Yellow Tanabe’s Kekkaishi

I picked this one up on a whim, and it turned out to be enough fun for summer reading.

Yoshimori Sumimura is slated to be come the 22nd Kekkaishi (demon hunter) of the Sumimura family. Since demons tend to be creatures of the night, that means he has to work nights, too, which for a junior high-school student gets kind of tiring. The family next door, the Yukimuras, are also demon hunters, but the two families have been feuding for generations over which are the true heirs of their common ancestor. Nevertheless, Yoshimori and Tokine, the 16 year-old daughter of the Yukimuras, are friends — sort of. Although Yoshimori has a great deal of native power, he’s kind of a slacker. Consequently, he’s not such a great demon hunter, and Tokine tends to meet his failures with disdain — when she’s not showing him up. But Yoshimori has a dream: he wants to build a castle out of cake. His grandfather, the 21st Kekkaishi, isn’t real thrilled; the ghost of a patissier whom Yoshimori encounters one night encourages him. So, in between demon hunts, Yoshimori hones his baking skills.

The characters are engaging, with enough of an edge to them to keep them interesting — Yoshimori is the quintessential put-upon teenager, Tokine the slightly older sophisticate wannabe, and Yoshimori’s grandfather is a real handful. It’s a light-hearted sort of thing, and the humor is organic — it’s a product of personalities and situations, and never seems forced. The character designs are right on target, while the drawing style in general is clear and direct — it’s more abstract than I’m used to, but appealing nonetheless. This is shounen manga (manga for boys) and follows a fairly straightforward visual flow.

This is the start of a long-running series, which justifies the episodic nature of the story — from the looks of things, Yoshimori’s going to be having a lot of adventures. (Thirty-five collected volumes worth, in fact.) I’d note it as one for teen boys, and probably tweens as well — it’s a humorous action/adventure story, although it’s likely not a series that I will be continuing — but then, I’m not a teenager. Really.

(Viz Media, 2005)

About Robert Tilendis

Robert M. Tilendis lives a deceptively quiet life. He has made money as a dishwasher, errand boy, legal librarian, arts administrator, shipping expert, free-lance writer and editor, and probably a few other things he’s tried very hard to forget about. He has also been a student of history, art, theater, psychology, ceramics, and dance. Through it all, he has been an artist and poet, just to provide a little stability in his life. Along about January of every year, he wonders why he still lives someplace as mundane as Chicago; it must be that he likes it there.

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