24 Sep / Limit (vol. 1) by Keiko Suenobu, translated by Mari Morimoto
I can’t remember the last time I was this freaked out by a manga. The fear factor has certainly been high with various horror fantasy series (Ikigami and The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service being two favorites), but those were more guilty entertainment. Limit oozes such chilling contemporary reality that although the English translation doesn’t debut until next month, I’m already so disturbed that I can’t wait any longer to publish this post. I need to just get the spooky book off my desk (uhm … at least until the next volume arrives mid-November).
“This tiny little world known as “school” … It’s a microcosm of society,” today’s youth realizes all too quickly. By the time they’re teenagers, “we all have already learned. That all people aren’t equal. That hierarchy, partiality, and discrimination are a fact of life.” Konno, who narrates volume 1, knows what it’s like to shun and be shunned; she’s pretty, smart, popular, and she’s carefully figured out how to “stroke skillfully” in order to maintain her place in her “perfect world.”
The class “exchange camp” – a five-day trip to the “great outdoors” during the second year of high school – is about to commence; Konno’s class has drawn the unlucky lot of going last to the rundown facility eight hours away. Enroute, the bus tumbles into a deep ravine; Konno wakes in utter darkness and, in the light of her (“no signal”) cell phone, realizes the shocking tragedy of her situation. After she struggles out of the carnage, Konno eventually finds four other survivors. In their horrific situation, all social pretenses are stripped away: survival has nothing to do with looks, elitism, entitlement, especially when the most bullied, tormented girl is now holding the deadly sickle in her hands, and she’s determined to mete out her own brand of vengeful justice.
Any parent realizes the ubiquitous threat of potential bullying, which makes this manga far more frightening than any dystopian, slasher fiction. Remember the hubbub over the 2002 non-fiction book, Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughters Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence by Rosalind Wiseman (it was also partially the basis for Mean Girls (2004), which seems to have become an adolescent rite-of-passage film)? Parents had quite the shocking wake-up call about what their little girls could really be like among their so-called friends. Limit strips away all that made-up glamour and privilege, and throws the girls into a brutal 21st-century Lord of the Flies-survival-of-the-most-desperate-setting. Thus the nightmare begins.
I’m still shaking (and with that cliffhanger-ending, can hardly wait to see what happens next).
Readers: Young Adult, Adult
Published: 2012 (United States)