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Karasumori

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Karasumori (烏森, Crow Forest) is the land that both the Sumimura and Yukimura families have defended for many generations, named for the lord whose soul resides beneath it. This task was entrusted to them by Tokimori Hazama, founder of the Hazama-Ryu Kekkaijutsu, the once mighty Kekkaishi who passed his teachings onto them. However, the mystery of Karasumori, the Ayakashi who constantly pursue it, and even the Kekkaishi tradition, is a secret shame that Hazama carried alone for centuries, awaiting the arrival of a Kekkaishi talented enough to help him lift an endless curse.[1]

History

As Okuni explains to Masamori Sumimura, the land known as Karasumori was a Shinyuuchi before Hazama
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Tokimori Hazama approaches Lord Uro
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sealed Chushinmaru beneath it (though it most likely did not bear that name until afterward).[2] At that time, the land was in the care of Lord Uro, who eventually gave it to Hazama in return for a new home. Drawing on the power of the land, as well as the remaining power left in him, Hazama crafted a castle for Chushinmaru to live in and sealed it within a Shinkai, burying it in a dimension deep underground.

As an additional measure to ensure Chushinmaru's protection, Hazama trained ability users from the Shadow Organization in Hazama-Ryu Kekkaijutsu, and left them in charge of the land. They were given an edited version of the fall of the Karasumori Clan, and Hazama linked them to the land with customs, including the Houin ritual. Though the Houin was thought to only appear on Legitimate Successors, it was actually the result of a spell Hazama cast on the land: Kekkaishi brought their newborns to Karasumori, and if Chushinmaru got a good first impression of them, the Houin would appear on them. Hazama also introduced competition to raise the power of his apprentices, though this also led to bloody rivalries that eventually reduced them to only two families: the Sumimura and Yukimura. However, the Shinkai built to contain Chushinmaru was incomplete: it was intended to completely seal him off from the outside world and help him forget about beings outside, but he could still detect and influence them. Hazama lacked the power to rebuild the seal, so his only option was to hope that a Kekkaishi strong enough to assist him would one day appear.[3]

Because of Chushinmaru's presence, numerous Ayakashi were continually drawn to the land, eager to gain his great power. In turn, Chushinmaru's childlike fascination with battle and beings of considerable strength inspired him to share his power with those who held his interest. Though Kekkaishi chose to believe that Karasumori's power was first and foremost on their side, in truth Chushinmaru's overriding priority seemed to be creating entertaining battles to amuse himself, as there were repeated incidents where power was given continually to an Ayakashi, but not to the Kekkaishi on duty, despite their being a Legitimate Successor. Still, Masamori stated that it is rare for Kekkaishi to die while defending the site,[4] which implies that Chushinmaru would at least back them with his power if they were in mortal danger.

With Chushinmaru removed from the land that bears his name, there is no longer a need to defend it. Sumiko Sumimura states that, though changed, it is still a Shinyuuchi, for the time being.[5]

Land Specifics

Before the land became known as Karasumori, it was a deep forest at the center of Lord Uro's domain. Over time, humans have populated the area, replacing sections of the forest with buildings (most notably Karasumori Academy), but plentiful forest and swamp lands remain. The school is built in a rectangular shape, with a large schoolyard in the center. Directly under the schoolyard is the hidden dimension where the soul of Chushinmaru resides. The land's most famous feature by far, however, is the power that dwells within it. Even for a Shinyuuchi classified as a first class small shrine, Karasumori is extremely powerful, to the point where it has earned a special acknowledgment from the Shadow Organization and is under regular surveillance by them, which is more typical of much larger Shinyuuchi, such as Mount Okubi.[6]

Guardians

Karasumori is traditionally and primarily protected by the Legitimate Successors of the two surviving Kekkaishi clans. Newborn children in these families are quickly taken to Karasumori, and if the Houin Mark appears on their bodies[7], they are designated as Legitimate Successors and considered predestined to become appointed guardians of Karasumori (though virtually every able member of the clan is expected to become a Kekkaishi, even those without the Houin). Legitimate Successors have a resonance with the land's power that others do not, and it is very rare for them to die while on the site.[8]

Support is provided as needed by their families, but the Legitimate Successors are trained and expected to handle most battles alone. However, with the recent growth of Karasumori's power, more significant threats have begun to target it, making additional help necessary. To this end, operatives from the Shadow Organization are now assigned to assist the Kekkaishi in their nightly duties. Initially, solo operatives were selected, but since Gen Shishio was killed in action, it has become more commonplace to station a temporary team in Karasumori in times of high alert. It should be noted that even Kekkaishi who voluntarily withdraw from the site, leaving the direct protection of Karasumori to others, are not necessarily retired, but most likely working to protect Karasumori from afar.

