Kekkaishi (Sunrise, 2006) is a shounen action show about two main protagonists who are normal students at day and land protectors at night, along with their centuries-old spirit dogs. Yeah, spirit dogs, and they are funny.
Sumimura Yoshimori and Yukimura Tokine are from the descendant families of the great founder of the barrier technique. Both families are tasked to protect a special land that grants ayakashi (monsters) powers. The families of protectors practice the Kekkai technique and are called Kekkaishi, or Barrier Master.
What resulted from the general premise of the show is 52 episodes of good entertainment.
It’s also worth to say that Kekkaishi is one of the first anime I have came in contact with when I was young. It was in Cantonese dub and it was well voice-acted. It is my earliest exposure to anime and I’m very fond of it.
The Magic System
Those familiar with shounen action shows will probably know a lot of different and similar magic or battle systems. These systems are the basis of how fight scenes are played out, which makes them an important factor in the choreography of fights.
Kekkaishi’s main magic system (and also its namesake) is the use of barrier, or Kekkai. Instead of cluttering the system with multiple complex types of skills and abilities, it focuses on how to use the simple at heart barrier technique to its fullest. Through creativity and craftiness, the same technique resulted in different uses, altering its efficiency and effectiveness. Using logic and creativity to improve the technique, the audience can make more much sense out of it and go “Oh I could have think of that way, too.” This is very much included in the added entertainment value that I have gotten from the show.
No doubt, more techniques and abilities can keep it fresh and interesting. Once Kekkaishi established the flexibility and boundary of its central magic system, it starts to add in other techniques that the Kekkaishi can use (such as summoning Shikigami) and abilities that are possessed by other characters.
The Casts, the Factions, and the World-building
I liked the casts a lot, and the various factions that follow. The Kekkaishi faction (the two main descendent families), the Urakai, the Yagyou, the Kokuboro and of course, the normal civilians (the students in the school build on the special land named Karasumori).
The interactions between these factions are easy to follow and fun to watch. How would Yoshimori and Tokine’s night job affect their normal daily life? What are the Urakai planning to do to Karasumori? What influence does the Yagyou have in the upcoming events? These questions were interesting to ponder about as I was going through the show.
The various factions make up the world-building. Mainly through the casts, we know more about both the simple normal world with middle and high school students, and the hidden world full of protectors, ability users, ayakashi, and land that grants power.
The Slow but Enviable Romance
I’m a sucker for romance. The romance in Kekkaishi is something that I wouldn’t turn away in reality. Tokine is the kind of girl that I would want to be with so very much, an ideal woman and partner. Kind, hardworking, determined, positive, and mature. Or at the very least more mature than Yoshimori and me.
Yoshimori loves her. It is very, very evident. All the proactive things that he do, he do it for her. His night time responsibilities, his cake-making hobby, everything. He would do everything in his power to protect her so that she wouldn’t be hurt again, even though doing so more often than not causes worry to her. While Yoshimori’s approach in achieving that may be immature, I do not dislike it at all. In fact, I embrace it. To give someone 100% of you is very admirable and commendable.
Because of that, the romance (although mostly one-sided) in the show, makes me root for Yoshimori. When your interest as an audience is aligned with the protagonist, it makes a very interesting and engaging watch. It makes you anticipate and hope for Tokine to return his feelings. Slightest sign of affection from Tokine towards Yoshimori makes you squeal in your heart.
I love it when shows can make me feel that way. It feels warm and rewarding.
The Shounen Friendship
As with most Shounen shows, friendship is very frequently tackled upon. Kekkaishi has some truly touching moments. The friendships do not drive the plot as much as some shows do it, but they are at least memorable and aid in the characters’ emotional development.
It is not just about relationships between humans, but between ayakashi, and between both. I like shows that address the same thing with different perspectives and starting points.
Special Mentions on some hilarious relationships and characters:
- Yoshimori and Tokine.
- Grandpa of Sumimura household and Grandma of Yukimura household.
- The two spirit dogs, Madarao and Hakubi.
- Kanda Yurina and her cute crush on Yoshimori.
Special Mention on seiyuu:
- Sumimura Toshimori (youngest brother) is voiced by the talented Miyuki Sawashiro (Celty Sturluson, Seo Yuzuki, Kanbaru Suruga, Kusaribe Hakaze)
- Sumimura Yoshimori is voiced by Yoshino Hiroyuki (Firo Prochainezo, Takanashi Taro :P)
These 52 Episodes
There are many more things that I like across the 52 episodes. There are also no doubt, flaws that exist in the 52 episodes. Even so, I’m very happy with these 52 episodes that accompanied me as I watched some episodes of the Cantonese dub version when I was young, and the two times re-watch that I did in recent years. (It also have one of the coolest battle commands/phrases.)
“Houi! Jouso! Ketsu! Metsu! TENKETSU!”