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You have to bet your life to win over this enemy. Your will is not strong enough for that.

–Takeshi Kongo to Yoshimori, Chapter 125


Takeshi Kongo (金剛毅, Kongō Takeshi) is a wandering exorcist disciple who comes to Karasumori in pursuit of Jaren, the elusive, evil spirit who killed his master, Kurogane.[1] Because Kekkai techniques are not as effective on Jaren, Tokine and Yoshimori join forces with Takeshi, who introduces them to the exorcist method of battling evil spirits.

Appearance

Takeshi has light hair, and usually wears a hooded coat, gloves, camouflage pants, combat boots, and a large pack full of stakes on his back. His body is covered in scars (much like Yoshimori's), and more than once Yoshimori worries that Takeshi's body is too weak or exhausted to pursue demons despite his youth, because he has a habit of returning to duty before his wounds have fully healed.

Personality

Takeshi has a rather odd personality quirk: he changes moods rapidly, going from cheerful to angry and then back to cheerful again in the space of a few seconds, often confusing anyone attempting to follow his thought pattern. He develops a close bond with Tokine and Yoshimori because of their similar occupations, and offers what little advice he can to Yoshimori about sealing Karasumori. As an exorcist, Takeshi must maintain strong, positive thoughts while battling spirits (Jaren especially) in order to increase the effectiveness of his techniques. Takeshi and his master Kurogane both lived by the same personal oath as Yoshimori: that no one would be hurt because of their own weakness.

History

Kuro-takeshi

Kurogane saves Takeshi

Five years before he appeared in Karasumori, Takeshi was training in the mountains, where he increased his strength daily by crushing rocks with his hands. One day he lost track of time and trained until after dark. Suddenly, an evil spirit named Jaren appeared and attempted to eat him. Takeshi was saved by Kurogane, and was so impressed that he pledged he would become Kurogane's disciple. However, Kurogane encouraged Takeshi to return to his own home, and simply gave him a giant stake as a souvenir. Three years later, they met in the same place, and Takeshi had taught himself how to break rocks with the stake in that time. Though Kurogane seemed depressed, he agreed to train Takeshi. However, just three days later, Kurogane died in battle with Jaren, and Takeshi took up his master's quest to seal the spirit.[2]

Plot

Takeshi, the Exorcist's Disciple

Tokine and Yoshimori are pursuing an Ayakashi as usual when, without warning, a stranger appears, launches a giant stake at the Ayakashi, and destroys it with an explosion of spiritual energy. After being warned by Yoshimori that Karasumori is dangerous, the stranger proudly introduces himself as Takeshi Kongo, a wandering exorcist. He passes out from exhaustion immediately afterward, and Yoshimori decides to take Takeshi home with him, where he discovers that Takeshi's frail body is covered in wounds. Takeshi disappears overnight, but Yoshimori isn't concerned, since he stole and hid Takeshi's largest nail. Oddly, though Takeshi appears next at Karasumori Academy, he is only there to thank Yoshimori for his help, and doesn't notice the missing nail until Yoshimori reminds him. Takeshi refuses to return to the Sumimura Home to rest, and reveals that his mission is to seal away an evil spirit.[3]

Takeshi enjoys a relaxing evening at the Sumimura Home (apparently tricked by Yoshimori into returning), when he suddenly loses his temper and demands that Yoshimori return his missing stake. Yoshimori refuses, but admits he has a reason other than being concerned for Takeshi's health: he wants to know if Takeshi can give him any advice on how to seal Karasumori, so that no one else will be hurt because of its power. Takeshi can offer no help with Karasumori, but agrees that it is unlike any of the nearby Shinyuuchi. Takeshi then reveals that he is not a fully trained exorcist. Yoshimori is shocked, considering how impressive Takeshi was at destroying Ayakashi, but Takeshi tells him that destroying spirits and sealing techniques are basic for an exorcist. However, his training was cut short due to his master's death, and he shares the story with Yoshimori. Takeshi says he only recently understood Kurogane's connection to Jaren, and that very moment, Jaren appears in Karasumori.[4]

Hunting Jaren, Devourer of Hearts

Takeshi detects a spirit at Karasumori and rushes to deal with it, with Yoshimori and Madarao close behind. Yoshimori mentions that he senses a strong demon, though isn't sure if they're sensing the same thing. Takeshi admits that demons and spirits are similar, but says that the relationship between spirits and exorcists is deeply hidden. Yoshimori assumes Takeshi is exaggerating and points out that the Sumimuras have been fighting demons for generations, and that Yoshimori himself has been doing so since before he began elementary school. Takeshi respectfully insists that Yoshimori can't handle an enemy like Jaren, which Yoshimori takes as an insult to his power, and confronts him over it. Takeshi explains that he only meant an outsider would not be dedicated. When facing strong spirits, exorcists must form a residence contract, which has two effects: it draws the spirit's focus, which prevents the spirit from influencing the surroundings, and it increases the relationship between spirit and exorcist, making the exorcist's attacks more effective. This is dangerous, however, because the exorcist is then more vulnerable to the spirit's power, especially his mental psyche, and if his willpower isn't strong and dedicated enough, he will be consumed by the spirit.

