darlingfox: (Mamoru)
darlingfox ([personal profile] darlingfox) wrote2009-03-31 12:20 am

[rec/review] Until Death Do Us Part

[livejournal.com profile] blueutopiah's Soul Eater post gave me an idea. Since I procrastinate read/watch anime/manga/books/TV/movies/etc. quite a lot, I thought that I could occasionally mention the shiny things I've found.

Let’s start with Until Death Do Us Part by Takashige Hiroshi, simply because I just read the newest chapter.

Read at OneManga
Download (some) chapters at MangaShare

A girl named Haruka Tōyama happens to be in the care of a certain company because she can see the future, but she wants to get away, so using her abilities she finds a blind though strong man and asks him to help her as a body guard 'til death do them part. The man, named Mamoru Hijikata, quickly dismiss her request as a joke from a small 12 year old kid, only to realize what shady business has beginning to unfold when people willing to do anything are desperately searching for the girl. As she predicted, Mamoru has vast experience in shady business himself, and will not be pushed around easily by any criminal.

... Is 'protection' the only reason that Haruka approached Mamoru? Or could it be something else?

UDDUP takes place in a not-so-distant future: the technology level isn’t completely utopian and while precogs like Haruka apparently exist, they're not common. Not all criminals are caught or punished by authorities, and the victims of those have formed an anonymous underground network, the Elements Network, which in turn is divided into smaller groups. This network utilizes people like Mamoru, Igawa and Sierra: they punish criminals when the law doesn't, all for their own reasons (money, revenge etc.). Kind of like Light from Death Note but with less notes and shinigami.

These are our main characters. Their team is called Blade.

On the left we have Sierra, who is both hot and capable. She’s their gunman and originally from another team (called Wall). Now she’s with these guys because Haruka refuses to leave Mamoru, and leaving a little girl alone with two guys is questionable even in the UDDUP world. She also keeps an eye on Mamoru because, like most sensible people, the Wall thinks that he's one suspicious bastard. Sierra likes Haruka, but she isn’t yet all that comfortable with her new colleagues.

Mamoru is next to Sierra on that pic. He’s hot too, and intelligent and absolutely ruthless. He uses a super-sharp sword and it’s actually considered old-fashioned in canon. For him, it’s easier than a gun because he’s as blind as a bat. However, he has fancy sunglasses that allow him to see shapes through a computer. [<---- Mamoru vision]

...Look, if you want more technical details, read the manga or ask Igawa. Igawa is the other guy on the pic, and he's responsible for the transportation and technical things. The group gets information, Igawa makes a plan and then sics Mamoru (and later Sierra) on the poor bastards who stepped on to the wrong side of the law. Igawa is one of the sane ones around and guards Haruka like a protective older brother.

The blond girl on the pic is Haruka, who uses Mamoru to escape people who kidnapped her. She’s a precog, a person who can see the future, and once she saw Mamoru she knew that he could save her. There’s another reason for her choice, but I’m not telling that. :P Haruka is all of twelve-years-old, and lost her parents when the kidnappers took her. Currently she's staying with the Blade because a) she has nowhere else to go and b) they can use her ability to their advantage in certain situations. Also, she refuses to leave Mamoru and no one wants to fight with a little girl.

There are several side characters, including a rather important detective called Genda. He’s the outsider’s point of view and he’s slowly beginning to learn that the network exists and may be kind of useful.

All in all:

The art is beautiful and it gets better as it goes. The characters look more realistic than in most manga I've read and while they’re pretty, they're not OMG ANGELS ON EARTH, SPONTANEOUS ORGASMS ALL AROUND in the UDDUP world. The mangaka doesn’t shy away from gore and ugliness either: Mamoru uses a sword and it isn’t a neat and bloodless way to kill.

The story itself is good: interesting, sometimes funny and quite lifelike. The network is something that could exist and the crimes they deal with are also realistic. A word of warning: there are scenes that some people may find disturbing, like an attempted rape and aborted fetuses on a petri dish. The latter isn’t as gory as it sounds, but it isn’t particularly nice either.

With the exception of Haruka, the whole cast is adult so the teenage emo angst is missing (\o/). I like the main four, and I’ve yet to see an annoying character. The manga is unfinished with 37 scanlated chapters but I think I’ve seen chapter 60+ mentioned somewhere. The series seems to be long and I hope that all of it will be scanlated: it’ll be interesting to see what kind of a woman Haruka will be. She’s a relatively normal girl who's now raised by a group of emotionally messed up killers.

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