IKIGAMI – THE ULTIMATE LIMIT vol. 7 by Motoro Mase (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

August 3, 2011 by  

“Motoro Mase’s ‘IKIGAMI – THE ULTIMATE LIMIT’ continues its thrilling, heartbreaking storyline.  Mase’s manga series is wonderfully written, features cool artwork and is a manga series that is highly recommended!”

Image courtesy of © 2005 Motoro MASE. All Rights Reserved.






RATED: M for Mature (Parent Advisory – Explicit Content)

RELEASE DATE: August 9, 2011

Dear Citizen: 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?” Well, you’ll be happy to know measures are being taken. We, your government, have decided society needs a wake-up call. So beginning today, we will randomly select a different citizen 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 productive, active members of society. Thank you for your attention and your cooperation and participation in this new program.

Contains Episode 13: Photo of the Deceased and Episode 14: The Dream I Tried to Make Come True. If I quit now, my life itself would become a lie.

Can you imagine… That one day in your life where everything seems to be going good…things are getting better.  But then you receive a message and find out that your life will end.  In 24 hours, you will be dead, as part of the government’s National Welfare policy.

Servicing your country, the government would say… for the greater good to maintain peace.

This is the premise of Motoro Mase’s ‘IKIGAMI – THE ULTIMATE LIMIT’, a manga series which givesreaders a unique perspective on an alternate Japan where the government instills fear of death as a means to obtain a peaceful society.

The manga series focuses on the character of Fujimoto who works for the government and his job is to notify people with an “Ikigami” notice that they will die within 24 hours.

The premise of the story is that when a citizen enters elementary school and receives their immunization shots, the National Welfare Immunization is given. Among the immunization shots given to children, 0.01 percent of the shots contain a special nano-capsule. About 1 in 1,000 citizens are injected with the capsule and when they are between 18-24 years old, the capsule ruptures on a predetermined date and they person will automatically die.

The Japanese government believes that because citizens never know who has been injected with the capsule, they all grow up wondering if they will be the one that dies and so, this forces the individual to take life more seriously and become socially productive.

Since the law for the National Welfare Immunization was passed, crime and suicides in Japan have fallen and the Japanese concern of birth rates have increased (note: In reality, Japan is concerned that their population is shrinking as many couples are not wanting to produce offspring and worry that Japan will not be productive in the future unless this is changed now. Also, the crime and suicide problems of Japan have steadily grown).

In the nature that someone does die, their family of the deceased is paid a pension but if by any chance, the person who commits a crime after receiving their Ikigami, the family will be denied the pension but also will be liable financially towards the crime committed by the deceased and in effect, will be ostracized by the community and will be forced to relocate.

Also, if anyone voices their disdain publicly about the National Welfare Immunization, they will also be dealt with and will be injected with the capsule.

The first six volumes of “IKIGAMI – THE ULTIMATE LIMIT” have shown us how the Ikigami has affected many lives and how people went on to live their final day in their life. Some who wanted to share their final moments with love ones to those who wanted to destroy others.

Also, throughout the manga series, we have seen “the messenger”, the protagonist named Fujimoto, starting to question his job and the morality of the “Ikigami”. Is it all wrong? How does he really feel about it? The problem is that the mere discussion or questioning against the National Welfare Immunization is illegal and can land him in big trouble. His boss has been quick in preventing of discussing his thoughts about the immunization and his job because of the ramifications Fujimoto may face.

In the last volume, we find out that one of Fujimoto’s associates who seemed to be pro-National Welfare Immunization is actually very much against it and has tried to sway Fujimoto to support the cause against it.

And now with volume seven, because of the repercussions of the last volume, the National Welfare Immunization has now the Civil Registration Section are worried that their employees may be rogue, so employees are having to go through a thought examination board to see where their loyalty lies.  As for Fujimoto, he worries that although he is not sure which side of the fence he supports, what if the CRS detects that he has some problems towards the use of the immunization?

