A lot of anime and manga have the protagonist banishing demons, monsters and ghosts. That's not unique.
What makes "Kekkaishi" so entertaining is because of the way Yellow Tanabe tells the story. "Kekkaishi (3-in-1 Edition), Vol. 1" -- which brings together the first three volumes of this long-running action/comedy manga -- is filled with with plenty of humour, action, a hint of potential romance, and a scruffy young hero whose duty is to zap evil supernatural beasties.
Yoshimori Sumimura and his older friend Tokine Yukimura are the heirs of rival clans of kekkaishi, whose duty it is to zap ayakashi (little ghost-demons) who gather at a powerful spot at their school called Karasumori. If they hang around the school too long, their powers increase exponentially... and so does their insanity.
Several years ago, Tokine was badly hurt when Yoshimori hesitated in killing an ayakashi. Now Yoshimori is obsessed not only with becoming stronger, but protecting his older friend -- when he isn't trying to beat her at the kekkaishi game.
And in the course of their duties, Yoshimori and Tokine grapple with ghosts, an energy-sucking teacher, cockroaches, and an ice fox. But their most serious challenges are a friend of ghost dog Madarao, who is determined to kill anyone who gets in his way, and an ogre-tamer who has a devious motive for coming to Karasumori.
It takes a little while for "Kekkaishi" to ease into its storyline, since the first third of this omnibus is kind of... fluffy. But things really begin to bloom in the second part, which introduces a mysterious supernatural task force, and veers the storyline in a darker, bloodier direction.
But Tanabe sprinkles it with plenty of comedy, from Yoshimori's sexy "lookalike" shikigami to his constant use of kekkaishi to thwart his grandfather. And the feud between the two clans -- which involves lots of brawling and verbal abuse between the old folks -- is more hilarious than harrowing.
Yoshimori is a likable hero -- he's naturally pretty lazy and unmotivated at being a kekkaishi, since his chosen calling involves making vast candy castles. But his determination to become stronger for Tokine's sake is quite sweet, although Tokine (who swings between sweet and standoffish) takes a little longer to grow on you. Oh yeah, and the demon dogs who accompany the two kids are quite fun.
"Kekkaishi (3-in-1 Edition), Vol. 1" is a bit frothy at the beginning, but it serves as an excellent start to a delightful series. A must-have for manga fans.