Kekkaishi Vol. #15 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, January 14, 2011
Release Date: Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Writer/Artist: Yellow Tanabe
Translation: Yuko Sawada
Adaptation: Yuko Sawada
What They Say
School is rough when the playground is full of demons every night!
A vicious ayakashi is growing inside Yoshimori's school, feeding on the energy of the Karasumori site... If the ayakashi stays, it will grow ever more powerful. But if Yoshimori defies orders and attempts to dislodge it, it could ravage the entire city...!
By night, junior high student Yoshimori Sumimura is a "kekkaishi"--a demon-hunter who specializes in creating magical barriers around his prey. By day, Yoshimori's got some other demons to battle: an addiction to sweets and a seriously crotchety grandfather! Yoshimori's pretty 16-year-old neighbor and childhood friend, Tokine Yukimura, is also a kekkaishi, but their families are feuding over who is the true practitioner of the art.
As someone unfamiliar with the Kekkaishi property, having never seen the anime nor read the manga, reviewing volume 15 is a somewhat daunting task. I'm unfortunately going to miss a lot of the nuance of the ongoing story, and I have to review the content in this volume as it stands. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised. For the unfamiliar, Kekkaishi is reminiscent of Bleach, except Kekkaishi is less cool and more clever. Main character Yoshimori is the descendent of a clan with special powers who, of course, has great potential and will someday be the greatest kekkaishi ever. What's unique is that the special power of the Kekkaishi is to create barriers, an interestingly defensive method of attack. These barriers can be used as platforms or as traps, and can also be detonated like bombs. It feels a bit like a spiritual version of Bomberman, although the ways the barriers can be used can be very inventive.
As the volume begins, mysterious black boxes have been placed around the headquarters of the ayakashi-fighting clans. Their purpose is unknown, but children begin to be snatched up inside of them. We learn that it's a complicated portal system that's being used for some nefarious purpose. The action follows young Misao as she finds herself in a prison cell in the dungeon connected to the black box portals. Her ability to make "friends" with the rope and transform it into a cute little doll allows her to escape and get her bearings very easily. It's a neat combination of cute and clever that seems to characterize Kekkaishi as a whole.
Events escalate, and we learn that the black boxes are going to be used to unleash a terrible demon born from a cocoon. Inside of the cocoon is a living samurai suit of armor called the Kuro-Kabuto. Similar to the God Warriors of Nausicaa, it's a mindless rampaging weapon bent on total destruction, and it poses a great risk to the nearby village. Yoshimori tries his best to subdue it, but it proves resistant to his rapid onslaught of attacks. The Shadow Organization decides it's a better bet to transfer the Kuro-Kabuto to an isolated mountain area and to try and seal him up there.
Volume 15 is a difficult place to start a series, as there's a lot of names of people, places and organizations that didn't make a lick of sense to me. However, the art was attractive, the characters likable, and the action well thought out, if well within the shonen formula. Kekkaishi doesn't aim to rewrite the book on shonen or try anything radically new, but it's a charismatic and stylish series, and I'm looking forward to reading more.
Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translation Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Released By: Viz Media
Orientation: Right to Left