Kekkaishi

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snakebrain's avatar
May 29, 2011

**This review contains some minor spoilers**

When fifty-two epsides isn't nearly enough, that's a sign that what you're watching is something really special.

Kekkaishi was a show that I started watching basically because I wanted to watch an anime as it aired, on Cartoon Network.  So (more or less) every Saturday at 11:30 p.m., I dutifully watched the show.  Prior to the start, I read some reviews -- some said it was distressingly formulaic, while others said it was surprisingly innovative.  What tipped things in the show's favor was that the manga had won a prestigious award in Japan -- hopefully, I wagered, if the source material is good, then so is the show.

Unfortunately, things don't get off to a great start, because the overall setup of the show is rather formulaic.  The show follows the exploits of Yoshimori Sumimora, a hot-headed young kekkaishi, who fights ayakashi (demons, essentially) using barriers that he forms around them, and then destroying them.  His partner is the level-headed Tokine Yukimura, a year-older girl who is a member of a rival family.

Already, I'm sure you can see the archetypes at work here.  Yoshimori is hot-headed and impetuous, and Tokine is constantly berating him for his inability to think things through (she's also constantly slapping him, in typical say-his-name-innocently-to-get-his-attention-then-let-him-have-it anime fashion).  But the two characters share an interesting dynamic: while Tokine is far more precise and efficient in her use of kekkai, Yoshimori far outstrips her in sheer power, which means the two make for a potent team when they're working together at top capacity.  Yoshimori also bears the psychological scars of getting Tokine hurt when she was a child, and has vowed to protect her at all times for the rest of his life.

The early going of the series is rather arduous to get through, just because many of the episodes consist of the same basic formula -- Yoshimori screws up because he doesn't think things through, and everyone gets on his case.  I didn't mention them earlier, but other prominent characters are Yoshimori's grandfather, and, later on, his older brother, and another partner -- all of whom get on Yoshimori's case.  Not that he doesn't deserve it, but the slow development of the characters means we're getting the same "lesson" every episode, especially towards the beginning.

Don't let this turn you off, though; even Yoshimori gets his moments to shine, and Tokine has moments of humility.  And as things move along, Yoshimori becomes more and more competent without losing what made him so endearing to begin with.

Speaking of the characters, one of the ways in which the show combats the formulaic early episodes is by giving us quirky and interesting characters.  Yoshimori, for instance, loves to bake, and one of his dreams throughout the show is to bake a perfect cake that Tokine will love.  The scenes in which Yoshimori is wearing an apron are some of the funniest, and best, in the whole series; an early story in which he helps out a ghostly patissier pass on to the other world is one of the best.

Tokine is the closest thing this series has to a Mary Sue, but even she gets some interesting development; her intense fear of cockroaches is hilarious, and as the show goes on, we see the depth of feeling she has for Yoshimori is what causes her to act so severely towards him.

Other characters have their quirks as well; Yoshimori's grandfather and Tokine's grandmother are constantly at war with one another, which leads to some interesting confrontations.  The students at the school they both attend are rendered memorable by their quirks as well; for example, there's a student who keeps a book filled with information about all of the students at the school.  Why does he keep this book of information?  Who knows!  But it's funny, and memorable, and is a good example of how this series manages to make even the most minor characters make an impact.

The overarching storyline of the series is also highly interesting, and there are some very good mysteries that are planted throughout the show.  Individual storylines all seem to be heading to something bigger, and there are some great action scenes toward the end of the series, though the series is never quite as epic as it could have been.

The animation is solid, but nothing special; the same can be said of the music, although I do love the opening theme, which stays consistent throughout the entire run of fifty-two epsides.

Speaking of which, time to come back to the point I made at the beginning of this review -- this series is simply too short.  I don't want to talk too much about the ending of the series, but suffice it to say, the vast majority of the story has yet to be told.  The last third or so of the series is one big plotline, and that gets wrapped up nicely (save a bizarre sequel hook featuring some secondary characters that makes no sense unless they're planning a sequel series), but the vast majority of the storylines introduced in the first two-thirds of the series get no resolution whatsoever.

This is especially disappointing, but also sadly inevitable, when you consider this series' chiefest strength -- its world-building.  The world of Kekkaishi is one that feels complex and lived-in, with a cast of dozens (probably well over a hundred, but I'm not gonna sit down and count them out to confirm), and several interweaving plot threads.  Kekkaishi has managed to create a world that we don't want to leave, and inhabit it with characters that we want to spend time with.  While the series can be frustrating at times, it's ultimately worth it for the characters, the setting, and the plot(s) -- even if none of these aspects get any kind of resolution.

I want this series to be longer.  I have no idea if further seasons are planned, or if this is it; regardless, I've recently bought the first three volumes of the manga, which evidently has a much longer storyline than the anime.  I can't wait to dive back into the world of Kekkaishi, revisit these characters, and see what else awaits them.  This is a great series that is well worth your time, if you're willing to put up with a tepid beginning and a slightly disappointing end.

