Thursday, June 5, 2014

Until Death Do Us Part Volume 1

I've heard noise in the 'Net that Amazon was trying to shake down a book publisher. Ironically, some of the things Amazon has been accused of, include NOT discounting the companies titles. You know, if you're relying on Amazon to discount your product to move it in the first place, you might be pricing it too high.

Anyway, I see that Barnes and Nobles and a few other companies are trying to 'take advantage' of this situation by offering huge discounts and other benefits like buy two, get one free. If they're not making profit from this maneuver, it's stupid. As has been shown, consumers who are buying online in the first place, don't have loyalty, they have price loyalty. If you're not making any money on the thought that these loss leaders will get people to stick with you online, you've already lost.

Again, anyway, one of the titles that Amazon in it's evilness does have on sale, is Until Death Do Us Part, volume 1. This is set in modern times that utilizes a lot of super tech and low psychic abilities, or at least the first volume does. For $2.99, I was more than willing to give it a read.

I dig the art style. I don't want to say 'standard manga', but well, it's not done in the humorous style and it's done in a manner that allows the high action to be told quickly and with lots of movement and energy so for me, it's fairly standard.

The story is also interesting. The wiki entry over here goes into it a bit more.

The main character, Mamoru Hijikata, is a modern day Zatoichi, a blind swordsman with his own sword cane. The writers make it a little more modern though, giving Mamoru glasses that allow him to 'see' things in grid patterns with no depth or detail but good enough to see people, buildings, and hell, even moving bullets. His katana? It's a mono-katana capable of cutting through almost anything with devastating precision. His initial purpose? He works for an organization of wealthy benefactors who themselves have suffered harm from criminal elements and have pooled their resources to fight crime with technology, but they are vigilantes.

By making the character blind, but competent with a katana, and limitations on his 'sight', the author creates a character with limitations but one whose martial appeal is strong. He's in part an underdog thanks to his limitations.

The whole benefactor angel makes for a great modern campaign. It allows for the Game Master to throw a variety of equipment into the campaign that shouldn't exist in the current era, but thanks to those advances funded with super wealth, are real toys for the characters.

The other main character, Haruka Tōyama, is a young woman who we initially see as a prisoner for a yakuza group that wants to exploit her psychic abilities. In this case, Haruka is able to see the future, or many futures, and find the path most likely to happen. When she meets Mamoru, she knows that he is the one who can free her from the Yakuza and that starts their relationship.

Mamoru's relationship with his organization puts him in contact with a lot of other people. Such a collective would be useful in role playing games as it could allow for new players and new characters to be brought in if old ones die or players have to leave the campaign for a while. The rotating cell nature allows for a lot of flexibility which is great for a campaign. 

One of the twists on the villains in the series, is that the organization 'Plunderers', are not out for lofty ideals, political change, or wealth, but are out for intellectual property. They too are out for the high tech of this near future world and it makes them dangerous.

If the other volumes ever come down in price or I feel like making a physical purchase, which given my limited space, I might be tempted to take advantage of Barnes & Nobles sale as I see they have the first six volumes.