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Manga / Kekkaishi

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Kekkaishi is an anime and manga series centering around 14-year-old Yoshimori Sumimura and his 16-year-old neighbor/childhood friend/"partner" Tokine Yukimura. During the day, they are just ordinary (if slightly sleep-deprived) high school students, while at night they defend their homes and school grounds from monsters (Ayakashi) by conjuring multi-use barriers (Kekkai). They're eventually joined by the half-ayakashi Gen Shishio, and much later by Souji Hiura, a rather odd young man in his own right.

The story is not just as simple as that, however, as the protagonists find themselves and their protectorate involved in the devious plots of evil societies and megalomaniacs whose desires reach farther than mere destruction.

In America, the anime premiered in May 2010 on Adult Swim (with English dubbing) and on Hulu in early 2011 (in Japanese with English subtitles). While the anime ended in 2008, the manga concluded a few years later in 2011. Yoshimori, Tokine and friends appear in the Massive Multiplayer Crossover game, Sunday VS Magazine: Shuuketsu! Choujou Daikessen. The anime is currently streaming on Neon Alley.


The author of Kekkaishi, Ierou Tanabe, has a new monthly series out, called BirdMen.

Kekkaishi provides examples of:

  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: For the most part, Kekkaishi mixes computer graphics and hand-drawn animation seamlessly. The barriers and Instant Runes are done so well that you could watch the whole series without realizing how they were done. However, the animation of car movement isn't done as well, as they glide perfectly along mathematically level streets. Automobile animation is still the kryptonite of CG.
  • Accidental Pervert: Yoshimori has one memorable moment in the manga. Luckily for him, he isn't caught. Unluckily for him, his conscience gives him no end of grief over it.
  • Alien Geometries: The Castle of Karasumori. It's far bigger on the inside, among other problems. The Kokuboro castle seems to fit this too, though since it was created by a capricious and unpredictable kitsune, it's not surprising.
  • Aloof Big Brother: Masamori acts nice to Yoshimori around others, but once behind closed doors he is down to business.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Averted. While the Karasumori grounds do mess with ghosts' heads, they still have the capacity to listen to reason. Or at least to the person about to kill them.
  • Anti-Hero: Child Yoshimori is a Type I. Gen is a very obvious Type III. Masamori is a subtle Type III, with a little bit of Type IV thrown in.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: Tokine on Yoshimori, for putting so many people in danger by forcing them to rescue him from Kokuburo Castle. Even Masamori was impressed.
  • Asleep in Class: Yoshimori has monster-fighting duties every night, so he sleeps in class (and naps on the roof during breaks) practically every day.
  • Ax-Crazy: Kaguro. Made even worse by the fact that he can sprout a limitless supply of swords from his body, making it impossible to disarm him.
  • Barrier Warrior: It's in the name, which translates into "Barrier Master." A lot of the magic in this series is magical barriers with different secondary effects or being creatively used.
  • Battle Aura: Yoshimori's initial attempts at Zekkai.
  • Battle Couple: Yoshimori and Tokine always go on patrol together. He has a crush on her but while she's normally cold there are moments to hint otherwise.
  • Bifauxnen: Kakeru in flashbacks (she's even mistaken for a boy at least once.)
  • Big Bad: Byaku or Hime for the Kokuboro arc; later arcs have no shortage of potentials, either.
  • Big Eater:
    • Uro-sama loves donuts and stacks them on his extendable fingers.
    • The Gazer is nigh Pac-Man gone wrong. Seriously. This is not a stretched interpretation.
  • Big Fancy House: The Sumimuras and the Yukimuras; lampshaded in a Day in the Limelight.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Urukai is reformed under Masamori, Karasumori is permanently sealed away, Shichirou becomes the new head of the Ougi clan, the Sumimura and Yukimura houses are freed of their duties and have overcome their rivalry, and Sousui and Yumeji have been dealt with. However, Yoshimori's mother sealed herself in with Karasumori to keep the seal permanent.
