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D.Gray-man #2
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Written by maehara   
Wednesday, 11 June 2008 16:00
D.Gray-manHeh. Only went eight hours between posting this review, and realising I hadn't written an introduction for it. Oops. I have an excuse, but that's for another time - more important now are the continuing adventures of Allen and his new partner, samurai-type Japanese exorcist Kanda. While not exactly Mr Personality, Kanda has one thing Allen doesn't: experience, and that experience is about to come in very handy...

8 - Start of the Mission
Allen's been handed a mission, and it's just his luck to be paired with an Exorcist he's just had a run-in with. Kanda's not the nicest person you'll ever meet, with scant regard for the opinions of others - or lives, for that matter. Allen has just finished trying to teach him a lesson when they're both called to a mission briefing: they're to retrieve an Innocence from southern Italy before the Akuma get to it first...

9 - Old Man of the Land, and Aria of the Night Sky, Part I
Together with Toma (their Finder) Allen and Kanda begin their journey to Italy. Their destination is the abandoned city of Mater, and Kanda's heard rumours of strange things happening there - the city, legend says, is haunted by a ghost. Not that Kanda believes that, of course - instead, it's more likely the powers of the Innocence that are behind the legend. But while they're sitting on a train talking about the Innocence, an Akuma has already tracked it down...

10 - Old Man of the Land, and Aria of the Night Sky, Part II
Allen and Kanda arrive in time to defend the Innocence, but too late to save the Finders who had been protecting it while awaiting their arrival - the Akuma has already killed them. This is no ordinary Akuma, either - it's a Level 2, and order of magnitude more powerful than the usual creatures and with a mind of its own. Allen has never encountered one before and is caught off-guard by its power - but Kanda, who has the power of an Innocence at his disposal, isn't so inexperienced. He's also not inclined to help Allen...

11 - Old Man of the Land, and Aria of the Night Sky, Part III
The Akuma is able to turn itself into a clone of Allen - not just becoming a lookalike, but taking on all of Allen's powers as well. All the better to kill him with - or at least, that's the idea. Kanda, meanwhile, is heading through an underground area of the city, trying to get the Innocence to safety, but takes the time to stop and use his remote golem to check on Allen's condition. On seeing the Akuma he's fighting against, Kanda realises how it's working..

12 - Old Man of the Land, and Aria of the Night Sky, Part IV
One moment's lapse of concentration by Kanda, and the Innocence turns a corner and disappears, along with its companion. They themselves soon come unstuck, falling through a weakened floor to find themselves in an area that Guzol doesn't recognise, and both left injured by the fall. Allen, meanwhile, has gotten himself lost trying to follow the Akuma, who has managed to track down Kanda. But while Kanda's expecting a mirror-image of Allen to appear, the real Akuma is far better disguised...

13 - Old Man of the Land, and Aria of the Night Sky, Part V
The battle isn't going well. Both Kanda and Allen are seriously injured, their Finder has been killed by the Akuma, and Guzol and Lala are missing. Not exactly what you could call a good day at the office. A haunting singing soon reaches their ears, though - it's Lala, mourning Guzol's impending death. The sound allows Allen to track her down - but she's not prepared to allow herself to be taken. All she wants to do is be with Guzol so he doesn't die alone - not much of a request, but its one that Kanda refuses to grant...

14 - Old Man of the Land, and Aria of the Night Sky, Part VI
Kanda orders Allen to remove Lala's heart - in doing so securing the Innocence for them and completing their mission - but Allen refuses. He's a softy at heart - Guzol and Lala have asked to be allowed to die on their own terms, and he doesn't see any reason why they shouldn't be allowed that request. To say Kanda's displeased by such a show of weakness would be an understatement, but Allen's promise to deal with the Akuma - thereby removing any danger to the Innocence - means he's not in any position to argue. Before Allen can follow through on his promise, though, the Akuma finds them - and seizes the Innocence for itself...

15 - Old Man of the Land, and Aria of the Night Sky, Part VII
Allen's rage at the Akuma takes over, and he switches into combat mode, with his arm becoming an even more powerful weapon for him than usual. Just as Allen's getting the upper hand over his opponent, though, his body reaches its physical limit - he's pushing himself too hard, and finds he can't go any further. It's then up to Kanda to save Allen and finish the job - but will Kanda be his usual unhelpful self..?

16 - Old Man of the Land, and Aria of the Night Sky, Part VIII
Mission success, and both Exorcists wounds have healed - in Kanda's case, with a little help from an unusual source that may not be able to help him again. Allen, meanwhile, is spending what time he can with Guzol and Lala - both are unlikely to survive for much longer, and with Lala's memories gone and her behaviour back to its 'default' state she's already not herself..

"Innocence?", you say, "Finders?". Both are key to how the Exorcists operate, and both are introduced and explained in the early parts of this volume. Finders do exactly what they say on the tin - men and women who have tried and failed to become Exorcists themselves, they help the organisation out by acting as a sort of covert ops team, finding Innocences and holding off Akuma until the Exorcists themselves can get there. The fact that they're not good enough to be Exorcists themselves means that they're often look down upon and treated in less-than-human ways by some of the Exorcists - including Kanda - but that doesn't seem to put them off doing their jobs.

Innocences, meanwhile, are what gives them their power - merge an Exorcist with an Innocence and you have a potent anti-Akuma weapon, and Kanda shows his off to good effect in the closing stages of the volume. Makes you wonder if Allen's arm is another example, or if Allen's powers come from another source (it was hinted in volume one that there's a darker power behind his arm, though, so I'm not sure what's happening there). Either way, its the power than an Innocence grants that lets Allen and Kanda get out of Mater alive, and that explains why the Exorcists are so keen to recover them whenever they find them.

And that's your lot for background information in this volume. Past that, the entire volume is devoted to the fight between Kanda, Allen and the Akuma, and the friction that goes on between Kanda and Allen throughout - Kanda simply isn't a likeable character, so I couldn't care less what happens to him, but he's powerful enough that Allen needs his skills on several occastions to save him skin. There's probably meant to be a lesson to learn there about the value of teamwork, but with Kanda purely centered on looking after #1 it just becomes tedious.

I would have liked to have seen more of the folks back at HQ, as there seems to be a better concentration of wacky and humourous characters there, but sadly no this time out - instead, it's a trip on the road for a battle that doesn't provide anything particularly unusual and doesn't entertain as much as I was hoping it would. Even Allen himself is just there for the fighting - there's nothing significant done with his background or the fact that he's a newbie to these things. Hopefully there'll be something along those lines in future volumes, but it's disappointing not to see them now.

Overall, then, this volume of D.grsy-man doesn't quite live up to the expectations that the first volume had given me - it's not outright bad, but it's not great either. Give the book a good flick through before you pick it up.

Rating - ***

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