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Ten years ago, they took him. He doesn’t know who. For ten years he has been confined in a private prison. He doesn’t know why. For ten years his only contact with the outside world has been a television set and the voice of his jailers. In time, he lost himself… changed… transformed himself into something else… something hard… something lethal. Suddenly one day, his incarceration ends, again without explanation. He is sedated, stuffed inside a trunk, and dumped in a park. When he awakes, he is free to reclaim what’s left of his life… and what’s left is revenge.

After reading this 8-volume I have even more respect for Park Chan-wook who made the 2003 film of the same name. He managed to distill the filmic elements from the manga and made the Mother of all revenge thrillers. He only retained the main spine and nihilistic feel of the manga written by Garon Tsuchiya and illustrated by Nobuaki Minegishi. The manga itself is a great read. A twisted cat and mouse game with quite a lot of characters, more than the film. The first 7 volumes are gripping and cerebral stuff but IMHO the final denouement is rather lackluster, unlike the grand operatic crescendo of the film. Still I would say this adult manga comes recommended and the movie which is a masterpiece comes even more highly recommended.

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Dear Citizen: You’ve no doubt noticed that the world is a troubled place. People are apathetic, lazy, unmotivated. You’ve probably asked yourself: Why isn’t anything being done to stop this systematic decline? Well, you’ll be happy to know measures are being taken. We, your government, have decided society needs a wake-up call. So beginning today, we will randomly select a different citizen who will be killed within 24 hours of notification. We believe this will help remind all people how precious life is, and how important it is to be productive, active members of society. Thank you for your attention and your cooperation and participation in this new program.

This is both my wife and mine favorite manga for the past couple of years. Each time a new volume is released it is an almost religious experience. We would find a quiet place to devour it – I would of course get first dibs. I am not fully convinced by the big picture of the dystopian premise but the metaphor of what a government does to thumb down its citizens is plain to see. What I love are the short stories. Each one is a three act play – shows a new character and end the first act with Fujimoto delivering the ikigami (a death notice), the second and third act then centre on how the person reacts to his/her final 24 hours and what he/she does about it. Then it usually ends with Fujimoto questioning what he does for a living and the purpose of life. Some of these stories are incredibly powerful and it did something few comics can ever do to me – it made me ponder the greater meaning of life. I started reading this some years back but some of the stories and characters continue to remain in my consciousness. The ending of the final 10th volume feels rushed and it was trying to achieve too many twists and turns, but like I mentioned, it is the short stories that will make you ruminate over the meaning of life. There was a movie made that incorporated a few of the better stories. It is worth checking out.

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