Posts Tagged ‘ayakashi’

kekkaishi_v6Getting back to one of my top manga of all-time, we look back at Volume 5 where we experienced the mysterious visit of Lord Uro, learned a little more about Toshimori (Yoshimori’s brother,) and found our two Kekkaishi in a battle against a powerful three-team ayakashi.

Story overview:

After defeating the ayakashi–which formed into a large owl–Tokine is tipped off to the presence of the one observing the fight. Yoshimori goes after him, but the man gets away. In the process, Yoshimori discovers that he is not a man at all, but an ayakashi hiding in a man-skin.

Paranoid about the possibility of ayakashi walking around the day disguised as humans, Yoshimori suspects a new student named Gen Shishio. But the obnoxious Gen turns out to be an agent of the Shadow Organization, sent by Yoshimori’s older brother (Masamori.)

Meanwhile, Yoshimori’s grandfather visits an acquaintance named Heisuke Matsudo, who is a seventy-year-old retired university professor that does not look seventy-years-old. They discuss the possible origin of the man-skin that Yoshimori recovered from the battle.

Elsewhere, Gen’s bad boy attitude does not fit in well with the two Kekkaishi, but the three of them end up working together to take down a tough ayakashi. Gen realizes he was sent to join the group because he has more in common with Yoshimori than he first thought.

My thoughts:

Gen’s character brings out more of Yoshimori’s personality and it is fun to watch them interact (and butt heads.) It is also obvious that Gen has more to him than meets the eye. Good stuff.

Things to consider:

The entrance of Gen brings in some gory depictions as he does not terminate ayakashi into nothingness like the Kekkaishis. Still, this is nothing inappropriate for thirteen-year-old boys. There are no sexual references or offensive language. So far this is one of the cleaner manga series I’ve seen.

Opportunities for discussion:

Gen makes the comment how he cannot restore or fix anything; that he can only destroy. We see a conflict here in his character, which will be interesting to see unfold; however, we also see a good opportunity for discussion. Ask your teen what they think of Gen’s attitude, and the ask them why they believe he can only destroy. From there explain how destroying is much easier that creating (or maintaining,) and how important it is to be one who observes and understands which to do and when.

Past reviews in this series:

1) Kekkaishi (Volume 1)
2) Kekkaishi (Volume 2)
3) Kekkaishi (Volume 3)
4) Kekkaishi (Volume 4)
5) Kekkaishi (Volume 5)

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kekkaishi_v5When last we were with our favorite ayakashi slayer, Yoshimori, we learned of his older brother and the conflict between them. Yet Yoshimori trusted him enough to share his ultimate goal: to seal off the Karasumori site forever. Why? This he did not share, but as the reader, we know it is mainly to protect Tokine, whom he cares deeply for.

Story overview:

A totoro-like creature shows up at Yoshimori’s school and eats everyone’s food. One of the students—a girl named Yuri—is able to see the creature, as she possesses paranormal abilities. She seeks out Yoshimori (since she knows he seems them too) and the two of them talk. He ensures her that everything is OK, but his investigation is anything but over.

When the creature shows up at Yoshimori’s house, he realizes that it isn’t an ayakashi, but a deity named Lord Uro. It seems that the deity’s bed needs repairing and only a Kekkaishi can do it. Yoshimori ends up jumping into a lake and is transferred to a dimensional world where he fixes the bed by using his restoration magic on a magical box. Though he repaired the bed, the effects of the dimension start to make him forget who he is. Staying behind to get answers about the Karasumori site, he barely escapes being wiped out of existence. With the help of three things written on his arm (Castle Cake, Seal off the Karasumori site, and Tokine–which was scribbled off,) and his grandfather, he makes it back to his world.

Afterwards we learn a little more about his younger brother, Toshimori who seems to be smart like Tokine, but very new to using the family magic. Not much times passes before Yoshimori and Tokine go up against a new opponent—a really strong three-team ayakashi—who just so happens to be observed from a distance. The two of them appear to defeat the offender, but we learn that this may have just been a test from an unknown group.

My thoughts:

It was fun watching Lord Uro mess with people, and I liked learning about the Restoration Magic. The story mentions how this magic is harder to use outside the Karasumori site and that it is best if used by the Shikigami (the helpers created from magical paper.) I always thought it was a little farfetched to believe it was possible to repair the damage done to the school during the nightly battles, but this explanation helped to clear that up for me.

Things to consider:

For ages 13+ and targeted towards boys. Like the others in this series, this book does not contain any real questionable content for this age group.

Opportunities for discussion:

When Yoshimori was in Lord Uro’s dimension, he started to forget who he was or what his purpose in life was. He wrote down three things that were important to him to help him remember. Ask your teen what three things they would have written down and why.

