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Plot:

Ikigami takes place in a dystopian society where the government has implemented the “Prosperity Law”. This law dictates 1 in 1000 random citizens ages 18~24 will die for the state in a mandatory lottery. Death occurs at a preset date and time, which is when an injected nano-capsule, received at an early age, explodes. The law is meant to create appreciation for life by instilling fear in order to make people live the best possible lives.

Also Known As: Ikigami, Ikigami, préavis de mort, Death Notice: Ikigami, Ikigami - Der Todesbote, The Ultimate Limit, Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit, イキガミ

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  • mr-francis-kelly
    mr francis kelly

    I picked this film up as an after thought frankly. I had ventured into the World Cinema section of my closest CEX shop in search of a film from my favourite director Takashi Miike (I found his film Audition and walked out with that today also, but I digress). I picked this up purely because the DVD case caught my eye and upon reading the back and its reference to a dystopian near-future I found my interest peeked. Given my love of George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World; the premise of this film seemed quite interesting. Little did I suspect I would find a film so moving as this.The film is directed by Tomoyuki Takimoto and stars Shôta Matsuda as Kengo Fujimoto, one of the civil servants charged with delivering the titular Ikigami. The film takes place in an alternate version of modern day Japan wherein the Government has imposed what is described as the National Prosperity Law. This law states that every one in one thousand people born after the law is brought in will be injected with a “nano-capsule” when they get their normal injections. This nano-capsule will explode at some time in their lives between the ages of eighteen and twenty four, causing them to die. Before this happens, an Ikigami is issued. The Ikigami is a notice given to the “Sacrificed” twenty four hours before their time of death. It alerts them to the nano-capsule and provides them with free food, lodging, transportation, and entertainment for their last twenty four hours in an effort to make their last day a memorable one.Without spoiling anything, I would like to say this. It is rare that a film can be as emotionally moving as this. Through all of the four story arcs that this film goes through, the strong performances and top notch directing suck you into the pain of both the victims of the Ikigami law and Fujimoto himself as he attempts to deal with the tragedy his supposedly “honourable” job inflicts. The cast give top-notch performances all round, not once disengaging you from the tragedy that has beset them. While the concept of such a law and indeed the science behind such a concept are somewhat absurd, all of the elements under that law make perfect sense within itself.I will say this warning however. The film is very depressing. Despite the occasional glimmers of hope here and there, the majority of the film does seem very hopeless; though that is a quality it shares with 1984. The distinct lack of any ability to resist the darkness that pervades the film may put off some viewers, but I found it a refreshing experience.I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and if any of you are anything like me in your tastes, I am sure you will to.Good day.

  • john-sloan
    john sloan

    I don’t want to waste words on this masterpiece. I can say you only one thing: I watched a lot of dramas. Some managed to invoke an urge to cry. Just an urge. Some tried hard and failed. One drama made me shed tears. This one. A touching tale about life , death , friendship , love and rebellion. Superbely acted , well written , entertaining and emotionally gripping. Japan , being infamous for its disturbing and morally degenerated productions , genuinely surprised me. If you like the life and death theme and are ready to cry rivers of tears : DO NOT MISS IT! Bravo! Bravo! BRAVO!

  • linda-roberto-galvan
    linda roberto galvan

    The movie takes place either in an immediate future, or in an alternate present in Japan. The government arrives to a strange conclusion that in order to make people appreciate life and be “more productive”, a few random young people must be sacrificed. And so it is implemented: all kids are injected a vaccine which, for every thousandth recipient, contains a lethal capsule which is set to explode on a certain day when the subject is between 18 and 22. One day before the day of the death, the soon-to-die person receives an “ikigami”, a death notice, delivered by a special government agency, and is free to do as he wishes, travel, eat, or whatever comes naturally. Oh yes, and as soon as the procedure is implemented, the nation becomes prosperous, the suicide rates go down, and the productivity goes up. This is called “National Prosperity Law”.This story is told from the perspective of one of the “messengers of death”. We get to look into the last days of a street musician who is on his way to fame, a suicidal son of a famous politician (who supports the concept of the Prosperity Law), and a small-time crook trying to help his blind sister cure her blindness by donating his own corneas after his death. The messenger, despite the directive, goes out of his way to make the last days of the dying people more meaningful.Aside from the absurd main assumption, this is a very good movie. Too touchy-feely and clichéd at times, it does ask important questions and shows how people face the inevitable. The cast is very good, although it is difficult to judge for a Westerner. But the themes are universal, therefore it is quite understandable.

  • armas-aalto
    armas aalto

    This movie reminds me of George Orwell’s “1984”.Set in a dystopian society where the government imposes a deadly “Prosperity Law”, where 1 in 1000 random citizens aged 18~24 will die from a mandatory lottery nano-capsule injection that would explode on a preset date and time. The idea behind this law is that the citizens will supposedly appreciate life more by having a constant fear that he/she may be the unlucky one, thus lives life to the fullest. This is a simple solution to the low birth rate and high suicide rate problem in Japan. Like “1984”, there is also ‘Thought Crime’, where anyone against the law gets “treated appropriately”, possibly a brainwash procedure that suppresses any opposition. There is a whole ‘hush-hush’ attitude towards the whole thing, and it’s just something that has to happen that can’t be questioned.What I liked about the movie is that although the setting is absurd, everything makes sense under assumption that such law existed. The “sacrificed” receives the “Ikigami”, or “Death Letter” 24-hours in advance of predicted time of death. The soon will-be deceased have government-backed privileges such as free food, travel, and entertainment during the last 24-hours and the family will receive a large lump-sum as a compensation. However, such ‘inheritance’ will be forfeited if he/she commits crimes for retribution after the notice.Enter our protagonist, who starts working for the government agency that handles the “Prosperity Law” and sends out death notifications. Supposedly a ‘prestigious and honorable’ job. The movie is about 3 notification he sends out, and follows how the notified spend the last 24 hours of their lives. As you would expect, our protagonist starts having second thoughts about the whole law, and how it should be handled…The director and producers of this movie are amazing. I seriously cried twice, because the story was told in such a touching way, and the mood changed dramatically in the key moments. I guess it can be said that it was a deliberate tear-jerker, but it worked on me. Music, though scarce, was utilized very well, and intensified the drama.The cast for this movie was a pleasant surprise. I was very skeptic of this film at the start, because the leading actor Matsuda Shouta is like a magnet for fangirls. In TV doramas such as “Hana yori Dango”, “LIAR GAME”, and the movie “Waruboro”, he didn’t really seem to have perfected those characters he played, but he seemed very natural in this role and performed fabulously. The actors who received “Ikigami” and their friends/family… that was really something. It was totally loaded with big-name actors I like, and they all played their parts very convincingly. Yamada Takayuki and Narumi Riko didn’t even appear until later half of the movie, I was completely taken off-guard.This is another movie that makes you think about life, but it wasn’t cheesy at all. Not only did it focus on those directly affected by the law, it also showed its effect on friends and family, and how people really did live to their fullest in their last moments. Acting, direction, cast, music, story… everything was flawless in every way. One of the best movies of the year.I felt they hinted a possible sequel in the end, but I hope there wouldn’t be one, because this movie is already perfect.