“Putting Limits On Me” – Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit (manga) – 10/10 Hotsprings

Mangaka: Motoro Mase

Genre: Drama, Psychological

Licensed: Yes, this is licensed by Viz Media in the US.

Summary: Dear Citizen,

Thank you for your loyalty. You’ve no doubt noticed that the world is a troubled place. People are apathetic, lazy, unmotivated. You’ve probably asked yourself

WHY ISN’T ANYTHING BEING DONE TO STOP THIS SYSTEMATIC DECLINE?

Rest assured that measures are being taken. Beginning immedately, we will randomly selevt a different citizen each day who will be killed within 24 hours of notification. We believe this will help remind all people how precious life is and how important it is to be a productive, active member of society.

Thank you for your continued attention and your cooperation and particiaption…

(back cover of 1st volume)

Review: The premise is simple – following a young man, just turned 25, as he begins his job as a messenger. Fujimoto works for the government to deliver Ikigami to those who have been determined to die. He’s shaken from the start, seeing someone he was being trained with hauled away as a “social miscreant”, and wonders if he can really go through with this.

He can, and he does. From thereon, this turns into what seems like an episodic storyline, following the last 24 hours of those who are doomed to die. These stories are fantastically sympathetic, and run a whole range of situations. There are those who become violent, such as the man who was bullied in High School and decides to get revenge, to the heartbreaking, like the mother who tries to get her daughter away from Japan when she herself recieves one, to the bittersweet, such as the brother who decides his one last gift to his sister will be his corneas so she can once again see the world. They highlight the one thing that’s repeated over and over – that people all react differently and unpredictably to the Ikigami.

The individual stories at first seem to be setting the scene for that, showing the various facets of people and how they come to terms with their death. After that, they start taking a more plot-relevant bent, highlighting the turmoil that’s happening within Fujimoto’s mind. They start highlighting the political side to the whole issue, showing those who are for it and against it, and how they’re connected to the growing unrest of the people. Things are obviously coming to a boil and there is nothing that anyone can do about. The slow reveal of how people are dissatisfied and retracting their support really is done well, with all sides of the issue coming to light. Those who are for it end up being burned and done harm, while those who are against it manage to have little triumphs in the face of despair. What some people do to speak out is astonishing.

Things are obviously not hunky-dory at the Ikigami office, and Fujimoto suspects that he’s under suspicion of being a “social miscreant”. It’s shown time and again through office occurances and Ikigami stories that he can’t trust anyone except himself, so when a coworker approaches him, suspecting him of having misgivings, he has to make a tough decision on what is going to save his skin. The revelation of what was really going on probably shouldn’t have suprised me, but I was. There was so much doubt and mistrust that made me second-guess myself several times, and that really made this a great turn of events. Tragic, as well.

Overall, this all is really building into a fascinating game of society vs. government, and it’s a top-notch story of the rights that people have to live. I can’t recommend it enough.

Recommended: 16+. There is some violence, but very little gore – it’s mostly blood. There are some rather gruesome images though (glass clearly sticking out underneath a young girl’s eyelids on one page), but they are rare. The rating is more for the rather heavy and dark themes this deals with.

Other Titles You Might Enjoy:

Bokurano (anime and manga)

Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan (manga)

Shigofumi (anime)

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