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IKIGAMI – THE ULTIMATE LIMIT vol. 8 by Motoro Mase (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

October 7, 2012 by  



Volume 8 features two heartbreaking stories of an alternate Japan in which the government randomly has young people dying for the sake of preserving the peace.  But a new twist to the storyline’s main protagonist who is under suspicion by the government agency he works for, and now his life could be in jeopardy!  “IKIGAMI – THE ULTIMATE LIMIT” continues to be a fascinating, exciting manga series that is highly recommended!

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

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MANGA TITLE: IKIGAMI – THE ULTIMATE LIMIT Vol. 8

STORY AND ART BY: Motoro Mase

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Shogakukan, Inc.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC/Shojo Beat

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

RELEASE DATE: August 14, 2012

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.

You’re a young person who has found love, a person who has a brilliant and promising career, a person who lives a life full of pain, a person who has goals and dreams.  A regular person living in Japan that receives an ikigami notice from the government’s National Welfare policy that in service of your country, you will be dying in the next 24 hours.  As the government would say… for the greater good to maintain peace.

Motoro Mase’s ‘IKIGAMI – THE ULTIMATE LIMIT’ is a manga series which gives readers 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.

But now Fujimoto begins to question the government’s National Welfare policy with doubts.  His boss has warned him to keep it a secret or else the government will be watching over him and he himself can get into very big trouble.  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. So, Fujimoto who has these conflicted emotions wonders if he should he be showing concern or should he keep doing his job, regardless of how the ikigami affects people.

The seven 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.

In volume 6 of “IKIGAMI – THE ULTIMATE LIMIT” 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.

In volume 7,  the Civil Registration Section were seen as 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 was able to pass CRS detection, Chief Examiner Kaga suspects Fujimoto and is now having him followed.

The first story shows us of a man named Hideki and a woman who fell in love.  Hideki wanted to introduce his girlfriend to his parents, but because the woman does not have a good job and works at a bar, his parents will not accept her.  But as the two were engaged, one morning as he left for work, Hideki is accidentally run over by a man named Kitamura at a blind intersection and was killed.

While the parents blamed the young woman for his death (because he was leaving her home at the time of his death), Kitamura was sentenced for 18 years in prison.  But on the day of his release, the fiance of Hideki has vowed to make sure she gets her revenge on Kitamura for killing her fiance and will do all she can to ruin his life.

But as Kitamura tries to start over with his life and even thought about suicide for killing a person, Kitamura receives an ikigami from Fujimoto, thus making him a hero who will die for his country.

The second story revolves a young man named Kimura who was bullied for his looks when he was younger and called “Kimora” (which means gross).  For Kimura, he always loved a girl named Ruriko, a girl who was once fat and became bulemic in order to lose all her weight.

As the two got older, Ruriko works at a hostess bar and is dating her high school sweetheart Koichi, meanwhile Kimura works at a water dispenser job and is unable to get clients due to his looks.  So, Kimura gets plastic surgery and becomes a different person.  A cool guy now with the looks.

But as everything looks as if life is going well, especially now that his looks are earning him sales at his new job and he found out that Ruriko works at a hostess bar, Kimura hopes that his looks will now get him closer to the girl he liked in high school.

But as things start to look good for Kimura, he receives an ikigami from Fujimoto.

So, how will Kimura live the final 24-hours of his life?

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

Volume 8 features two solid stories of how the ikigami has affected individuals.  In the first story, we learn how the government tries to put this heroic image of an individual and will do all they can to hide a person’s criminal past.  But also how people who try to make problems for those who do get an ikigami, become a person of interest for the National Welfare Office.  But also how a person can receive a person’s pension if engaged to that person who died servicing their country.  The second story shows us how one is able to receive one’s pension, if one is pregnant with a person who dies of an ikigami.

While both stories were fascinating to some degree, it’s the short background story relating to Fujimoto and how the Chief Examiner is having Fujimoto followed.  Suffice to say, Fujimoto knows his office is now on to him about having dissent towards the policy and he has been warned that if he continues to think like that, bad things may happen to him.

With two volumes left of the manga series, one must wonder if Fujimoto is going to be able to keep himself away from trouble, especially since one man is not going to change a government’s policy.  But it will be interesting to see what mangaka Motoro Mase has in store for his readers.  For now, I am looking forward to see how these last two volumes will be and excited to see how it will end.

Overall, “IKIGAMI – THE ULTIMATE LIMIT” is recommended for manga fans who want a darker storyline.  A storyline that doesn’t deal with any special powers or anything adventurous.  It’s a manga series that shows us how people in an alternate Japan are living with a policy in which people randomly die in order to keep the peace in a country and forcing an individual to take life more seriously and become socially productive.

Volume 8 features two heartbreaking stories of an alternate Japan in which the government randomly has young people dying for the sake of preserving the peace.  But a new twist to the storyline’s main protagonist who is under suspicion by the government agency he works for, and now his life could be in jeopardy!  “IKIGAMI – THE ULTIMATE LIMIT” continues to be a fascinating, exciting manga series that is highly recommended!

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