In a dystopian nation, a public prosperity law like no other is in effect: The National Welfare Act, in which citizens between the ages of 18-24 are selected to die for their country. Twenty-four hours before a nanocapsule carries out their death, the chosen receive notifications called "Ikigami" from government messengers. The government gives only one ostensible reason for the act’s purpose—to spread the value of life.
Kengo Fujimoto is a newly instated Ikigami messenger who is indecisive on his stance of the act. Curbing his hesitation to avoid the watchful eye of the national police, Kengo decides that delivering the Ikigami will help shape his opinion.
Ikigami follows how people act knowing that their final hours are upon them. Whether committing acts of kindness or crimes of passion, the chosen's actions have profound impacts on those around them, and it will ultimately lead Kengo to his decision.
Ikigami was serialized in Young Sunday until its final issue on July 31, 2008. Serialization moved to Big Comic Spirits on September 15, 2008.
The series was published in English as Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit by VIZ Media under the VIZ Signature imprint from May 12, 2009 to August 19, 2014 and in Polish by Hanami from June 2010 to July 2013.
A live-action film was released on September 27, 2008.
It's not surprise that this isn't a well known series among foreign readers.
This doesn't have "happy go lucky" themes, extremely likable characters, corny jokes, sexy characters, or action that many readers thrive on.
This, instead, focuses on the gripping reality of death in a whole new way. It centers around the idea that 1 in 1000 people are injected at a young age with a nano bot. This nano bot, if pre-selected, will kill the host in order to bring about "a better life", one that has little waste.
What comes with this is the inner turmoil of man and how they face the idea of death.
Death does no affect just the one who dies, but all who are connected...however minuscule this connection may be.
If you are a fan of short stories and gritty story telling, I recommend this.
This manga is a masterpiece! The story is stellar in a very Heideggerian fashion. I wonder if my beloved german philosopher would think the same, as even experiencing the death of another won't help you comprehend your very own death. Indeed, it is the most intimate experience one can ever ineluctably achieve.
The plot made us self reflecting on our own life and on what and where we are going with our path. All humans have an extremely strong an innate desire for at least one thing. Some will argue it's true love, or freedom and happiness, in the case of Miss Kubo and our
But we all had that kind of thoughts: If only I could leave this place, I would truly live... If only I could... I would... We're all humans after all, all animate creatures trying to fill the void of our very own existence. May this story be helpful for people who lost their way.
Life's too stale. So let's spice it up by letting someone random EVERYDAY that in twenty-four hours, they will die. While that seems incredible, that's only 365 people a year. Japan's population is around 128 million, so if death rates and birth rates are about the same, it'd take a shade over 350,000 years to kill everyone. Probably wouldn't happen.
Plot drives this manga, and I love it for this. Too many manga try to get by using cool, likable characters and a lame story concept or plot. The manga consists of three chapter segments that tell the story of a person's last day on
Earth. The one consistency in all the chapters is a man working for the government agency that runs ikigami, and the things he learns by working there.
It is an excellent story concept. The thing I don't like is that the mangaka focuses too much on the person going to die. While this is fine, I want to see more of how the doomed person's family, friends, etc. take it. I also want to see how a typical person living in Japan deals with the idea that tomorrow could be their last. It's very buddhist, in that the people of Japan surely must live their lives to the fullest everyday.
Very realistic drawings. The art portrays a world that is very similar to ours. This is not some futuristic society. I believe the art is drawn to look like what a Japanese citizen would see in a typical day. Every person is not attractive with a good body, for instance. Nurses are not fifteen year old girls with D-cup breasts. They are tired old women who have seen people die everyday for thirty years. Mothers do not love their children. It is very realistic; disturbingly so, and it's nice to see a world like this.
The main characters (the ones sentenced to death) are fascinating. Love them. My problem with them is, as stated before, I want to see how the doomed person's loved ones react to it all, as well as the mindset of the society as a whole in how they live their lives. Do they treat everyday as a blessing? What is the attitude of a passerby to someone sentenced to death? Is it pity? Relief? The mangaka could have done so much more here. Don't get me wrong-- I love what he did do, just regret that he didn't do as much as he could have.
Love it. I love reading this manga, as it turns a nightmare into reality, and shows you what goes through a person's mind when they are told they are going to die. The psychological aspect is fascinating.
Ikigami is a good manga. It's not great, but it's not bad. It's a pleasant read if you're in the mood to think. This manga is seinen with hardly any romance, ecchi, or comedy, meaning most people won't even have this manga show up when they do an advanced search for a manga. What it does is rattle your brain for a good half hour, and have you thinking, "How would I spend the last day of my life?" If you're looking for a good psychological seinen manga, I would recommend Ikigami.
