The late 2000's played host to a number of now renowned shonen manga and anime. Some -- like Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and Death Note -- became contemporary classics. Others, despite garnering dedicated followings, merchandise revenue, and critical acclaim fell short of the upper-most echelon of popularity. D.Gray-man falls into the latter category.
Although the manga has been running since May of 2004, the anime adaptation consists of a mere 116 episodes, a remarkably small number compared to contemporaries like Bleach and One Piece, between two different series. There's also an equally brief (only three volumes) light novel run. Daunting and confusing as this plethora of content may seem, the D.Gray-man franchise is worth the effort.
The Plot of D.Gray-man
D.Gray-man follows Allen Walker, an Exorcist who works for an organization known as The Black Order. The Order has one purpose: defeat the evil entity known as The Earl of Millennium (or simply The Millennium Earl in the anime) and his army of corrupt spirits called Akuma.
On the surface level, D.Gray-man appears to be rather similar to other shonen franchises. However, D.Gray-man's alternate 19th-century setting and eerie gothic aesthetics set it apart from other titles. The unique art direction and character designs are simultaneously alluring and unsettling. The narrative and characters are also accessible and familiar without feeling unfulfilling or falling flat. All of these positives translate to both the print and anime adaptations, all of which are available through a number of official avenues.
Where to Watch the D.Gray-man Anime
The anime adaptation consists of two separate series': D.Gray-Man and the follow-up D.Gray-Man Hallow. Both series are available to stream through Crunchyroll, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Funimation's premium subscription. DVD and Blu-ray collections are available for purchase through Funimation's online store. DVDs, Blu-ray's and boxed sets are also available through Amazon, and range from approximately $12 up to $60 depending on how new or used they might be.
D.Gray-man's anime adaptations are worth the watch, but they don't necessarily tell a complete story due to production constraints and the available manga material at the time. If fans want a more well-rounded narrative experience, it may be worth considering the print medium.
Where to Read the D.Gray-man Manga/Light Novels
Throughout its lengthy publication history, the D.Gray-Man manga has been published by a number of weekly magazines, a consequence of numerous, unavoidable hiatuses. The title is currently serialized in Jump SQ.Rise. Digital copies of Jump SQ.Rise are available for purchase through the magazine's official website though not in an English translation.
That said, non-polyglots need not despair. Print collections of the manga are available through Viz Media via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, RightStuf, and Books-a-Million. Prices range from $8 to as much as $15 for 3-in-1 collections. D.Gray-man is also available in digital format through Amazon's Kindle program and ComiXology. The 3-volume light novel run, D.Gray-man: Reverse, is also available through Amazon, ranging between $12 for used copies and as much as $34 for new copies.
With a grand total of 242 chapters in print (so far), it may seem like a daunting task to attempt to undertake a series like D.Gray-man. For those who are looking for something both invigorating and comforting, consider watching a few episodes of the initial D.Gray-man anime and then decide whether or not to pursue the full story in print. For those who are more intrigued by taking on a heavier reading assignment, there's plenty of material to enjoy.