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Nightmare Fuel: D.Gray-Man
When we say D.Gray-Man is a dark series, we mean dark. While it started out as horror-shonen, slow Genre Shift with the development of the Myth Arc has driven it more and more out of the realm of standard horror... which has, ironically, made it much scarier. Read on for a bonanza of Body Horror, Uncanny Valley, and Adult Fear that might make it hard to sleep at night.
The Earl is a borderline Monster Clown, the low-level Akuma look exactly like normal people until they kill you horribly, some high-level Akuma take up residence deep in the Uncanny Valley, one of the Noah can pluck your heart clean out...
Normally, the Earl's speech tends to be littered with hearts. It's creepy enough on its own. But when in full Nightmare FuelOmnicidal Maniac mode, he'll continue to speak with hearts and use a sickeningly sweet/friendly tone of voice. This just makes it worse.
But the most terrifying thing in the chapter is The Reveal confirming that the first Noah actually being those who repopulated the human race after the Great Flood, every single human being can potentially be a vessel for any of the Noah to reincarnate themselves.Paranoia Fuel much?
You thought he looked too cartoony to be scary? Take a good fucking look at this smile. The Slasher Smile that the Earl always sports, coupled with his Scary Shiny Glasses, and the fact that in some panels, he is depicted with slitted pupils and scaly, wrinkled skin, only add to the terror. And before that was a brief but terrifying scene where the Earl menaces Lenalee. He suddenly becomes much freakier than usual.
He wiped out the whole of Japan without a second thought so he could use it as his base. The scary part is not that he has the power to commit mass genocide, but the fact that he does it on a whim.
During the China Arc, where Allenīs eye starts freaking out, painfully.
The souls that are trapped inside the Akuma that beg and cry for help as they are slowly destroyed horribly. Hell, every time an Akuma self-destructs it causes the soul inside to "pop." No wonder Allen wants to save all of them.
Also there's this omake, which is both hilarious and slightly terrifying: "Crocodiles~! <3" Road's answer is also somewhat disturbing, since it's kind of hard to be sure what kind of eating she's talking about...
General Yeager's death. He is crucified to a tree and tortured to insanity by Road and Tyki. It doesn't end there; in his final moments, a horribly disfigured and dying Yeager is so far gone, that all he can do is sing Road's song as he dies.
Poor Skinn Bolic's (short) life really sucked. First he suffered through a truly hellish transformation into a Noah. Then he gets half his body torn off in a battle with Kanda, which looked a hell of a lot worse then it sounded.
The Akuma blood bullets make you break out in a pentacle-shaped rash. Then you explode into toxic dust.
Also, Suman Dark. Suman betrays the Black Order and turns into a giant-blue-human-torso-with-a-halo-thing. He is trapped in it, kind of. Allen tries to rescue him and talk with him, failing, 'cause apparently Suman has turned in to a white zombie who only yells, cries blood and spits blood. The fact that Allen gets absorbed by that thing does not help. And to make things WORSE, even after Allen successfully manages to separate Suman from his Innocence and stop the monolithic monster born from it, Suman just stares forward and drools BECAUSE HIS SOUL WAS REMOVED BY THE INNOCENCE. And then he dies by VIOLENTLY EXPLODING FROM ALL THE TEASE THAT WERE IMPLANTED INSIDE OF HIM AND BEING GROWN INSIDE OF HIS BODY!!! And if that wasn't bad enough, at one point, the white skin of his becomes... SEE THROUGH, so you get to see the black skeleton under the skin... and you get to watch the jaw bone move as he speaks.
When Road stabbed Allen in the eye, then we get to see his partially regrown-but-still-not-there eye-socket!Before that, she took his claw and stabbed herself in the face with it, only to get up and continue to talk to him with all her muscles and such showing! Which is even worse in the anime, which actually toned down some of the nightmare fuel. Except this part. What makes it so bad is that if you haven't read the graphic novels and don't know it's coming, it will catch you completely off guard. Also Road pretty much JUMPS back on screen in about two seconds flat after mutilating herself .
And remember when Allen's arm was all flaked and looked like it was about to fall off? Then Tyki ripped it off and then had his Teez eat a hole in Allen's heart? This is a almost payback for Tyki's Body Horror infliction on Allen: He transforms rather gruesomely into a demonic knight thing that turned the Black Knight scary again. He now uses weird energy circle things to basically trounce his enemies left and right. It also seems to have a taste for blood.
And Level 0 Akuma forcing themselves down their victim's throat... The Earl sings a very warped version of the "happy birthday" song as it happens.
