Posts Tagged ‘Yellow Tanabe’

The next book in this exciting manga series continues after Kaguro’s attack against our favorite Kekkaishi: Yoshimori and Tokine.

Story overview:

The General Manager of the Kokuboro (the bad guys), Byaku, sends some of his team members to track down the current Master of the Karasumori site (the school). This leads them to Lord Uro, but not only are they unable to get to Lord Uro, they discover that he is the master of the land just outside of the Karasumori site, not the master of the site itself.

In the mean time, Gen and Yoshimori continue to strengthen their bond. Yoshimori meets Gen’s “tamer” from the Shadow Organization, Atora, who is a young and spunky lady that manages to keep Gen in check—in the process she greatly embarrasses the poor boy. In an attempt to improve the teamwork of Gen and the two Kekkaishi, she challenges them to catch her in the time of an hour. They were able to meet her demands and so she goes back to the Shadow Organization satisfied that they will work well together.

Yoshimori’s grandfather becomes worried about his friend (a seventy-year-old retired university professor), who may have dug a little too deep into the Kokuboro. Sure enough, they sent an assassin to kill the old man. It seems as if the assassin succeeds, but he secretly escapes by fooling everyone with an Ayakashi in human skin. Having thought to succeed, the Kokuboro are not done with their plans. They intend to take their princess to the Karasumori site in order to save her life.

My thoughts:

We are thrown a clue about the Kokuboro being run by the “Monster Fox of the black pampas grass.” More mysteries are unfolding, including the fact that it is the land itself that choose a Master to coincide with. If the land suffers, then the master will die, but if the master suffers the land will chose a new one (but it seems there’s a time limit before the land cannot survive without one). This is why the Kokuboro plan to bring their princess to the site; in hopes that the land will accept her as its new master. Interesting approach to the story. Watching the plot unfold is exciting, and as always, the character interaction is superb.

Things to consider:

Nothing really questionable. The series rating stays consistent at ages thirteen plus. A few minor curse words and action violence. And these are well placed; not gratuitous.

Opportunities for discussion:

The bond between Yoshimori and Gen has increased. They are in the process of becoming good friends, yet both would probably not admit it. Friendships are important in life, as no one is an island, but there is little else out there that can influence your teen in a positive or negative way. Talk to your teen about the difference between destructive friendships and ones that mutually benefit each person. Then ask them if they have any friends they think could be one or the other.

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)
6) Kekkaishi (Volume 6)
7) Kekkaishi (Volume 7)
8) Kekkaishi (Volume 8)

After a year of reading and reviewing lots of interesting books, I’ve come to some conclusions as to which are my favorite reads of 2009.

Favorite Trilogy of the year

1) The Amulet of Samarkand (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1)
2) The Golem’s Eye (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 2)
3) Ptolemy’s Gate (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 3)

The Bartimaeus Trilogy, by Jonathan Stroud is clearly a gem. Great writing, superb characters, intriguing story line, wonderfully dry humor, and a page turner no matter which of the three books you are on. Who knew a boy wizard and his djinni could be so much fun?

Favorite Novel of the year

1) Mimus, by Lilli Thal

From a fairly unknown author comes another gem: Mimus, by Lilli Thal. Built on the idea: “what would happen if a prince had to play a fool?” This medieval tale pulls the reader into the prince’s traumatic situation and keeps one glued to the pages to see how everything turns out.

Favorite Manga series of the year

1) Kekkaishi (Volume 1), by Yellow Tanabe
2) Dragon Eye (Volume 1), by Kairi Fujiyama

This is a tough one; I’m actually stuck between these two. Both have great characters, mysterious story lines, and quality artwork. As each volume becomes available in my local US Library, I’m one of the first to reserve a copy.

What lies ahead for 2010?

I hope my readers continue to follow along as excitedly as I when Books For Youth discovers new and exciting adventures. Please feel free to drop a comment of any suggestions for 2010, either for the site, review process, or books you’re interested in getting a perspective on.

Yoshimori and Tokine are caught in a trap, and without Gen as backup. Their Kekkaishi powers have been nullified and all that remains are the abilities of two School-Aged teens.

Story overview:

Tokine executes a plan of action that uses herself as bait. Not on board with this is Yoshimori, whose main goal is to keep Tokine safe. Instead he comes up with a better plan (amazing for him), which destroys the barrier restricting their Kekkaishi powers.

Meanwhile Gen—after mostly recovering from his injuries—nearly transforms into his full ayakashi form. Thankfully for him a man named Hiba (as we discover was put in charge of watching Gen) puts a stop to this. Later we are shown Gen’s childhood and how he goes berserk and almost kills his beloved sister. (With his brothers and parents the way they were, there’s no wonder Gen acts the way he does.) Thankfully his sister didn’t die, but Gen finds himself taken away by Masamori to learn to control his power.

Back in the present time we rejoin our Kekkaishi duo. The battle goes on until all but the head ayakashi, Kaguro, is left. He himself actually kills the last ayakashi since he didn’t like the creature’s tactics. Walking away, he decides to come back and try again another day. Once the two Kekkaishi meet up with Gen, they are thankful to find the boy hasn’t been kicked out of the Shadow Organization.