  • Bishounen Line: While not exactly Bishounen, most ayakashi become more humanoid the stronger they get. This is explained as most ayakashi wanting to be human
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: The leaders on both sides of the main conflict are very nasty. It's just a decision between which flavor of nastiness you prefer. The main cast are pretty much straight-up good guys.
  • Bling-Bling-BANG!: Heisuke Matsudo produces an ornately-decorated flintlock pistol when attempting to defend himself from Shion's attack.
  • Body Horror: That big guy in the Council of Twelve with a bag over his head? Yeah, there's a pretty good reason for that. He's a man-shaped lump of flesh consisting of himself and four of his brothers fused together.
  • Breaking Speech: Masamori gets a devastating one from Mudou.
    • Mudou gives one to Yoshimori and Masamori in his first appearance. He then builds on it by offering Masamori a Sadistic Choice - save his own life or his brother's - and it's extremely effective in context.
    • Kaguro gives a couple to Gen, and later deconstructs Aihi's psyche when he decides to kill her for his own amusement.
  • Breast Expansion: For one hilarious page, courtesy of a happy tengu. Sen was not amused.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Necessary for Kekkaishi techniques, although at least they only consist of one word.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • In the manga, Yoshimori collects a bunch of Kouya's hair after his death, and gives it to Masamori for proper burial on the dog's home mountain. Much later on, we learn that Masamori has resurrected Kouya using this hair. Later still, we learn that he did something similar to Mudou.
    • It's brief, but it gets mentioned a couple of times that humans have turned into ayakashi in the past. It's implied that Gen's family's brutal martial arts tradition may have created his ayakashi side.
  • Cherry Blossoms: There's a sakura tree on the Karasumori school grounds that blooms sporadically out of season. Ayakashi seem to enjoy it a lot.
  • Cool Old Lady: Tokiko isn't incredibly friendly, but she's mentored Yoshimori just about as well as his own granddad.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Heisuke Matsudo and Risa (Lisa) Kagami and their big battle.
    • Kekkaishi really seems to love this trope. Everybody from Madarao to the teachers at Yoshi's school get in on the act at some point.
  • Dead All Along: As of Chapter 316 it's revealed that Tokimori is only in a semi-physical state and is sticking around only because of a feeling of obligation to the Lord of Karasumori, his son.
    • Yumeji and Sousui.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Madarao and Hakubi rarely pass up an opportunity to take cynical jabs at Yoshimori when he screws up. If it's not him, they're probably sniping at each other.
  • Declaration of Protection: Yoshimori has sworn to protect Tokine no matter what, and it's his main motivation for getting stronger - he doesn't really care about the whole 'true successor' or 'rival houses' deal. Of course, Tokine is generally quite capable of looking after herself, making this example a Type I. His main reason (other than the romantic implications) is that she got hurt protecting him when he screwed up an Ayakashi-hunt as a kid. (Making it a Type VII as well.)
  • Deflector Shields: Of the personal variety.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The Princess finds a seed in the grapes she was eating. Byaku responds by saying that he will make sure it doesn't happen again. And that whoever prepared the fruit will be thrown into the abyss, never to return.
  • Evil Plan: In the first arc it was the Kokobouro trying to take over Karasumori.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Yumeji is partaking in Shinyuuchi-hunting and attempting to destroy Karasumori. Sousui is murdering Urakai members one by one, even the good-ish ones like Okuni.
    • A fair amount of infighting occurs among the senior members of the Kokuboro as the organization (and the castle they operate from) literally falls apart. Most notably Kaguro vs. Aihi.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Kaguro doesn't take kindly to people taking women hostage during fights.
  • Expy:
    • The true form of demonic swordsman Kaguro is a really obvious homage to Shishio Makoto, with whom he also shares obsession with drawing out the true power of the protagonist, just to provide himself with an interesting opponent.
    • Grandfather Sumimura looks incredibly similar to Dr. Wily as well as Heihachi Mishima (albeit an obviously less buff version of the latter).
  • Extreme Doormat: Byaku turns out to be this, always acting to fulfill the desires of other people because he cannot figure out his own.
