I haven’t been in the mood for anything like Shi ga Futari o Wakatsu Made / Until Death Do Us Part for a long, long time. But, holy crap, when I want a blind, katana-welding vigilante to protect a clairvoyant middle schooler, the only one for me is Hijikata Mamoru.
Seriously, what’s not to love? The story starts with Haruka Tooyama, a middle schooler, who has the power of precognition. Everyone is after her for her predictive skills, and some baddies have murdered her parents and kidnapped her. The problem for them? She knows just who she needs to get herself out of this mess: enter the blind ‘samurai’, Hijikata Mamoru.
Mamoru is loosely affiliated with an paramilitary organization that fights international crime called the Elements, or something like this. It doesn’t much matter, except that because of this tangental relationship, Mamoru has access back-up in the form of a hacker named Igawa in a bullet-proof van who supplies him all the best tech, including a cane-katana made from a space-age microfiber that can literally cut ANYTHING and fancy sunglasses that allow Mamoru something akin to “sight.”
Aren’t you all in? Because at this point, I was ALL IN!
I mean, holy sh*t, is this whole thing some kind of high octane ‘way of the sword,’ but there was hardly a misstep in all 214 chapters for me. The final arc gets a little political and “scheme-y” for me with the introduction of a spy/game master character known as “Wiseman”, but I can attest to the fact that a lot of that can be skimmed and the gist of it is still very enjoyable.
The women characters in this have gigantic boobs (Double-S, indeed!) with a lot of what my gamer friends would call “jiggle physics,” but that’s the worst of the fan service, IMHO. And, for all of that, we also get a lot of lingering on the male form, as well,
The only other problematic bit in this manga is the relationship between Mamoru and Haruka Tooyama, THE MIDDLE SCHOOLER. Girl is YOUNG. I mean, you see her at the top there? She’s a child. Mamoru is AT LEAST ten years older than she is, if not more. But, Haruka announces early on that her precognition has told her that Mamoru is her future husband.
Mmmm, yeah, that hits my squick button pretty darn hard.
However, don’t let that stop you from the rest of this amazingly over the top, cheesy-awesome ride. Having read all the way to the end, I can assure you that the relationship stays mostly platonic.There’s no courtship beyond them fighting side-by-side an the occasional awkward promise. If you can stand Haruka cooking for Mamoru from time to time and the people around them making crass jokes about her being “wife-y” you’ll be okay. There is ONE kiss in the chapter near the end, but it’s: “you’re probably dying so here is a chaste kiss on the lips.” For me, that was almost too much, but since most of the rest of the story was about other stuff, I was okay with it.
9/10ths of this manga is Mamoru being bada$$ with a katana. But they do go there at the end — as in, after a timeskip where Haruka grows-up, they do utter the titular phrase in the kind of setting where you’d expect that. (Psst, they get married.)
For me, knowing that was likely coming helped me ignore it, you know? Personally, I kind of hoped they’d go an unexpected direction, given what they set up in terms of the limits of Haruka’s precognition, but alas. Honestly, I think because it was stated as a possibility at the start, it didn’t get under my skin that this was yet another adventure that seemed to have end in the dreaded wedding bells ™.
At least, the ensemble cast is so interesting that I could also ignore that weird relationship for all the others. (So many ships!) In fact, I was excited to see that several of the characters got manga of their own:
Aegis gets two separate spin-off manga: a six volume manga called Akatsuki no Aegis / Aegis of the Dawn (which no one appears to be scanlating) and Yami No Aegis / Aegis in the Dark, an on-going prequel (7 volumes scanlated so far out of 27) by a different author/artist team: Nanatsuki Kyoichi and Fujiwara Yoshihide.
The Aspergers genius behind “Elements” and the creator of SPARC, Tatsumi Daiba, gets a three volume spin-off called: Alcbane. No one seems to be scanlating this one either, which is a shame because it looks almost like a superhero manga, with a cover showing Daiba wearing SPARC in its helmet form. This one is written by Takashige-sensei, but illustrated by Kinutani Yuu.
Jesus also gets a couple of spin-off manga, as well. He gets Jesus – Sajin Kouro, (14 volumes) and Jesus , a prequel, (13 volumes.) Both of these manga are produced by the Nanatsuki/Yoshihide team. Only the prequel is currently being scanlated, alas.
I’m sad to see that “Double-S” (a.k.a. Song Ji-Hyoung) was not associated with any of the spin-offs, because in so many ways, his art makes this story. The action is AMAZING:
I also just really loved the way Mamoru is rendered:
But, I was interested enough in this vaguely futuristic world enough to consider checking out the spin-offs that are available.
I loved this one. I totally recommend it for anyone who can handle violence and enjoys sh*t like pages of people talking about various sword-forms and The Art of War. Plus, did I mention? BLIND MODERN-DAY SAMURAI. I mean, what the heck more could you possibly need??