Kekkaishi Vol. #02 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 9.95
  • Pages: 192
  • ISBN: 1-59116-970-4
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Kekkaishi Vol. #02

By Jarred Pine     September 27, 2005
Release Date: August 09, 2005


Kekkaishi Vol.#02
© 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.

Although Yoshimori and Tokine often quarrel, they battle demons side by side almost every night. When the two must confront demon-charmer Yomi and her dysfunctional pet demon Yoki, their partnership is threatened. Can they work together to keep their school from the clutches of a power-hungry monster, and keep their fellow students from noticing?!

The Review
Packaging:
The cover features the wonderful looking Japanese tankubon artwork with Tokine amongst the cherry blossoms. The colors are sharp and bright, and I like how Viz kept the Japanese logo down the middle, with the English title along the bottom. The print reproduction is pretty good, with a few instances of checkerboard-looking grey tones. Extras include an 8-page mini-manga from Tanabe, where some early character designs are included for Yoshimori and Tanabe.

Art:
Tanabe’s artwork seems to have improved a tiny bit with this volume as I flip through the pages and compare. It seems as though there is just a better use of tones for backgrounds and textures, creating a much richer feel. I love the character designs. They have an almost retro appeal to them, with very round faces featuring both tone and etched shading. There is a great variety of facial expressions too, including some mildly deformed ones for a nice humorous touch. The backgrounds are kept very simple and clean. In fact, the whole manga just feels very clean, not that detailed, but just very clean lines and layouts.

Text/SFX:
SFX are translated and retouched. All the terms surrounding the Kekkaijutsu are left in tact throughout the book. I was a little confused about the term ‘Jutsusha’, as it was used to describe ‘traveling magicians’ as well as Tokine herself, who I thought was a Kekkaishi, but maybe those terms aren’t mutually exclusive. The lesson here is that a little glossary at the back provided by the editing team would have helped. Other than that, I really enjoy how the dialogue flows. The sarcastic humor is kept intact, there’s a wonderful chemistry between Yoshimori and Tokine, and the dialogue always feels quite appropriate for the character.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
One the surface, Kekkaishi can feel like just another spirit hunter entry in the vast library of shounen manga. However, there’s something underneath it all that strikes the right chords with me that is kind of hard to pin down. It’s got its charm, but there’s a relaxed casualness about it all that I am really able to get into and enjoy.

Where Tanabe shines with this title so far is creating a pair of lead characters that have quite the chemistry with each other and are very relatable. Yoshimori reminds me so much of myself at his age, and still to some extent today. At times he can be quite aloof and sarcastic, exhausted by the forces pushing him into a world that is trying to take him further and further away from his dream, making those sweet castle cakes. But Yoshimori also has a lot of heart and tries hard at protecting the people he cares about. He’s not quick to judge Yomi and her loose canon demon Yoki for attacking them, putting their well-being in front of his own even as he tries to stop their destruction without killing them. Tokine, on the other hand, carries herself with a much different attitude than Yoshimori. She’s that class president and honor’s student who gets along with everyone and wins all the popularity polls. She’s determined to do her best, and will do whatever it takes. The bond between these two is their duty to protect Karasumori Academy as well other more personal issues. Yoshimori’s mother is rarely home and disappears often. Tokine’s father was died in front of her own eyes after he was attacked by a powerful Ayakashi. These two lovable characters create a wonderful chemistry with sarcastic quips and heartfelt moments, together making a great team when hunting down Ayakashi.

This volume is also structured differently from the previous one, with a more contiguous story throughout all the chapters. It’s a bit more on the action side this time around, with the comedy taking more of a backseat. However, it is nice to see Tanabe trying to formulate a story here, creating a nice, gentle flow and not relying on the same castle cake and stubborn traditional grandpa gags. The humor is still there, only subtly placed in the background and done quite appropriately.

As with last volume, the weaknesses of this title right now is the lack of a supporting cast and any clear direction of where this story is headed, but at this point these issues are not anything to be concerned about. It is actually quite enjoyable having most of the time being spent with Yoshimori and Tokine, as the slow pace of the story is allowing for plenty of time to get connected to these two and learn more about them and how they feel about each other. Grandpa Sumimura and Grandma Yukimura are still there to provide us with plenty of laughs with their familial battles, offering some good humor that stays pretty fresh and is not overused.

The story is beginning to take some shape, with the introduction of the mysterious Shadow Organization, a regional organization under a central authority made up of members with special powers, who Grandpa Sumimura refers to as “misfits”. What’s intriguing about this group is that the members aren’t entitled to become heads of families, so there is no doubt some possible jealousy brewing behind the scenes. It’s not much, but there is some semblance of a plot coming together at the end of this volume.

Comments
Most likely there are many who have probably written Kekkaishi off as another spirit hunter manga that feels like another Bleach. However, I personally think the comparisons are only surface deep. Relying less on flash and style, Tanabe keeps the story very charming and relaxed, allowing time to be given to our two leads, Yoshimori and Tokine. So far it has been a success with me, as I find their chemistry together to be quite the enjoyable experience.

The story also has a nice flow to it, slowly building up some possible mysteries and future plotlines while developing Yoshimori and Tokine. Some may cry foul over the unoriginal premise, but in a market where originality is rare, sometimes it is the creator putting his own personality down on the pages that matters. That’s where Tanabe succeeds.

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