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by Rebecca Silverman,

Until Death Do Us Part

GN 1

Until Death Do Us Part GN 1
Haruka is a twelve-year-old with amazing powers of precognition. Kidnapped by yakuza, she knows that she'll recognize her savior when she sees him...and when she does, she throws herself out of the car and onto his mercy. That savior turns out to be Mamoru, a blind man who can see in 3D models thanks to some special glasses, and a member of a team that punishes criminals the law does not. Mamoru isn't sure he wants to protect Haruka, but as the violence escalates and it becomes clear that much more is going on, he and the other members of his team take the girl in...

Don't let the title fool you – this is not a romance. In fact, the girl who speaks the words of the title, she whom our hero is ostensibly out to protect, plays a very small role in this omnibus edition of the first two volumes of Hiroshi Takashige and DOUBLE-S's action tale, and people put off by the title or what the book back claims is the premise might find themselves really enjoying it.

The story opens with Haruka Tooyama, a twelve-year-old girl with a perpetually worried expression, scanning the crowds outside of the vehicle she is riding in. Haruka is surrounded by men in suits, a good manga indicator that something shady is going on. Spotting a blind man walking with a cane, Haruka throws herself out of the vehicle and implores the man to save her. He's miffed, but since it turns out that he has a sword in that cane of his and he knows how to use it to devastating effect, the man agrees. Haruka implores him to be her protector forever and always, speaking the words of the title. And that, pretty much, is where her role begins and ends. We do learn that she has amazing precognition abilities, although only when she knows the people involved, and that a shady organization has orphaned her and wants to use her for their own ends. The organization has ties to the yakuza and an international terrorist group, although what their goals are hasn't been made clear by the volume's end. As this intrigue takes center stage, Haruka fades into the background as Mamoru (the blind man) and his brainy partner join up with a paramilitary group to take on the bad guys. Sure, they're still protecting the girl...but that's secondary to Mamoru's sword fighting and the discovery of who the villains are and what they want.

Action-wise, Until Death Do Us Part succeeds quite nicely. Mamoru, scarred around his blind eyes, can see thanks to the work of an unnamed scientist, who has made him special glasses. These lenses give him limited vision, which is show like unskinned 3D models, complete with grid lines. Interestingly enough, Mamoru can also see through things, so his aim with his blade is uncanny on a few levels. He also has a special tool that can give him a more detailed image for a few moments, courtesy of another scientist. Why all the tools? Because Mamoru is part of “Elements Network,” an international team that steps in where the law has failed to punish criminals. Some pretty high ranking members of the scientific community are involved, which has some scary implications for Haruka's abilities once you hit the halfway point of the volume and learn why the bad guys really want her. While this still makes her seem like a plot device rather than a main character, the overall science angle is an interesting one, although some of the explanations feel a bit too science fiction. They can also get very lengthy, which may turn some readers off in places.

While facial expressions are not artist DOUBLE-S's strong suit – most characters have two – his action scenes are exciting, and he draws explosions particularly well, with windows shattering, pieces falling to the ground, and a real sense of force. Bodies are reassuringly solid, and if a few fight poses look impossible, that is easily forgiven in the breakneck pacing. Interestingly enough, DOUBLE-S avoids virtually all fanservice shots, never showing the underwear of either Haruka or adult female lead Sierra. He actually comments on this in the afterward to volume two, as apparently he gets a lot of questions about it. DOUBLE-S has a very good sense of humor, and both of his postscripts are funny, making a nice break from the almost nonstop action of the main story.

Until Death Do Us Part is, despite its title, an action series. With big fights, international intrigue, and a healthy dose of science fiction as well, it succeeds as an action film on paper. While we clearly still have a ways to go in terms of learning what precisely is going on, the intertwined stories of Elements Network, Haruka, and Tokyo policeman Genda are working their way towards a big picture that promises to be a very interesting and complicated one indeed.

Overall : B
Story : B
Art : B+

+ Lots of action, great depiction of explosions. Yen Press' edition is very nicely done and doesn't skimp on the color pages or the harsh language. Intriguing story building up.
Haruka doesn't do much (and is actually a bit annoying), facial expressions are weak. Too much science-talk in places.

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Production Info:
Story: Hiroshi Takashige

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