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D.Gray-man #3
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Written by maehara   
Sunday, 13 July 2008 16:00
D.Gray-manAfter a small detour via HQ, Allen's away on his next mission, this time with the far more fan-friendly accompaniment of Lenalee. Their destination: a city that's been taking its lead from Groundhog Day where an out-of-control Innocence is making time repeat itself...

17 - The Black Order Annihilation Incident
Komui's been working on a new project, and it's finally complete: the science robot Komlin. Unfortunately, accidental exposure to Lenalee's coffee lead to a system error, and now Komlin has decided to forcibly 'upgrade' all exorcists. When Allen returns from a mission just in time to see Komlin smash through a wall and target him, he soon realises it's going to be a looong day...

18 - The Black Order Annihilation Incident Amended: The Black Order Attempted Annihilation Incident
Komlin's already captured Allen, now it's after Lenalee - and the prospect of seeing his sister 'improved' with the physique of a bodybuilder isn't really working for Komui. He needn't worry, though - on hearing that Allen's been captured, Lenalee invokes her Innocence, giving her manoeuvrability that means that Komlin has no chance of catching her, and strength enough that when she gets hold of Komlin, it's embarrassingly one-sided. Meanwhile, the Millennium Earl seems to be up to something...

19 - The Rewinding City
It's October 9th - again. Miranda Lotto has been living through October 9th a lot lately - mostly the same each time, but with a few subtle differences here and there. Groundhog Day, anyone? The most recent change was a run-in with an Akuma - which the first time she didn't survive, but second time around a stranger in a black cloak saved her. That stranger was Allen, who's in the city with Lenalee on a search for an Innocence. Based on their meeting, Allen's convinced that Miranda knows something about it - but given that he and Lenalee have noticed some strange things about the town themselves, will they be able to leave even if they do find the Innocence..?

20 - Useless
Allen reckons that time began going crazy in the city as a result of Miranda coming into contact with the Innocence - problem is that Miranda doesn't remember anything about it, and with the city's Akuma now on the lookout for her she's not exactly getting a chance to think it over. While Allen tries to hold back the Akuma, Lenalee uses her Dark Boots to get Miranda to safety - but with a girl by the name of Road Kamelot now in town to lead the bad guys' efforts to retrieve the Innocence, things are about to get even more tricky...

21 - Contact
It seem that by making time repeat itself, Miranda's clock was just responding to Miranda's own drunken wish - which makes Allen and Lenalee suspect that Miranda herself my be the Innocence's Accomodator. That should mean that she should have the power to control it and make time return to normal, but the sheer weight of the negative energy she's giving out seems to be overriding that. That means they need a way to cheer Miranda up and undo some of her bad luck - but just how are they going to do that..? Meanwhile, Road has come up with her own plan to gain control of the Innocence...

22 - Human
Road has captured Miranda, and Allen and Lenalee are doing their best to get to her - but the sheer number of Akuma that Road has arranged to block their path is making the task difficult. Difficult enough that they're both captured, and brought before Road herself. That's when it's revealed that Road isn't an Akuma - she's a full human, and she believes that she's been chosen by god to fight with the Akuma against her human brethren...

23 - Akuma
Road may work for the Millennium Earl, but the mission she's on & revealing herself to Allen isn't in the Earl's script. Not that that bothers her much - she's taking too much glee at Allen's reaction to knowing that a human would side with the Akuma. That said, Road's no ordinary human - a member of the Clan of Noah and a direct descendent from the biblical hero, she possesses superhuman powers that no ordinary human has, and that makes her feel just a little bit superior. But when Road begins to lay into Allen, it's unexpectedly Miranda that comes to his aid...

24 - Miranda Lotto's Invocation
Seeing Allen in danger and wanting to help him has finally given Miranda the ability to control her Innocence - the clock - which gives her the ability to selectively control time. Allen's injuries? No problem - just adjust time for his body to take him back to before they were inflicted. With both Allen and Lenalee back to full strength and now aware of Road's abilities, suddenly the balance of power has changed...

25 - Regenerate
Road knows more about Allen than she's been letting on - the Earl has told her of his wish to save the souls of the Akuma from destruction, and knowing of that 'weakness' has made her want to defeat him all the more. And if she can thwart him by destroying a few Akuma souls along the way, so much the better. She's also not stupid enough to hang around and let Allen defeat her, so with her needling done she decides it's time to withdraw...

26 - As Snow Falls Over the City
The battle's over, but there's a new problem - with her willingness to save Allen, Miranda's in danger of pushing herself too far. If she releases control of her Innocence, time will return and with it Allen's injuries, and (unaware that if he's not in battle he'll be able to recover) she's unwilling to let that happen. If she doesn't release control, though, she'll face death herself...

A book of two parts. He first two chapters are devoted to comedy, as Komlin's rampage through Exorcist Central really can't be taken seriously - his beret's being worn at far too jaunty an angle for that. I also doubt that any story the Komui features in will ever be entirely serious. After last volume, which dragged a little too much for my liking, it's a welcome change of tone - especially as the rest of this book gets back to the more serious stuff quite quickly.

Miranda, unfortunately, is far too much under the curse of gloom to be feeling humourous - with a face that could pass as Salvador Dali's Scream and an attitude to life that just positively invites Bad Stuff&trade: to happen to her, she's not exactly a feel-good character (although there is some gallows humour to be had from her misfortune). For Allen and Lenalee, that means that retrieving the Innocence in this mission is as much about trying to make Miranda feel good about herself as it is about finding it in the first place.

The villain of the piece is Road, who I took for most of the book to be a he, but is actually a she. I challenge you to be able to tell. She's an interesting piece of work - a human working for the Akuma, and someone with enough of a sense of adventure to follow her own desires that may not necessarily coincide with those of her boss, the Millennium Earl. I wouldn't go so far as to say she's a complex character - there's no such thing in D.Gray-man, at least yet - but there is enough to make her a curiosity and someone I'm quite looking forward to seeing come back to the fray.

What I don't want to see, though, is a constant stream of "find the Innocence" stories - we at least know that there's only a certain number of them in existence, but having a story looking at the recovery of each one would get tedious. Such stories aren't unheard of in the early stages of a story, though, and as such things go Miranda's tale isn't half bad, so I'll let it slip this time.

I'm still not entirely certain about D.Gray-man - there's enough promise in it that I want to see made the most of, but there are also aspect of it that just turn me off, and the two aspects are battling it out. At the moment curiosity is winning, but I'm sure that won't last forever...

Rating - ***

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