BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit (vol. 4) by Motoro Mase, translated by John Werry, English adaptation by Kristina Blachere

Ikigami 4This latest volume of Ikigami will be forever associated with the great snowpocalypse of 2010! I pre-ordered it last October, knew it would take awhile (official pub date is actually today), and finally got an email from Amazon last week saying it was being shipped. ‘Lo and behold … then I got this alert a couple of days ago: “Delivery of your package has been delayed due to extreme weather conditions or an unforeseen natural event. UPS will deliver the package as soon as possible. We apologize for this unavoidable delay and appreciate your patience.”

US Post Office, UPS, Fed Ex! All shut down by the snowpocalypse. Who woulda thunk it? Snowpocalypse indeed! It’s even’s word of the day today And any moment now, yet another storm is expected to hit DC [is it summer yet?].

Thankfully, my latest Ikigami fix arrived yesterday and, of course, I had to read it immediately. If you want to start from the beginning, you can click here for the previous volumes.

Poor federal employee Fujimoto sees everyone else has a private life outside the office, including Dr. Kubo who counsels ikigami victims and their families. But when you’re the actual person making the ikigami (death-notice) delivery, it’s hard to think beyond the death-and-destruction sentence you’ve just handed another human being. Fujimoto still questions the validity of the National Welfare Act – “for people to understand how precious life is, they must first confront death” – and continues to discuss his concerns with Ishii, his older (not necessarily wiser) office supervisor.

In this volume’s first half, Fujimoto meets a dedicated teacher who has just been dismissed for crimes he has not committed, whose reaction to his impending death is to seek revenge not on the young student who orchestrated his dismissal, but the adults whose neglect caused the young man’s evil act. In the second half, a young mother is determined in the last 24 hours of her life to save her daughter from getting the vaccination that will determine her fate … and from a life of irresponsible neglect by her careless husband who never grew up.

Out for drinks with Ishii and Dr. Kubo (who proves to be quite the lightweight), Fujimoto realizes with great frustration that even though the receipt of an ikigami makes “anything [seem] possible in those last 24 hours” for the victim, the actual results “may be nothing more than unfulfilled possibilities.” But when Dr. Kubo confesses that she broke up with her mysterious boyfriend as they share a cab home, Fujimoto’s face registers his own hopeful possibilities. More reason to stay tuned …

Readers: Young Adult, Adult

Published: 2010 (United States)
Ikigami 4 © Motoro Mase
Original Japanese edition published by Shogakukan Inc.


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