NOTE: I have not finished the series and my opinion may shift when I do.
Shounen action is one of manga/anime's most formulaic and familiar genres. Thus it is hard for newcomers to the field to really distinguish themselves, especially when they have a setup as generic as Kekkaishi
s. (Read the plot description; it doesn't exactly sound revolutionary, does it?) Furthermore, it's generally set apart by its loudness and brashness. Think of shounen action and you think of roaring, heart-pounding combat like Fist Of The North Star
or Dragon Ball
, stylish gangster-influenced attitude a la Bleach
, plucky hyperactive youngsters like Luffy
, maybe something offbeat like Soul Eater
s macabre art design.
doesn't boast any of that. Its protagonist, Yoshimori, is neither Hot Blooded
nor naive/innocent. But ultimately he's just as endearing due to his unique combination of sincerity, good humor, quirky personality, determination, and genuine warmth and compassion. He's tasked with inheriting the family business, and isn't entirely happy about it, but he accepts his task without much complaint. His counterpart, Tokine, gets a little mean sometimes, but overall she's awe-inspiring in her cool knowledge and calm demeanor. The two make a great Battle Couple
and (in my opinion) one of the most adorable couples in all of anime.
The rest of the show is dominated by this restrained yet effective storytelling. The Kekkaishi are Barrier Warriors
, so battles emphasize strategy, agility, and "thinking outside the box" (literally!) over brute force and copious screaming. It's easygoing enough that the characters do their duties while attending school, yet taxing enough that Yoshimori definitely stresses in some fights.
Some have accused the show of being boring, and it's definitely not flashy, but I find the restraint and thoughtfulness Tanabe exhibits very refreshing and endearing. None of the characters are annoying (with the poooossible
exception of Yoshi's grandpa), none of the battles are over-the-top, and the animation and art are good. Even if you've "been there, done that" with shows like Bleach
or Yu Yu Hakusho
, give Kekkaishi
a shot. It just might grow on you. (I was hooked from the first episode.)