D.Gray-man (3-in-1 Edition, vol. 22-23-24), Vol. 8 – Katsura Hoshino

4 out of 5

As all of the endless Noah-battling / Black Order-destroying antics phase into memory, with Hoshino continuing D.Gray-Man’s upward, momentum-infused trend of Allen / Mana / second and third exorcists / innocence plotting, I’m brought to wonder if the mire of the series’ previous volumes was somewhat akin to Gray’s creator deconstructing her own worst indulgences to dig out what she wanted to actually write about.

Long-winded way of saying: we’re past a lot of the goth lolita, shonen indulgences, and while the story-telling is still seat-of-the-pants, wholly internalized Marvel / DC-style nonsense – that is, it doesn’t really mean anything, with its twists and turns dependent on understanding the previous twists and turns versus things like character or concept development- it’s exciting while you’re wrapped up in it. While the impermanence of bad guys (and death) in the series is, as it always has been, rather disappointing – stakes are just not something that’ve ever existed in D.Gray-Man – Hoshino really zooms in on Allen and Kanda in these volumes, and that focus helped me, as a reader, be much more engaged. The flip-flopping of Allen to a potential baddie and the Noah to more sympathetic characters has been bumpy (at least regarding the latter) but the churn of all those fight-centric stories does make the journey actually feel worthwhile, as the series rounds what feels like a legitimate corner toward potential story resolutions…

So in my juggling of pluses and minuses, these ain’t necessarily mind-blowing, world-changing stuff, but within the context of D.Gray-Man, it’s another extremely satisfying compilation.