Writer/Artist: Yellow Tanabe
What They Say
Suave newcomer Soji, sent by the Shadow Organization, proves quite useful in battle against two powerful ayakashi. Nevertheless, our friends suspect he might have something to do with the recent devastating assaults on mystical sites and their guardians. Telepathic Sen gets spy duty and learns some intriguing but ambiguous information...
Meanwhile, Yoshimori tries to break a spell cast on Karasumori - with unexpected results!
Volume 24 starts off in the middle of the action, continuing the battle sequence that begun in the previous volume. At that time, we were introduced to the mysterious Soji, a boy who claims to have been sent by the Shadow Organization to help Yoshimori. Yoshimori believes Soji was the masked attacked whom he fought in Hida Village, so to test his loyalty, he asks Soji to fight against attacking ayakashi.
Soji proves to be quick, efficient, and brutal, and Yoshimori eventually has to call him off, as he continues to attack the body of a dead ayakashi. However, Soji is no impetuous hothead: He's calm, stiff and polite. Suspiciously so. He's a character type we've seen before in manga and anime: The natural warrior who has been trained well in the art of combat, but is completely clueless when it comes to social interaction. The majority of the content in this volume is Yoshimori trying to figure out who Soji is working for, and if Soji can be trusted.
What complicates matters is that members of the Shadow Organization itself may be attacking mystical sites. Soji may be telling the truth when saying he was sent by the Organization, but can the Shadow Organization itself be trusted? As Soji is currently the only link our heroes have with the attackers, Sen decides to follow Soji and find out where his loyalties are.
Yoshimori decides to be a little more direct and point blank ask Soji if he's connected to the attacks. He answers that he's not allowed to discuss that, giving Yoshimori the impression that Soji may be a puppet who doesn't understand his role in events, either. However, Soji does state that he would attack a mystical site or kill a person if he was so ordered. There are no easy answers: Soji appears to be an earnest young man, but one who will not hesitate to follow any order.
For veteran manga readers, this setup and character archetype isn't particularly new. However, as with previous volumes, Yellow Tanabe makes the old story interesting with her stylish design and unique mythology. Standout designs include a man whose body had to be repaired with binding magic, and the extraction of a magical brand from the mystical site at the conclusion of the volume. Tanabe's art has a definite energy to it, and the flows of magical power really seem to move on the page.
This volume focuses on the character Soji, a natural warrior and earnest soul who appears to be a puppet for unknown forces. This is a fairly well-known archetype in action series, so the questioning of his motives is fairly routine. However, the questions raised by Soji's behavior have real bearing on Kekkaishi's world and characters, so even though this volume isn't introducing anything new, you're still left wondering how the story will play out from here. Another solid volume in a woefully underappreciated series.