Blind samurai Mamoru Hijikata has surrendered himself into the custody of the Trumps, an elite seven-man team of soldiers from the rogue nation of Galboa. It was Mamoru’s hope to buy enough time for his young charge, teen psychic Haruka Touyama, to escape the attack on her high school, initiated by the Trumps to capture her and claim the bounty on her head. Unfortunately, as Mamoru is in the midst of being tortured by the Trumps, he learns that Haruka has been captured.
Thankfully, Zelm, the Trumps’ tactician, trainer, and leader, relishes any chance to study a battle-master of any discipline and seeks to prove his skills (and those of his pupils) to the rest of the mercenary underworld. To that end, he proposes a challenge for Mamoru: kill everyone in the Trumps’ hideout in three hours or Haruka will be blown up by a bomb!
Things are complicated by the arrival of others who have a score to settle with the Trumps. Among them are the sniper Ash, the bodyguard with the robot arm known as Tate Karito, super-cop Detective Teppei Genda, and the ethical assassin known as Jesus. Ordinarily Mamoru might begrudgingly welcome their help, but by the terms of Zelm’s challenge, he must kill everyone in the Trumps’ hideout to save Haruka—even his allies!
The mega-crossover with Jesus Sajin Kouro and Yami no Aegis continues in this ninth volume of Until Death Do Us Part. Surprisingly, given the large cast of characters involved, the story flows smoothly and naturally. The script by Hiroshi Takashige masterfully balances all the players involved, making sure that each of them gets a decent amount of screen time and a chance to show off their skills. It really does feel like four or five different action movies converged on a single spot and all of their protagonists are stunned to suddenly find themselves in someone else’s story.
What makes this so enjoyable, however, is Takashige’s depiction of the characters and their various personality flaws and foibles. A lampshade is hung on the fact that Zelm, having accomplished his mission to capture Mamoru and Haruka, is willing to risk everything just to prove a point and study a master swordsman with twenty years of training up close. Zelm is perhaps the most engaging villain in the series to date, and a brief flashback showing his unexpected connection to Ash and the story he spins turns out to be surprisingly touching.
The artwork by DOUBLE-S is as amazing as ever. The amount of pure detail that goes into every panel of the action is mind-blowing. Even more astonishing is that the finished art never feels cluttered or overdone, despite all the intricate line work.
As always, Until Death Do Us Part earns its OT for 16 and older rating. Unlike most seinen manga, the rating is entirely due to adult language and violence, including a lot of bloodshed and quite a few severed limbs (as one would expect in a series where the main protagonist is a master of the katana).
Until Death Do Us Part, vol. 9
by Hiroshi Takashige
Art by DOUBLE-S
Yen Press, 2015
Publisher Age Rating: OT (16+)