mainstream anime consciousness.

(C)星野桂/集英社・D.Gray-man 製作委員会