Episode One-Derland: Kekkaishi

Plot: Yoshimori Sumimura and Tokine Yukimura are the youngest of their rival clans. Their families are heirs to the Hazama style Kekkai technique, giving them the powers to contain, battle and destroy ayakashi – monsters with immense power who threaten the land.

The Kekkai users or Kekkaishi are tasked with protecting the Karasumori school – a building that was built on top of the burial ground of Tokimori Hazama himself. He was born with a strange power that drew ayakashi to him and increased their power exponentially in mere moments. Even after his death, the power still resonates within the school grounds.

A young Yoshimori used to want nothing more than to shrug off his responsibilities as a Kekkaishi. He hated the constant training, always getting his battles interrupted by Tokine, the fact that his older brother seemed more suited for the job despite not being a legitimate heir, like him, and the fact that their roles as Kekkaishi put a real strain on his and Tokine’s friendship.

Tokine, on the other hand, loves her role as a Kekkaishi and excels at it. She’s stern with Yoshimori, but only because she realizes what a dangerous and important job it is.

One day, Tokine badly wounds herself trying to protect Yoshimori from an ayakashi that he failed to properly dispose of due to being tricked by it. Ever since that day, he’s felt a heavy burden of guilt and has vowed to become stronger so he won’t get anyone hurt ever again.

Breakdown: Hey, it’s Kekkaishi! That show everyone’s heard of, but no one ever seems to talk about ever.

Even when this show was airing on Toonami/Adult Swim, I really heard no one talking about it. The best I managed was someone mentioning the OP on a ‘Best Anime Opening Theme Songs’ list, and I’d agree with that.

I caught a bit of the show here and there when it was airing on TV, but it never caught on with me for some reason.

Now that I’ve finally sat down and given it a full chance, I’m happy to report that I really liked it.

Is it breaking new ground in the shounen genre? No. At the end of the day, it’s still a show where it’s the MC’s ‘destiny’ to beat monsters and protect the land and those he cares about. At the very least, he’s not a prodigy MC. In fact, he’s quite inept, at least so far, at being a Kekkaishi. Even when we cut to present day where he’s older and more focused, he’s still overly headstrong and makes a bunch of mistakes.

The thing more people remember about this show, at least I do anyway, is the unique aspect of the glowing boxes, also known as Kekkai. Despite just being, well, glowing boxes, they’re useful for a plethora of purposes, and it’s a welcome change up from the typical ‘blam-blam Imma firin’ mah lazar’ powers most supernatural shounen shows get.

As a first episode, it lays down the groundwork extremely well – maybe a bit too well, because they went way overboard with those text-boxes that explain every little thing, but it’s not a big deal. In one episode, we firmly establish the backstory, the enemies, the lore, the characters and their motivations – and the pacing never felt off-kilter.

Yoshimori is a little annoying, but he’s also very relatable. He doesn’t want to get out of being a Kekkashi at first because he’s sick of the training and being out every night – he’s sick of being bad at it and knowing that being a Kekkashi and even part of the Sumimura family prevents him from being close friends with Tokine.

He’s also emotional and greatly sympathetic towards others, even perceived enemies, which is something I greatly appreciate in my shounen protagonists.

His grandfather is more annoying than anything. The worst part of this whole episode was the five-ish minutes of him just screaming at Yoshimori.

Tokine is also a good character. You can tell she still wants to be close friends with Yoshimori again and feels the strain of their families and responsibilities impeding on them. She’s a great Kekkashi, even if she does seemingly ‘take’ Yoshimori’s targets and kinda treats him poorly when they’re older.

I was very disappointed to read on the Wiki that she’s regarded as the weakest Kekkaishi when she’s so good right now. I am sick to death of female fighters getting nerfed in action anime just because ‘hurr hurr penis=power, go battle an ayakashi in the kitchen lol’ I really hope that I’m wrong about that and the Wiki’s just wording things poorly, but seeing as how I’ve found several sources backing up this claim, I’m inclined to believe it. Can someone who’s actually seen all of the show or read the manga tell me otherwise?

He didn’t get much screentime, but I really liked Yoshimori’s father. He reminded me a lot of Sakura’s father from Cardcaptor Sakura. He’s kind and very supportive.

The art and animation is okay. The character art, particularly with the noses, never meshed that well with me, but it’s not really bad. The animation is nothing special, but alright.

The music is really good. Not sure it’s a soundtrack I’d run out and buy yet, but I really love the OP, the ED is good and the BGM is pretty nice.