Known Guardians

Land-Related Incidents

There have been several incidents where Karasumori's power either triggered a disturbance, or was used by a being to achieve greater strength.

Yumigane

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Yoshimori and Yumigane

Yumigane, an Ayakashi that started off weak and harmless, appeared in Karasumori five years before the storyline began when Yoshimori was 9 and Tokine was 11.[9] Yumigane hid in a tree, Yoshimori enclosed the entire tree in a Kekkai. Yumigane appeared in the form of a young girl with a serious wound in her side. To buy time, she acted sympathetic to Yoshimori, apologized for invading the land, and said she only came to Karasumori because of the enormous power, and that she'd be devoured by other Ayakashi if she remained weak. After buying significant time and absorbing enough power, Yumigane transformed into a combat-ready Ayakashi that took the form of a large, muscular roach. It slashed Yoshimori's Kekkai and almost ended his life. When it started to swipe its massive claws at Yoshimori, Tokine intervened and took the damage, cutting her arm and infecting her with miasma. Tokine destroyed Yumigane and passed out afterward. Yumigane is responsible for the scars on Tokine's right arm.[9]

Yoki

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Yoki transformed
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Yomi Kasuga's ogre Yoki was able to continuously and rapidly evolve his body by accessing Karasumori's power. However, he did so to the point where his body could no longer keep up with the evolution, and began to fall apart[10] shortly before the majority of his body was destroyed by members of the Night Troop.[11]

Off-Season Cherry Tree

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For unknown reasons, a single cherry blossom tree grows repeatedly throughout the year at Karasumori Academy, no matter what the season. Aside from being a popular attraction with students (who refer to it as the "mad cherry tree"), it is equally popular with smaller Ayakashi, who gather around the tree at night and appear to go mad in its presence. Madarao suggests that the tree grows because the lord of Karasumori supposedly loved them.[12]

Kouya & Madarao

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Karasumori restores Madarao's power
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Kouya sent his gang of Nagao, Uhosuke, and Honetaro to Karasumori to distract Yoshimori and Tokine as he made his entrance as a full-flege Ayakashi. Once he revealed himself, he asked Madarao (calling him by his former name, Ginro), to join along side him as he once did on their mountain 500 years prior.[13] After denying every time he asked, Kouya begins to absorb the power of Karasumori. Madarao has Yoshimori break off his collar, thus transforming him into his full Ayakashi state. After Kouya finished, he grew to a massive size with claws and a long, sharp tail. He and Madarao engaged in a fight to the death. During the fight, both Madarao and Kouya suffered considerable damage. Madarao poisoned Kouya with each stab of his tail and with his Silver Rain ability. Madarao's most fatal wound was a sharp stab in the chest.[14] When Madarao infected Kouya with his most powerful poison, Kouya fell, paralyzed. Realizing he was defeated, Kouya asked Madarao to finish him off, but Madarao had run out of power. Karasumori intervened, restoring Madarao's power so that he could allow Kouya to finally pass on in peace.

Shirahago

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Mizuki begins to transform
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Kokuboro's spy, along with the triplets Hizuki, Mizuki, and Fuzuki, invade Karasumori. Under strict orders only to draw attention and not attack, the triplets are quickly noticed by Yoshimori and Tokine, while the spy observes. Yoshimori destroys Hizuki's arm, and though his ability to regenerate from the damage is increased in Karasumori's presence, Hizuki loses his temper and shows signs of beginning to transform, wanting to stop holding back and attack. As the triplets gather together, Tokine destroys Fuzuki with a triple-layer Kekkai. This infuriates the remaining triplets, and Mizuki begins to transform as well. They combine into the form of a giant owl, though they normally would not be able to with only two of them.[15] Though Yoshimori is able to damage the owl, it regenerates quickly. This causes the spy to assume that the land is their ally, and that they might be able to conquer Karasumori themselves. However, by combining their efforts, Yoshimori and Tokine are able to destroy Shirahago.[16]

Gen Shishio

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Karasumori responds to Gen
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While fighting Gagin, Gen Shishio is mortally wounded by Kaguro. Though Yoshimori and Tokine plead with him not to give up, Gen is satisfied he was finally able to use his life to help someone, instead of hurting them. Yoshimori recognizes that people tend to pass on faster in Karasumori once they accept their fate, recalling how Kouya died, and insists that Gen not give in, but Gen passes on peacefully.[17] In the anime, as Gen accepts his fate, Princess is attacking the site. Karasumori responds as Gen passes on, bathing the area in light and driving Princess back, thus ending Kokuboro's invasion, for the time being.[18]

