Kekkaishi, Volume 1 includes the first seven chapters of Yellow Tanabe’s manga of the same name.
Young Yoshimori Sumimura is in training to become the 22nd demon-fighting kekkaishi of the Sumimura lineage. His neighbour Tokine Yukimura is also in training to become a kekkaishi for her own family lineage. The two opposed branches of the Hazama clan have lived side by side for 400 years and for most of that time the two families have been bitter rivals, a tradition Yoshimori’s grandfather and Tokine’s grandmother maintain to the modern day. Consequently, Yoshimori and Tokine have kept their friendship secret.
Tokine is two years older, weaker, more studious, and far more skilled than Yoshimori. Yoshimori compensates for his lack of diligence with raw power. Yoshimori’s carelessness allows a demon Ayakashi to gravely injure Tokine, an event that that forever changes the repentant Yoshimori.
Ayakashi are drawn to the Karasumori region, and in particular to the high school bearing that name. By day, fourteen-year-old Yoshimori and sixteen-year-old Tokine are students at the Karasumori school. By night, they track and kill Ayakashi. Since the Ayakashi problem is a closely held secret, none of the pair’s chums know why the two teens are chronically sleep-deprived.
Aghast that his carelessness left the older girl scarred for life, Yoshimori is determined to protect Tokine. Tokine does not appear to need or desire his protection. Indeed, she treats the younger boy as though he were a younger boy, not a colleague of equal status. Perhaps this is because of the age difference. Perhaps it is because despite his zeal, Yoshimori still relies more on overwhelming power than finesse.
To Yoshimori’s alarm, he discovers that Minou, one of the teachers, has singled Tokine out for unseemly personal attention. Worse, the man appears to be possessed by one of the very monsters from which Yoshimori and Tokine are supposed to protect the school.
At the risk of spoilers, of course the far more observant Tokine has spotted that her creepy teacher is possessed. Yoshimori only stumbles over the problem because, in a fit of jealousy, he tries to trip the teacher with magic; when that fails, he takes the closer look he should have taken in the first place.
More surprisingly (at least for spec-fic in general and manga in particular) the whole idea of an adult, in particular a teacher, courting a school girl is treated as unacceptable. For that matter, Yoshimori’s jealous obsession with his older neighbour isn’t treated all that sympathetically; Tokine thinks he’s creepy.
Readers might wonder why, if there are enough Ayakashi invading the school and the land around it to justify two guardians , nobody has seen fit to warn the helpless locals that they’re living on cursed land. Part of the reason seems to be embarrassment over the fact the clan’s actions centuries ago helped create the situation. Nevertheless, it’s as though the EPA were trying to deal with a Superfund site without warning people not to build on it.
The art is functional enough, the story mildly comedic, but overall, there is nothing particularly original or engaging in this volume. Perhaps the story gets more interesting later … but all I can go on is the volume in hand, which hasn’t convinced me to continue with the series.
1: In theory, the troublesome grandparents may count as guardians, but they don’t seem to do much except encourage their grandkids to fight with each other.