Kekkai Sensen is an ongoing manga from Nightow Yasuhiro, you may know him as the creator of Trigun. The manga started in 2009, but it didn’t receive an anime adaptation until this year. The anime was handled by Bones, a Studio that has a pretty strong track record as far as their works I’ve reviewed go. Will this be up to their usual standards? Let’s delve into it.
Our story opens in Hellsalem’s Lot, formerly New York formerly New Amsterdam. The old New York city was destroyed by a portal opening to another world and this one didn’t even have the good grace to have a giant squid monster. In this city, humans co-exist with all manner of strange otherworldly beings. In this city, there’s a shadowy organisation called Libra dedicated to keeping the piece. Our protagonist, Leonardo Watch, encounters Libra through an odd coincidence and is given a position due to his mysterious “All-seeing eyes”Which are so strong that he doesn’t even have to open his eyelids to see, apparently. The series follows several of Libra’s escapades as they encounter various threats.
The biggest flaw of the series is the end. It’s a disjointed mess with inadequate build up behind it, poorly attempting to tie up all of the ongoing plot points. The series also suffers a bit from tone problems. Most of the time it goes for a more over the top and fun type of aesthetic, but it also tries to have some real emotional moments. The emotional moments don’t work well and come across as out of place because they’re so heavily divorced from the tone of most of the series. They’re simply too few in number with too vast of stretches betwixt them. There’s also the narrative device of Leo writing a letter to his sister. Ultimately, it contributes nothing and exactly what parts of the series are included is unclear. It can’t be the whole thing since there are a lot of scenes that he isn’t in and where he just has no way of knowing what happened. The episodes also vary pretty widely. Some of them are fairly entertaining while others are just kind of dumb.
On the positive side, there are some intriguing ideas behind the series. If they had been better fleshed out, this could have been really good. The world building is pretty decent and I do like that the series tries to show some of the alien perspectives at times. Also, let me reiterate, there are some pretty good episodes thrown in.
The characters really vary. There are some that are kind of interesting and have some depth to them, Klaus, Black, and White being the most obvious. However, most of the characters are pretty trite. Chain, Gilbert, K.K, Steven, Zed, Deldro, Dog, and a variety of other characters are just kind of there and only have a couple of very basic traits. Leo himself is kind of a boring generically nice but out of his league type of character.
The art is pretty good. The character designs are nicely varied and distinctive. The action sequences are pretty strong, although they suffer a bit from overblown attacks that have to be awkwardly labelled on-screen, and there are some really nice details both in terms of the various creatures and in terms of the backgrounds.
The acting is all right. It can be really over the top but, for the most part, it’s perfectly serviceable. The best performance definitely comes from Koyama Rikiya. Probably because his character is more subdued and doesn’t really go into the exaggerated craziness mode that, say, Nakai Kazuya’s character exhibits so frequently. The music is fine.
There’s really not any in this series.
There was some real potential for this series. It has some good ideas and a world with a lot of potential, unfortunately, it falls pretty short with writing and characters that are quite mediocre. My final rating is going to be a 5/10. If you’re looking for an exaggerated action-oriented series, Kekkai Sensen will likely be satisfactory. But if you’re looking for something with more depth to it, it’s probably not going to do much for you. Next week I’ll take a look at Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha Vivid.