I’m finaly getting around to doing another manga volume review, and this time it’s the second-most-current (as of now) volume of one of my favourite series.

Well gee this isnt the foppiest cover ever.

Well gee this isnt the foppiest cover ever.

I’m going to test the waters with a slightly different style of reviewing here; which I’m thinking of doing for all my manga volume reviews. Reviewing 10 or so chapters of something is a little different to reviewing a standalone anime episode, so I dont want to document every single event like I do with anime reviews. I’ll just give the basic lowdown, talking about some key points about the volume that stood out to me in either a positive or negative way. However, I wont be discussing spoilertacular events so much; although it’s kind of hard not to at this stage of the story (this volume in particular has at least two pretty spoiler-ish events). Obviously there are still pictures, although I tried not to include any of the really spoilertastic ones. But I will refer to these events, just not explicitly. The other difference is that I’m using pictures from the japanese volume; as that’s the one I read and the one I’m reviewing, instead of finding the corresponding scanlation pages. I just thought it would make things a little different or interesting, also the art looks much better in the book than it does in the scanlations (which are taken from Jump and therefore are in lower quality), but if you think I should use the corresponding scanlation pics, feel free to suggest so in the comments.

Anyway, D.Gray-man has been extremely dramatic lately, up until the previous volume where it ended a major arc and took a break in the form of another silly little arc that’s more comedy than anything else. This arc, about a weird virus Komui accidentally creates infecting the whole Black Order and turning them into ‘zombies’, continues into the first few chapters of volume 18. I really like the ‘crack arcs’ in D.Gray-man, although something was a little weird about this one; everything was so dramatic and doom-and-gloom a few chapters back, and this arc is so ludicrously over-the-top that the sudden change came across as a bit disconcerting. It was a fun ride, however, and I could tell Hoshino had maybe a little too much fun drawing it. (For example, the non-zombified cast fall prey to potions that make their hair grow long (Allen), grow rabbit ears (Bookman), turn chibi (Lavi and Kanda), or start talking in cat-speak (Lenalee).

The zombie-virus managed to reach some as they just got out of their baths, which is probably a bit more of some generals than I wanted to see. At least as zombies they still retained -some- sense of modesty.

The zombie-virus managed to reach some as they just got out of their baths, which is... probably a bit more of some generals than I wanted to see. At least as zombies they still retained -some- sense of modesty.

KomurinX fell in love with (long-haired) Allen. I told you it was a crack-arc.

"You're our only hope!"Komui's robot KomurinX, who has a starring role in this craziness, fell in love with (long-haired) Allen. I told you it was a crack-arc.

Eventually we learn that the cause of the virus’s spread was Krory, who drank Komui’s weird drug. I’m glad to see Krory return, even if he was a raving psychopath for most of his volume 17 appearance; because he’d been bedridden since about volume 13 or so. Krory’s one of my favourite characters, and he managed to be adorkable as always (when he wasnt being the aforesaid raving psychopath).

Komui-made Pharmacuticals: Keep Out Of Reach of Krorys

Komui-made Pharmaceuticals: Keep Out Of Reach of Krorys. (Seriously that pic of him smiling all 'dearu' is the cutest thing)

As for why Krory even drank the thing in the first place; here the arc takes a surprisingly serious turn with the introduction of a ghost character; who has swore revenge on the Black Order. The story behind this concerned something I’d been hoping to see crop again in the plot, the issue of some rather heinous ‘experiements’ that apparently used to happen in the Black Order. Things gets pretty hairy for a while (the ghost taking control of Lenalee was particularly interesting, if not extremely scary) but, needless to say, It All Works Out and the half-crack-half-serious arc wraps itself up. Rather oddly too, but I wont give that away.

Im also glad to see more of Reever, even if he had to put up with being posessed by this creepy woman. Seriously hes the most awesome Australian manga character ever, and I can only wait for the Hetalia version to challenge him on that.

I'm also glad to see more of Reever, even if he had to put up with being posessed by this creepy woman. Seriously he's the most awesome Australian manga character ever, and I can only wait for the Hetalia version to challenge him on that.

Komui would prefer his sister to love him without the bondage. Lenalees face sure went creepy, but she actually looks kind of cool!

Komui would prefer his sister to love him without the bondage. Lenalee's face sure went creepy, but she actually looks kind of cool!

Oh Krory. Aru?

Oh Krory. 'Aru?'

