Title: Until Death Do Us Part (Shi ga Futari o Wakatsu Made)
Publisher: Square Enix (JP), Yen Press (US)
Story: Hiroshi Takashige
Serialized in: Young GanGan
Translation: Stephen Paul
Original Release Date: November 22, 2016
Review copy provided by Yen Press
I really wanted to like this final volume of Until Death Do Us Part. By most measures, the story was preparing to go out with a bang: Mamoru and Haruka are lead teams into Galboa, the evil dictator was basically auditioning to be the newest DC/Marvel supervillain, and Zashid’s sons fight over the right to be his successor. The volume also clocks in at over a whopping 500 pages, leaving plenty of room for these final battles. (Seriously, if a normal manga volume is equivalent to a person, than this book is Zashid or the Hulk.) The cover is also a nice group shot of the main heroes, so I was optimistic we would see everyone receive some sort of closure — good or bad.
Yet I knew Volume 13 was off to a rough start when an omniscient narrator gave readers a lecture on AK-47s. I think Mamoru’s katana’s monolayer was explained in less detail. At least that information was revealed via dialogue and not text boxes as two characters stare each other down. I think I was only more bored when I later read through the Japanese graduation song.
Yeah, there are definitely some dull parts, and these sections really detract from a lot of the highlights of this volume. We finally get to see Haruka and Mamoru reunite, and Igawa gets the respect he deserves. Zashid’s power level continues to be off the chart, and the psychological chess game forces Wiseman, Haruka, and even Zashid’s sons to spend time outwitting each other. Haruka also shines here, and even her Kenshin-like vow not to kill seems more like a dedicated vow of a warrior instead of an optimistic wish of a naïve young girl.
Unsurprisingly, the manga goes through a time skip here. However, I wasn’t expecting it to be at the very end and to leave some questions about how the main group led their lives during those seven years. Haruka ends up in the capital city of Galboa, but this insight into Zashid’s private life just doesn’t last long enough. There’s a lot of drama and potential landmines with the dictator wanting an appropriate heir, but he backs off the more disturbing options rather easily. I think it would have been far more interesting if at least some of those seven years been dedicated to the Zashid and Haruka conflict. If you had told me beforehand that their interaction was more fascinating than him and Mamoru, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. So I liked these scenes, but I didn’t like how they took place over a short period of time. I’m just… really conflicted. Especially since the time skip is incredible short. What was everyone doing? Why could Haruka use her real name but had to dye her hair? Why was Grandma in the dark? How did Mamoru truly feel about the end? I mean, I can make some guesses, but after 13 omnibuses, I feel like the creators should have shed more light on how their characters have spent and will spend the rest of their lives.
As for the art and translation, both aspects just continue and finish what has been standard for all the previous volumes. DOUBLE-S still shines in the action scenes but struggles with neutral expressions. And despite Haruka looking like loli bait on the front cover, she actually looks older than 13/14 in the manga. A good amount of death is shown, and the manga hardly resorts to Mamoru-vision to hide the violence.
Honestly, if you have read any of the previous volumes, — and, quite frankly, I don’t know why you would want to jump to a review of the final volume if you haven’t — you know exactly what to expect. Readers who have stuck through this series through all of the previous omnibuses really have no reason not to buy the final volume. For everyone else, if you’re looking for a manga with a dynamic ending, then Until Death Do Us Part disappoints.