Thursday, October 2, 2014

Ikigami [Manga Review]

It has been a while since I wrote up a manga review. However since I just finished this series, it seemed a fine time to write one. Ikigami: the Ultimate Limit has perhaps one of the least adequate subtitles of any series.

Stress headache, I'd guess.
Before we cut into the meat of the story, I want to discuss the title. The title might be a double entendre, I'm not sure. You see in the manga itself the word ikigami is said to mean (and this seems correct, but there are no kanji for me to analyze) 'Death Paper.' However in my research I also came across a Japanese religious movement called Konkokyo (金光教) that uses the term ikigami meaning 'living god.' The messed up thing is the fact that both meanings actually work in the story. Those people who receive an ikigami (death paper) become national heroes (which could sorta be likened to a living god).  

I really enjoy analyzing the titles of series. I did this with Attack on Titan, and others, and I will certainly do it again. Even if, like this time, I over analyze it and find weird things like religious cults and/or movements.

3 out of 5 stars
Now this is actually a pretty highly rated series, and I enjoyed it enough for one read through. Sadly, just the one. This will more than likely be traded in at the local comic shop so that I can get more new manga. Yes, I could have read it online, but there are some like me who support the manga translation industry (and through that the manga industry) with out purchases of physical books.

My biggest beef with the whole series is this: I cannot actually begin to even slightly believe the premise. That premise is pretty simple. A country (Spoiler: You think it is Japan until the last freakin' volume when it is revealed to not be Japan!) suffers a loss in a war (it looks like WWII), and the nation that won forces an act called the National Wellfare Act onto the losing nation (I actually think that is a spoiler, too). This Dystopian Law was maintained by the nations government for the claimed reason of 'encouraging growth and prosperity' (Spoiler: That is not the real reason at all. It is to encourage voluntary military enlistment during war since the losing nation has no standing military). Now this law, the NWA forces the vaccination of all children entering the first grade. Vaccination is a good thing, so this is good. However 1 in 1000 vaccinations contain a capsule that will burst when the person reaches between the ages of 18 and 24, instantly killing them. No one knows who gets the capsule, and the unlucky person will not learn until 24 hours before death. They learn of it when they receive their Ikigami.

The actual story is about a young man, Kengo Fujimoto, who works delivering these Ikigami. It is a story about how he comes to view these 'death papers,' his fears, his worries, and how he sees the families and the National Heroes (the person who received the ikigami) react. Each large chapter is one delivery.

So getting back to my problems.
I cannot fathom any people actually accepting such a law. For any reason, and especially not for the reason given: it makes young people not be lazy, as they are forced to appreciate life. What a load of tripe. I could never get past that completely. The stories surrounding it were very good stories about what a person would do if they only had 24 left to live.

My other issue stems more from the modern US. Anti-Vaxxers do not need any extra reasons to fear vaccines. They are already ignorant, and paranoid, so all they need is some fictional work to spur their imaginations towards even greater paranoia. Perhaps I'm being to harsh... perhaps not.

This is not a bad read, in fact parts are very good. It's just some of the background story gets in the way
Until I wrote this blog, I had no idea there was a movie.

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