By Hiroshi Takashige and DOUBLE-S. Released in Japan as “Shi ga Futari wo Wakatsu made” in 2 separate volumes by Square Enix, serialization ongoing in the magazine Young Gangan. Released in North America by Yen Press.
It feels rather refreshing, after reading this first omnibus, to know that I will not have to be thinking of ways to praise the author’s fresh, original ideas. There’s nothing like that here. Not that this is a bad manga – it’s quite good – but it is an action-packed thriller with spectacle and excitement, not a densely plotted opaque mystery. Well, unless it surprises me later. That said, as I indicated, it’s startling how well this works anyway. This manga is a compulsive page-turner, with likeable, cool characters and lots of good action scenes that are (for once) relatively easy to follow.
The premise reads like the author stared surfing TV Tropes and writing stuff down. Our hero, Mamoru, a blind swordsman who is testing new technology that lets him a) see folks as wire frame-type contours, and b) cut them with a monofilament sword, is interrupted one day by a girl, Haruka, who can predict the future under the right conditions and has a lot of bad guys hoping to catch and dissect her to figure out why. He reluctantly helps her, and along the way they meet the organization he belongs to, a special task force composed of victims of terrorism who are not getting revenge. Together they will bring down an insane global conspiracy!
Again, if I read that synopsis of fanfiction.net, I’d be moving on without a second thought. But the creators make it work, mostly by not really giving anyone time to think about anything. This is an action manga, and things rarely stop for more than 5-10 pages without another firefight or sword battle breaking out. The lead is cool, handsome, morally ambiguous, and has a tortured past – winning qualities, every one. (I am unsurprised that this manga has a large female following.) His colleague Ryotaro is refreshingly normal, aside from his amazing tech savvy, and seems to handle the dual role of Mr. Exposition and Straight Man fairly well.
As for Haruka, well, so far she is the typical waif. I have the most misgivings about her, mostly due to the way this role has been handled in the past. I hope that she gets stronger and starts taking her own initiative (although props to her for escaping and seeking out Mamoru at the start). There’s also the whole “one day I’ll marry him” thing, which gets wrapped up in the actual title of the manga. Given she seems to be about 12, let’s hope that it continues to stay hypothetical. The artist doesn’t seem to draw in a very ‘moe’ style, which is a plus. On the other hand, he avoids panty shots and then points out in the afterword how he avoided panty shots, which is a minus. Sort of a ‘Don’t show, don’t tell’.
So despite being a collection of action cliches, this is a lot of fun. There’s a fair amount of violence, as you’d expect from a manga about terrorists who fight other terrorists, but it’s not overwhelming. It also has a good head on its shoulders, and even an occasional sense of humor. I think the word I’m looking for is solid. Yen has found good, solid entertainment here. Check it out.