Kekkaishi Vol. #01 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 9.95
  • Pages: 192
  • ISBN: 1-59116-968-2
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Kekkaishi Vol. #01

By Jarred Pine     May 20, 2005
Release Date: May 03, 2005


Kekkaishi Vol.#01
© Viz Media


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Yellow Tanabe
Translated by:Yuko Sawada
Adapted by:

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 couldn't care less about catching demons... until he realizes that his apathetic attitude is taking a toll on his friendship with Tokine. Just as he decides to take matters into his own hands, a couple of amphibious demons and the pesky ghost of a pastry-chef show up to complicate matters!

The Review
Packaging:
The cover features the same illustration of Yoshimori and Madarao as the Japanese release, with only the background colors and design changed. The Japanese logo runs vertical down the center, very much like the Japanese release, with the English title laid out horizontally underneath. The black action bar runs across the top, with the corresponding bar with creator name and volume number at the bottom. The back cover features a small illustration of Tokine and Hakubi.

Inside there are volume and chapter headers. At the back of the book is a 2 page mini-manga from Tanabe along with a few words for the readers. The print job is great with the tones looking clear and clean. Overall a very nice presentation.

Art:
Tanabe’s simple character designs are a real treat to the eyes. They may not have lots of detail, but the line work is extremely clean and I love the round faces and eyes with small noses and mouths. It sort of has this classic, old school manga feel to it, which feels fresh in this case.

The Ayakashi designs are also more creative than other supernatural character designs from similar “ghost hunting” manga. Backgrounds and action artwork are also pretty simple, but again the clean and crisp artwork really make it pleasing to the eyes.

Text/SFX:
SFX are translated and retouched. All the terms surrounding the Kekkaijutsu are left in tact throughout the book, with appropriate English translations following the first couple times. The translation reads clearly and flows quite nicely. The dialogue is very appropriate for the characters, especially for Yoshimori as it really brings out his personality.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
Yoshimori Sumimura is an average teenager with average teenage problems, it just so happens that one of those problems is that he is the future 22nd Kekkaishi of the Sumimura family. You would thinking getting to hunt spirits, or Ayakashi, all night with a 500 year old family demon dog would be something a young boy would enjoy, but Yoshimori loathes it. He is constantly being pushed by his traditional grandfather, Shigemori (a Jigoro look-a-like), and is forced to compete with the family rivals, the Yukimuras, who are also Kekkaishi master themselves. To make things worse, Yoshimori has a bit of a crush on Tokine Yukimura, who constantly beats him at Ayakashi hunting every night and thinks he is disgusting. Ahh, the growing pains of youth and the awkwardness of entering adulthood.

On the surface, Kekkaishi is just another shounen ghost hunter story featuring teenage kids with exceptional powers. However, it is Tanabe’s execution and instantly loveable characters that so far allows this manga to keep it’s head above the mediocrity. Yoshimori is a great young boy who leads this coming of age story. He feels like he’s got the weight of the world on his shoulders, and all he wants to do is drink his coffee milk, eat sweets, and make a gigantic life-sized castle cake! He walks around all day sulking with his sarcastic, low-key attitude. He doesn’t want to be bothered, he just wants to make castle cakes! He is very much the typical grumpy teenager that I myself remember being. Parental pressures, girl problems, lack of proper sleep, and constantly being pushed into an adult world that seems frightening and unappealing.

While Yoshimori may appear to be a slacker on the outside, he does honestly care about others and cannot stand to seem them get hurt. After an accident while out hunting with Tokine, where she suffers a scarring blow to her arm, Yoshimori makes a pledge that he will always protect others. It is this that fuels him into going out night after night hunting Ayakashi at the school grounds. His eagerness to protect may make him a bit reckless, but his effort is noted.

There are a couple of minor issues. The first is that as of right now, there isn’t a strong secondary cast, something that is usually a strong point of shounen manga. However, Yoshimori carries this first volume just fine, and the comedic relief with his grandpa and the pastry-chef ghost does keep the storyline fresh and enjoyable. I hope future volumes will flush out more of a supporting cast. The other problem is that I have no idea where this story is going to go. Will the story continue it’s coming of age storyline using the hunts as a vehicle with a more slice-of-life feel? Or will we slide into the standard quest/battle shounen clichés? It really is not that clear by the end of the volume. The questionable direction may bother some, but I really had too much fun reading this volume to notice. Just sit back and enjoy the ride for now.

Comments
Yellow Tanabe does a great job with this first volume at taking what could have been a clichéd shounen storyline and turning it into a great commentary on the growing pains of teenagers and their coming of age. The spirit, or Ayakashi, hunts are nothing more than a vehicle to help drive the overarching themes and the exploration of Yoshimori, a sarcastic, tired teenager who just really wants to bake the world’s largest castle cake. The pressures of family tradition, girl problems, and the frightening reality of entering adulthood are all illustrated quite well in this story.

There is also a lot of great humor sprinkled throughout the story that had me in stitches on many occasions. The hounding grandfather, Shigemori, and his intense overreactions to Yoshimori’s attitude are quite funny. I never got tired of the gag with Shigemori barging in on Yoshimori as he was putting together his next castle cake masterpiece. There’s a few other subtle gags that aren’t overused and had me chuckling everytime.

So far I’m very, very impressed with what Kekkaishi has to offer. In the future I hope it will flush out a supporting cast, as well as a sense of direction, but for now I’m enjoying the ride and this is something I can enjoy over and over again. Excellent first volume.

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