Friday, November 18, 2011

Manga Friday: Kekkaishi

Kekkaishi 3-in-1 Omnibus Edition (Volume 1)
Yellow Tanabe

I really love these omnibus editions.  Just having so much material together in one volume somehow makes it much more appealing to me (576 pages in this thick collection).  Anyways, Kekkaishi is about a teenage demon hunter who has inherited the mark to become his family's next Kekkaishi, or demon hunter.  His family is actually in a feud with a neighboring family who also have a mark passed down through their bloodline, over which family are the "true practitioners."  I don't really see what the big deal is either way, since the current Kekkaishi can both do pretty much the same things, and doesn't having more than one make it easier?  Oh, well.  The families are feuding over who has the right to this title, but in the meantime, our protagonist, Yoshimori Sumimura is learning the craft despite having little interest in carrying on the family work.  The rival family's daughter however, Tokine Yukimura, is really invested in demon hunting and is very good at it.  Basically Kekkaishi use spells to trap demons in a magical barrier, then say some magic words to destroy it while it's trapped.  It takes quite a bit out of them to use this magic, especially when it comes to bigger demons.  And demons come in all shapes and sizes, and have plenty of tricks up their sleeves.  It's a little complicated, with all sorts of little things to know about the world that Tanabe has constructed here: some demons appeared as demons from the get-go, but some were originally ghosts, although not all ghosts are bad, etc.  And there's some sort of grounds beneath the local school that draws the demons to it, where they can grow stronger.  Readers definitely have to invest in understanding the world and sorting through the rules, and none of it is particularly interesting, even how they hunt the ghosts, which should be the coolest part.  The real star here is the relationship between Yoshimori and Tokine.  They have a sort of star-crossed things going on here ala Romeo and Juliet, what with their families hating one another so passionately.  Tanabe does a great job of drawing this relationship out, and using subtle interactions to explore it.  It's very well done.  Tanabe also illustrates this very nicely, with clear action sequences and nice character designs (although the monster designs are a little underwhelming so far).  Overall, this is a decent book.  Nothing has really blown me away at this point, and the main demon-hunting-action stuff is the weakest part about it, which is a problem, although other aspects of the title have compensated for that deficiency.  Hopefully it all pays off and becomes something more intriguing as the series goes along.

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