In the future, in Japan has an extreme system to keep the balance of the population. Young people have to die everyday because of this stabilization system. Every first grade student receives an injection which kills every 1000th person by the time they are 25 years old. A notification is sent to the victim and his/her family 24 hours before the death. They also receive a card which provides them with free meals and transportation for those 24 hours. There is one rule though, if you kill someone during this period, your family won't be awarded with 'refund' money.
The film deals with world's future problem, overpopulation, and is a touching story about people on the verge of death.
I have a weakness for dystopian movies - no matter how bad the premise, if it sounds vaguely like social critisism, I am there.
Ikigami presents an interesting idea: Japans society is built upon a law, that sacrifices a certain percentage of it's citizens for "the greater good". The unlucky victims of this law are getting a death notification, 24 hours prior to their deaths, the so called ikigami.
The movie follows Fukimoto Kengo, who just got promoted to a unit of elite employes, who deliver these ikigami. It becomes clear early on, that he starts to question the society he lives in, and with every ikigami he delivers, the doubts become stronger.
What could have been an outstanding movie, sadly turned into a sequence of stereotypes. We have the brother, who donates his corneas to his blind sister, the singer, who get's his moment of fame and even the son of a high ranking politician, who blames his mother for his life without her love and care. All die with the utmost pathos and tear jerking backround music.
It's not that I disliked this movie, I am just a little bit disappointed, because it could have been so much more. There were some implied concepts, like the "thought crime", that are mentioned, but never explained and overall we never actually come to a conclusion with Kengo; Is he going to act on his doubts, will he start to ask questions, or will he keep quiet?
I haven't read the manga and maybe a lot of my questions are answered there, but in my opinion even if a movie is based on a book, or a manga or some sort of comic, it has to work on it's own and sadly, ikigami didn't.
Both films take place in the future and centre around a person who has to die for the sake of the rest of the people. The two are very different in terms of atmosphere, but they show how two completely different approaches to a similar theme can still leave a similar impression.
There isn't much connecting those films together besides a somewhat similar feeling at the end. Although ikigami may leave a bit unpleasant thoughts, while fish story just inspires and makes for a good mood, the somewhat peaceful feeling at the end is the same. Also, both films touch different aspects in life along with a nice, interesting storyline. If you liked one of the films, you may also enjoy the other one as well.