Posted on 27 March 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews


Ah, shounen-fighting series. How many of them have fallen into the pit of mediocrity? Probably too many to count. Still, once in a while a series appears in the genre that actually delivers. The cream of the crop is for me the Law of Ueki, and even though Kekkaishi couldn’t come to that same level, it’s still a good example of a well-developed series in a genre that overall consists out of lazy manga-adaptations and toy-commercials.

For once our lead heroes (Yoshimori and Tokine) don’t have offensive powers. In fact, the entire concept of Kekkaishi is based around defence; all they can do is block, nothing more. The first twenty episodes are basically just reserved for random stories that let the viewer get familiarized with both the characters, and how they make use of their own powers in their own way. The creators manage to keep these episodes more than interesting through lots and lots of quirky characters, who’ll put a smile on your face.

Then when the story comes, this series has the advantage that it can work with characters that are already pretty well fleshed out, and the creators make perfect use for that. Keep a lookout for when Gen appears, because he’s without a doubt the best character of the series. Throughout its run of 52 episodes, Kekkaishi isn’t afraid to do things that usual series of the genre try to avoid.

There are a few problems with this series, though. Fighting-series should NEVER play with hidden powers, and yet every single one seems to have them. Although Kekkaishi uses them in enough moderation, they do pop up at the worst possible moments. This is the cause that the final three episodes will feel rather meh, which is a shame because the episodes that lead up to them are excellent.

It also feels that a part of this series does feel needlessly drawn out, though. I believe that this would have been the perfect series for 39 episodes (my personal favourite series-length). Apparently, this series was dropped by its sponsor and had to be drawn out to a 52-episode format so that it could be sold overseas, though this is why I’m of the opinion that series should just use the amount of episodes that fits for their story, and not make the story fit its amount of episodes.

On a semi-unrelated side-note, I think that this is a good place to voice some complaints about Sunrise that I’ve been having. I personally consider four animation-studios as “the big four” for television-series: Nippon Animation, Production IG, Madhouse and Studio Deen with as runners up Gonzo and Bones. I don’t think of Sunrise at all when I think of my favourite series, and yet they have been behind some interesting series as Freedom, Mai Hime, Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto and Gintama.

I think that I finally know the reason: it’s a bit harder to see, but they’re just like Kyoani and Makoto Shinkai. They may be great in their own way, but they’re too afraid to try out new things. Makoto Shinkai has his male main characters, Kyoani has its high-school settings, and for Sunrise, everything has to be epic and everything has to be a commercial success. Concepts that work get needlessly drawn out, which is probably why Kekkaishi went on for too long.

At the moment, I’m still hoping that Gintama won’t run out of jokes, now that it’s already passed its ninety-episode mark. Sunrise has produced a lot of noteworthy anime, but they’re just not like Gonzo, who can churn out a Master of Epic once in a while from out of nowhere. Come on, why not try a slice-of-life series next time?

15 Responses

  1. Kim says:

    I think you are forgetting a lot of great Sunrise productions: Cowboy Bebop, Escaflowne, Planetes.

    Personally I think they have a much better track record than Gonzo. IMHO the only noteworthy series I saw from Gonzo is Gankutsuou.

  2. psgels says:

    I was indeed mostly referring to the Sunrise of the 21st century, because I do acknowledge that they did a terrific job for Escaflowne. As for Planetes, I’ve yet to see that one, so I can’t judge it. :P

    As for Gonzo, I’ve actually seen quite a few memorable series from them: Bokura no, Red Garden, Master of Epic, NHK ni Youkoso and Blue Submarine no.6, and I haven’t even seen their most famous works yet: Last Exile and Gankutsuou.

  3. Kim says:

    Well I would recommend both Planetes and Gankutsuou. From what you like I think you would definitely like Planetes. It really focuses on the character development.

    Personally I don’t really like Last Exile that much (the first half was good but I think it fell apart in the 2nd half) but a lot of people do like that one. :)

  4. apexantapex says:

    I noticed a while ago that McDonald’s wasn’t appearing on their sponsor screen. That’s some big money to lose. PIty. The action flow in this one runs rings around Naruto — and I’m a Naruto fan (though Studio Pierrot makes it very, very difficult to do so. *sigh*)

    I read the manga in addition to watching this show — I felt that this show had some of the best story rearrangement and filler moments I’ve seen so far. It was pretty seamless — nothing screamed “filler! timesuck!” at me. I also enjoyed the way they rewrote the ending to be more inclusive of Tokine and her abilities, while keeping the ending true to the end of this particular arc in the manga.

