In Awakening, episode 8 (or 111) of D.Gray-Man (HALLOW), Allen Walker’s commitment to Akuma salvation — and salvation in general — is tested by friend and foe; Yu Kanda faces off against a “resurrected” Alma Karma, who’s more powerful than ever — and utterly determined to put Kanda back in the grave; and the Millennium Earl‘s plan comes to terrifying fruition.
What Happened (Spoiler Free)
Tokusa saved Allen, and many of Allen’s friends like Johnny Gill, from the collapsing North American branch headquarters using his power. Yet even as he tries to regain his strength, Tokusa feels something terrible happening to him. While Alma Karma revives as an Akuma, the cells from his body that empowered the Third Exorcists like Tokusa also became Akuma, and all of the Third Exorcists, even Tokusa, are consumed.
Allen struggles to contain Tokusa, unwilling to kill him in the hopes he can be saved, yet not knowing how to protect himself against the increasingly powerful Akuma. Meanwhile, Kanda faces off against Alma Karma, who’s still unhappy at how their last meeting went. Their fight escalates, Kanda’s pent up agony fueling his rage, until Allen tries to intervene. Yet even he can’t slow Kanda’s single-minded fury.
And why is the Earl smiling at all of this?
The rest of this review may have spoilers, so please be careful!
What Happened (Spoilers!)
Using enchantments, Tokusa saved Allen from the collapsing North American branch headquarters. Many of Allen’s friends, like Johnny Gill, are likewise saved. Yet Allen’s distraught that, in his view, he failed once again to protect his friends. Even as he remonstrates Allen, Tokusa convulses, and his body begins to bulge and horribly deform. As Alma Karma rises as an Akuma, so the cells that his body contributed to all of the Third Exorcists begin transforming into Akuma. Soon, Tokusa can’t control his own body, and it begins attacking Allen. For his part, Allen’s Innocence begins to act without his will, and he struggles to keep it from lashing out against Tokusa.
Tokusa’s cries of anguish piece Allen’s heart, and Allen had his hands full trying to stay alive.
Meanwhile, Alma Karma, now fully awakened as an Akuma, has one burning desire: to kill Kanda, the man who, as a boy, had tried to kill him (though, as we saw in the last episode, unwillingly). Allen, in a brief moment of calm during his own battle, tries to dissuade Kanda, but Kanda’s own inner agony and outer fury make him impervious to pleas or reason.
The Akuma that has almost taken over Tokusa pulls Allen into the air and begins trying to rip him apart. Allen doesn’t want to strike the Third Exorcist, but he doesn’t want to die, either.
The Millennium Earl chooses this moment to make Allen an offer: if Allen leaves the order, the Earl will immediately halt the attack and save his friends. Allen wavers.
Kanda’s battle rages on. He’s committed so many of his own inner resources that his hair goes white; he’s almost inarticulate in his rage and pain.
Bak Chang manages to summon For, the Asian Branch’s guardian deity, to aid in their battle. She frees Allen from the Akuma that has replaced Tokusa just as a Noah slams her to the ground. Allen rallies, standing over her with his sword. He asks her if there’s any chance of him succeeding in this battle; if there’s any way that he can prevail. In characteristic For fashion, she calls him an idiot and says there’s only one way to find out.
As For runs interference with the Noah, Allen tries to intervene between Kanda and Alma Karma. Kanda’s having none of it. In his rage, he strikes out against Allen and Alma Karma.
The Earl smiles.
Allen tries to intervene, but this time, Alma Karma strikes him, weakening him. Kanda pushes Allen back as Allen tries to argue him back to his senses. But it’s no use. Kanda stabs Allen clean through. Struggling to maintain consciousness, Allen implores Kanda to look at Alma Karma — to look at his expression of fear and longing. Then Allen collapses.
Kanda snaps back to his senses just in time to see Allen’s body change. It takes on the tone and hue of a Noah, and the Fourteenth’s laughter echoes all around. He is now awake, and he’s in full possession of Allen’s body.
What I Liked
Tokusa tried to comfort Allen in his own brusque way. Even while he feels a dreadful change starting within him, he tries to give Allen good advice.
I was glad to see Johnny and most of the others survived the collapse — protected by the Third Exorcists who were present.
The slow build-up of Alma Karma’s effect on the Third Exorcists as he turned into an Akuma was expertly done. Starting last episode, we knew something was dreadfully wrong — the Third Exorcists’ eyes would flicker to black and red, or they’d stagger. In this episode, we got to see just how wrong: the cells from Alma Karma used to create the Third Exorcists went Akuma, just as Alma Karma did.
Allen struggled to control his Innocence as it strove to attack Tokusa. The Third Exorcist realized that he had become Innocence’s target, and he was terrified. His cries were tragic. He couldn’t accept that he had become hated of Innocence and of God; that was the antithesis of his life!
The artwork of the Third Exorcists melting down as their Alma Karma cells turned Akuma was terrifyingly effective, which is par for the course with this series. The Akuma and other monsters are typically so imaginative.
