Yoshimori Sumimura of the Hazama clan is a typical 14-year-old student in most respects, except for one big one: He is the hereditary protector, called a Kekkaishi, of the sacred site of Karasumori, which is a magic-rich area that attracts demons known as ayakashi. But he’s not the only Kekkaishi, as another heir of the Hazama clan, 16-year Tokine Yukimura, acts as both partner and rival, not to mention love interest. When they were both much younger, Tokine was wounded while protecting Yoshimori and the scar of that injury on her hand leads him to vow that she will never get hurt again.
Both Yoshimori’s grandfather Shigemori and Tokine’s grandmother Tokiko consider their own branch of the clan as the only true branch. Their comedic fights and constant urging of the teens to have nothing to do with each other provide many silly moments in the series. Likewise, the constant sniping between the two spirit dogs, Yoshimori’s Madarao and Tokine’s Hakubi, as they help their owners in their nightly duties will bring grins.
But the main thing about the series is action and lots of it, as demon after demon invades Karasumori for the strength they will get from its magical energies. To fight this, both Yoshimori and Tokine rely on pretty much only one weapon, the kekkai they can form with their wills. Kekkai take the form of a transparent cube, which are used to surround the ayakashi and banish them back to their own plane of existence. At first one wonders how a simple box could make for interesting battles, but as the series progresses, they continually are used in new and different ways. Some kekkai are flexible and springy, some are used as platforms that hang in the air so someone can jump to a higher level, some are formed within each other to reinforce protective barriers. Part of the fun is seeing what twists the impulsive but powerful Yoshimori and the calculating but weaker Tokine put on their kekkai powers.
Another interesting idea in the series is that Karasumori itself is now the site for the school both Kekkaishi attend during the day, which constantly has to be repaired after their nightly battles. One does wonder when Yoshimori and Tokine find the time to sleep! The contrast between Yoshmori’s and Tokine’s nighttime struggles and their daily life as normal students adds to the drama, as they know that their spiritual sides, or that of the school, should never be discovered by the rest of the students and faculty.
For a while the storyline does devolve into a sort of monster-of-the-week theme; the ayakashi themselves are designed like the rest of the series with originality and creativity, their forms taking on everything from an innocent-seeming butterfly to perhaps the more-expected 50-foot tall demon. The protagonists themselves also have eye-pleasing, distinctive designs, with Yoshimori’s in particular having a bit more character in his smile than the typical anime leading man.
As this collection only goes through episode 13, the deeper plotlines and supporting characters are only starting to be revealed, but it seems to be following the lead of Yellow Tanabe’s excellent manga. Viewers should think of this as only whetting the appetite for the more intricate story to come. Kekkaishi would be appropriate for any young adult shelf. The battles have some blood, but not nearly as much nor as copious as similarly-themed anime. It should be a hit with your teens, especially those that like humor and a slight romantic tension along with their action.
Kekkaishi, set 1
VIZ Media, 2011
directed by Kenji Kodama
312 minutes, Number of Discs: 3, Box set
Company Age Rating: T (teen)
Related to: Kekkaishi by Yellow Tanabe