Takeshi tells Yoshimori to go home because his will isn't strong enough to risk his life against the enemy. Yoshimori refuses to let Takeshi risk his own life, because Karasumori is under his own jurisdiction. Yoshimori surrounds Takeshi with a Kekkai, but Takeshi easily penetrates it by throwing a stake through it at Yoshimori. Yoshimori forms a Kekkai around himself to stop the attack, but half of the stake's length sinks into Kekkai. Takeshi throws several more stakes with the same result, then charges them with his spiritual power. Yoshimori is overwhelmed, and Takeshi points out that if he cannot even deflect the stakes, he is not ready. Takeshi arrives at Karasumori alone, and Jaren immediately appears, his back full of stakes from past battles. Jaren laughs that he likes Karasumori, and shows this by using his new-found power to eject the stakes from his body as Takeshi looks on in shock. Yoshimori (now carrying Takeshi's missing stake), Tokine, Madarao, and Hakubi soon arrive. Yoshimori calls for Takeshi, but spots Jaren instead. Takeshi soon appears, wounded from battle, and sadly reporting that Jaren was able to free himself from all of the stakes that Takeshi had worked so hard to embed in him. He worries that he will never be able to seal Jaren because his will is no longer strong enough.[5]

Yoshimori tells Takeshi to just put the stakes back in Jaren, but Takeshi continues to doubt his own willpower. He had only Kurogane's journal to use as a guide, and is sure it was only a coincidence that he could make a contract with Jaren because of his master's recent death. Yoshimori asks Takeshi to explain the willpower that he keeps mentioning, and Takeshi tells him it should already be familiar to him. Yoshimori recalls Kaguro telling him that a Kekkai's strength increases with willpower, and recognizes that his desire to avenge Gen Shishio made him stronger. Takeshi claims that focusing concentration and sensitivity, as well as having an unwavering will can bring out a person's strength, but that he can't do it in his current state. Madarao and Hakubi locate Jaren as he appears before the group. Jaren likes their concerned expressions and attacks, but Yoshimori knocks him away with a Kekkai. Jaren decides to deal with them slowly and runs away. Since Jaren seems to be targeting Takeshi, Yoshimori places a Kekkai around Takeshi, still thinking on willpower. Tokine adds her own Kekkai around Yoshimori's, and assures Takeshi they will somehow defeat Jaren as she leaves with Yoshimori, Madarao, and Hakubi. Takeshi tries to get out with a stake, but is repelled by Yoshimori's Kekkai. Takeshi realizes he hasn't warned them of the true danger: Jaren causes his opponent's heart to waver, twists it, and then devours it.[6]

Takeshi is worried that if the Kekkaishi are continually exposed to Jaren's malice with no preparation, they will weaken easily. He realizes that his own will is the weakest right now, and recalling Kurogane's face, Takeshi gains new determination. Meanwhile, Jaren has dissolved his body into a black whirlwind and surrounded Yoshimori, who has surrounded himself with a Kekkai. Jaren continually taunts Yoshimori until his will weakens, and then instantly attacks him, melting through the Kekkai with ease. Jaren is then struck by Takeshi's stakes and driven back. Takeshi rejoins the group, warning them that Jaren is skilled at using twisted logic and manipulation his opponent's beliefs, which allows him to devour the hearts of weak people. He tells them to retreat, because confidence is the only thing that can keep them from being consumed. Yoshimori is worried because Takeshi hasn't fully recovered, but Takeshi says that he will not waver because he shares his master's wish that no one would be hurt due to their own weakness.

Jaren begins to taunt Takeshi: he says that Takeshi isn't a real disciple because he only trained three days, and that Kurogane didn't deserve such loyalty as a man who harmed others to make his wishes come true. Takeshi recalls that Kurogane warned him not to be like himself, proof that at least some of Jaren's words are true. Jaren says this is because he ate Kurogane's heart, but Yoshimori says the relationship between Takeshi and Kurogane isn't something for Jaren to decide. Yoshimori and Tokine pummel Jaren with their Kekkai, causing him to flee. Yoshimori chops Takeshi on the head, saying that he should take his own advice and not listen to Jaren. Tokine says that she and Yoshimori are good at what they do, and that the three of them will be stronger together. Takeshi says that he must reset the master and follower contract with Jaren. He explains that he initially planned to use the thickest stake (the one Yoshimori hid earlier) to destroy Jaren, but will use it to make the contract instead.[7]

Yoshimori and Takeshi continue to pursue Jaren, pummeling him with Kekkai and stakes. Yoshimori and Takeshi compliment each other on their attacks, and when Jaren dissolves and flees, they chase after him. Tokine and Hakubi chase after them, wondering what the pair could be thinking. She recalls that Takeshi has already told them that normal attacks are useless: Jaren will only dissolve and escape, manipulating the opponent until it devours their heart, leaving only an empty corpse. Yoshimori suggests that they maintain an overly positive attitude: Tokine dislikes this plan, but Takeshi agrees (likely because being overly positive is normal for him).