    I agree, though, the last 3 episodes were peculiarly draggy for what should be a wham-bang shounen ending. I like character development, but it was a weird time to be doing background story on some of the ayakashi.

    The animation went a little berserk toward the end — nice how Yoshimori grew this long ropy neck and Tokine sported fluttery eyelashes, a tight top and bouncing D-cups in that last scene, and then became a talking puppethead at an odd moment.

    All that said, this has been a favorite of mine for a long time and I’m sad it’s over, though luckily I find it very rewatchable and of course the story goes on in the books.

  5. Westlo says:

    If you want to see Sunrise do something sorta slice of life than watch Planetes from the director of Code Geass, Infinite Ryvuis and Scryed.

  6. nahrub says:

    1st of all, kekkashi is great compared to other similar shounen anime. it knew when to stop. and the characters are not as annoying also.

    2ndly, i personally prefer sunrise over gonzo. considering the series produced in 2007/2008, gonzo only manage 1/8 on an epic level. the 7 rest are been-there-done-that series or it-burned-my-eyes-watching-it series. they starting to slip more n more.

    lastly, makoto shinkai’ll always do romance, satoshi kon’ll always do twisted stories n sunrise’ll always strive for commercial success. coz in the end only money pays the bill n keeps the studio running. gonzo’s quite new, they’ll learn soon enough.

    imo.

  7. Archer says:

    finally a shounen-fighting series that knew that the comedy should be always present in it’s plot because most anime in this genre tend to last to long and try to hard to give us some drama in the story and it all goes downhill from there (example Bleach,very good until around ep 30 i think when i lost interest,good example Hunter X Hunter the perfect shounen-fighting series)
    back to kekkaishi i was kinda disappointed by a few things in the last 3 episodes but in the end i had a lot of fun watching this anime and if i would have to recommend a shounen anime this would one of them
    btw psg i am surprised you had another change to say something about Code Geass (of curse a negative remark ) and i did not find it :p i guess you got bored of mentioning it

  8. psgels says:

    Archer: Well, there are enough chances to say how much it sucks once the next season starts, so yeah, I deliberately didn’t mention Code Geass for that one. I suspect that I’ve been using it as a bad example a few times too many. ^^;

  9. bran says:

    Sunrise is up there with Madhouse as my favorite studios, sure they have put out plenty of mediocre series but rarely repulsively bad like other studios.

    I agree with Archer, Hunter X Hunter is the epitome of a shounen done well.

  10. death13a says:

    I hope for second season as i really like Kekkaishi. And there is more to tell about Urekai and Karasumori. Also psgels watch Planetes(from Greek it translates to wanderers). It really is good series that for me is at same level as Cowboy Bebop.

  11. Dan says:

    “Fighting-series should NEVER play with hidden powers, and yet every single one seems to have them.”
    I think that statement’s a little too broad for its own good. After all, in probably some of the best fight scenes the genre has known, unexpected powers bring in the suspenseful possibility that things may not go as we had all predicted.
    I agree with you that the final few episodes were not as exciting as they could’ve been. I think that’s more a result of the fact that the show was ending, and the focus ultimately had to return to the characters that are important.
    It was definitely a great journey, and I’m hoping for a sequel in the not-too-distant future.

  12. Ghost~ says:

    What are you talking about? Kekkaishi is not in any way shape or form, a good series. It’s just your ordinary generic shounen/fighting series. When I look at it, the first thing that always crosses my mind is that it’s essentially Inuyasha for little kids. The plot doesn’t make any sense, I mean, if the mage who was trying to protect the lord (who had for god knows why, unimaginable power that demons wanted)fell ill and couldn’t protect the lord any more and then suddenly woke up to everybody in the castle, including the lord, to be dead, it’s obvious that the demons killed them, so why didn’t the demons drain the lords power when they had the chance? Instead the body of the lord stayed there, got buried, had a school built over him, which became sacred land? Why didn’t they just take the body of the lord, and put it in more capable hands, like those shadow clan assholes or something. It’s obvious that the body of the lord is the only reason that the school grounds are sacred, the only reason demons are drawn to it, the only reason that the kekkaishi have to do what they do instead of leading normal lives, and the only reason that the main character came across his stupid resolution, to protect Tokine so that she never gets hurt again? You’re both in a line of work where you have to fight demons, you’re both going to get hurt at some point or another, it’s unavoidable. The characters are badly drawn, they use the same played out shounen humor that everybody else has used a hundred times already, powers are poping out of nowhere like, “hey I’m a ghost and I don’t want to go with you” hey look, a convenient spirit rope that can hold ghosts out of fucking nowhere. At least in something like Inuyasha they had some trial they had to go through before gaining a new power, although, also too convenient, at least they weren’t, again, out of fucking nowhere. Along with that, the main character is extremely stupid. Ten years of being and learning Kekkaishi ways and he’s still as piss poor as he was when he was a kid. Tokine was far beyond the level he’s at at age fourteen when she was still six. Overall I’d have to say that it’s a generic, bad, and just flat out nonsense series that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone, I’d sooner recommend Bakugan because they’re at least not trying to be good when they’re clearly not. 86 thumbs down for Kekkaishi and any weeaboo who thinks it’s a good series.

