Kekkaishi Vol. #17 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, March 08, 2011
Release Date: Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Writer/Artist: Yellow Tanabe
Translation: Yuko Sawada
Adaptation: Yuko Sawada
What They Say
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.
Yoshimori and his elder brother Masamori are trapped inside a magical realm... The site's guardian wants to steal Yoshimori's body, and a renegade council member pits brother against brother! Which of the two will escape? And what will become of the other...?
Skipping ahead to volume 17, the action starts with hero Yoshimori receiving a phone call from his older brother, Masamori, requesting his assistance. Masamori requests Yoshimori come to a Shinto shrine that serves as a gateway into another world. Yoshimori is to guard the gateway to make sure no one comes in or out, and despite the fact that Masamori will be out of reach by celphone for the entire time, he doesn't give Yoshimori any information on what's going on. His only instruction: If dawn comes and Masamori hasn't returned, he requests Yoshimori call his name through the portal.
It wouldn't be a shonen manga is Yoshimori's curiosity doesn't get the better of him, and although he doesn't follow his brother into the portal, he ventures far enough into the shrine to be captured by a prankster deity, and is dragged into the other world against his will.
We learn that Masamori has ventured into the portal to follow his former mentor, Mudo, who gave up his humanity to transform himself into an Ayakashi. Masamori visits a Shadow Organization training facility for help in tracking Mudo down, and discovers that Mudo has slaughtered all of the young kekkaishi in training. Unable to convince Mudo to return to the light, Masamori discovers he'll have to fight Mudo to bring his reign of terror to an end.
The majority of the volume is taken up by this fight, and soon Yoshimori is brought into the battle against the cruel Mudo.
Unlike the stylish, off-kilter, and enjoyable volume 15, volume 17 goes for the orthodox shonen playbook. An older, now evil, mentor figure needs to be defeated. The relationship between two brothers is tested, as the rival tries to encourage feelings of jealousy and rivalry between the brothers. The reason these tropes are used so often is because they are effective, and if you've never read a shonen series before, this volume will likely have you at the edge of your seat. However, for more experienced readers, this is a well-done and stylishly executed storyline that we've seen countless times before.
I think one thing that weakens the impact of this volume is the fact that Mudo is a new character. In the afterword, Yellow Tanabe describes the creation and evolution of the character created for this volume. He's apparently been a mentor to Masamori, but readers have never seen him before. The volume would have been much more powerful were Mudo a character introduced in volume one whose development we'd traced through the next 16 volumes.
This volume a stylish and well-executed series of well-worn shonen tropes, but there's nothing new here for experienced readers. Fans of the series will certainly enjoy this volume, but it's nowhere near as interesting as the previous volumes, with their illustrations of unique powers and the unique politics of the Kekkaishi. Hopefully we'll get back to more interesting material in the next volume.
Mania Grade: A
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translation Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Released By: Viz Media
Orientation: Right to Left