Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

Yu Kanda

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Created by
Katsura Hoshino

Katsura Hoshino

Played by
Takahiro Sakurai

TV show

Voiced by
Japanese Takahiro Sakurai Takuya Satō (Hallow) Tsubasa Yonaga (Hallow, young self) English Travis Willingham Ian Sinclair (Hallow)

First appearance
D.Gray-man manga chapter 5 (2004)

Allen Walker, Lavi, Komui Lee, Miranda Lotto, Millennium Earl

Yu Kanda (Japanese: 神田ユウ, Hepburn: Kanda Yū) is a fictional character from the manga series D.Gray-man by Katsura Hoshino. A young adult, Kanda is an Exorcist from the Black Order group in charge of destroying enemies known as Akuma created by a man known as the Millennium Earl. For this, he uses an object referred to as "Innocence" which he uses alongside a Japanese sword. Kanda is sided to the Black Order and their fight against a group of enemies known as the Noah Family. However, he is cold and antisocial toward his teammates to the point of disliking when people refer to him by his first name. He also often engages in fights with the series' protagonist, Allen Walker, although the two often work as allies. Later in the series, it is revealed he is the result of an experiment from the Black Order that created his artificial body and merged it with the brain of a late Exorcist. Outside the main series and the two and anime adaptations, Kanda has also appeared in the D.Gray-man light novels, the two video games as well as the crossover Jump Ultimate Stars.


The character was created with the intention to bring a change to the series' Western setting, with his design being based on samurai. As a result of the character being attractive, Kanda has been difficult to illustrate by Hoshino as she focused more on his eyes and hair when drawing him. Due to his original backstory having multiple plot holes, Hoshino rewrote it to one completely different where Hoshino created Kanda's first friend, Alma Karma, who plays a vital role on his development. Kanda was voiced by Takahiro Sakurai in the first anime series, Takuya Satō in and the anime sequel D.Gray-man Hallow in Tsubasa Yonaga as his younger self in the same series. He is voiced by Travis Willingham in English and by Ian Sinclair in Hallow.

Kanda has been popular with the series' readers, often appearing in top ten lists of character polls and taking first place twice much to Hoshino's surprise. He has also appeared in other polls focused in anime character in general. Merchandise based on him has also been released. Initially, publications for the manga and anime series have had mixed reactions due to his lack of social qualities comparing him with multiple anti-heroes seen in other series. On the other hand, character development, as noted in his relationship with Alma, dynamic with Allen and backstory have earned Kanda praise. Response to Kanda's voice actors has also been both positive and negative.

Creation and design

The character of Yu Kanda was carried over from one unpublished title created by Katsura Hoshino.[vol. 8:140] Hoshino designed Kanda to introduce a change to D.Gray-man's Western setting. Kanda's design "came out very naturally" because she typically drew boys with Japanese swords in her amateur manga and she liked samurai "who are like young lions" such as Okita Sōji of the Shinsengumi special police forces. Kanda wears a long coat, and though Allen Walker wore a similar coat, she felt that the design better suited Kanda's defensive personality and the long coat became Kanda's "trademark" Black Order design. Additionally, she found Kanda difficult to illustrate due to his "beauty" appearance.[vol. 2:24] By the release of the series' tenth volume, Hoshino wrote a joke about how she missed Kanda whose character became easier to illustrate. In response, Kanda impaled Hoshino angered at her for her inexperience. Finally, Hoshino apolgizes stating now that the character harder to design was Allen.[vol. 10:204] This contrasted other characters such as Reever Wenham and Malcolm C. Rouvelier based on their older looks. Additionally, she found Millennium Earl easier to draw than Kanda due to the Earl's clown-like look. In one fanletter to Hoshino by a fan of the series, it was asked why Kanda had long hair. When Allen and Lavi try to ask him, he simply points his sword at them, angered; Similarly, Hoshino was later questioned about why Kanda wears a pony-tail. Hoshino jokingly answered it was because his long hair would bother Kanda's eyesight.

The original idea for Kanda's femenine looks is that he was originally supposed to be the reincarnation of the same woman he was looking for. However, this idea was scrapped although Kanda still retained his androgynous look. When Hoshino could start with the character's backstory, both Kanda and his best friend, Alma Karma's, designs were made to contrast each other with Kanda retaining his femenine looks while Alma appeared more masculine. This was done in order to hide the fact Alma is the reincarnation of the woman Kanda has been searching for.

