Sporadic Sequential
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Another Image-Heavy Kekkaishi Post:
The Joy of Great Character Designs

One of the things I love about Kekkaishi are the distinctive character designs. Creator Yellow Tanabe does a wonderful job creating memorable and fitting looks for each character. One of my favorite characters in the book is Tokine, the childhood friend and next-door neighbor of the series' main protagonist, Yoshimori. Tokine is older and more mature than Yoshimori, and it shows in the way Tanabe depicts the two characters: whereas Yoshimori's impatient temperament is betrayed by his unruly hair and forward-leaning motion, Tokine's sensibly pulled-back straight hair and solid stance convey confidence and stability. Unlike many manga heroines, Tokine isn't ditsy or unsure of herself. And don't even think of sneaking an upskirt peek at her panties:

My only complaint about Tokine's character is that sometimes she's written as mentally marveling at Yoshimori's untapped / unrefined prowess. Those bits are annoying for two reasons: First, it comes across as a clunky moment of the writer trying to convince readers how great the main character is. (Don't tell us how great the character is; just show us.) Second, it makes Tokine look like she's fawning over Yoshimori as being naturally great even though he doesn't bother to train or take his responsibilities seriously like she does. (As you can probably guess, Yoshimori isn't my favorite character. He suffers from what I term "Manga Manifest Destiny Syndrome" where slacker characters expect to become really good at something simply by virtue of wanting it really badly. And generally those characters do get what they want, since they just so happen to have some amazing innate talent. Still, while I don't like Yoshimori much considered in his own right, he is a decent foil for the rest of the cast to react to.)

Back to characters I do like, here's Yoshimori's older brother Masamori, who's so cool he can take time to answer his cell phone in the middle of battling a many-limbed monster.

Tanabe draws Masamori as such an attractive guy that I've developed a bit of a fictional mancrush on him:

Tanabe's villains are also strangely attractive. Consider this villainess, who somehow manages to be both spooky and sexy even though she lacks the traditional "bad girl" massive mammaries:

Here are a couple other designs that caught my eye:

Creepy old scholar guy, who apparently has some unusual sexual proclivities looked down upon by other characters

Some bad guy demons who have adopted human form.

Finally, in the
omake at the end of volume two, Tanabe offers a fascinating look at character designs that could have been:

Even better, Tanabe images how differently the manga would have read if she had gone with alternate designs:

After growing accustomed to the characters' "normal" looks, it's a bit odd to see other characters acting out their parts. It's like watching a horribly miscast remake of a favorite old show.

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