Yoshimori and Takeshi keep up their plan of attacking Jaren while staying positive, and Yoshimori notes that it seems to be working: Jaren is growing weaker. Despite this, he wonders why only Takeshi's techniques do any real damage. Takeshi says it is because Yoshimori's technique is not appropriate for fighting Jaren: the Kekkai technique is effective against physical beings, but Jaren is a spirit and has no solid form. Exorcist techniques, on the other hand, use the stakes as a focus to send power directly into the enemy, and in addition, the contract works almost like a curse. Yoshimori wonders if Zekkai would work, but admits he still can't use it properly.

Jaren suddenly stops running and confronts the pair. Tokine catches up and warns them to get away as she sees Jaren gathering power. Takeshi tells Yoshimori to get away as well, since he's not used to Jaren's malice, but Yoshimori claims that he'll only know if it's possible for him to fight Jaren if he gets closer. Jaren suddenly grows in size, and says he's stronger because of the malicious hearts of humans, which give him power. Jaren claims that Kurogane was especially tasty, and that every human has a malicious heart. Combined with the power of Karasumori, he laughs that they have no chance against him. Yoshimori is confused, because Jaren's words have no effect on him: from what Takeshi told him of Kurogane, he feels Jaren is mistaken about him. Takeshi realizes that Jaren is only focusing on a small part of the overall man that was his master, and knows that Kurogane truly regretted his crime, and hunted Jaren to make up for it. This makes Takeshi more determined to stop Jaren. Yoshimori surrounds Jaren with a Kekkai, and Takeshi throws a stake imbued with his power at Jaren. Jaren shrieks as he is struck, and Takeshi says he will bear all of Jaren, and commands him to kneel with an explosion of power. Takeshi proclaims the contract a success, and Jaren seems stunned before he dissolves and flees again, this time leaving Karasumori for good. Yoshimori is alarmed, but Takeshi assures him that Jaren cannot move too far away from his master, and that he will take care of Jaren slowly later on. Yoshimori and Takeshi begin to loudly celebrate, much to Tokine's embarrassment.

Equipment

Giant Stakes: Takeshi carries a backpack filled with giant stakes (which greatly resemble large nails), which serve as a focus for his spiritual power.[8]

Powers & Abilities

Enhanced Strength: In his youth, Takeshi trained daily by crushing rocks with devastating punches.[9] He can launch his stakes with enough power to penetrate Yoshimori's Kekkai, even before he charges them with his spiritual power.[10]

Exorcise

Takeshi exorcising an Ayakashi

Exorcist Training: Takeshi is admittedly not a fully trained exorcist, having only trained under Kurogane for three days, but is capable of destroying spirits and performing sealing techniques. He carries a pack full of giant stakes on his back. He launches these at demons and uses them as a focus, channeling his spiritual power through the stakes upon impact, resulting in an explosion that blasts the spirit. He can also generate barriers between a circle of stakes.[10]
  • Exorcist Contract: The largest stake is able to form a contract between an exorcist and a strong spirit, linking them so that the exorcist becomes the spirit's master, and is able to summon and completely seal it at a later date.

Relationships

Kurogane

Main article: Kurogane

Kurogane saved Takeshi from being devoured by Jaren, and Takeshi has idolized him ever since. Takeshi fully devoted himself to becoming Kurogane's disciple, which Kurogane eventually and reluctantly agreed to. Takeshi draws comfort and strength from Kurogane's teachings (nonsensical as some of them appear to be), and pursues Jaren largely to avenge Kurogane's death.

Yoshimori Sumimura and Tokine Yukimura

Main article: Yoshimori Sumimura
Main article: Tokine Yukimura

Due to their similar professions and ages, Takeshi quickly forges a bond with Karasumori's 21st Legitimate Successors. In particular, Takeshi and Yoshimori discover they have similar goals, attitudes, and outlooks. While both are a little flimsy on the details of their respective dreams, they power ahead largely on sheer force of will alone. Their individual stubbornness leads to momentary conflicts: Takeshi goes as far as defeating and restraining Yoshimori to prevent him from possibly being consumed by Jaren. Yoshimori does much the same later on when Takeshi loses his confidence in combat.

References

  1. Kekkaishi manga, Chapter 124
  2. Kekkaishi manga, Chapter 125, pages 8-18
  3. Kekkaishi manga, Chapter 124, pages 1-17
  4. Kekkaishi manga, Chapter 125, pages 1-19
  5. Kekkaishi manga, Chapter 126, pages 1-18
  6. Kekkaishi manga, Chapter 127, pages 1-18
  7. Kekkaishi manga, Chapter 128
  8. Kekkaishi manga, Chapter 129, page 7
  9. Kekkaishi manga, Chapter 125, page 8
  10. 10.0 10.1 Kekkaishi manga, Chapter 126, page 8

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