The final (for now) results of Akuma evolution. Level One: Giant orb covered in cannons with a human face down the centerline. Level Two: Massive animalistic form, with abilities and design unique to each Akuma. Level Three: Always an armoured figure, with individual variations only manifesting as differing numbers of eyes and unique abilities. Level Three Point Five: A giant, lanky hermaphroditic humanoid roughly the size of Godzilla, made by combining thousands of Level Two and Three Akuma. Level Four: The deadliest Akuma form yet, resembles a naked pot-bellied four-foot tall hermaphroditic ball-socket-doll-like tattooed haloed cherubim, which is capable of batting aside five Critical-level Exorcists (that is to say, the Generals and Allen, the most powerful exorcists alive), without breaking a sweat.
Singing a creepy little tune whilst she makes General Yaeger relive his worst memory over and over and over... tormenting him with his failure to prevent the death of his class by an Akuma-possessed child (he was a schoolteacher before becoming an Exorcist). This leads to his Heroic BSOD, leaving him helpless against Tyki Mikk's finishing blow.
Entering Lavi's mind to manipulate his conflicted feelings about becoming the next Bookman and his affection for his friends.
Killing an Akuma subordinate for no other reason than to anger Allen, and nailing Miranda's hands to a clock while writing profanity on the wall in her blood.
Let's go back to the Rewinding City arc for this next one. The way Road is able to enter the city is truly disturbing; she touches the "time barrier" with one finger and then walks through. Passing through the barrier seems to make her skin melt. Behold. And then there's a shot of her half-deformed mouth...
Skulls. They may not seem too scary at first seeing as they look like fat humanoids with a somewhat goofy looking skull for a head, and when they first appear in the ark Cross has killed a whole room full of them and throws the only survivor into the force field surrounding the Akuma egg. But the way they are made and what there are is scary to think about. When the order is invaded by Lulu Bell and a swarm of level 3 Akuma they gravely injure several members of the science section to the point they can barely move from the pain, then line them up in rows. A Skull examines them one by one to see who has a "good brain." Any who don't (which is most of them) get marked with an X and have their head crushed by one of the level 3. But if they have a good brain? The Skull puts his fingers on the victim's forehead and chants a short incantation that wraps them (while they are screaming) in black silk. A few seconds later a new Skull emerges with no memory of who it once was. To add to the horror, all Skulls look exactly the same regardless of what they looked like before... some Skulls could be CHILDREN!
In volume 9 we find out that stronger Akuma attack, kill, and EAT weaker Akuma. That's right, if Akuma run out of people to kill they turn on each other.
It's safe to say that this entire manga is a giant pool of it. Speaking of pools: Allen has a reverse version of Lenalee's "end of the world" nightmare, and in an attempt to pass through the water to meet her, gets stopped by what looks like an Anti-SpiralON FIRE. And it turns out to be the 14th Noah.
Wisely has the power to crush people's heads with his mind, to varying degrees. There's a lovely scene when he's just had his awakening and kills two nearby cops this way, so that we see blood spurting from every orifice and their eyeballs sinking into their collapsed skulls.
A seemingly boring filler arc in the manga suddenly turns terrifying when Allen stabs himself with his own sword, accidentally awakening the 14th Noah inside of him. It takes possession of his body for a couple minutes, and reveals that not only can Allen's body be capable of doing the creepiest smile ever - but that it appears as a rotting, skeletal and possibly flaming corpse.
More creepiness from the Fourteenth in chapter 189. There's something really viscerally disturbing about watching Allen, in the middle of angrily denying that something he doesn't remember happened, suddenly flip over to Dissonant Serenity as he is taken over instantaneously and with absolutely no warning by the Fourteenth, who goes on to chat with the Earl like an old best friend.... Until the Fourteenth suddenly gets right up into the Millennium Earl's face to flash a Slasher Smile and tell everyone his intended goal — to kill the current Millennium Earl in order to become the NEW Millennium Earl.Oh Crap, indeed.
The Fourteenth yet again in chapter 198 as he starts to fully awaken, thanks to Kanda stabbing Allen while he (Kanda) was in a berserk rage. NOTHING is creepier than seeing the awakening Fourteenth floating amid shadows, making the very ground rumble with insane laughter, all while wearing a terrifying Slasher Smile and his Glowing Right Eye of Doom.