When drawing Kanda, the author pays more attention with the way she writes his hair and eyes, believing the laters indicate the character's mood. Based on the manga's volume twenty, Hoshino said that Kanda's image-color is blue. Hoshino said that she took more care in drawing the highlights in Kanda's hair than she did with Lenalee Lee, another character with long hair. She paid most attention to his hair and eyes especially, as she characterized Kanda as one who "speaks with his eyes". She noted that Kanda's early design featured large eyes because she had difficulty drawing finer eyes. Hoshino derived Kanda's surname from mitoshiro (御戸代), a rice paddy of which its rice is offered to the gods, a meaning shared by kanda (神田). This is further addressed in volume twenty which shows how Kanda was born as a Second Exorcist in the "Mitoshiro World".

Personality and atributes

Kanda is well-known in the series for his antisocial personality which often resulted in readers asking the author about him. In one fan letter, the characters were asked if Kanda was well meaning in the inside which results in Allen silent whereas Lavi and Arystar Krory III found it impossible.[vol. 14:18] In another question, a fan wonder if Hoshino gave him the first name "Yu" due to its similarities with Japanese words that resemble that Kanda can not read the atmosphere. While the characters deny that, the manga author confirmed he suffers from lack of tact.[vol. 14:36] Ultimately, Hoshino referred to Kanda as the "dumbest" protagonist in the series.[vol. 3:106]

Once Alma Karma's story arc finished in the series, Hoshino was able to finish Kanda's backstory which she had promised to the manga's readers. It was originally very different and had too many inconsistencies. When the series was moved to a monthly serialization rather than weekly, Hoshino had rewritten Kanda's backstory. Once new prominent characters were introduced in the series, Hoshino felt the it was possible to tell Kanda and Alma's story. During this story's end, Allen sends both of them to the town of Martel in order to the two of them get freedom. This town was the first one Allen visited when working alongside Kanda for the first time while working for the Order. She chose this place because the Kanda and Alma's relationship overlapped with the ones from Guzol and Lala, two characters who had a romantic relationship.

In an interview about this story arc, Hoshino explained why Kanda hates being called by his first name with him not having a last name when being younger. During this time he was simply named Yu (ユウ, ) by the scientists of the Asian Headquarters of the Black Order and his only friend, Alma. After being forced to kill Alma, Yu was given the surname Kanda by the character of Froi Tedoll, who acts like a fatherly figure to him. Once the arc finishes, Hoshino wanted to establish Kanda having stayed in good terms with Allen, even though the two characters often clashed in previous chapters. As a result, she hinted readers the character will be back to help Allen who had been put in a troubled situation after helping him and Alma to escape from the Black Order. She notes that as result of this, Kanda became an easier character to write.

Across the series, Kanda sees illusions of lotus flowers but Hoshino says this holds no particular meaning for him. The flowers were actually seen during Kanda's previous life. For Kanda, seeing the lotus sinking in dirt would mean his death. The illusion is also noted the first time Kanda nearly kills Alma, and he began to think it was a curse. For the flashbacks, Kanda's first meeting with his future comrade, Noise Marie, was shortened. The original idea was for Kanda to see the corpses of all the people taking care of him. However, she thought this scene to be too horrific and removed it. Instead, in the official release of the series, Kanda finds most of the scientists' corpses alongside Alma.

In the animated version of D.Gray-man, Kanda was voiced by Takahiro Sakurai. Hoshino was impressed by the delivery of his lines.[vol. 9:187] In the anime sequel, D.Gray-man Hallow, Sakurai was replaced with Takuya Satō. In this series, Kanda's child self was voiced by Tsubasa Yonaga. In Funimation's English adaptation of the series Kanda was voiced by Travis Willingham. Like Sakurai, Willingham replaced with another actor for Hallow: Ian Sinclair.

