Name: Lawrence Brenner
Title: Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit Volume 2
Author: Motoro Mase
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: M (Mature for Adults Only)
Star Rating: 3.5
Upon taking my first look at Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit, I was thinking, “This is not a manga that can be sampled,” as it was covered with a plastic wrapping. (I know it is in the wrapping because of its rating and content, but we will get to that later.) Now what is sampling? Sampling is when you read manga in the store. This is something that you see a lot of in bookstores with a manga section where people will either be sitting in the chairs of the store or right on the floor by the manga section. If you have ever gone into a bookstore and seen this phenomenon, now you know what it is called.
Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit is rated M for Mature as it contains drug use primarily in the first episode of the volume aptly titled “Episode 3: The Pure Love Drug.” It also shows some of the effects of the use of the drug “Ateromin” which people believe will extend their life even after their nanocapsule raptures. This nanocapsule is inserted into children (one in every 1,000) during elementary school as part of the National Welfare Immunization and the National Welfare Act. “The National Welfare Act” states that at a pre-determined date and time one of every 1,000 people would be killed between their eighteenth and twenty-fourth years via these nanocapsules, in order to make young people have a sense of the “value of life” and become productive and active members of society. This is no more disturbing than the premise of Death Note. It is only disturbing that the government would pass such an act, and give notification twenty-four hours before their time of scheduled death that they are going to die via messengers and the death papers (ikigami) they deliver which is part of the government and its bureaucracy.
These stories in what I would call their sub-story also follow Fujimoto as he delivers these death papers, as he sees the reactions that people have to their ikigami and those around them. The main stories follow individuals who get their ikigamis and you see how their entire world changes in seconds, which is all too true in the world. In many ways you can see these as people that you would know, or who could even be yourself. Aside from Fujimoto’s profession, these people have normal jobs and normal lives (and that includes Fujimoto). This series is very real, and is also shown in the art. The characters look very real, they look like real people. They do not look like many characters in manga do with wild haircuts and outfits. This adds to the sheer horror of the volume as while you do not see massive fights and the like of shonen series, or the pretty people of shojo you see people you might just see every day, and if you look into the mirror perhaps even you.
These stories are so tragic because they revolve around real people and what might be their real reactions given that they or someone that they love knew they were going to die within twenty-four hours. This is a very rich read, because it is so very chilling, because it is so tragic, as these people are so human.