Kekkaishi Volumes 4-6

By Yellow Tanabe. Released in Japan by Shogakukan, serialized in the magazine Shonen Sunday. Released in North America by Viz.

The second omnibus edition of Kekkaishi continues the demon hunting plotline of the first, and adds such popular shonen tropes as the elite older brother who the hero looks up to but is also jealous of, as well as the grumpy new guy who insists he can do everything himself. Both are in the ‘I will not be nice to you as you are TOO WEAK’ school of characters, so Yoshimori is having an especially difficult time.

Of course, Yoshimori is NOT actually too weak, he’s simply too inexperienced and too eager to use his power as a blunt object. Many times throughout the volume, characters are impressed with how long he can keep his kekkai going, and how powerful they are. Of course, Masamori, his elder brother, really is pretty awesome in his own right, and demonstrates several times in this omnibus his coolness under fire. Judging by how he deals with both his little brother and Yomi, the minor villain from an earlier arc, he seems to favor the carrot and stick approach to learning.

One thing that intrigued me greatly throughout these three volumes was Yoshimori’s decision to seal off the Karasumori site. Given it’s what’s attracting all the demons they have to keep fighting, it’s a good idea at its core, but the 87 billion things wrong with it also make themselves known. To his credit, Yoshimori knows this, and spends a lot of the next couple of volumes trying to figure out the secrets of the site and how he can possibly accomplish such a thing. Seeing him deep in thought is also quite amusing, as he tends to squat down with this constipated look on his face – it’s no wonder Tokine figures out he’s hiding something right off the bat.

And then there’s Gen, who would appear to be the new regular character. He has ties with Yoshimori’s brother, and would appear to be there to be the ‘darker’ version of the hero, especially as we see the classic ‘he’s a wastrel who’s absolutely nothing like me – oh wait, except that we’re a lot alike after all’. I liked what his fighting revealed about Yoshimori, and how he’s the sort who thunders ahead without thinking, but as the battle rages gets craftier and more tactical. As for Gen’s own issues, briefly seen here, clearly they’re going to become more important in future arcs.

There’s more to talk about, like all the politics and rivalries going on around the land, and Tokine, who is a presence throughout the book, even if I don’t have as much to say about her this time. But as with Volume 1, Kekkaishi is a good example of solid, well-written shonen manga. It’s not breaking any new ground, but it’s exciting and fun to read. It also features one of the creepiest ‘retired professor’ types I’ve ever seen. He’s probably evil. (Remember, kids, always judge by appearances!)

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