This whole arc felt like some kind of hilariously bad B-grade zombie-flick, but in a good way. It only barely outstays it’s welcome, and then reminds us, just in case we forgot in all the silliness, of the overall plot and the Big Important Events that are currently happening elsewhere in the Order, and the world.
There’s a brief time-skip after this in which we move to another ‘buildup’ kind of arc, as the stage is set for more key developments. The timeskip couldnt have been too far into the future; far enough for Lenalee’s hair to have become a rather adorable bob and for the Exorcists to strut their stuff in some new uniforms. Due to certain circumstances, the Black Order are moving to a new location; but, as he has since a volume or so earlier, the thoroughly unlikeable Ruverie (Luverie?) is still monitoring Allen. Really, this guy’s a total douche and I’m personally hoping something horrible happens to him. His actions and motives hit all the wrong nerves in not only Allen but also Komui and General Cross as well, and no doubt others. Including myself. (Why does he have to be on the cover, anyway?) The character Link, working alongside Ruberie, continues to grow on me; I’m actually starting to find this guy rather endearing in a ridiculous kind of way. As learnt in previous volumes, Ruberie has reasons to suspect Allen of treason to the Black Order and affiliation with the Noah Clan, and thus continues to treat him like a distrusted criminal (rather than the hero that saved the Order on several occassions), giving him unpleasant smarmy grins and generally being a gigantic douchebag.

Look at him with his stupid face and his tea and his Hitler-moustache.

Look at him with his stupid face and his tea and his Hitler-moustache.

However, his reasons for distrusting Allen also have alot to do with something rather important; Allen’s relationship with his late father-figure Mana. Of course, here is where things start to get really spoileristic, so I wont say more about this. But I definitley knew Mana was important. There’s no way he wouldnt be; the fact that Hoshino still has never even let us see what he looked like is proof enough of that. There is a rather sweet little flashback of Mana and Allen; so far the most we’ve seen of Mana’s face ever, and it’s still obscured by clown-makeup. I really didnt expect Allen to have been such a smarmy little brat of a kid, though. He always seemed like the little-angel type.

I think Hoshino is really good at these kind of images; simple, melancholy scenes that let the atmosphere do the talking.

I think Hoshino is really good at these kind of images; simple, melancholy scenes that let the atmosphere do the real talking.

Possibly my favourite frame in the book. I do wonder why Johnnys head is so big though.

Possibly my favourite frame in the book. I do wonder why Johnny's head is so big though.

There’s one other rather dramatic event; something that completely threw me concerning one key player in this story. I wont give that away either, but I’m dying to know what’s going to happen…
Otherwise, after what seems like ages we get a snippet of an Exorcist mission, which was really rather well done. It also involved Link playing chess with a ghost in the midst of the battle, which really does seem like something that could only happen in D.Gray-man. Most importantly, at least for me, my personal favourite Miranda has returned, and she’s moe-ing it up like nothing else. I was worried about seeing less and less of Miranda as the series progressed, but she gets a rather adorable scene here. Kanda is also back, something I’m less thrilled about, because he’s possibly my least favourite character in the series (besides Luverie, although we’re supposed to hate him), and I am continually baffled how he keeps being the 2nd most popular character in the official character polls. He’s shown next to no character development since we first met the guy in volume one, he’s done almost nothing likeable, and he also yelled at Miranda in this book so he can just go away.

I really love frames like this. Particularly the moon. And Miranda.

I really love frames like this. Particularly the moon and low-angle. Allen's adorable as well.

This goes down in Favourite Pages of D.Gray-man Hall of Fame for me. Miranda, who spends a good while inwardly angsting that she wont be able to do anything about Allens rather depressed state, is able to cure him with some candy.

This goes down in 'Favourite Pages of D.Gray-man Hall of Fame' for me. Miranda, who spends a good while inwardly angsting that she wont be able to do anything about Allen's rather depressed state, is able to cure him with some candy. Until now I always suspected Timcampy was made out of gold or some kind of metal, but apparently he's very stretchy.

Volume 18s Gag Cover (under the books dustcover); Link advertises his book about sweets. Id buy it.

Volume 17's Gag Cover (underneath the dust cover)=Link advertises Luverie's book about sweets.

Like nearly every volume of D.Gray-man ever, a cliffhanger ending. Good thing I  picked up volume 18 today.
Hoshino Katsura continues to be one of my favourite artists ever, and D.Gray-man continues to be a fun and involving read. This volume had a rather surprising mix of comedy and darkness, with some startling plot points thrown in towards the end. I’m not sure how many more volumes Hoshino plans this to run, but I’m counting on her keeping up her level of story-telling right to the end. The only thing that seemed a bit off in volume 17, besides the whiplash switch between comedy and tragedy, was Allen being a bit of a mouthy smartass sometimes as opposed to the polite young man he usually is. Although, I cant say I blame him. Luverie could do that to anyone. Out of 5:

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