== Kekkai Sensen ==
Supernatural horror setting.
Varied and complex cast of characters.
Original, interesting story.
Deep, moving plot of friendship and family.
Well-balanced by lighthearted jokes and comedy.
Bomb-ass amazing soundtrack. Jazz music in a car chase? Oh yeah baby.
Overpowered main character.
Fully-fleshed out side characters.
A fully comprehensive story with complete answers.
Warning: This is a full-fledged review, not a Quickie. Spoilers ahead.
(What’s the difference?)
“Welcome to Libra, Leonardo Watch.”
Kekkai Sensen follows the story of Leonardo Watch, your average young adult in the ever-bustling Hellsalem’s Lot, aka New York City + monsters, demons, and the such. Well, average except for the fact that he possesses the “All-Seeing Eyes of the Gods,” magical eyes that allow him to see all kinds of magics invisible to others.
Leo is the main protagonist of the series. However, unlike other protagonists of other series, Leo is not a “hero.” He is an unremarkable young man in remarkable circumstances surrounded by remarkable people. His defining traits, besides his eyes, are his perserverance, kindness, and empathy. This is what makes Kekkai Sensen so enjoyable: Leo is actually a relatable character. His actions are genuine, his words are believable, and his responses are realistic.
Because Kekkai Sensen emphasises Leo’s experiences, other characters fall to the side. However, this does not mean any are useless or extraneous. Take, for example, my choice for the most boring character in Kekkai Sensen, Steven, who looks to be a calm, collected fellow that handles official Libra business. That in itself leads to a boring character, but his personality and ice powers make him somewhat entertaining to watch. More importantly, because he is not essential to the story, he is not presented for long periods of time or as the focus of a scene. By recognizing that Steven is not important to Leo’s story, Kekkai Sensen does the smart thing and puts this character to the sidelines. However, his presence does serve to make the setting and situation more believable: a powerful organization like Libra needs a serious member to control business aspects and such. No actual group is full of only unique, interesting characters. It is because of the mundane characters that the fun characters stand out.
Speaking of fun characters, the goofiest member of Libra is undoubtedly Zapp. His fighting prowess, however, still places him in high importance within Libra. Again, it is not only Zapp’s crazy personality that makes him interesting but Zapp’s interactions with other characters. His zany anctics shine when he trolls Leo around, causing the poor boy unparalleled grief. His stupidity is highlighted by just how fast Klaus deflects the white-haired idiot’s attacks. Even his interactions with his master is hilarious because we finally see the troll put in his place and trolled himself. Zapp is undoubtedly labeled as the comic relief character within the universe itself by his colleges, so other characters around him treat him in a manner that lends itself to our humor. In other words, the comedy is natural and not forced.
Last, let’s talk about the most influential character in Kekkai Sensen, Klaus. Once again, Kekkai Sensen maintains consistency and designates Klaus as a specifc role within Leo’s story: a mentor and father-figure whom Leo admires. Even the final scene of the last episode ends with Klaus expressing just how proud he is of Leo. Besides that, however, Klaus is actually a dull character. His fierce loyalty and gentlemanliness is one-dimensional and never explored. But with his place in the story, he does not have to be interesting. To Leo, Klaus is dependable and admirable, reflected in how Klaus is the last and most effective weapon against the vampire threat. Sure, Klaus has some fun scenes of his own, such as the Chess game and the arena fights, but in the end all he does is simply stall for time as Leo runs across the city to stop Black. Klaus is a mundane character but he is still important, serving as a constant cornerstone in Leo’s otherwise chaotic world.
The important key to understanding Kekkai Sensen is understanding exactly what this series is. It is Leo’s story. It is not a story about Libra (the organiszation Leo joins), Hellsalem’s Lot, Klaus, or whatever you want. Leo is the only character that matters and that’s what makes Kekkai Sensen great. Every scene in Kekkai Sensen is from Leo’s perspective or is important to understand the story from his point of view. Kekkai Sensen is not the story of Libra, it is Leo’s life story of how he got involved in Libra and met a family he can belong to. Each episode is a snapshot of Leo’s life, from meeting White for the first time, being kidnapped by Black, or even creating a new friend to enjoy hamburgers with (best episode). Understanding Kekkai Sensen comes from first realizing it is a slice of life series, not an action epic. It just so happens that there is a climactic event that ties a lot of other events together. But that event is again, only one of many. But by being so focused in its goal, Kekkai Sensen tells Leo’s story with astounding writing and execution. By focusing solely on Leo, Kekkai Sensen tells a wonderful, powerful story whose undertones and emotions we can relate to.
Masterful writing aside, what really got my interest in Kekkai Sensen was the beginning action scene, with its over-the-top sequences, weird and tilted camera cuts, and awesome powers. However, after finishing the series, I now realize it is not the amazing blood powers, elemental magics, or even Leo’s all-seeing eyes that is the most powerful ability. It is something much simpler and much more human: compassion.
Think back on the key events of Kekkai Sensen and it is compassion that brings true victory. Leo was not supposed to join Libra from the beginning. He was mistaken to be another similar lad (by the way what happened to that guy?) and accidentally ended up in the headquarters of the infamous organization. But, Klaus identified Leo’s potential and let him stay (and not get killed by Zapp) just because Klaus is a nice guy. Furthermore, the end of that episode has Leo sparing Sonic the monkey when the obvious thing to do would be to kill the monkey and stop the demon gate.
Leo’s superpower is not his magical eyes, it is his ability to view those around him in the same light, as family and friends, despite their demonic background or hellish looks. Leo treats Zapp (human with powers) as well as he treats Nej (a mushroom dude). He wants to help Black, not defeat him.
Because Leo was powerless to help his sister when her eyesight was stolen, he wants to do his best now to help whenever he can. While “helping others” is a pretty common quality, Leo has a rare compassion towards even his enemies.
If Leo is the main actor of this story, then White and Black are the two main supporting characters. One thing I like most about Kekkai Sensen is that it is willing to sacrifice ideals, characters, or screen time in order to create a better story. Too often are characters too stubborn, too immortal (aka plot armor), or too brief in series. Again, the main strength of Kekkai Sensen is its self-awareness. Its primary characters – Leo, White, and Black – change and develop while its supporting characters remain true to their roles. In additions, characters come and go and do not overstay their welcome. It takes a special kind of show to have the balls to write off one of its fan-favorite characters.
Kekkai Sensen is a masterfully written series full of emotion and complexity. You are more likely to misunderstand this show rather than actually dislike it. Even then, the art, story, and pacing is excellent on a surface level that anyone can enjoy the show. I loved Kekkai Sensen and would recommend to anyone who wants their shows to invoke thought and discussion. Go watch it.
|+ Interesting and varied cast of characters
+ Side characters all have a purpose and are used effectively
+ Amazing soundtrack
+ Complete ending that pulls no punches
+ Main character is relatable and likable while still being relevant
+ KLAUS VON REINHARZ IS A MANLY MAN if that’s your thing
+ Action sequences are creative and delightful
|– Story is very jumbled with only a thin main central plot.
– Difficult to keep up with on the surface
– No cute heroines if that’s your thing
Overall: 10/10 (Funny, heartwarming, exciting, and complex)