Alma Karma. Especially in chapter 193. That's one hell of a body count for a (formerly) Cheerful Child with a Holy Hand Grenade. He ripped his way through most of the Black Order employees in the East Branch, as well as the other lab-grown children, with an attempt to do the same to his friend Kanda. And he was trying to kill himself, too, but his Healing Factor kept closing the wounds when he ripped a huge hole in his body... And all with a calm smile on his face.
The fate of the Third Generation Exorcists. If they're injured beyond their ability to continue fighting, one of the others will absorb them so that the "Alma cells" that went into making them aren't wasted. Eventually, the surviving ones will be used the same way Alma Karma is- as an incubator to provide material to hybridize more people into half-Akuma.
And the freakiest part of it all? They want that. That's not only the fate of any survivors, but the goal. And the Third Generation Excorcists that they provide the material for will follow the same path, and the next group, and so on.
Oh, so that's why Kanda is such a Jerk Ass. Wisely used an Exposition Beam to show Alma his and Kanda's childhood memories, and Allen and Road were dragged into the memories by accident too. Allen is sickened and profoundly pissed off, and Kanda has a Heroic BSOD. Yes, Kanda's life sucks so much that showing someone his childhood memories qualifies as a Mind Rape. The worse part? Even Road seems upset by it!
The whole nature of the Akuma is psychologically disturbing. A Monster Clown preys on brokenhearted people who have recently lost a love one. They convince said loved one to rip someone's soul from (presumably) Heaven, and then the soul is forced to kill the person who loved them enough to bring them back and wear their corpse as a skin. Said soul inside their loved one's body has to watch it twist and mutate into something increasingly grotesque and unearthly, all while it degenerates and loses more and more of it's own grip on its physical existence. And this could go on presumably forever. It's unnerving.
As seen above: "This is the final blow, Exorcist!!" What makes it scarier is that it came out of fucking nowhere The explanation reallydoesn't help. We knew the Black Order could be total bastards, but thisis beyondthe pale.
Page 22 of chapter 192. Look at the middle right panel of Alma and notice that HIS FUCKING FACE IS BURNED DOWN TO HIS SKULL!
One of the most horrifying questions is how long Kanda and Alma were fighting for after Alma had killed everyone? We know that they can each regenerate dozens if not hundreds of times, so the question is how many times did he slice him up before he put him down for good? For all we know he could have been down there for days...
Chapter 194. Five words: Alma turning into an Akuma.
Chapter 195. Aside from the nauseating and sleep-depriving imagery, there's plenty of circumstances that make this worse. These guys had submitted to being guinea pigs to try to help the Exorcists fight Akuma in any way they could. And now they're being compelled to attack them against their will, while the Exorcists are faced with killing their allies or dying horribly. And poor, poor Allen is experiencing an entirely new level of pain in all this: He's The Messiah. He wants to save everyone. He won't hurt humans, ever. And now all of a sudden his Empathic Weapon is going berserk and trying to kill the guy he showed up to rescue, who's begging for Allen not to hurt him. Just after he failed to protect a ton of his civilian friends from Alma Karma. And when Allen manages to suppress Crown Clown, he gets thrown around like a ragdoll.
Watching the horrifically mutated Tokusa lose all composure and start desperately screaming for Madarao to come and "save" him is upsetting in itself. The Earl sweetly telling him that it's no use, that Madarao and the others are going to suffer the same fate and that, best of all, the one to kill them will be Allen is downright disturbing!
Allen was seriously considering joining the Earl to get him to stop it.
In chapter 198, in the pages directly after the Millennium Earl's terrifying technically a smile.So let's forget the fact that Allen is being taunted by the Noah in his head. Let's overlook the chains binding him to a throne, completely helpless to do anything. Let's blank out the frankly terrifying landscape. Instead, let's take a very close look at the 14th himself. He's wearing Allen's clothes. When we look at his face, it's actually quite young... like Allen. Even his hair is rather similar to Allen's. The noticeable differences are skin colour, hair colour and the lack of a cursed eye and scar. Even without taking into consideration the implications of the 14th's speech, what does this tell you? He's already taken over.
Perspective is everything. Try looking at this series through an Akuma's point of view. You are just a machine, programmed to kill. You are a slave to your hunger, a slave to The Earl and his Noah Family. And, at any time, you may be instructed to self destruct. Yes, you just evolved, but now that soul inside of you is becoming more tormented... it's starting to affect your personality. Maybe the two are beginning to join together? And all the time...the hunger will never go away...
There's a lot of freaky twisty Body Horror imagery in chapter 203. Even aside from the eye thing, Apocryphos is just plain creepy, and Allen's arm doesn't seem to have coped well with being wrapped up in depower-y stuff for a week or so.