Until Death Do Us Part
A Manga Review
by McCamy Taylor
For novelist Chester Himes a “Blind Man with a
Pistol” was a metaphor for chaotic violence in
America’s ghettos. In Japan, a blind man with a sword can be
your very best friend. Take Zatoichi,, a blind gambler and masseur who
is also a master swordsman---and the subject of 26 films and
a television series in Japan. Though he can not see, his
other sense are heightened, which gives him almost superhuman powers.
While darkness slows down other swordsmen, for Zatoichi, darkness is
his element---and, in Buddhist Japan where nondualism is the
ideal, that makes him someone to be respected rather than
Mamoru, the hero of Until Death Do Us Part ,
Hiroshi Takashige, is also a blind swordsman. A member of a secret
crime fighting organization, he has access to weapons and other
equipment that give him almost superhuman powers. For instance, his
enhanced sword is so sharp it can cut through a car. And he has a
special pair of sunglasses that use sonar waves to send signals to his
brain, so that he can “see” like a bat. He also has
lots and lots of partners, most of whom are there to provide
commentary so that the reader can appreciate just how kick ass Mamoru
But then, there is Haruka, the middle school girl who is the
star of the show. Haruka is a precog, and everyone,
everyone in organized crime, wants to control her. As she is being
abducted, she spots Mamoru walking alone, and her ESP tells her that he
is the one man in Japan who can keep her safe, so she slips away from
her kidnappers and seeks his help. She is quickly inducted into the
crime fighting organization, and before you know it this little blonde
kid is out there beside the blind swordsman, Mamoru, busting criminals.
About that title. Yes, it means exactly what you think it does. Haruka
does not run to Mamoru just because he is a
swordsman who can keep her safe. Her precognitive abilities tell her
that one day she and Mamoru will marry. But don’t worry. This
is not lolicon, a manga genre in which little girls are eroticized.
Haruka really is just a kid, and Mamoru has zero romantic interest in
her. The fan service is supplied by a bunch of buxom
adult women who fight alongside our heroes.
The science fiction elements in this series are surprisingly good. The
author takes time to explain the theory behind some of his less
plausible inventions. And there is some very sound speculation about
how Haruka’s extrasensory powers work.
If you grew up reading American super hero comics, you might like this
one----assuming that Square Enix, its Japanese publisher ever gets
around to releasing it in the U.S. I am betting that we will see an
anime adaptation before we ever see the manga, but publishers in this
country have surprised me recently with some of their daring
choices---and this title already has a huge fan base in the U.S. To
quote the original scanlators, “Go, blind dude!”
© 2010 McCamy Taylor
McCamy Taylor is the long fiction editor for Aphelion Webzine.
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