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Title: The Limit Volume 1
Author: Keiko Suenobu
In stores October 9, 2012
May Contain Spoilers
Mizuki Konno is your typical high school junior at Yanno Prefectural High School. Like many teens her age she is studying hard for college and when she has some down time she likes to fuss over fashion and make-up. While she may not be one of the class elites, Mizuki is fortunate to be on the right side of her class’s idols. But that might not settle well with those who are in a similar academic status but not so lucky with their social lives.
Mizuki really isn’t a bad person. However she understands that she is one of the haves. And even if she only has so a strand to hold on to, that’s much more than the introverts or the socially inept.
On the day of the field trip, Mizuki’s position with the cool kids cannot be better. But now a good portion of her class are now firmly against her. While this "lower" clique may not be united, their hatred is much stronger than their differences. Unfortunately tragedy strikes in the form of a traffic accident. And now the class is split into two new groups…the living and the dead!
Almost the entire class has been wiped out and the five remaining girls are injured and lost in the wilderness. They also hate each other, and in a mix of Lord of the Flies with Heathers these girls begin to assert their wills against each other to try to survive while enacting a new class structure where looks and style is no longer the definition of influence.
When it comes to manga lately, I feel like I’ve been living under a rock. I received this review copy, and wasn’t familiar with the title at all. I love the cover, though, with the main protagonist standing defiantly, yet a bit battered, and staring boldly ahead. The cover is very simple and eye-catching, and I immediately sat down to read the book. Keiko Suenobu is also the author of LIFE, which was being released by Tokyopop before they shuttered their offices. I haven’t read any of that series, but after reading Limit, I am tempted to track it down.
Limit is a Lord of the Flies type story. After their school trip goes horribly wrong and their bus crashes, Kanno and four of her classmates are stranded in the middle of the woods with only their wits to aid in their survival. With their teachers and classmates dead, the five girls must juggle their fear and panic with their feelings for each other. This is a diverse group of personalities, from the bullied Morishige, who has the only weapon and is brimming over with hate and resentment, to Kanno, who was part of the popular clique who made Morishige’s life hell at school. Sakura, the ringleader of the clique, is dead in the bus, and Haru, one of the survivors, isn’t dealing with her best friend’s death very well. This is a powder keg of emotions just ready to blow, and only Kamiya realizes that it’s going to take more than luck to survive until they are rescued. She immediately attempts to use diplomacy and get everyone to work together to ensure their survival, but she’s not having much luck. There is a lot of resentment and so much ill-will to overcome, that things look bleak for our intrepid cast.
Limit focuses on the complex relationships the girls have formed over the years. Angry Morishige is delighting in her sudden ascent to the top of the food chain; she’s got the weapon, and she hates everyone enough that she won’t hesitate to use it. She casts everyone else in the pyramid beneath her, leaving Kanno and Haru to battle it out for the bottom rung of the ladder. With the weapon, Morishige also controls the meager food supply the girls have foraged from the wreckage of the bus. After being a bottom-feeder for so long, she is ecstatic to feel some kind of empowerment over the girls who constantly picked on her and made each school day so horrible.
I thought that this was a great introduction to the series. I reached the end and wanted more. The relationship dynamics bubble with emotion and kept me engaged in the book from the first page. Kanno isn’t an extremely likable character because she always takes the path of least resistance. She’s a sheep to Sakura’s domineering personality, and once Sakura meets an untimely end, Kanno realizes how meaningless her other relationships truly are. Avoiding confrontation, kissing up to Sakura, and trying to hold a middle ground so she wasn’t bullied didn’t endear her to her classmates, she is learning the hard way.
I love Keiko Suenobu’s expressive artwork. I never had to guess how her characters felt as they were maneuvered from one panel to the next. Emotions are deftly rendered here, and the visuals are as compelling as the prose. This is a great start to a series that will appeal to fans of conflict driven stories. I don’t know how the girls are going to reconcile their feelings for each other and still survive all alone in the wilderness, with no food and only a cave for shelter. I am looking forward to the next volume!
Review copy provided by publisher