8.5/10 story
8/10 animation
7/10 sound
8.5/10 characters
9/10 overall
Tomo90's avatar
Jun 28, 2011

Story

Kekkaishi is about two school students, Yoshimori and Tokine, whose family has guarded a sacred ground which resides on the ground underneath their school for the past 400 years. Yoshimori and Tokine families are rivals in this task as both believe that their families are the “legitimate heirs” however they both have a soft side for each other since childhood. Both clans use kekkai, which is a form of supernatural power which erects an energy barrier, to capture and destroy “ayakashi” which trespass and absorb the energy on the sacred ground.

 

Animation

The animation for this anime was pretty standard. The characters models were pretty good and the fight scenes were pretty well done.

 

Sound

The sound is something that generally that compliments the animation. Kekkaishi music almost goes unnoticed but when you’re watching it the music though unnoticeable at first it does a great job of bring the characters a life and helps share the emotion with the audience. The opening song was great I enjoyed listening to it multiple times however the endings, in my opinion, left something to be desired.

 

Characters

The story did a great job of portraying the characters in general. The audience feels like it has a deep connection with the characters and wants them to triumph. The story does go into the character’s past which displays how they became the person today which is nice. Each character has their own quirk which is a nice touch without going overboard.

 

Overall

Overall I believe that Kekkaishi is an anime definitely worth watching. The characters, music and story alone are slightly above average however in combination it creates a great anime. The comedy is light hearted and the action is abundance but neither was overdone.

8/10 story
7/10 animation
8/10 sound
8/10 characters
9/10 overall
xxjacobxx3's avatar
Oct 16, 2010

There are some aspects of this anime like demons and monks and such that are not original, but they throw in enough originality to make it good/interesting.

The character personalities are distinctive and not too bland. I dont think there is enough interesting progression though, such as techniques. They use that same cube looking technique way too much. It would make sense though if there is a new season that comes out, because it would give them room to improve more i guess.

One thing that kind of bugs me, is they spend so much time on this shiso guy that is half ayakashi and then he dies so easily, which in itself is interesting, but i think if they have a new season, bring him back as a spirit or something.

The morals in this story are not that interesting. You have a bunch of people spouting what they believe in at each other and its not very stable. It leaves me thinking... "what are they trying to say?" They imphasis things sometimes that dont have a point as if they do have a point. It seems a bit wishy washy.

I have to say though, as i rated it a 9, I really liked this anime. The seemingly simple fued between the two kakkashi house holds (girl and boy. grandpa and granny) is actually complex. They really care for each other, but for some reason they have to keep thier relationships distant in a way.. but its good to see that the new generation overcomes this barrier as though it is foolishness a lot better than the old people. There are some things that are cool/cute like the demon dogs.

The humor isnt really... laugh out loud... its more like a suttle "hu hu"

There is some of that black orginization secrecy stuff that goes on (which they could continue in a new season). It adds some depth to the story, and also adds variation... meaning sometimes the situation will be relaxed school life and sometimes the situation will be a discussion of death proportions... meaning one wrong thing said and it could result in death or a drastic story changer.  This anime has a lot of room to improve if it wants to.. which i hope it does.. by continuing.

Anyways.. I would say... if you like the first few episodes youll like the rest. So check it out.

?/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
9/10 overall
ThatAnimeSnob's avatar
Jul 16, 2012

I would never have guessed they would actually make an anime based on the old Solomon’s Key videogame… Animated by Studio Sunrise, which means it will have cool robots… What? It doesn’t have robots? In that case it doesn’t have anything cool. Directed by Kodama Kenji who is somewhat famous for his work in City Hunter and Case Closed. He is not bad but surely has no experience in shows with story continuity, something which shows up easily in the anime.

Kekkaishi is definitely original when it comes to the basic concept of its battles. The characters are creating spiritual cubes that have all sorts of uses, and as such each battle is ten times more interesting just for the sake of watching what kind of a trick they will pull off. You see, those kekkai cubes can be used to trap monsters, to destroy anything trapped inside them (mostly monsters, lol), to be stepping stones to reach high places, then can even become walls to shield the heroes from incoming attacks. It sure felt a lot more tactical than just firing energy beams at each other. While the anime was building up on this concept and flavouring its passive or indirect attack patterns, I was really enjoying it. But then they had to ruin it all by upgrading this unique concept to a generic direct attack method and afterwards I began losing my interest.

It may feel weird the way I began with mentioning the concept and not the story or the characters, but the truth is that was the only memorable and noteworthy thing in the whole show. All the rest are mediocre shounen stuff we have seen a million times already; youths with superpowers who must protect their friends; end of story. You want more details? Fillers, long-winded flashbacks, monsters of the week, last moment saves, sudden power-ups, villains who send only one monster at a time instead of ALL OF THEM for a clean victory.