In D.Gray-man

Yu Kanda first appears in D.Gray-man's fifth manga chapter where he, a powerful exorcist from the Black Order that combats demons known as Akuma, attacks newcomer Allen Walker after the gate's guardian consider him cursed.[ch. 5] While his comrade Lenalee Lee stops this misunderstanding, Kanda keeps this poor relationship with Allen during their first mission together.[ch. 8] He also openly objects to the paternal way his master General Froi Tiedoll treats him,[ch. 135] and he and Allen later start throwing insults and offensive statements at one another.[ch. 89, 90] Kanda refuses to die until he finds a "certain person". His anti-Akuma weapon Mugen (六幻, lit. "Six Illusions") is an Equipment-type Innocence that takes the form of a Japanese sword.[ch. 186] Mugen is capable of unleashing several techniques, dubbed "illusions".[ch. 10] He uses these powers to fight the Akumas as well as the Noah Family who aim to destroy mankind. Once he joins his comrades in Edo in order to protect the Generals, Kanda is trapped inside a place known as Noah's Ark alongside them.[ch. 86] There, he engages the Noah Skin Bolic to let his allies move to another room. Although Kanda defeats Skin, the room is destroyed after pushing Mugen to its limit. Later Allen manages to restore it by taking control of Ark's piano, which grants his wish of recovering his allies.[ch. 97] Kanda then returns with them to the Black Order.[ch. 133]

It is later revealed that Kanda is a Second Exorcist: an artificial body possessing the brain of an Exorcist who died thirty years before the storyline. The Black Order had launched the Synthetic Disciple Project nine years before, hoping that Second Exorcists would be able to synchronize with their original Innocence.[ch. 186, 187] In order for him to survive the synchronization tests, his body was created to heal much more quickly than that of an ordinary human.[ch. 190] This ability is connected to a variation of Om tattooed on the left side of his chest.[ch. 16][ch. 12,198] Kanda was the second Second Exorcist to awaken. He was a friend of Alma Karma, the first Second Exorcist.[ch. 190] Alma learned the truth about Second Exoricsts and killed the research staff. Hoping Kanda would die with him, Alma attacks Kanda but he was instead sliced to pieces by his friend who wanted to live in order to find his past lover.[ch. 193] Alma is afterward found to be alive as an Akuma by the Noah, and tries to kill Kanda again in revenge. During the battle, Allen discovers that Alma is the reincarnation of the woman that Kanda had been looking for.[ch. 198] Kanda finds out after overhearing Alma discussing this with Allen. Kanda embraces Alma despite the latter's fears of being left alone. Allen helps him and Alma run away together to another place, hoping the two would find peace.[ch. 199] There, Alma dies shortly after telling Kanda he loves him.[ch. 200]

Three months later, Kanda returns to the Order.[ch. 207] There, while still refusing to reveal the location of Alma's dead body, he makes peace with the scientist who started the Synthetic Disciple Project. Kanda's willingness to return and be an Exorcist causes Mugen to evolve into a Crystal-type weapon.[ch. 208] However, he does not forgive the Order for what they have done to him and Alma. Shortly afterwards, Kanda and a scientist named Johnny Gill go on a mission to find the disappeared Allen—who escaped the Order after being treated as a Noah—in order to thank him for giving him and Alma their happiness, as well as self-redemption for never caring that Allen was turning into a Noah while going on missions with him.[ch. 210] Johnny and him briefly find Allen but are attacked by Apocryphos, a sentient Innocence, who tries to rewrite Kanda's memories of Allen. However, he is saved by Froi Tiedoll who offers him to become a General and regain the Order's trust; Kanda accepts this proposal.[ch. 217]

In other media

As well as being in the manga and anime series, Kanda is a playable character in the two D.Gray-man video games. He also appears in the crossover fighting game Jump Ultimate Stars. He also appears in the D.Gray-man's light novels series by Kaya Kizaki. The first one, set before the series' beginnings, has Kanda on a mission to recover missing finders in a village where a witch is rumored to live. He makes a brief appearance in the second novel where he attends a party in the Black Order. In the third novel, Kanda makes a brief appearance in the Order as in the first chapter as a scientist from Asian Branch of the Black Order, Gigi Lujun, reveals he once kissed Kanda as a child. This angers Kanda, causing him to leave the area.

Merchandising and popularity

Yu Kanda has been highly popular with the D.Gray-man reader base, often ranking in top tens polls. In the first poll, he ranked second losing to Allen,[vol. 7:117] whereas in the next one he took the top place.[ch. 121] Kanda once again took the second place in the third poll losing to Allen,[ch. 171] but once again took the first place in the fourth and latest poll. Hoshino herself was surprised by Kanda's popularity within the readers as she just saw him as a regular character. Multiple types of merchandise based on Kanda's character have been released such as cosplay costumes, his sword Mugen and wigs. In celebrating Halloween in 2016, more types related to Kanda and other characters were released including a Blue Tonic. In a popularity poll by Japanese web portal goo, Kanda was voted as the eighth most popular character with a ponytail. A poll by Animage magazine of the top 100 anime characters of 2016 ranked Kanda 76th for his role in Hallow.