So, the only thing that Fujimoto can do is just do his job and see what will happen when he is examined.

Volume seven of “IKIGAMI – THE ULTIMATE LIMIT” features two stories of how people are affected by the IKIGAMI.

The first story focuses on a young man named Taka who used to visit Ikeyama Photo Studio and is introduced to SLR technology.  Despite the emergence of digital cameras, Mr. Ikeyama still believes that SLR technology is important and even shows young Taka a classic Mikon F camera (note: Yes, a spin on the classic Nikon F camera).

Needless to say, he and store owner Mr. Ikeyama develop a strong relationship and Taka enjoys being around Mr. Ikeyama and the store that he asks if one day, he can work at the store.

Ten years later, when Taka is accepted to a technical school for photography, he is even given a classic Mikon F by Mr. Ikeyama but immediately, amongst his peers who are now into digital cameras, they make him feel that his camera is obsolete and let him know that DSLR is the way to go and that he should abandon SLR’s.

When Taka goes to visit Mr. Ikeyama, all is good until Mr. Ikeyama asks him how the Mikon F is doing and Taka explains to him that SLR’s are rarely used.  This leads to an argument by Mr. Ikeyama, who is still a big supporter of analog technology and against digital technology that the argument becomes so heated, that Mr. Ikeyama has a heart attack.

Since that day, Taka has not visited Mr. Ikeyama and now that his career as a photographer is going so well, Taka still feels that he wants to work with Mr. Ikeyama but his hopes are dashed when he receives an IKIGAMI.  How will Taka live his final day alive?

For the second story, we are introduced to a B-Boy (break dancer) named Katsunori who is teaching one of his protege’s Nobuo on how to improve his dancing.

Katsunori is a great dancer but he has agreed to quit dancing in order to focus in getting into a good school.  His father who owns a cram school has made a deal with his son that if he is willing to take over the cram school when he gets older, his father will also make the second floor of the building into a dance school.

Fast forward a year later and Katsunori who has been working hard in school has become overweight and has not danced at all for an entire year.  Despite his dreams of being a dancer, Katsunori is wanting to make sure that the deal he made with his father becomes a reality and that a dance school does open up in the building.

When Katsunori runs into Nobuo, he gives him advice on dancing like he did a year earlier but the other dancers can’t understand why Nobuo follows Katsunori because he’s overweight and doesn’t look like a dancer.  When Nobuo gets injured, his friends call Katsunori for help as they need to get into a competition and need a person to replace Nobuo.

But Katsunori tells them no.  For Katsunori, he put away his dancing dreams temporarily to make this deal with his dad come true.

But unfortunately, life changes for Katsunori when he receives an IKIGAMI.

How will Katsunori live out his final day?

Like all previous volumes of “IKIGAMI – THE ULTIMATE LIMIT”, each storyline has been wonderful, intriguing, shocking, emotional and sad.

For volume 7, the two people focused in these two stories are good individuals.  And are normal people who are pursuing big things in their life and all seems to be going good, that is, until they receive an IKIGAMI.

And for these two individuals, both try to live their final day, the best they can.

Both stories are well-written and really make you care for the two individuals who are dying but also the storyline continues to build on the story of Fujimoto who we are not starting to see him grow discontent towards the National Welfare Immunization but to make things worse, at work, those who are in support of the immunization are cranking down on rogue employees and those who may have been dissuaded by those rogue employees.

We know that Fujimoto’s story continues to build and build with each volume but I can’t help but think that things are going to get very dramatic and serious. So, it’s more or less one thing that continues to make the reader stay with this manga series for the long haul.

From Mase’s awesome character designs and artwork to the overall storyline, this is definitely a manga series that is worth recommending.

It’s a serious and compelling manga series but just so captivating to see how people deal with death. And definitely a unique storyline that anyone can get into and really enjoy.

“IKIGAMI – THE ULTIMATE LIMIT” is highly recommended!


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