Kekkaishi (manga)

This covers the entire manga, which spans 35 volumes.

Fourteen-year-old Yoshimori is a Kekkaishi—a particular kind of ability-user whose powers mostly revolve around making kekkai (box-shaped barriers). For 400 years his family has been charged with protecting the sacred site of Karasumori. It just so happens to be where his school is built. But during the night, when evil spirits known as ayakashi prowl, the school grounds become his hunting ground. He and his neighbor, Tokine, must prevent ayakashi from entering Karasumori and remaining there, because the ayakashi absorb the land’s power and can become unstoppable if left unchecked

First, it’s a real shame the anime stopped where it did. The good thing is that the anime ended on a major plot arc finale, so it wrapped up decently well. The bad thing is that there’s a whole lot of other great plot arcs that never got animated, and would have greatly benefited from being animated. After the anime’s conclusion, there’s a bunch of one-shot stories but it quickly turns into the plot that will drive the series to its end.

The Urakai is having serious issues internally, which are magnified by the series of incidents where persons unknown are murdering land gods and stealing their power. Karasumori has also been increasingly unstable, thus bringing it to the attention of those who feel the Urakai should take a direct hand in managing it. Yoshimori and Tokine are now going head-to-head with various people in the organization who want Karasumori for their own interests—and it’s not nearly as simple as wiping out ayakashi night after night.

Yoshimori’s plan to permanently seal Karasumori takes on increasing significance as its current seal is becoming less and less effective.There’s also an interesting amount of backstory about how Karasumori came to be; the truth behind the various lies Yoshimori has always believed regarding the site, the founder, and the Legitimate Successor; the history of the Urakai and various shady characters who have stuck around since then.

The second half of the series is definitely darker than the first. Yoshimori has such a little-kid attitude about a lot of things in the beginning, but soon the weight of hard choices and complex situations drive him to a more brooding mindset. It does make a lot of sense in context (what would have been totally out of place would have been him continuing to stay mindlessly optimistic when his whole world is crumbling around him), but I can see where it might throw some people off. Masamori also has a huge focus in the latter part of the series, as it is his insight into the Urakai that balances the otherwise random events Yoshimori keeps getting dragged into.

The end is bittersweet—a lot of things have been lost, both Yoshimori and Tokine have changed and grown, and life won’t be what it used to be. But in many ways it’s such a solid ending, with the hope of tomorrow just beginning to dawn over the sorrow of yesterday. And, it has to be said, the series actually ends, and ends well. I rate the series Highly Recommended.

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