Despite her dependence upon blind street samurai Mamoru Hijikata, teen psychic Haruka Tooyama knows almost nothing about her chosen protector or his past. Thus, when she is granted a rare face-to-face meeting with the mysterious head of the Element Network—the vigilante group whom she and Mamoru serve—Haruka asks two big questions: How did Mamoru come to join the Element Network? And what caused him to lose his sight?

The answer to both questions lies in the distant past with one of young Mamoru’s first missions for the Element Network. Operating with an American military outfit, Mamoru was charged with putting a stop to the operations of TPC, a criminal gang that was raiding the war zones of Chechnya, kidnapping children for involuntary organ donations and even more unsavory practices. It was a mission that would expose Mamoru to greater evils than he had ever seen before… shortly before he would cease to see at all!

The better portion of this seventh volume of Until Death Do Us Part is largely devoted to this extended flashback sequence. There is a danger in revealing the past of any man-of-mystery character, but thankfully, the script by Hiroshi Takashige does not rob Mamoru of his sense of menace. This is not a clichéd tale of a starry-eyed innocent turned into a ruthless killer. The flashbacks make it clear that Mamoru was ruthlessly amoral and driven to be the greatest swordsman of all time, even before the incident that claimed his eyes. If anything, his newfound handicap only made him more determined and ferocious in battle.

With this volume, I discovered something extraordinary: Until Death Do Us Part crosses over with several other popular action manga! The flashback sequence features a cameo by Jesus, the assassin protagonist of Jesus Sajin Kouro, written by Nanatsuki Kyoichi and illustrated by Fujiwara Yoshihide. Once the action shifts back to the present, we see Mamoru enrolling Haruka at the high school where Jesus works as a teacher in his secret identity. This leads to appearances by characters from the series Yami no Aegis and sets the stage for the conflict at the center of the next book.

The visceral imagery and battle sequences in this volume are some of the most gory and disturbing yet, not only by the standards of Until Death Do Us Part, but Seinen manga in general. The bar for quality and detail in manga illustration has once again been set a little higher by DOUBLE-S. For that reason, I must disagree with Yen Press’ rating this volume as OT for Older Teens. The script and artwork do not hold back in depicting the atrocities that cause Mamoru to reconsider his oath never to kill the wicked men he is sent to capture alive. The level of violence and adult content contained in this collection would be a hard R If it were translated into a live-action movie. That’s ignoring the real-world issues involved—such as child sex slavery, organ theft, and child soldiers forced into drug addiction—and the maturity needed to consider such things. Parental discretion is highly advised.

Until Death Do Us Part, vol. 7
by Hiroshi Takashige
Art by DOUBLE-S
ISBN: 9780316224314
Yen Press, 2014
Publisher Age Rating: OT (16+)

  • Matt

    | He/Him Librarian

    Reviewer

    A librarian with over 10 years experience in public and academic settings, Matthew Morrison has been blogging about comic books for nearly as long as they’ve had a word for it.  Over the past two decades, he has written regular columns, commentary, parodies and reviews for such websites and blogs as Fanzing, 411 Mania, Screen Rant and Comics Nexus.  He has served as an Expert in Residence for a seminar on Graphic Novels and Comics for Youth and Adults at the University of North Texas and has given several lectures on the history of comics, manga and cosplay culture at libraries and comic conventions around the country. In addition to his work for No Flying No Tights, he is the Contributing Editor of Kabooooom.com and maintains a personal blog at MyGeekyGeekyWays.com.

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