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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit vol. 1 Impression


Near death experience and surviving a deadly disease. These are just two events that could cause an individual to reevaluate their life and live more fully. In Viz’s latest tale, Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit, another method is applied to the entire populace to accomplish this goal and its all government driven.

The National Welfare Act takes effect when children are in grade school. They are urged to live meaningful and productive lives then they’re injected and the countdown begins. 1 in every 1,000 injected students will die between the ages of 18-25. In order to be productive and enjoy life the fear of death, the real lottery chance is instilled in children and while the odds are long the reality is someone will die no matter their stature in life. Due to their brave sacrifice the soon to be departed are given 24 hours notice and their families are compensated. The messages are delivered by a group of messenger who are entrusted ahead of time about the departed identities. There are rules as new messenger Fujimoto learns. The process for injection is random. Three departments 100% isolated from the outside world and each other contain the keys to who has been injected and they do not put together the pieces until near the time of death is to arrive. Families are compensated unless the notified go off the hook, say on a crime spree, then they must compensate the victims. Even within the messengers organization injection can be done on purpose if one does not … cooperate with the rules and guidelines set forth. Fujimoto learns these rules and their exact workings as he delivers is messages. One such message sees a boy ridiculed through school seek vengeance against those he wronged while another plays a song from his past. The cause of death does not change but how each individual reacts does.

What would you do with only 24 hours to live? Spend time with loved ones, go nuts on a bender or fade quietly into the next life. This is the question that will pop into readers minds are Motoro Mase unleashes a story that seems so foreign but not that farfetched. The meat of Ikigami lies in its story as the art is very ordinary both in setting and character design. These are real people in very relatable situations which makes the narrative all the more haunting. The two stories put forth highlight just two examples of how individuals deal with imminent death, one carries out his vengeance while the other tries to remedy past wrongs. All those who survive do gain a deeper appreciation for life, and I’m sure we will see that side of the story soon, but for now it’s all about the rules, the cruel randomness of a nationwide game Russian roulette. 1 in 1,000 chambers is loaded; who pulls the trigger is random. It’s how real these characters seem that will touch a cord with readers. This is not some strange far off universe full of aliens; these could be your neighbors, friends even family.

Overall Mase creates a very real world with such a simple premise it’s scary. What if the government enacted an act like this, who could object? This is a chilling tale of how the human mind works when put into a situation where death is unavoidable. How far off is this vision, how simple a concept that could rob the world of promising minds, athletes and more. The man who would discover the cure for cancer, dead at 24 and nobody would ever know. A chilling world, relatable well told stories highlight terror on a new level with Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit.

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