Past reviews in this series:

1) Kekkaishi (Volume 1)
2) Kekkaishi (Volume 2)
3) Kekkaishi (Volume 3)
4) Kekkaishi (Volume 4)

kekkaishi vol3For those of you who have been following this blog on a weekly basis, sorry about the delay in posting. A new addition to the Maxon family has just recently been added. She’s a little young for books and manga, but we’ll get back to some reviews so that we’ll be prepared for when she is.

In the first two volumes of Kekkaishi, we learned about two teens from different families who are guardians by night. They keep creatures (ayakashi) away from their school to prevent them from becoming greater threats; as the beasts absorb the hidden power that’s buried there.

Story overview:

Yoshimori practices his kekkai barrier on a large bolder, but when practicing his “Joso” (positioning) of the kekkai, he struggles to get it where he wants. It seems his powers are enormous, but his control has yet to improve. Tokine on the other hand has the opposite problem: she has complete control but is limited on power. They both secretly envy the other’s abilities and use this as motivation to improve their skills.

They come across a Hiwatari (Ice Blower) ayakashi, and Yoshimori ends up positioning himself in front of Tokine to protect her. Together the two of them join forces (ignoring the family feud) to defeat the foe. We learn of an ability called “Nenshi” (Sense Thread,) which is a kekkai in the form of a string rather than a box. Their job is never done, and soon they face a new enemy for Yoshimori to practice the Nenshi on. Among the group is an old friend of Yoshimori’s magical ghost-like dog, Madarao.

We learn some past history with Madarao and how his/her (I’ll explain later) old friend Koya were both wild dogs living off the land until man came and destroyed it by war, thus forcing the two companions to starve to death. Now it has been five hundred or so years later, and Koya wants to kill humans for revenge. Yoshimori removes Madarao’s collar so that he/she can use full power to defeat Koya. It still turns out to be too hard a task; it takes Yoshimori and Madarao working together, doing the very thing Koya despises (working with humans) to defeat him. Yoshimori then has the difficult task of creating a new collar on the huge beast Madarao has become, and he has to do so before he/she gets totally out of control.

My thoughts:

I continue to enjoy this manga series. There’s a lot of heart in the story and the characters are wonderfully designed (and executed.) It’s interesting to know a little more history about Yoshimor’s helper, and how things work between them. We also get a few more clues into the history of the clans.

Things to consider:

OK, now don’t freak out on me parents. Remember that we use secular books to educate our children, not isolate them. I say this in reference to the his/her comment that I mentioned above in regards to the dog, Madarao. It’s unclear whether the dog is a girl or a boy, and it almost seems like he is a girl now but was a boy back before he first died. At the end of the book the author was asked about this by a fan, to which he replied, “It’s not that important [but] in my mind Madarao was always Gay . . .” Let’s talk about this below, but for now, I keep this the same rating as the other two: mainly for boys and good at around thirteen plus. No inappropriate sexual references or vulgar language, just lots of action violence.

Opportunities for discussion:

Talk to your kids about what it means to be “gay.” Tell them what your thoughts on this whole controversial issue are. Share with them what you believe and why. If you are interested in my opinion, then I suggest you tell them that God loves all his creation and that choosing to be “gay” is considered to be a sin just as much as stealing, telling a lie, or not loving God with all your heart. We all have sin issues to face, no matter what it is. I don’t believe it’s good to promote sin in a positive light, but I do not think we should teach our children to hate their fellow man either. Everyone needs to be shown love and compassion, as we are all fallen creatures. I could say more, but let’s stick to the basics; chose to educate how you best see fit, but do chose to educate, not isolate. Next, another great topic here is bias. When Koya wanted to kill all the humans, he was taking out his revenge for what people who are long dead and gone have done. We should never hate a particular group or race based on something one part of it/them has done. Ask your kids if they have ever done this and what the results where.

Past reviews in this series:

1) Kekkaishi (Volume 1)
2) Kekkaishi (Volume 2)

Kekkaishi v2Last week we visited Volume 1 of Kekkaishi. We learned about a High School student, Tokine, and a Junior High student, Yoshimori, and how their families are feuding. The two of them are responsible for keeping ayakashi (demon-like creatures) away from their school.

Should one of these ayakashi stay in the area too long, then the buried power of the Karasumori site will envelope them and turn them into stronger and fiercer creatures. Both Tokine and Yoshimori were born with a square shaped mark called the Hoin, which proves that they were chosen to be the legitimate successors for their clan.

Yoshimori sees this responsibility as a burden, but Tokine seems content with the task. And with this, we open the next book in the manga series.

