My internet was out for a portion of the weekend, so we’re bunching these shows together today to make up for some lost time. Also, because they both happen to concern demon hunting of one style or another, it seemed appropriate to group them together. I don’t know if there’s much to be found in this comparison other than to say that one handles the subject rather mediocrely while the other makes it seriously engaging.
I did go into both of these with firmer expectations than usual, though...
D.GRAY-MAN’s name has come up pretty frequently in recs from this community and I’ll confess that I was less interested in checking it out since it follows anime titles’ unique happenstance of awkward, even obfuscating, punctuation. Sure, that’s a superficial thing to judge a series on, but ignoring it neglects how there is, in fact, an art to titling. I’ll point it out here the same way I pointed out that TIGER & BUNNY was a horribly-misleading name for anything that wasn’t actually about two cute plushy animals.
Maybe I was actually prejudiced against the show on account of the titling, because I found myself feeling rather lukewarm about it. The Akuma are rather inventive monsters in execution (even if their invocation unavoidably gets me to think of that other Akuma who makes you die one thousand deaths.) The scene where the couple experiences increasingly-perverse humiliation and torture at the hands of that demon was one of the most chilling scenes I’ve seen in any horror story lately (even if our plucky lead’s description of the Akuma’s nature was less-than-intriguing.)
Really, that’s what this really came down to - - Allen isn’t that interesting. At least, so far. But if the series centers on this titular boy who hunts Akuma over its world, then him making a good first impression should be of paramount importance, shouldn’t it? D.GRAY-MAN has a decent enough pilot, by my estimation, but it’s not strong enough to compete with the other contenders. I’ll put it in my “maybe” pile.
I’m having trouble articulating what precise elements of GHOST SLAYERS AYASHI’s promo image made me think it was going to be lame. Perhaps it was the resemblance to NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN’s promo? The imaged half-assed enough that I was just floored by how good the actual episode was.
I’ll comment often enough about the translation teams putting together a good dub, but this as the first time I actually thought, “Whoa, this is a good sub.” I feel like the same purists fans who pitch a fit about the mere mention of dubs probably don’t ever recognize that the subs they have such preference for are still the work of Western translation teams who have to put a lot of work into rewording text to read better. So I’ll tip my hat to whoever handled this, because this was damn good dialog that revealed much through subtle, concise wordplay.
There’s some snark to be had in how this show offered the strongest threat of rampant male nudity outside of a Frank Miller comic, but I’ll hold off. More than anything, I was impressed by how grounded this show was. Not only did take proper time to establish that these larger-than-life monsters exist in a real historical setting, it was wise enough to fill that historical setting with the real human personalities and interplay that textbooks (and dodgy historical fiction) neglect. For as much pathos as there is in our lead’s “vagrant” status, you can actually understand the position of his persecutors, even if you aren’t agreeing with it. It’s same the kind of moral… objectivity in adventure fiction that I appreciate in Miyazaki’s work.
I want to see more of this one. Too bad you lunatics aren’t voting it up, because it’s definitely in my “Want to watch” pile.
Watch these episodes, "The Youi Cometh” and “The Boy Who Hunts Akuma” below and decide for yourself.