Death Notice: Ikigami (2008)

177) Death Notice: Ikigami (2008)

A psychological thriller based on the manga series by Motoro Mase, set in dystopian Japan where “a national prosperity law has been passed […] resulting in citizens between the ages of 18-24 being randomly selected to die for the good of the nation. These citizens are given 24 hour notification of their impending death.

10/10 – I cannot fault this film.

As you follow the deliverer of these notices, you experience not only his inner feelings on his role towards society, but the absolutely heartbreaking effect the deaths he delivers has on the subjects immediate friends and relatives. 

It seemed all too real. The feeling of losing someone before their time is horrible, and it’s a continuous theme in this film. It’s pot luck, 1 in 1,000 and it’s not specifically decided by anyone. The sinister theme in this film is that the process to this has been instigated by the state. The people being served this death notices for the benefit of the greater good drew parallels with involuntary military service. The family get benefits if they die, they’re cut down once they’ve served their purpose and providing no crimes have been committed it should be seen as a dutiful honour that they should want to embrace. Whether that parallel was intentional, I’m unsure. Above all else, the key theme here is to enjoy life while you still have it. However, the focus is on the despair when life is no longer yours to have.

Stylistically, the film for the most part was bleak, constant horrible weather shown through a dark blue filter – this only emphasised the hopeless, drab nature of the society they lived in. It also heightened those moments of hope, because as hope came for those involved, the whole film changed. The acting was extraordinary, some characters shining more than others, in particular the Brother/Sister story between Takayuki Yamada and Riko Narumi really stole the film.

It’s an intriguing concept, a very well rounded, powerful film and one I will be watching again. It stays with you for a long while afterwards and although having never read Manga in my life, I will definitely be checking out the Ikigami series. This film was based on beginning of the series, but it did provide a conclusive ending to the 3 notices they served. It’s quite exciting to learn there is so much more to this story. 

Highly recommended, and let me know your thoughts once you’ve seen it.

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