After falling into an ambush plotted by the criminal mastermind known only as The Wiseman, assassin-turned-vigilante Mamoru Hijikata finds his confidence completely shot. Were it not for the intervention of tween psychic Haruka Tooyama, he would be dead. Thinking himself useless to the Element Network—the group whose technology enables the now-blind warrior to fight once more—Mamoru abandons his post. He skips town with Haruka in tow, the young girl insisting that she has to keep an eye on the man who agreed to protect her “until death do us part.”
When the two return to Tokyo one month later, they find that Mamoru’s partner in crime fighting, the White Hat hacker Ryoutarou Igawa, has been assigned a new partner: a hot-shot driver named Dai Ibuki who performs miracles on motorcycles that match what Mamoru can do with a sword in terms of sheer impossibility. In the swordsman’s absence, he has been declared an outlaw, and the rash driver is all too eager to run his modified motorcycle across Mamoru’s face. Mamoru’s life is saved for the moment by the intervention of the mysterious leader of The Element Network. He agrees to give Mamoru a chance to reaffirm his loyalty and prove that he is still capable of defending their interests. The test? Bring down the Kakuhoukai crime syndicate within two weeks or be turned over to the police to answer for past crimes.
The action intensifies in this fifth chapter of the series, quite a feat given that previous volumes were fully-packed with thrilling fight sequences. Mamoru finds ample opportunity to practice his swordplay herein, but newcomer Ibuki also stars in a number of impressive scenes with his custom-built motorcycle. Fans of Initial D or The Fast and the Furious are likely to enjoy these sequences.
The action is good, and artist Double-S depicts each sequence in vivid detail. Yet it is the intricate subplots and distinct personalities of the characters devised by writer Hiroshi Takashige that sets this series apart from other action/adventure manga. The highlight of this volume is the backstory of the Element Network’s leader, his own unique talents, and his reasons for creating a vigilante supergroup in the first place. We also meet Mamoru’s sensei and learn a bit more of the mysterious street samurai’s background.
This volume is rated OT for Older Teens and it earns that rating. The violence is extensive; quite a bit of damage is inflicted on various villains by quickly spinning tires and equally-fast sword blades. There is also a flashback sequence depicting a sexual and physical assault that leaves one female character unable to have children. This sequence does feature some nudity and is vivid enough to be worth a trigger warning. Throw in a bit of cursing that would not be inappropriate in a Martin Scorsese film and you have a series that is very good, but definitely not for children under 16.