Futaba Kazuma is studying to get his qualification in clinical psychology, but he didn’t expect to run into his first patient so soon. The moment he bumps into a girl named Emiru—clearly fragile, pale skin, her hair drained of all its color—he feels an unmistakable rumble in his heart. Turns out the mansion he’ll be boarding at is Emiru’s home, giving the two plenty of time to acquaint themselves with one another, as well as the rumbling despair that resides somewhere deep within Emiru.
That terminal illness of the heart is the reason for Emiru’s physical state. Her caretaker has his hands full with her, and he’s growing old and weak himself. Thus, it soon becomes Futaba’s responsibility to look after Emiru, and whether it’s a good idea or not—especially taking his own motives into consideration—he also aims to use his expertise to uncover the source of the despair that’s slowly taking her life.
The first volume of Sickness Unto Death sets the stage with the quickness, getting Futaba into the routine of living with Emiru and diving right into their relationship over the course of the first few chapters. While the fast pace is welcome, the story itself isn’t quite as gripping as it should be, and Takahiro Seguchi’s more-than-competent artwork is pretty, but lacks a spark of its own.
The real issue with Sickness Unto Death is that its page-turning power lies wholly in the mystery behind Emiru’s illness. Her and Futaba’s relationship is inelegantly portrayed, despite page after page hoping to convince the reader of this beautiful, inexplicable, and ultimately tragic romance. Writer Hikaru Asada pulls both the title and the story’s underpinnings from Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard’s 1849 book, which explored the concept of despair, the very thing that imprisons Emiru so desperately. She’s not faking it, that’s for sure, but this volume is just going to raise expectations for whatever skeletons jangle and cackle eternally in her closet.
Originally serialized in Hakusensha’s Young Animal magazine, the collected version of Sickness Unto Death is just two volumes long, so we’ll have it all sussed out in due time. At this point, though, it hasn’t grabbed me enough to recommend sparking that curiosity in your own mind.
Publisher: Vertical Inc.
Story: Hikaru Asada
Art: Takahiro Seguchi