Until Death Do Us Part
死がふたりを分かつまで (Shi ga Futari wo Wakatsu Made)
TAKASHIGE Hiroshi (Story), DOUBLE-S (Art)
Seinen – Action, war, mature, sci-fi
8 Volumes (24 Volumes original Japanese release) (ongoing)
Haruka, a girl with the ability to predict the future, is kidnapped by yakuza. Taking advantage of an opportune moment, she begs for help from a blind swordsman, Mamoru. Mamoru is part of a vigilante group and ends up agreeing to Haruka’s request to protect her “until death do [them] part”.
Note: this review has been updated and can be found here.
As spoiled in the first volume, if the thought of Mamoru and Haruka eventually ending up together makes you uncomfortable, then this probably isn’t a series for you. Haruka is 12 at the start, and there are no signs that Mamoru is attracted to her, so this is not a lolicon series. So far, there has not been a time skip, but I would not be surprised if Until Death Do Us Part eventually goes down that path. At the very least, I’m sure an epilogue will be included, although a side chapter has partially shown their wedding.
Anyways, despite taking place in modern Japan, I consider this series essentially a war manga. A good portion of the cast is either former military or mercenary, and references are made to real-life conflicts and organizations. The “heroes” have just moved on to a vigilante group and their opponents are yakuza and smaller countries. Guns are the primary weapon of choice, but as the series goes on, other weapons are being introduced. This makes the manga more interesting to read (because, really, there’s only so many ways to do gun battles), but it also cause the manga to be less realistic. (A bouncy ball as a weapon. Seriously.)
The latest volumes are…kind of weird. Suddenly characters from other manga series jump into the fray. Unfortunately, that means that many of the supporting characters from the early volumes have yet to return. (At least one should return, as we last left her going on a training mission.) I also wonder if the new characters are eventually are going to be thrown aside like the earlier characters, especially since they are crossovers from other series.
Speaking of characters, this is not a series if you want to see character growth. Haruka is becoming stronger, but this is more a case of growing up rather than character development. She is likely to be one of the few characters who will “level up” in ability throughout the series. It is also interesting to note that although her precognitive abilities are powerful, they are not infallible. She can minimize casualties but cannot avoid battles. This is important so that this doesn’t become a psychological game of chess instead of a fighting manga. Mamoru is, to put it politely, cocky, and most of his comrades and enemies share this characteristic. Mamoru states several times that he is not a member of Element Network to dispense justice but to see that criminals get what is coming to them. He has entered the battlefield and has no desire to get off the battlefield. Mamoru also does not baby Haruka, which is a point of contention between him and others.
Ironically, the busier the scene, the better the art. The action scenes (especially ones involving car chases, which the artist admits he loves to watch in movies) are well done. Close-ups of the characters are fine, but eyes are often uneven or lack detail when further away or when characters display a neutral expression. I am impressed with the character designs. Many artists are locked into a few body types and hairstyles so that some manga scenes look like like it features twins or triplets. DOUBLE-S, with both the series’ own and the crossover characters, fortunately does not fall into this category. Mamoru’s first partner, for instance, has dreadlocks, which cannot be easy to draw. Plenty of characters have facial hair, and many enemies come from Africa, which requires plenty of screentone. With a large cast of characters (both throwaway and rotating), this makes it much easier to distinguish the characters. I may not remember their names, but I remember their roles and affiliations.
Honorifics are used, although this is a title where honorifics are not necessary. Many of the cast members are from foreign countries, and even most of the native Japanese speakers are not the respectful type. Haruka seems to be the only one who really uses honorifics. The volumes also include translator’s notes but most are rather short. This isn’t too surprising since the cast members are busy fighting and not leading normal lives.
While some of the current volumes seem to be incorporating more characters, I hope the cast does not continue to expand. While this is definitely a manga that is story-based and not character-based, to keep rotating the cast would be a big mistake. I am enjoying the ride, but a lot of characters have their own series, so I hope they don’t hijack Until Death Do Us Part. Otherwise, I enjoy this series as a more mature take on typical shounen martial arts manga.
Yen Press made the decision to release this series as 2-in-1 omnibuses, so we are technically on volume 16 of 24+. On the bright side, each volume is less than the cost of two individual volumes. The downside is that these volumes are rather thick, and I worry about the spines. They do include the omake pages at the end of each (Japanese) volume. Most of these involve the artist’s life and are pretty amusing.