The voices, English dub, were good, though I’m questioning whether Laura Bailey is fully-suited for Tokine. Love ya, Laura, I’m just not sure you fully fit her yet. Judgment pending.

Verdict:

Continue Yes

I was pleasantly surprised by this episode, even if it is fairly generic. Being generic isn’t necessarily bad as long as the execution and style is interesting enough to hook my attention. I look forward to the rest of this series and hope that it’s a lost gem, not rightfully buried under the sands of time.


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5 thoughts on “Episode One-Derland: Kekkaishi

  1. Interesting write up. I did hear of that anime before, but I never had the chance to watch it. I hope it isn’t the case of that female character being the weakest because that is uncool as well as it being problematic on so many levels. It’s not the only shonen to (allegedly) do this, but that’s lame. Also, I sometimes accidentally misspell it as Kakashi like from Naruto. Haha! Good job nonetheless.

    Besides that, I was thinking about the “text wall” conversations recently. Did you feel uncomfortable when I mentioned those things? That frustration wasn’t towards you in any way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Yeah, ‘weak’ or ‘useless’ female characters is a big trope in shounen shows, and I’ve always really hated it. (Interestingly, I am currently reading the Naruto Manga in full to do a write up on Sakura because I’ve criticized her so much for encompassing this trope (and others) that I wanted to see if I could get a more firm stance on how bad of an example she really is. I’m only about 60 chapters in, but I am getting pushed and pulled in both directions. We’ll see, though.)

      No, you didn’t make me uncomfortable with the text wall conversations, don’t worry. 🙂 I did get nervous with my responses because these are sensitive topics and I didn’t want to come off as a jerk or make stupid statements that don’t make sense, but that’s a problem I have when I make nearly any post online lol It’s just magnified when I talk about really serious topics.

      Liked by 1 person

      • No problem, and I’m happy I’m not the only person who has noticed this about that genre/demographic of anime or manga. I know not all series do that, but this went on even unto the 00s which is a shame. Sakura certainly gets criticized a ton in that field which there is some credence for. Is she different in the manga so far? I’m mainly familiar with the anime. I hoped things got better, but I haven’t watched too many newer anime (as in anime coming out this decade) since I only got back into watching it just a few years ago not that long before starting Iridium Eye.

        Alright. Thanks for letting me know. They really are sensitive topics and I do tend to be blunt when it comes to covering certain subjects. You never came off as a jerk to me because I dealt with people being very nasty to me for similar or harsher topics. Did you at least see where I was coming from whether you agreed or not? I will say that you’re one of two people I know who told me they have appreciation for Tezuka and Disney let alone wanting bigotry to be called out when media companies do this in or out of context of their stories.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mmmm….That’s hard to say. There aren’t really a lot of changes between the two so far (It’s been years since I watched Naruto, but I remember it pretty well) but I have gained some new perspectives.

        Looking at my notes, I do give her more props for sticking by Tazuna so fiercely in the Hidden Mist arc, even if any time she actually has to defend him either Sasuke or Kakashi steps in to defend her (That might be more understandable given the skills of the ninja involved so I’m kinda at odds at whether this is really a moment of ‘protect the damsel’ or not…) And I really give her props for not leaving Tazuna to go to Sasuke when he appeared to be dead. That showed real dedication.

        They really go back and forth with whether or not she’s the smartest one in the group. Kakashi compliments her on being the brightest konoichi in her class (which isn’t saying a whole lot given there aren’t many) but then in almost the same breath he says Sasuke’s a genius and gets the best grades in class. To her credit, Sakura’s the only one who completed the written exam without cheating (though, given the aim of the exam WAS to cheat….*shrug*)

        She’s noted as having great chakra control and an affinity for Genjutsu, but these really don’t come into play…………ever. In fact, Sasuke notices a Genjutsu before her (the classroom sign) and she fell for Kakashi’s hook, line and sinker during their first test with him.

        Sakura does have a few moments where she realizes how far out of her league she is, skill and power-wise, when Naruto and Sasuke are around, and she feels useless, but I really hate that all of that just leads to a crescendo of her cutting her hair to escape an enemy ninja….I get the symbolism but it’s always been really lame to me, especially considering that the enemy ninja didn’t restrain her arms or anything. *eye roll* It’s really hit or miss with her at this point.

        Yeah I got where you were coming from. And that’s good. ^_^

        Liked by 1 person

      • Gotcha. Yeah, that is very inconsistent when it comes to writing that character in particular. I didn’t think about some of those things from what I know and remember about that series. It’s quite bogus in hindsight with this 50/50 writing for Sakura.

        Thank you, and I appreciate that.

        Like

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