If there is something less noteworthy yet still unorthodox that I feel important enough to mention, is how the main heroine IS NOT USELESS IN BATTLE. Yes, sounds impossible to believe after the myriads of big breasted bimbos like Inoue or nagging useless old maids like Sakura, yet it is true. Tokine is of almost equal footage when it comes to be proven worthy in battle. Of course the hero, Yoshimori, still manages to surpass her with a hundred times less effort, despite the fact she is training hard all her life. And despite she clearly has the hots for him, she never does the slightest to admit it and leaves everything as nothing more than a vague platonic relationship. Oh well, we can’t expect TOO much fairness in a shounen show. After all they survive only because the villains send one monster at a time.

The production values are in all mediocre for their time. The character designs are generic, the backgrounds don’t excel in details, and the visual effects are ok 3D magical cubes and environments, and lots of pretty sparks when something blows up. The soundtrack is generic pop pieces and the voice acting is standard performance.

Eventually, what ruins the show is how it refused to evolve its unorthodox formula further and instead went back to standard shounen mediocrity. The kekkai method of fighting lost its magic after they turned it to almost simplistic energy beams, the romantic aspect never heads anywhere, the characters never stand out as special or memorable, and the whole story is three lines long to describe. There simple isn’t enough material to bother liking in here, or even enough motivation to rewatch the series. I don’t recommend this series as nothing more than a good idea that was handled poorly.

And now for some excused scorings.

ART SECTION: 6/10
Analysis: General Artwork 1/2, Character Figures 1/2, Backgrounds 1/2, Animation 1/2, Visual Effects 2/2


SOUND SECTION: 6/10
Analysis: Voice Acting 2/3, Music Themes 2/4, Sound Effects 2/3


STORY SECTION: 4/10
Analysis: Premise 1/2, Pacing 0/2, Complexity 1/2, Plausibility 1/2, Conclusion 1/2


CHARACTER SECTION: 5/10
Analysis: Presence 1/2, Personality 1/2, Backdrop 1/2, Development 1/2, Catharsis 1/2


VALUE SECTION: 2/10
Analysis: Historical Value 0/3, Rewatchability 0/3, Memorability 2/4


ENJOYMENT SECTION: 1/10
Analysis: Art 0/1, Sound 0/2, Story 0/3, Characters 1/4


VERDICT: 4/10

4/10 story
6/10 animation
6/10 sound
5/10 characters
4/10 overall
AniMemeDad's avatar
Nov 2, 2010

One night, while I'm flipping channels ... I run across a small anime called Kekkaishi on adult swim. Immediately it sparks my curiosity so I hunt it out on the internet.  This is where I started my adventure of love, hate, magic, demons, and best of all ... explosions.

Kekkaishi is an anime that follows 2 younger children that are born and raised to protect a sacred land, where their school happens to be.  This land (Karasumori) is a place of immense power, and demons only need to stay there for a short time to become powerful.  The story line is so-so.  Monks and demons are no-where near an original idea. But the idea of creating spiritual boxes around them, and making them explode ... IS.  

The beginning of the anime shows one of the main characters Yoshimori Sumimura as a small child.  He's quite the crier:

Yoshimori and Tokine

I mean, he's always crying.  To the point, where I didn't want to watch the anime anymore.  I struggled through his annoying attitude and demeanor to finally reach episode 20 or so.  That's where the anime actually started getting my attention.  Now I find myself using Ketsu and Metsu as I walk around in every day life.

Ketsu of a water style demon in episode 26 by Tokine

The anime style is a mix of older drawing techniques and new drawing techniques.  As I have stated in previous reviews, I'm a bit of a sucker for newer prettier animation.  This one definitely has it's moments.  

The story line in the 20's episodes is really starting to form.  An evil organization of demons is wanting control over the land where the Kekkaishi (Tokine and Yoshimori) are protecting. The demons have an ultimate goal, but it's yet to be established.  

Music and sound effects for the anime are pretty decent.  The songs chosen for specific situations has the ability to really get you in the mood.  The sound effects accompanied with the actions of the characters is really well done, also.

Overall, I'm getting more and more into this anime.  I suggest though that you fight through the first 10+ episodes to get to the good stuff.  I think you'll be impressed with what Kekkaishi has to offer.

7/10 story
6/10 animation
8/10 sound
8/10 characters
7.5/10 overall
strawhatluffy0002's avatar
Dec 2, 2010

The first time I saw it on Adult Swim I thought it was kinda of stupid, but after actually taking the time to watch the anime I just had to download all he episodes...I finished the anime sadly, but am currently reading the manga .I think everyone should at least give this a try.

9/10 story
9/10 animation
8/10 sound
9/10 characters
9.5/10 overall
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