Critical reception

Kanda has received mixed reactions by publications for manga, anime and other media ever since his introduction. UK Anime Network's Kevin Leathers simply referred to him as "the resident emo." Erkael from Manga News compared the character with several other anti-heroes such as Vegeta from Dragon Ball, Sasuke Uchiha from Naruto based on their anti-social personalities. On the other hand, there has also been positive comments with Sheena McNeil from Squentialtart saying that while she found the character's personality to be "cold", she still found his design and his anti-Akuma weapon appealing. Despite finding issues with the anime adaptation of the series, Anime News Network's Casey Brienza commented that Kanda was a "fan favorite" character like Komui Lee based on their traits that would appeal to the audience. Animation Insider's Kimberly Morales enjoyed the contrast between Kanda and Allen due to their different personalities. John Rose from The Fandom Post liked Kanda and Allen's team up, considering it to be the greatest strength of the manga's second volume. Additionally, his constant clashes with Allen were praised by Richard Osborn from IGN due to how comical they were, contrasting the series' dark plot. Similarly, Sandra Scholes from Active Anime found Kanda and Allen to be "not the standard anime variety", comparing them more with fantasy stories. Since his appearance in the manga's second volume, Kanda has made minor appearances in the series. His return in the tenth volume was praised by Erkael, as well as his battle against the antagonist Noah Skin Bolic.

The reviewers' comments were more positive in next story arcs of the series. Erkael expressed surprise at how dark Kanda's past was, noting the impact in which it had on the character. Chris Beveridge, a reviewer from the Fandom Post, also enjoyed the flashbacks that detailed Kanda's past due to the impact it could make on future volumes as well as his future impact with Allen who managed to see his life in the process. Anne Lauenroth from Anime News Network found Kanda's past as pitying since he is waiting for a love interest who he does not know might either be alive or dead. The reviewer also addressed how killing his only and best friend, Alma Karma, in order to continue living created the antisocial's traits he is in the series. Leroy Douresseaux from Comic Book Bin enjoyed the fight between Kanda and Alma, but instead preferred the situation Allen was put into and said that he wanted to see more of that. Similarly, Chris Kirby enjoyed the duel due to the violence displayed, but felt it was overshadowed by Allen's awakening as the 14th Noah, Nea. During the battle it is revealed the two fighters were lovers in their lives; Kanda stops fighting Alma and embraces him giving him "love" earning praise by Lauenroth even if it was for a short time as it showed a more mature Kanda- She also remarked how the scene helped to developed the character to the point he calls Allen by his own name for the first time instead of using nicknames ever since they met. Kanda's maturity, as reflected in his desire become an exorcist again for the sake of helping the missing Allen in the second anime's finale also earned high praise by Lauenroth. Kirby agreed with her, noting how his return to the Black Order despite his hatred towards it, helped to develop his character, commenting that previously Kanda was not as engaging. In the next story arc, Douresseaux expected to see more of Kanda's dynamic with Johnny Gill as the two in went to search for Allen.

Some critics also provided comments in regards to the character's voice actors. The first Japanese actor for Kanda, Takahiro Sakurai, was referred as "hate and arrogance" by Lauenroth, to the point of being a fan of his character because of Sakurai. Morales criticized Kanda's English voice actor Travis Willingham as "his portrayal of the cold and mysterious Kanda makes the young man sound more like a bodybuilder than a lithe swordsman". On the other hand, Michael Marr from Capsule Computers enjoyed Willingham's work, believing it was equal to Sakurai's. For the sequel, D.Gray-man Hallow, Sakurai was replaced by Takuya Satō; Lauenroth had mixed feelings about the change of Kanda's new voice actor finding the new one as "stoic indifference". Nevertheless, she praised both Satō and Kanda's younger self actor, Tsubasa Yonaga, for their roles in the Hallow's seventh episode due to how they portray Kanda's tragic backstory.


Yu Kanda Wikipedia

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