The third volume of Until Death Do Us Part opens in the thick of the action, with pre-teen psychic Haruka and her protector Mamoru on the run. Their pursuer is Fang, an international assassin who utilizes stolen military-grade technology to eliminate his targets. His weapons of choice in this battle—stealth drones that utilize silent technology—prove to be a perfect foil for blind swordsman Mamoru, whose enhanced senses usually allow him to detect and counter any approaching foe. Ironically, the second-sighted Haruka will have to play the protector to Mamoru, while their allies in the vigilante Element Network, White Hat hacker Igawa and soldier Sierra, move to neutralize Fang themselves.
Despite the high-octane content of this series (the first half of this volume is essentially one extensive action sequence), Until Death Do Us Part is far more than a simple action manga. Writer Hiroshi Takashige’s characters hardly resemble the standard cardboard cut-outs that usually populate the genre. The characters are allowed to develop as the series progresses and there is just as much pure emotional drama as there are sword-fights and explosions. Takashige’s character development even extends to the supporting cast: a prime example can be found in the subplot of a rookie police detective named Horikawa, who dreams of being a heroic cop like the ones in the movies. Of course, real detective work consists primarily of dull stakeouts and paperwork, much to his dismay. Assigned to watch Haruka’s grandmother, who has been under police protection ever since her granddaughter’s disappearance, Horikawa will find himself thrust into the middle of a scene from the movies he loves and discover that being an action hero is not what he imagined it would be.
The biography of artist Double-S claims this was his first published work. Some readers may find that hard to believe, given the skill with which Double-S brings the story to life. Although it is definitely influenced by standard manga tropes, the style of this book remains comparable to the work of British comic book artist Bryan Hitch in terms of sheer detail. Nevertheless, the artwork in this series is clearly defined and nothing gets lost in the lines.
Like the previous volumes in this series, this one is rated OT for Older Teens. This book is nothing if not realistic in regards to the amount of damage a katana can inflict on a human body, and it would definitely merit an R-rating if it were filmed. Until Death Do Us Part includes copious bloodshed and numerous applications of the F-word amidst other profanity; coupled with the emotional maturity needed to fully appreciate certain plot points—such as Sierra’s depression over the death of her daughter—this is one book to keep away from the kids.
Until Death Do Us Part, vol. 3
by Hiroshi Takashige
Art by Double-S
Yen Press, 2013
Publisher Age Rating: OT (16+)