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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ikigami - The Ultimate Limit

Congratulations! You have been randomly selected by the government... to die in 24 hours!

In order to stifle apathy and to kick start motivation, the government has been utilizing the practice of killing their own people.  Not en mass, mind you, but one a day should be enough to keep citizens in line.  A "small" sacrifice for the betterment of the whole - This is similar to the idea behind The Lottery, Battle Royale, and Hunger Games, but without inherent brutality of those processes.

The National Welfare Immunization is provided to each citizen as they enter elementary school.  The immunization protects against infectious diseases, but 0.01% of the syringes contain a nano-capsule that will kill them when they are between the ages of 18 to 24.

When the date and time of a capsule rupture is coming up, the Ministry sends out a messenger to notify the recipient of the capsule of their impending death.  One such messenger, Fujimoto is the 25 year old protagonist of the series.  He is the connected thread between all the characters we watch in their final moments.  Fujimoto is compassionate and inquisitive and not entirely sold on the practice of Ikigami.  Throughout the series, Fujimoto struggles with the morality and efficacy of what is taking place around him.  He must be careful, though, because if his internal struggle boils to the surface, he will be injected with the capsule as are all "social miscreants". 

Ikigami is certainly a dark story, but there is a lot of optimism hidden in these pages.  Writer/author Motoro Mase highlights as many positive sides of human nature as he does negative.  For some of the characters who receive an ikigami, a quest begins.  What would you do if today was the last day of your life?

- Ryan

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