This week I did something that I have been far too busy to enjoy the last few months. I went to the bookstore and I browsed. For like two hours! It was awesome, and relaxing, and therapeutic…seriously, the bookstore is one of my favorite places. Back when I was younger and had time, I would spend whole days there, sipping coffee, reading, playing on my laptop…
Anyway, the reason for this post is that I found an amazing new manga to read while browsing. It has swords, organized crime, and characters that you can really sink your teeth into. Until Death Do Us Part is an action packed story with detailed art and characters that can actually be distinguished by sight from every other manga/anime drawing. Ooooh, and it actually has a bit of plot mixed in with all the sword play and gun fights.
*Minor Spoilers Ahead*
The manga follows a girl named Haruka Tōyama who has been targeted by a terrorist organization because of her special abilities as a ‘precog’ - someone who can see all of the possible outcomes of the future. She is limited to the future of those whom she has a connection to – apparently her brain needs some data input before it can start calculating future events. But obviously terrorists would find her ability useful, and so our story begins.
Haruka’s family is killed when she is kidnapped by the bad guys, leaving her with only her grandmother – whom she cuts off from contact to protect her from being targeted. Haruka has only one small ray of hope – a man who, if she finds him, can protect her from the various organizations targeting her. She leaps from the car at the exact moment her abilites tell her could lead to her salvation, and picks out her savior from a crowded sidewalk.
Enter Mamoru Hijikata, a blind swordsman who works for an underground vigilante network called the Element Network. His partner, a tech-savvy man named Igawa, has developed a special pair of sunglasses that pick up outlines of images and send them directly to Mamoru’s brain. So while he can’t ‘see,’ he does have some form of vision. Mamoru easily takes care of the attackers, and leads Haruka to safety, just as her super brain told her he would.
Mamoru makes quite the protagonist, with scars that span diagonally across his upper face, a walking stick that actually holds a katana that can cut down to the molecular level (science is cool in this manga), and a leather jacket over a t-shirt and loose jeans. No skin tight super hero costumes for this bad ass. Mamoru seems to enjoy cutting up his enemies, though he is limited by Element to maiming his victims instead of outright killing them. He is accused of being evil and without conscience more than once throughout the manga, but his relationship with Haruka says otherwise.
He accepts her plea for help without hesitance, and takes the job of protecting her seriously when she tells him she will die without him. After all, she can tell the future. Even Haruka’s desperate statement that he needs to protect her “Until Death Do Us Part!” does not phase him. Of course, we find out later that Haruka has ‘seen’ that Mamoru is her future husband – but as of yet she is still so young that neither of them are developing romantic feelings. Because that would totally change the dynamic of the manga from awesome and kick ass to creepy and horrifying. While I totally respect most sexual preferences, pedophilia is one that does not seem to fit within the realm of respectable. So I’m willing to wait until she’s sixteen for the romance to unfold…which is sure to be cute with our emotionally crippled Mamoru and the tough yet innocent Haruka.
While others find Mamoru to be too cold and dangerous, Haruka has an easy acceptance of him, and seems to understand his feelings without his telling her. She can even see his future through his ‘eyes’ – which see only geographic shapes, giving her a unique perspective of her protector.
The story is written by Hiroshi Takashige and art is by Double-S. Both of them obviously know what they are doing, as both the story and the drawing style are abnormally good. The action scenes are awesome, fast paced, and probably comprise 70% of the novel, so if you’re someone who prefers more story than violence…well, you may want to look elsewhere. But if you like major wootage and people getting cut up by a badass…you should give this one a look-see. So far only Volumes 1 and 2 are released in the United States, so you’ll either have to wait or use scantilations (naughty, naughty!) to read all 15 volumes that have been released in Japan.
In other news, March Story Volume 4 is released Tuesday! Yay! So look forward to some gushage (hopefully) about that!
Anybody read in sweet new manga lately for me to check out? I’m gearing up for my winter hibernation time.