Ikigami イキガミ

March 20, 2010

Over the week, I had a chance to watch Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit, a Japanese dystopian film that was released back in 2008. I came across this movie through my interest in Matsuda Shota, the actor who portrays the main character, Kengo Fujimoto. Matsuda is the son of the late Matsuda Yusaku, a famous Japanese actor who starred in Ridley Scott’s Black Rain. Sadly he passed away at the age of 40 from cancer. In his honour, his two sons Ryuhei and Shota also became actors and obviously have inherited their father’s talent.

Ikigami’s plot focuses on an alternate-reality of Japan, where the government has formed a law called the National Prosperity Law that sacrifices two to three people per day. Through this law, the government keeps a firm hold on its citizens by instilling the fear of death in them. As a result, work production rises and crime rates fall. The deaths are randomly selected everyday from people in the ages of 18-24. Fujimoto works for the bureau that is in charge of handing out letters to those who are chosen to be sacrificed, within 24 hours before their deaths they are free to do whatever the please besides crime. A pension is paid to the family of the deceased, however if they commit a crime before death, that pension goes towards the victim. The film is extremely similar to George Orwell’s 1984, as there are many shots through a surveillance camera. Those who disagree against the government are treated as thought criminals, and like 1984, they go through a process of brainwashing.

Though what interested me about this film, was not how the characters would cause a revolution through heroic actions. No, it didn’t go that direction at all.  It was a film about what a person would do if the inevitable faced them. We witness the lives of the victims, and their final decisions that they place before them. From a rising musician to a flawed son of politician to a caring older brother, the film has a tremendous human quality to it. Here is the trailer below:


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