  • Face Death with Dignity:
    • After being fatally wounded by Kaguro, Gen is finally able to find peace and dies with a serene smile on his face.
    • Princess and Byaku also meet their end this way as Kokuboro dissolves around them.
  • Face Fault: Tokine does this a lot, as do the two ghost dogs. The manner in which their faces reset afterwards changes throughout the anime series.
  • Face Plant: Happens to Yoshimori in an early episode of the anime when Tokine trips him using a small kekkai.
  • The Faceless
    • The Princess, a fox spirit, during the beginning of the Kokuboro arc.
    • Yoshimori's mother, Sumiko. For a long time, all we ever see of her face is her enigmatic smile.
  • The Fair Folk: Ayakashi are quite similar to them in mindset, if not in form.
  • Familiar: The kekkaishi "landlords".
  • Fanservice: Averted for the most part.
    • Shion plays this completely straight however.
    • Princess' robes show a fair amount of cleavage in some scenes, however.
    • And for the ladies, Yoshimori's training scenes. He does them shirtless when he could easily do them with a shirt on.
  • Feminine Women Can Cook: Subverted in the manga. Tokine has many talents, but cooking isn't one of them.
  • Fertile Feet: Lord Uro cause moss to grow on anything surface he touches and later, to make up for all the food he stole, he sprouts strange plants for all the victims bearing as their fruit the food he took several times over.
  • Feuding Families: Between the Yukimura and Sumimura clans, over which of them is the "true and legitimate heir" to the guardianship of Karasumori. Yoshimori and Tokine, however, think it's pointless and stupid, have no interest at all in continuing it, and show fondness for each other.
  • Functional Magic: The Kekkaishis' ability to use barrier magic in very creative ways makes it a ridiculously awesome offensive and defensive technique. It also has practical applications off the battlefield as well, as Yoshimori demonstrates by keeping his grandfather at bay when he's trying to sleep.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: Ayakashi who avoid humans for too long fade away.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Tokimori just wanted to gift his unborn son, Lord of Karasumori with powers. He succeeded.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Masamori, although he does a good job of hiding it when he needs to. Gen is a more obvious example.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Tokine's scar on her hand and arm is shown a lot, since the events around it had such a large impact on forming Yoshimori's personality.
  • Gratuitous English:
    • The school's English teacher even gets knocked out once for using it too much.
    • Hakubi is pretty fond of calling Tokine "Honey".
  • Green Lantern Ring: Kekkai have simple enough rules, but can still be used for an astonishing variety of things.
  • Handsome Lech: Sen-chan has shades of this. The fact that Tokine wears shorts under her skirt is borderline Serious Business to him.
  • Healing Factor: Part of Gen's skill set. Ayakashi who don't have one can gain it via Karasumori's power.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Yoshimori's mom manages to seal away Karasumori away permanently, but is also sealed away forever as a result.
  • Hot-Blooded Sideburns: A manga-specific Omake reveals that one of Yoshimori's prototype character designs had these. His "ultimate shikigami" has 'em like whoa.
  • I Am Your Father: It's never revealed to the little one, but Tokimori is actually the father of the child-like lord of Karasumori.
  • Invisible to Normals: In addition to many the many beings naturally invisible to humans without supernatural perception, there's also the kekkai around Karasumori, which prevents outside observers from noticing the real world effects of nightly violent battles.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Grandfather Sumimura, and just about every female technique user in the series.
    • Masamori hides his heart of gold more than most, but he's the type that dirties himself to keep those he loves above the muck.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: The plot of the manga gradually shifts into a vast and complicated power play within the Urakai. Every time a new piece falls into place, more gaps in the overall scheme of things appear.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Practically all the characters who don't have to interact with the general human population on a daily basis suffer from this. Pretty much the only exceptions seem to be Yoshimori and Tokine, who can occasionally be seen wearing normal clothing in addition to their school and kekkaishi uniforms.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Kekkai magic has some simple rules that are explained right at the beginning. Despite this, there's enough wiggle room for a lot of creativity on the part of the users.
