April’s Manga of the Month: Kekkaishi

Kekkaishi (結界師) by Yellow Tanabe

With the recent news that Kekkaishi will be wrapping up its story in Shonen Sunday this month, I just had to talk about the series.

Even since I found the series, Kekkaishi has remained a favorite, and in my opinion one of the best, of recent shonen fighting titles. The story revolves around the sacred land of Karasumori which attracts a lot of attention from monsters seeking power and the two families who guard it. Yoshimori is a meld between your typical shonen protagonist who posses a lot of raw power but can’t fully control it yet, and some personal quirks like using his defensive technique aggressively, being a cake-baking otaku, and possessing a compassionate soul. His partner and rival Tokine is a strong female who starts the series leagues ahead of Yoshi and continues to grow along side him. Their techniques are similar but their strengths are different causing the best battles to occur when they work together using ingenuity and teamwork rather than a power up. As the series goes on family secrets, rival organizations, death, friendship and betrayal, and deadly power all reveal that Karasumori and everyone surrounding it is a lot more complicated than initially suspected.

Kekkaishi balances a lot of wonderful elements in its story beyond the assumed action and drama. Interwoven throughout is an amazingly organic romance, I hope I don’t have to emphasize how rare this is in the genre, that underlies many scenes while never overtaking them and more importantly never appearing for plot convenience. Family also has a grand role to play in Kekkaishi creating wonderful tension. And perhaps the most surprising part of all is the cast remains fairly small never straying far from our leads. Kekkaishi is a fresh yet familiar series that hits the right notes with precision.

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