  13. Roldan says:

    The only weeaboo here are you, Ghost. You wrote a goddamn wall of text. Who does that nowadays?

    Your complains comes down to this “waah waah why? waah waah why? i’m stupid”. Kekkaishi isn’t by no means a 90+ series but it has some really great qualitys and it’s certainly not generic (ok a slight but aren’t most anime a bit generic?).

  14. Tanz says:

    I just learned of this series, watched it, and finished the manga. It’s amazing. Not perfect, but amazing. I found the dynamics of the main cast to be wonderfully played. It did fall off at the end and became mediocre in the end but Kekkaishi had those priceless moments that elevated the whole series.

    I’m aware that some of its premise is generic but I thought the art is very fitting and great. It’s simple and normal. I love Yoshimori’s simple design.

    And man, I love the humor. I found that to be one of the greatest points in Kekkaishi. I don’t honestly understand how people could find this to be a rubbish series. Obviously it’s flawed, but you need to at least notice that it has its moments that were done masterfully.

    I don’t agree at all with the comments Ghost~ made. The illogical aspects he found were completely explained and there’s nothing stupid at all for a person to never want to see the person they love to get hurt. Yoshimori’s simplicity and ordinariness is what makes him a very appealing shounen main character.

  15. xxyy Jiban says:

    I am really fan of Kekkaishi, almost 6 years then I rewatched it.. then I asked sunrise company if they continue http://www.sunrise-inc.co.jp/contact/work.html here where you can ask them for a sequel

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  • ninjarealist
    (Friday, Aug 1. 2014 01:59 AM)
    @K-Off I have to admit, I’ve never watched Vampire Hunter D before.
  • ninjarealist
    (Friday, Aug 1. 2014 12:54 AM)
    @Emma You’ve probably heard this before but the Akira manga is a must-read. The movie is good but at the end of the day it will be remembered for the great art and soundtrack, not for being an especially great narrative. The manga, on the other hand, is a strong contender for GOAT. One of the few mangas I own in its entirety.
  • K-Off
    (Friday, Aug 1. 2014 12:50 AM)
    I quite enjoyed Animatrix over the Matrix sequels, and I like to think that the Matrix sequels should have been animated by Kawajiri.
  • K-Off
    (Friday, Aug 1. 2014 12:45 AM)
    @Emma Agreed. I found plenty of hype when it was first announced, but I think it’s safe to say it’s reached cult film status since.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Aug 1. 2014 12:41 AM)
    The bloodlust movie really deserves a decent dvd release.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Aug 1. 2014 12:40 AM)
    @K-off: Gothic, moody, a rare example of mixing ye olde setting with scifi elements, proper, resspectible depiction of vampires, I liked the villain in it and it was a large improvement in all regards to the previous vampire hunter D movie. The manga/novels are worth a look.
  • K-Off
    (Friday, Aug 1. 2014 12:35 AM)
    @ninja @Emma what’d both of you think of the Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust movie?
  • Emma
    (Friday, Aug 1. 2014 12:26 AM)
    @Realist: I’ve only seen the film for Akira so based on that I’m going to put Roujin Z above it as a film. It was evident that Akira’s adaptation felt very crammed in, haphazard, I don’t know what I’d think of Akira if I rewatched it now.
  • ninjarealist
    (Friday, Aug 1. 2014 12:15 AM)
    @Emma I mean, I think you could honestly make the case that Roujin Z is a better movie than Akira, in the narrative sense, but in terms of audio/visual there’s no comparison. And if we’re talking manga, Akira beats the piss out of almost anything. But if people can look past that, I think Roujin Z is a very worthwhile anime.
  • ninjarealist
    (Friday, Aug 1. 2014 12:10 AM)
    @Emma I watched it at the height of my Otomo fandom. Interesting premise, but I felt like it was mainly left untapped. It was no Akira, that’s for damn sure.

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