Despite Tokusa in Akuma form trying to literally rip him limb from limb, Allen refused to strike back. Like he’s done in the previous seasons, he risks his life because of his commitment to his principle of saving Akuma.
The drama in this episode struck hard — whether its source was the woman Kanda had loved beckoning him from beyond the grave or Allen’s indecision and faltering request to For for validation. There’s so much happening in this episode that it’s hard to unpack!
I had to laugh (yes, out loud!) at the Noah’s reaction to the Earl saying he wanted the Fourteenth beside him again. I wouldn’t have thought the Earl was such a romantic, except earlier in this season, he composure slipped, and he asked Road to excuse him. Here, he showed that he misses his friends, even if they had tried to kill him. It’s characters like this that make D.Gray-Man so much fun to watch.
When Allen’s resolve faltered, he asked For if she thought he could really succeed — if she believed in him. Heroes who bludgeon through their worlds are not interesting to me; it’s like watching inevitability (i.e., paint drying). In contrast, Allen’s always doubted himself, and it’s his decision to push forward in spite of that doubt that makes him, like the Earl, an wonderful character to watch. For’s “gentle” support — calling him an idiot and telling him to try and see what happens — was the perfect counterpart to his momentary weakness.
I think she was kinda touched that he asked her, though.
The Earl was so happy at the Fourteenth’s awakening that he literally leapt with joy — and uplifted two Noah with him! (Three if you could Road riding on his shoulder).
What I Liked Less
Usually, I jokingly say I missed Lenalee Lee in this section. I’m going to stop that; I think this scene would be really hard on her, and she has enough to bear as it is.
Hubris brought the Third Exorcists down — and it wasn’t their hubris. It was the leadership who refused to learn from the past, who refused to widen their imaginations to see alternatives that didn’t involve torturing their followers. I get that the Church leadership was worried about having enough Exorcists. That’s called fear, and their Scripture is full of useful advice about dealing with it. Shockingly, none of that advice involves keeping a hacked-up failed Second Exorcist in suspended animation while you harvest his cells to implant in a new generation of experiments (well, at least not in the New Testament, though I suspect the old is just as mum on the subject of genetic engineering…).
Humans obviously have a problem with power.
Seeing Tokusa suffer because of the decisions his leaders made — leaders he trusted and believed in — was really painful. Yet, how many examples of Tokusa are among us even today? How many people blindly trust what their leaders — religious, political, whatever — pander to them, trusting that those leaders are looking out for them? While all the while those leaders are only interested in harvesting whatever advantage they can before moving on to new prey?
Yeah, I live in the US in the 2016 election season. It’s the season of despair here. Please weep for us! That seems like the most reasonable reaction…
Kanda’s torment was just another application of that hubris. He spent his entire second life trying to suppress what he’d done to his friend — what he’d done out of necessity, to Alma Karma. And the leadership’s failure once again put him on the spot, forcing him to confront agonies he had tried to suppress. Even worse, the situation forced him to release the Noah that was inside of Allen. D.Gray-Man has never been gentle with its cast, but I can think of few characters who bear the guilt or terror that Kanda does.
Allen’s unwavering focus on salvation and protection offers a brief moment of light in this episode. He maintains his convictions despite his Order and some of his friends actively opposing him. This episode is a tough test for him, because even though For unambiguously supports him, circumstance does not. He spends the last moments of the episode chained within his own mind, apparently at the mercy of the Fourteenth.
If this episode proved anything, it’s that the Earl’s vision is superior to that of the Black Orders’s. He set the board, controlled the players, and executed his strategy almost unopposed, with the exception of Allen’s not quite effective attempts to reconcile Alma Karma and Kanda. And now, Allen’s trapped within his own mind. Was the Fourteenth’s final smile one of triumph? Camaraderie? Something different?
What do you think of the episode? Let me know in the comments!
Other Posts about This Series
Other Anime Sites
- Reddit: D.Gray-man Hallow – Episode 8 Discussion
- AngryAnimeBitches: D.Gray-man Hallow Episode 8: [Awakening]
Reviews of Other Hallow Season Episodes
- Episode 104 (episode 1) HALLOW: The Fourteenth
- Episode 105 (episode 2) HALLOW: Lonely Boy
- Episode 106 (episode 3) HALLOW: It’ll be Fine If I Wash My Face
- Episode 107 (episode 4) HALLOW: Blood Crusade
- Episode 108 (episode 5) HALLOW: Alma Karma
- Episode 109 (episode 6) HALLOW: Friend
- Episode 110 (episode 7) HALLOW: The Truth about a Sterile Flower
- Episode 112 (episode 9) HALLOW: Little Goodbye
- Episode 113 (episode 10) HALLOW: Sinner in Despair
- Episode 114 (episode 11) HALLOW: Hidden One
- Episode 115 (episode 12) HALLOW: My Home
- Episode 116 (episode 13) HALLOW: Walker