Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit (vol.3) (Viz Media Sig 2009) is written and illustrated by Motoro Mase. This series is taking off nicely, I must say. Are you interested in a story arc about government sponsored murder? Where random citizens are selected to die between the ages of 18 and 24 for the better good of humanity?
In “Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit (vol.3),” the Japanese government is forced to take drastic measures in a declining economy. The world is a terrible place they say. People are lazy and unproductive they cry.
Crime rates are spiking and people don’t appreciate life like they should they admonish. The answer to this? The Welfare Act, a new law that dictates that every citizen entering the first grade must be immunized with a syringe that may or may not contain a nanocapsule that bursts inside the heart at a predetermined time, date and year.
The chances of being immunized with the nanocapsule is 1:1000 or 0.001%. Each child is told entering elementary school that he/she may not live to adulthood. The Ministry of Health and Welfare is the agency that monitors who has been injected with the deadly capsules and they send out a “messenger” to inform the unlucky winners of this nationwide lottery of their last 24 hours.
That messenger is Fujimoto, one of the main recurring characters in this series. When he started his job, he was disillusioned and upset at his role of causing people to lose hope. Now, after he’s been on the job for awhile, he’s more or less adapted. Although, he has lingering doubts about the effectiveness of this law. One of his main questions or concerns is: how does the death of random citizens make this world a safer and better place?
In this dystopian society, citizens are brainwashed into believing that their deaths are necessary for the welfare of the nation. Any outcry or protest of this law is strongly suppressed (as it’s the only way this would work). The world that the author has created is somewhat interesting to me especially since the author decided to examine more closely what this law does or means to those who receive the “ikigami” or “death papers.”
Reactions have varied. In past episodes, all have reacted in the usual fashion of horror, sadness and regret. Some spend their last 24 hours doing nothing. While others, well, act on their rage or spend those last hours doing an act of kindness in making their life more meaningful.
In vol.3, there are two stories: “Life Out of Control” which follow an emotionally abused kid whose mother is a politician who supports the The Welfare Act and “The Loveliest Lie” is about a young girl who lost her eye sight in a accident and has the chance to regain it through surgery but doesn’t have a donor.
I find the idea behind this series rather gripping in seeing how people grapple with their mortality. It begs the question: what would you do given your last 24 hours to live?
This series does have a depressive feel to it, no doubt but the message is clear in that you should live life as if today is your last. Must mention the artwork because it is just outstanding. My hat is off to the author in how he illustrates human emotion. Good job.
Overall, a good, mature series for adults. Not sure how long the author can sustain this because now we are starting to see a bit of hidden dissent. I plan to follow and see how it goes. My grade, B. Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit (2009) is available in paperback for $12.99 USA list price, which uses the Japanese style of reading from right to left. Rated for M for mature audiences.