  • Male Might, Female Finesse: Yoshimori and Tokine. Yoshimori possesses a much greater raw power to build large kekkais, but it lacks precision and form. Tokine lacks Yoshimori's sheer force, but has more skill and accuracy in forming the barriers.
  • Maneki Neko: In episode 48 of the anime, one of these is among the objects chucked out a window when Sen is chewing out Yoshimori.
  • Manipulative Bastard:
    • Masamori projects an attitude of the caring commander, devoted family member and overall nice guy, but resorts to cruel deception and ruthless extortion without blinking, when it serves his purposes.
    • In many ways Sen is in training to become one. He already knows how to play Yoshimori like a fiddle.
  • The Masquerade: The Kekkaishi have to hide the fact that Ayakashi visit the school every night.
  • Maybe Ever After: While the manga ends in a very sweet moment between Yoshimori and Tokine that's dripping with Ship Tease, it doesn't really outright say that they're in a relationship.
  • Mind Control: Byaku implants living insects in his victims to Mind Control them.
  • Mundane Utility: Magically conjured barriers for exorcising demons are also handy for holding things in midair, tripping people, and keeping your obnoxious grandfather from bugging you while you're sleeping. Similarly, semi-autonomous magical constructs can be used to make a decoy in order to cut class.
  • Must Have Caffeine: Yoshimori can be seen drinking up to four coffee-milk packets in one go. It's a necessity of his Triple Shifter life style.
  • Noblewoman's Laugh: Tokine, sometimes to mock Yoshimori, but occasionally to inspire him.
  • Not Quite Flight: Kekkaishi can use their powers to continually create midair platforms, allowing them to travel long vertical distances and engage flying enemies.
  • One-Winged Angel: Tons. Most ayakashi transform into bigger, tougher and uglier forms if they manage to stay within Karasumori's bounds long enough. Then there are ayakashi masquerading as humans, who assume their true forms in battle. Madarao enters one of these if his collar is taken off. Inverted with Yoki, who becomes smaller and more compact as he powers up, turning from a Mighty Glacier to a Lightning Bruiser.
  • Otaku: Yoshimori is a cake and sweets otaku.
  • Power Tattoo:
    • Inverted, as Gen's flame-rope tattoo actually limits his power use, filling him with burning pain when he's using too much of his ayakashi side.
    • Played straight with the Houin mark.
  • Roof Hopping: Bonus points go to using kekkai as hopping platforms.
  • Sadistic Choice: Tokiko had to foist one onto Yoshimori to prevent him from probably killing everybody in the school in an attempt to save the students from a swarm of (obviously Invisible to Normals) ayakashi butterflies.
  • Say My Name: "YOSHIMORIIIIIIII!" "TOKINEEEEEEE!" "SHISHIOOOOO!" "Stop shouting my name so much."
  • Scenery Porn: The manga's volume covers, just to start. Yellow Tanabe is really into the architecture of traditional Japanese castle.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The more we learn about what Karasumori probably is, the more sinister it seems, but ultimately subverted, though no less dangerous.
  • The Seven Mysteries: More like seventy-seven, due to the school being built over the anime equivalent of a hellmouth.
  • Sexy Mentor:
    • A relatively subtle example, but in the last chapter, Yoshimori is clearly trying to invoke this trope when he offers to teach Tokine how to cook when no one else is at his house. Tokine counters by offering to mentor him in math, which terrifies Yoshimori.
    • Atora is much better example, as she was this to Gen before he died.
  • Shipper on Deck: Madoka, Tokine's best friend, seems to be fond of the idea of Tokine getting together with Yoshimori as she finds the fact that the two are childhood friends appealing. Kyoko and Ayano support Yurina, a classmate of Yoshimori, since they think she has feelings for Yoshimori after misinterpreting the two's rooftop discussions on spirits as romantic confessions. Yoshimori's father is also apparently a Yoshimori/Tokine shipper.
  • Shōnen: Yoshimori is 14. He wants to get stronger so he can protect Tokine. And he does.
