Aphelion Issue 295, Volume 28
June 2024 --
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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 feared.

Mamoru, the hero of  Until Death Do Us Part , by 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 is----

But then, there is Haruka, the middle school girl who is the other star of the show. Haruka is a precog, and everyone, especially 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 blind superhero 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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