Kekkaishi vol. 1 - Yellow Tanabe
By night, junior high student Yoshimori Sumimura is a "kekkaishi" - a demon-hunter who specializes in creating magical barriers around his prey. By day, Yoshimori's got some other demons to battle: an addiction to sweets and a seriously crotchety grandfather! Yoshimori's pretty 16-year-old neighbour and childhood friend, Tokine Yukimura, is also a kekkaishi, but their families are feuding over who is the true practitioner of the art. Yoshimori couldn't care less about catching demons...until he realizes that his apathetic attitude is taking a toll on his friendship with Tokine. Just as he decides to take matters into his own hands, a couple of amphibious demons and the pesky ghost of a pastry-chef show up to complicate matters! (courtesy of Goodreads)
*Warning: Potential spoilers. My manga reviews tend to be more of a summary than a review. I find it hard to review manga in the same way I do regular books.
Kekkaishi is my first shonen manga - manga targeted more to boys than to girls. It's refreshing to read about something other than romantic tension once in awhile. Kekkaishi is the tale of the Hatfields and the McCoys...err the Capulets and Montagues...err the Sumimuras and Yukimuras. Aren't all family rivalries essentially the same? Both are demon fighting families and have been so for centuries. Despite living next door, they hate each other. Or at least the grandma and grandpa do. The younger generation - Yoshimori and Tokine (a girl a few years older than Yoshimori) are friendly rivals.
The story begins when our hero Yoshimori is nine years old. Despite his young age, he's already fighting demons. He seems quite capable but hates being a fighter so makes sloppy errors. Tokine has to come save the day. One day while rescuing Yoshimori yet again, Tokine gets hurt in destroying a demon. Yoshimuri can't bear to see Tokina hurt on his behalf. This is demonstrated clearly as he gets older. Fast forward a few years when Yoshimori is 12-13 and Tokine is 16 and the story is much the same. Yoshimuri doesn't like fighting and Tokine steps in to help him. Only now, Yoshimori goes out of his way to protect her.
Like many first volumes, this is largely comprised of set-up. I can tell that the demonology is quite complex. There are multiple types of demons and a detailed set of rituals to destroy them. There is also a strong mythology establishing the Sumimura and Yukimura families as demon slayers. I don't entirely understand what's going on, but I think it will become clear as the series continues.
Yoshimori isn't a particularly unique character. Your stereotypical wimpy guy who also happens to be a hero. But he's quirky in a way that I like. He's obsessed with coffee-flavored milk and loves to bake elaborate cakes. He's also constantly battling his crotchety grandfather. Not exactly a "respect your elders" relationship.
There are multiple action scenes in this volume, a few scenes that hint (but don't entirely achieve) heartfelt emotion, and a few good laughs. I particularly liked Yoshimori's Latin lover doppelganger.
I'm not in love with Kekkaishi after the first volume, but I'm definitely intrigued. This is the type of series that I might get sick of after a few volumes or might become completely obsessed with. We shall see.