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Kekkaishi, vols. 1-10 (Yellow Tanabe)

Teenagers Yoshimori Sumimura and Tokine Yukimura (the series uses English name order) are kakkaishi - magic users whose spiritual disciplines can raise barriers that can be used against spirits and monsters. Yoshimori is a rather wayward junior high school boy who has great spiritual power, while Tokine is a studious 16-year-old who can use her kekkai in complex ways. Yoshimori lives with his irascible kekkaishi grandfather, his untalented father (who seems to actually be what Saiyuki's Cho Hakkai only pretends to be: a bespectacled house-nerd), and his younger brother. Tokine lives with her tough grandmother and her mother, who is not a kekkaishi. The two families have been both allies and rivals for generations.

As the series opens, Tokine and Yoshimori are living a weird and busy life, spending their days in school and their evenings battling spiritual life forms called ayakashi at a famous center of power known as the Karasumori site. The ayakashi that they face early on are barely above the level of pests. However, as the series progresses, we learn more about the nature of the Karasumori site, the political machinations of various kekkaishi groups, and the actual threat posed by the ayakashi, some of whom are very powerful indeed.

Despite Yoshimori's boyish notion that he must protect Tokine, the two are presented as equally valuable kekkaishi, and the emphasis of the story is on learning to work together as members of a team rather than individual accomplishments. In volume 6, the kids gain a fellow student and team member, a taciturn, stoic boy named Gen Shishio who has a mysterious and tragic past. My fears that Gen would replace Tokine were, I'm glad to say, unfounded.

I seem to have forgotten a couple of significant members of the kekkaishi households: their "demon dogs,"white-furred Madarao (Sumimura) and black Hakubi (Yukimura) - fanart here. They help Tokine and Yoshimori find and fight ayakashi, and also provide background, play-by-play, and large helpings of snark.

I'm liking this series a lot, although the first two volumes were very slow and very young: the Mr. and I almost gave up on it. I'm glad I stuck to my rule of giving manga series through volume 4 before making a decision. And I'm glad that octopedingenue recommended it!


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 3rd, 2010 01:03 pm (UTC)
I really think the fact that the mangaka of this one is a woman makes the female characters work better, although this is very much shounen. However I didn't like the way they treated Tokine in the arc that you'll read next (books 10 to 13 and aftermath). To give credit, she gives Yoshimori hell for it afterwards.

I haven't read further on yet, following the German release. The scanlations I think are in the volume 20s...

I love the fact that Tokine so often manages with much more skill and less power the stuff that Yoshimori only manages if he goes into overdrive ^^.
Aug. 4th, 2010 01:53 am (UTC)

Well, I've also heard that more shounen mangaka than one might think are actually women. For instance, someone I trust who reads (and speaks) Japanese fluently says that Akimine Kamijyo (Samurai Deeper Kyo, and now Code Breaker) is a woman.

I don't usually read scanlations - I'm busy enough as it is! But I'd have had at least 11 and 12 already if the local Borders hadn't been out of 11 last weekend.

Thanks for the heads-up about the next arc.

Aug. 4th, 2010 04:43 am (UTC)
Successful female shonen mangaka really aren't that unusual -- Fullmetal Alchemist's Arakawa Hiromu is another high-profile example, and Takahashi Rumiko is said to be the world's top-selling female comic artist (and one of the wealthiest women in Japan).
Aug. 3rd, 2010 01:24 pm (UTC)
shaenon posted a really positive review of this one a while back, too. I really need to check it out at some point -- I can't possibly resist snarky adorable inugami!
Aug. 4th, 2010 01:57 am (UTC)

The inugami are adorable, but they're getting less screen time as the series gets more involved.

The mangaka is not afraid to use tragedy (and does it well), and there are some very effectively ambiguous figures, like Yoshimori's mysterious older brother Masamori (that's him on the vol. 4 cover).

Aug. 3rd, 2010 01:42 pm (UTC)
Sounds interesting! I prefer manga with spirtiual and magical themes, so this sounds like it might be right up my alley. All of that plus a story that has a decent female lead = WIN.

Edit for speeelung fail.

Edited at 2010-08-03 01:43 pm (UTC)
Aug. 4th, 2010 01:59 am (UTC)

I like Tokine and need to make an icon for her. She's on the surface a very typical upper-class Japanese schoolgirl, but she's also snarky and quite capable of being (she says it herself) ruthless. She also has very realistic self-doubts.

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )


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