Story overview:

The story begins with Tokine’s father, who seemed like a pleasant yet uncertain man. These were her memories before his death. One that was vividly engraved into her young eyes as he coughed out his last words, “Don’t ever let your guard down, okay?”

As Tokine lives with her Mom and Grandmother, Yoshimori lives with his Father, Grandfather and younger brother. We learn that Yoshimori’s Mom is alive, but very seldom seen. A powerful Jutsusha, she supposedly turned down an offer from a group called “The Shadow Organization.” It is this very organization who sends a young girl named Yomi to stay with the Yukimuras (Tokine’s family.)

All isn’t what it seems, and we learn that Yomi was being deceptive so that she could sneak her pet demon Yoki into the Karasumori site. Since both her and the demon were outcasts, weaklings, and looked down upon, they teamed up to form an impenetrable bond. However, when the demon becomes filled with the power of the Karasumori site, he soon casts his companion aside and lets the power overwhelm him. Yoshimori finds himself fighting against the demon, yet he holds back knowing that the creature is still important to the young girl.

My thoughts: 

This manga maintains its page turning appeal, and even though this is my second time reading it, I found myself finishing in one sitting; eager to be reminded of what happened next. The story and the characters are brilliantly designed.

Things to consider: 

For teens and over, and more for boys than girls, but could easily be enjoyed by both. There is action violence and bloody scenes, but is done in good taste. And as always, remember that the demons are not representatives of those mentioned in the Christian culture. There are no sexual or inappropriate scenes either.

Opportunities for discussion:

The theme here is about weakness. Talk about what weakness truly is, and what strength truly is. Tell your kids about power, and how it corrupts. Tell them that weakness of the heart is a worse weakness than that of the body. We see Yoshimori’s strength of heart regardless of the circumstances. He shows that he cares about what is important to other people, even when it causes him great trouble, and even perhaps at the cost of his life. There is a redemptive power in this kind of compassion, a much greater power than that of any physical strength. The story talks about the power to protect those you love, even at great loss to one’s self. It shows how this love is mightier than the efforts to prove you are better or stronger than someone else.

Past reviews in this series:

1) Kekkaishi (Volume 1)

Kekkaishi v1The author, Yellow Tanabe (nice name, eh?) mentions that when she was a child, her and her friends would play a game in which they pretended to create invisible walls. Their declaration was, “I stretched the barrier from here to there!” And if someone walked into the area, they would get the cold shoulder, as if breaking the most important law of life.

From this imaginative game comes the making of Kekkaishi. In the first volume, we learn that in order to make a barrier, called a kekkai (“protective ward”), a Kekkaishi must perform three acts: (1) say the word “Hoi” to designate a target, (2) say “Joso” to position the Kekkai, and (3) call out “Ketsu” to create the barrier. Once that is established, the user has the option to either say “Kai” to let their prey go, or “Metsu” to destroy it.

Since the first volume is so filled with content—more so than most manga—my brief overview only covers a little bit. So just keep this in mind.

Story overview:

Where a Junior and Senior High School stands, there once towered a castle. Buried deep below the school is the spirit of the master of that castle, who was from the Karasumori clan. He possessed a power that to this day attracts nasty beings called ayakashi. If they spend any significant amount of time in the school grounds, they will grow bigger, more powerful, and dangerous.

Two children, who have special Kekkaishi powers passed down from generation to generation, are designated the guardians of the school. Since ayakashi are creatures of the night these guardians must lose out on a lot of sleep. If that wasn’t enough, it just so happens that their families are in a feud over who should be the true successor. This puts both Yoshimori (age 14) and Tokine (age 16) in an awkward position, as they so often end up working together.

When Yoshimori was nine years old, his naivety lead to the scars on Tokine’s arm. To this day he has two major goals: (1) never allow someone to get hurt in front of him again, and (2) make a castle cake big enough to live in. His dream to build the cake is constantly being overcome by his crotchety grandfather, lack of money, and fighting off ayakashi. As is the case when he finds out that one of Tokine’s teachers happens to posse inhuman powers, and the two of them must put a stop to it.

My thoughts:

The characters are wonderfully designed, the artwork is top rate, and the story is brilliant. A page turner for sure. This is currently one of my favorite manga series.

Things to consider:

I’d target this for boys at around the age of thirteen. There are a few places with slightly crude humor, and ayakashi are often called demons, but remember that demons to the Japanese are more like monsters to us. There is a lot of action violence too, but it’s done with proper cause.

Opportunities for discussion:

Yoshimori shows us that there are times to give second chances and times not to. We must be discerning of such things ourselves. He also shows us how to put someone else above ourselves. Not without emotional insecurities and flaws, his character is noble and pure underneath it all.