My thoughts:

It was interesting to learn how there are two types of half-ayakashi: (1) Parasitic type, which can only alter a specific body part, and (2) Integrated type, which can totally transform, but in doing so they turn into a complete ayakashi and lose control. Gen is the latter form. Interesting story for sure. There’s always a new mystery unfolding and great character interactions: still a page turner even in its eight volume.

Things to consider:

Same rating as the others: thirteen plus and targeted mainly towards boys. No sexual situations or major cursing. Just typical manga violence that appeals mostly to boys (and yes, to me as well).

Opportunities for discussion:

Gen’s story shows how he was an unloved child. The only one that cared for him was his sister, and a misunderstanding made him think she betrayed him, which causes him to lose all hope. Ask your teen what their hopes are in life, and if they ever feel like they are totally lost. Then remind them—even though they may no longer like to hear it—that you will always love them no matter what. This means more than they may let on.

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)
6) Kekkaishi (Volume 6)
7) Kekkaishi (Volume 7)

kekkaishi_v7We learn that an organized group has its eye on the Karasumori site. Using man-skins to cover their ayakashi identity, they are becoming a problem for our Kekkaishi, who recently have been given help by the Shadow Organization with the addition of Gen to their team.

Story overview:

A ghost cat haunts Yoshimori’s teacher, but rather than let Gen kill it, Yoshimori waits for the cat to find its peace. Shortly after Gen realizes Yoshimori is in love with Tokine. The two boys follow her as she goes off with a popular boy, only to find that the boy is being controlled by an ayakashi (which is why Tokine went with him, and she easily defeated the creature).

Meanwhile, Yoshimori’s older brother, Masamori is inducted into the Shadow Organization’s Executive Committee (Council of Twelve). The council turns out to be a den of wild beasts, all of which Masamori plans to kill someday.

New and improved human skin is produced to disguise ayakashi sent on a mission to demand the surrender of the Karasumori site. One of the oppressors decides to keep his old human-skin, which resembled that of the first skin found. Only, this creature possesses a greater powerful. After making a bloody mess of Gen, the villain and his group trick Yoshimori and Tokine to fall into a trap that prevents them from using their Kekkaishi powers.

My thoughts:

The addition of Gen to the Kekkaishi team makes the character dynamics only get more interesting. Gotta love the humor, the character interaction, the human struggles, the mystery, the side stories, and the great action. Still top of the manga list for me.

Things to consider:

Continued to be rated thirteen plus and targeted mainly towards boys. This story remains free of any excessive and inappropriate sexual references, has only the slightest profanity (if you can even call it that), and the action violence is just the right amount for this kind of story.

Opportunities for discussion:

Compassion seems to be a main theme in this volume. With Yoshimori, who extended it to the ghost cat, and Tokine who didn’t grant the request of the ayakashi. There are times in life when we need to show compassion and other times when that compassion can cause more harm than good. Ask your teen if they can understand the difference and then ask them for an example in their lives. Then ask them if they think Tokine’s decision was the right one.

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)
6) Kekkaishi (Volume 6)

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)

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 v4Yoshimori and Tokine are the legitimate heirs of their clan. They protect their school from ayakashi, as the creatures try to absorb the hidden power that is buried deep beneath the building.

Yoshimori is the more powerful of the two and he has a hidden love for Tokine. Tokine makes up for the lack of power with skill and precision, but she tends to think of Yoshimori as a younger, annoying brother.

We pickup from the last volume where Yoshimori’s dog, Madarao, battled against an old friend who turned out to be a new enemy.  After the battle, Yoshimori replaced the power-restricting collar on Madarao. It seems that Madarao develops a little more respect for the boy.

Story overview:

We welcome back the ghost of a patissier (pastry chef,) whom Yoshimori had helped out in a prior volume. The ghost seems to be reluctant to leave the living world. He claims that it is because he did not like that his last word was “cabbage,” but there seems to be something else going on. To help out the ghost, Yoshimori works with Yumeko Hananokoji, the Psychic Counselor that he referred the ghost to. Together they find the ghost’s brother and put closure on the thing that was bothering him so that he could finally find peace.

This leads to the introduction of Yoshimori’s own brothers. His younger brother, Toshimori, feels he’s not as talented as Yoshimori. And his older brother, Masamori, came home for a visit. Masamori is a highly skilled, Executive Officer of the Shadow Organization and seems to harbor some unspoken resentment towards Yoshimori for being the one born with the symbol of the legitimate heir. Yoshimori could care less about being the heir, but has a certain amount of animosity towards his older brother.

Masamori puts Yoshimori to the test as he feels the heir needs to use his skills more intelligently. Passing the test in his usual reckless way, Masamori realized his brother’s strength is greater than he thought. Once Yoshimori discovers that his brother is watching him from the sky, he figures out how to use his kekkai to climb up to meet him. At this time he tells his older brother his plans to seal off the Karasumori site forever.

My thoughts:

This one is still currently one of my top three favorite manga series. As always, great character dynamics and a constant page turner. Good humor too.

Things to consider:

Good for ages 13+ and mainly directed towards boys. No questionable content for this age group. Just the typical action violence.

Opportunities for discussion:

The subject of passing on to another world is brought up. Where this series does not take liberties to share what that world is, I believe this is a good time for parents to. Ask your teens what they think about life after death, and then share with them your beliefs and why you believe them.

Past reviews in this series:

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