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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Kekkaishi - Review

I consider Kekkaishi to be one of the best shounen anime out there, trumping One Piece, Bleach, and Naruto (including Shippuden) hands down. I can't be sure about how close it sticks to the manga, but the way it's been structured definitely leaves room for more.

Kekkaishi is about Yoshimori Sumiumura, an 8th grader, and Tokine Yukimura, a sophomore, who work as Kekkaishi, a job as protector of Karasumori (a specific area) that's been passed down from generation to generation. Kekkaishi (loosely translated as "barrier specialists/masters") have the ability to control a specific area of space in which they trap ayakashi (a specific word for ghosts from shipwrecks.... but it's been loosely used as something like spiritual parasites) and exorcise them, because they're attracted to Karasumori, an area that has the ability to grant ayakashi power.

Kekkaishi, from front to back (wherever the back may be...) is purely shounen. Even throughout the anime, when characters mention a specific term that may be too hard for children to understand, there's a small box that appears that explains terms. That isn't to say it's bad.

It's well paced, fairly long, and beaming with high quality production. It's one of the few anime where nearly no one looks the same. What I mean by that is, a lot of medium to low budget anime use the same face archetype for an entire genre, forcing you, the viewer, to identify each character by their hair, hair color, and eye color. This is a simple shortcut that cuts a lot of money from expenses. However, tertiary characters and many background characters all have different faces. It's a small detail but an important detail nonetheless. It's rare to see differing eyes, noses and overall facial structures in anime, but it's even rarer to see that applied to nearly everyone. There are some corners that are cut such as panning still shots but I can overlook that for the amount of work placed elsewhere.

I can't say the overall plot is amazing. To be honest, it first sounded pretty generic with the exception of the kekkaishi but it was the small arcs, and mini-stories that had such great writing that it kept me pretty hooked. The story even delved a bit into how the Kekkaishi do what they do, but not in a lecture style. Through recurring bits, the mechanics are fed to you at an even pace. Eventually, there were certain twists to the background story that intrigued me and definitely put this on a different level.

My biggest problem with the anime would be the lack of an extensive soundtrack. Kekkaishi is a 52 episode anime and yet all of its music spans one disc. I understand that I'm not asking for like.... Yuki Kajiura's work (About 4 disks just for Tsubasa Chronicles) but I expected a bit more from Taku Iwasaki and his work on Persona -Trinity Soul-. Though, in hindsight, Kekkaishi was released earlier....

Kekkaishi hasn't been licensed in the US yet, though it seems to have been licensed in the Phillipines. Considering the immense work that went into it, only big companies such as Funimation may be able to acquire the rights for it. Another issue would be the sheer Japanese culture that's immersed into Kekkaishi. Getting script writers for the English dub would be a hassle. Another problem that emerges would be the scatterbrained job that is the ending theme. Although the opening theme is the same throughout, the ending theme changes completely arbitrarily and cycles from 4 total themes resulting in a "What the hell?"

It's a definite, must-see from me, though I believe the best way for non-japanese speakers would be to resort to fansubs....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Seuro again, *salute* "The overall plot wasn't amazing" pretty much sums this one up for me. I enjoy a good potboiler, even guilty pleasures, but I think there's a lot of stuff that just doesn't meet the intellectually rigors of true 'creativity'. I'm the analytical type and I'm constantly trying to make heads or tails of any given work. Kekkaishi doesn't really do it for me. It isn't generic, in the sense that it has a slew of original terminology, character designs, combat sequences, or drama. There are definitely some unique things going on for a shounen style anime that set's it apart from the rest. However, that was about it for me.

I didn't really get anything from the anime other then an 'entertaining experience'. For me art, because let's not fool ourselves, this is writing and animation here, is supposed to rise up above our expectations and get us to think, even if just a little. Kekkaishi didn't really raise or address any questions in the way manga or anime like Ergo Proxy or Full Metal Alchemist do (since we're talking about serialized works that have or have not made it to the states). That isn't to say I think every anime should be profound, but every good work should contain an element that offers the viewer some self-reflective insight, even if it's something we've already heard before being repackaged (cause repackaging something in a new fun way is as creative as anything brand new.)

There is no shorter way for me to put it without cutting corners.