Kurokabuto

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Karasumori's power completes Kurokabuto
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While fighting the then incomplete Kurokabuto, Yoshimori creates an uncontrollable distortion around himself, potentially threatening not only Karasumori, but the entire town. To prevent this, Okuni pins him to the ground with a column of light. Yoshimori becomes enraged at the thought of Kurokabuto causing damage while he is restrained, and Karasumori responds to his pleas for more power, allowing him to break free and surrounding him with its white aura. Curiously, Okuni cannot see the aura, and even stranger, Kurokabuto has the aura as well, allowing it to become complete.[19] Yoshimori uses the power against Kurokabuto, causing great damage, but as he considers basking in the power, it vanishes, instead surrounding Kurokabuto again, regenerating the damage. Kurokabuto enters battle mode and creates an energy katana, but unexpectedly attacks Karasumori, drilling a huge hole in the ground.[20] Karasumori's power lashes out, tearing Kurokabuto apart before returning to Yoshimori, encouraging him to finish the job. However, Yoshimori is furious at being toyed with, and the power retreats again. Tokiko and Shigemori arrive to collect Kurokabuto's remains.[21]

Dragon Deity

After a Dragon Deity suddenly crashes into Karasumori, Yoshimori and Tokine find themselves hard-pressed to deal with the situation. For then unknown reasons, the dragon is hostile toward Yoshimori, but Tokine approaches it respectfully, and manages to learn that it was brought to the site against its will. Noticing the dragon is wounded, Tokine has no issue with allowing it to stay long enough for Karasumori's power to heal the wounds. However she asks the dragon to leave immediately afterward, to prevent it from being overcome by the site's power. Upon healing, the dragon begins to rampage, damaging much of the site. Yoshimori ejects the dragon into the air with a large Kekkai, at which point Tokine recognizes that the site's built-up stress has vanished. In the sky, the dragon confronts Sumiko Sumimura, who admits to having it brought it to release Karasumori's power. The dragon attacks her, but she quickly disarms it and guides it back to its home.[22]

Yoshimori

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Yoshimori surrounded by Karasumori's power
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Shortly after Yoshimori defeated the Shinyuuchi Hunters, Shichirou Ougi appeared, killing most of the Hunters and accidentally wounding Souji Hiura. Upon seeing the seriousness of Souji's wound, Yoshimori was unable to maintain his blank state. Karasumori's power appeared in the form of a white aura, offering itself to Yoshimori. He accepted and was able to produce an enormous Shinkai, with enough power to restore much of the damage done to site, drive away Shichirou, and to partially heal Souji.[23] However, the power was too much for Yoshimori to handle and seemed to take over his mind, to the point where he was completely unresponsive to his allies until Tokine embraced him.[24]

Trivia

  • Though Karasumori was most likely named for Chushinmaru and the clan he is descended from, it is possible that the name is merely descriptive of the forest itself: from karasu meaning 'crow' or 'raven' (which have been confirmed to live in the area[25]), and mori meaning 'forest'.

References

  1. Kekkaishi manga, Chapter 316
  2. Kekkaishi manga, Chapter 273
  3. Kekkaishi manga, Chapter 316, pages 7-10
  4. Kekkaishi manga, Chapter 169, page 3
  5. Kekkaishi manga, Chapter 290
  6. Kekkaishi manga, Chapter 224, page 12
  7. Kekkaishi manga, Chapter 316, page 7
  8. Kekkaishi manga, Chapter 169, page 3
  9. 9.0 9.1 Kekkaishi anime, Episode 1
  10. Kekkaishi manga, Chapter 12, page 17
  11. Kekkaishi manga, Chapter 13, page 8
  12. Kekkaishi manga, Chapter 15, pages 13-14
  13. Kekkaishi anime, Episode 11
  14. Kekkaishi anime, Episode 12
  15. Kekkaishi anime, Episode 19
  16. Kekkaishi anime, Episode 20
  17. Kekkaishi manga, Chapter 95
  18. Kekkaishi anime, Episode 37
  19. Kekkaishi manga, Chapter 143, pages 9-18
  20. Kekkaishi manga, Chapter 144
  21. Kekkaishi manga, Chapter 145
  22. Kekkaishi manga, Chapters 151-153
  23. Kekkaishi manga, Chapter 276, pages 1-18
  24. Kekkaishi manga, Chapter 277, pages 1-10
  25. Kekkaishi manga, Chapter 178

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