D.Gray-man is written and illustrated by Katsura Hoshino beginning in 2004. After a 6-hour nap in a bathtub, she got most of her ideas for the series and went on from there to make the gem we have today. Other inspirations also include her one-shot titles Zone and Book-man. For those who want to know what the hell is with that odd title, the "D" stands for dolls (which was a potential name for the series), "Gray" meaning the mixture of black and white (in other words, good vs. evil. Get it?), and "man" as the humans who are the dolls that are interwoven into being either good or bad. In Japan the manga right now is up to 20 volumes with the Viz distribution right now at 17. In 2006 a 103-episode anime series was produced based on the first 16 volumes.
Millenium Earl plans on causing the next apocalypse of the Earth with his evolving machine monsters known as akumaand his unholy powerful group known as the Noah. The way he makes akuma is by tricking people who wish to bring their loved ones back to life to become the vessels for akuma, while the dearly departed's soul is what powers it. The only way to stop the Earl are Exorcists in the Black Order organization with the power of Innocence, a substance allegedly sent from God to give them the powers to take the akuma down. Along the way, both sides are looking for the Heart of Innocence, an Innocence powerful enough to assure victory to whoever finds it, but like any other long-lasting shonen tale, finding that end-all-be-all power will take some time.
The Exorcists You Should Get To Know
Allen Walker: The main character of D.Gray-man who is one of the rare exorcists whose Innocence is embedded onto one of his limbs. After trying to bring back his foster father, Mana Walker, back to life from the Millenium Earl, he's been cursed with an ultra-powerful left arm and a cursed eye that lets him see the souls trapped within the akuma.
Lenalee Lee: Like Allen, she also has a parasite-type Innocence in her legs. Her brother, Komui Lee, is the Supervisor of the England branch of the Black Order.
Lavi: An Exorcist with a fire-wielding, growth-shifting Hammer Innocence who is also an apprentice Bookman. The Bookman are the people who gather all the information that the general public should never know.
Yu Kanda: A sword-wielding Exorcist with a very short temper. He's known for being pissed off even when people address him by his first name, but also has a shady past that would make anybody a big stick-in-the-mud.
A Few Pieces of Advice Before Diving Into the Series, What Version Is Better, and Some Actually Good Anime Filler
Episode 13: "With the Coat" - You should probably watch this episode if only for the first few minutes of material that'll help you understand the main story, but the rest is actually pretty good stuff. You get to see the bromance between Allen and Lavi start to bloom and also see the importance of wearing such an obvious-to-the-akuma Black Order uniform in a very compelling way.
Episode 18: "Lenalee's Love" - For the D.Gray-man fans who love the series' wacky humor like the Destruction of the Black Order arc in the manga, episode 18 is actually quite a hoot. You'll see plenty of Komui's crazy inventions, more much-needed fun times with Lavi, and an octopus head that's stuck on Allen for most of the episode.
Episodes 29-30: "The One Who Sells Souls, Part 1 and Part 2" - Although the manga didn't put too much emphasis on the despair of how the akuma are created, this anime-exclusive story arc actually had a touching bit of commentary of the matter, with the kind of people who want to bring back their loved ones, and the people who wisely choose to live their lives with the memories of their dearly departed to keep them moving forward.