  • Shout-Out: Kouya and Madarao give us a shoutout to Fullmetal Alchemist, or more precisely, Edward Elric's Berserk Button when Madarao calls Yoshimori "Shorty." This comes up again in Episode 25, where Tokine (like Winry) claims she likes taller boys and Yoshimori immediately goes Blue with Shock for several minutes. Doubles as an Actor Allusion in the dub.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Yoshimori does this to Kaguro, but Kaguro doesn't really seem to mind.
  • Sitting on the Roof: Yoshimori practically lives on the school roof. Well, sleeps there, anyway.
  • Slasher Smile:
    • Kaguro has one plastered on his face on a near constant basis.
    • Yosimori gets a humorous variant now and then when planning out a particularly ambitious cake castle.
  • Spit Take: Yoshi, pretty spectacularly, when Masamori asks him if he still likes Tokine.
  • Spoiler Opening: Gen shows up in the anime's OP.
  • Standing in the Hall: Yoshimori has to do this in one episode, but cheats by putting the bucket atop an invisible kekkai. Silly kekkaishi, that never works!
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: While the whole "coming from rival familes" thing fits Yoshimori and Tokine, the trope grand prize goes to Tokimori Hazama's affair with the Princess of Karasumori, who he was hired to protect.
  • The Stoic: Byaku practically never shows any emotion, even in the heat of an intense battle.
  • Supernatural Sensitivity: The Sumimura and Yukimura kekkaishi have the ability to sense when an Ayakashi enters the Karasumori site.
  • Theme Naming: All of the males who were born into the Sumimura family have given names ending with -mori. All of the females born to the Yukimura family have given names that begin with Toki-. Both apparently derived from the founder of the Karasumori Kekkaishi, Hazama Tokimori.
  • The Thing That Goes "Doink": A shishi-odoshi is shown several times at Urakai headquarters and in both the Sumimura and Yukimura family gardens.
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: Somehow, Tokine still manages to get good grades. Yoshimori, not so much.
  • Walking Wasteland: Chushinmaru, Lord of Karasumori, wiped out whole towns and forests due to his uncontrollable power to drain life-force. That, as much as his power to strengthen Ayakashi, is why he was sealed.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Tokine's lack of strength is made up for by her precision, as noted by Tokiko when she tried Masamori's multi-kekkai technique.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Karasamori's lord attracts Ayakashi wherever he goes.
  • We Have Reserves: Masamori is disgusted when the rest of the Urakai leadership show casual, callous disdain about the rank and file. They explicitly state that their men are of no consequence, and that as long as the leadership survives the Urakai will live.
  • Whack-a-Monster: Yoshimori and Tokine end up fighting a mole-like Ayakashi in episode 10 of the anime, Yoshimori at one point even trying in vain to smack it with his weapon as it repeatedly pops up out of multiple holes.
  • Wham Episode: Admit it the death of Gen was not expected
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Our heroes will let all kinds of supernatural critters live, as long as they don't come to power up and wreak havoc. As soon as they become a threat, however, they're killed without hesitation. Justified by the fact that even if an Ayakashi has a good reason for wanting to gain power from Karasumori, the power itself makes them more evil and out of control.
  • The Worf Effect: Gen Shishio gets his ass handed to him by the Kokuboro when they all show up.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Tokine, especially the 'iron core' part. Her classmates see her as noble and pure and call her 'The Florence Nightengale of our age'. She's really a scarily competent and rather ruthless Action Girl. However, she does perform tea ceremonies with her grandmother in traditional clothing.
  • Youkai: The Ayakashi, which are any monster, ghost, spirit, or demon. These can be broken down into:
    • Obake: Living shapeshifters.
    • Tsukumogami: Possessed household objects.
    • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Although they tend to become red oni, thanks to Karasumori making spirits get drunk with power.
    • Ghosts: The Patissier ghost arc.
    • Kitsune: The entire Kokuboro arc.
    • Gods and Demons: It's hard to draw the line, really.


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