(This is my fourth review. If you liked it, I'm glad to have been of service. If you did not, and still read it all up to this point, did you really not like it? XD. In all seriousness, if you feel I could improve this review in any way, please do not hesitate to leave me a comment on my profile or a personal message. Thank you for reading.)
Ikigami is a surprisingly unknown title about the value of life... or maybe it's actually about how worthless life is. It depends on your perspective. But, whichever way you look at it, the following is true: Ikigami shows how very real characters react when told they're going to die within 24 hours. Some seek revenge, others try to help their loved ones before their time runs out. Just like if people were told their date of death in real life, the reactions of the characters depends entirely on their backgrounds.
After reading the title, you might assume Ikigami is a sort of spiritual successor to Death
Note. After all, there isn't much difference between 'Death Note' and 'Death Paper'. But the titles are where the similarities between the two start and end. Where as Death Note relied on a supernatural notebook of death that could kill anyone with ease to power its story, there's nothing mystical about the papers with information about deaths written on them in Ikigami. In fact, the papers are no more than normal, everyday paper handed out by civil servants.
You see, Ikigami is set in an alternate universe where Japan is ruled by fear, similar to the setting of Battle Royale. At the start of school life, every child is immunized against various diseases. However, because of a law called 'The National Welfare Act', 1 out of 1000 of these vaccines contain something else - something that makes a person die at a predetermined date between the ages 18-24. After being immunized, the truth is then revealed to the students - the truth being that not everyone will make it very far into their adult lives.
The National Welfare Act is a relatively well thought out law. The victims of the law are told only 24 hours in advance to limit the damage they can do, and if those who are destined to die break the law in their final hours, their family is took to court, made to pay a huge fine, don't get their bereavement pension and, finally, they're ostracized by society.
All of the above, combined with the citizens being told to reveal the names of social miscreants to the authorities, means no-one can do anything about the law. To be a good citizen, one has to accept that - no matter how illogical - random people getting killed is for the good of the country because it forces people to value life. Really, nothing changes for people until they're told they're going to die, and all it achieves is creating a society of sheep who only know how to follow.
The story is told from the perspective of Fujimoto; a civil servant whose job it is to hand out the papers of death 24 hours before death. Known as a 'Messenger of Death', he's a man who sees no value in his work but does it anyway. To begin with he struggles to handle the weight of revealing to unsuspecting people that they're going to die, informing them their deaths are for the good of the nation (when he doesn't actually believe it), but the more he does it the easier it becomes. His role is to be the observer, and the reader is supposed to feel the same as him about what's occurring.
But, really, even though Fujimoto is there for the reader to connect with, Ikigami is basically a collection of three chapter shorts. So far (up to the end of volume three), every story has lasted for three chapters, and each story has differed from the one that came before it. Though the series opened as most would expect after reading the description - with a fairly typical tale of a man who suffered severe bullying during his high school years - since then there's only been one other revenge story. There's been a story about staying true to oneself and valuing friendship over fame; there's been a story about a worker at an old people's' home getting a woman, who mistakes the worker for her late husband, to walk again; and there's even been a story about a brother tricking his blind younger sister into having his corneas transplanted into her just after his death. The huge amount of variation between each story, and the circumstances of each new set of characters, has prevented Ikigami from becoming stale.
My biggest fear right now is that, eventually, Ikigami will become stale, though. At this moment in time I can't see Ikigami failing because the art is near enough flawless - showing the natural ugliness of humans (rather than there being a super model cast) and being very detailed - and the stories have all been emotionally moving for differing reasons. But every author only has a set amount of ideas, and sooner or later (assuming it isn't destined to go on forever!) Fujimoto is going to have to become more than just an impartial observer. Honestly, it's hard to see how and when the series will end at this point, so it's hard to determine if the high level of quality on display in the opening three volumes will remain throughout. Only time will tell.
For now, all I can say is that I own the first three volumes, have the fourth pre-ordered and have put Ikigami into my manga top ten list already. With so few volumes out, and Viz releasing the volumes in larger than average, Solanin sized volumes, no manga collector has any real excuse for not assisting me in trying to make this relatively unknown series into one with a much larger fanbase.
If you've become disillusioned with anime/manga because of the vast majority being childish and are in desperate need of a title aimed at adults to reignite your interest, Ikigami might just be it.