by Keiko Suenobu
published by Vertical; $10.95 US
The Limit series, about a group of teens left in the wilderness after a fatal bus crush, concludes with this volume.
By that I mean that supporting the group is the primary virtue. Hinata tries a drastic action to atone for some of his selfish actions, but he’s stopped, because what’s more important is that in the old days, he encouraged his classmates to do better. His individual choice isn’t allowed because he’s an important part of the group, and he needs to think more of them as a whole instead of himself (even though his sacrifice is more in keeping with the kinds of dramatic stories we’re used to). Ultimately, they all pitch in while apologizing for their prior selfish emotions and focus on their own feelings.
The only important thing they each need to focus on is determination. Konno gives a speech about how “we can also start anew. So long as we’re alive, we can keep getting back on our feet.” That sheer willpower and dedication to hard work strikes me as culturally reflective, a message we don’t hear as much as Americans. Here, it’s all about how special we are; there, it’s the group over the individual. Only by working together will any of them survive. It’s necessary to apologize when you take too much into your own hands.
The group is also the resolution to Morishige’s pain over being abused. She is told she has to return home, back to society, to tell people about what happened to her. Then Kamiya apologizes for her confidence (based on her being the only one who knows survival techniques) and collapses with an infected wound. That leads to Konno making a truly ridiculous gesture to emphasize how she won’t leave her weakened friend, reinforcing that it’s all or no one. And the current desperate situation doesn’t matter so long as they can hope for a brighter future.
The last chapter reveals the characters’ fates, complete with an unexpected surprise that undercuts previous drama but helps get to a happy ending. We never got the exploration of the parents’ reactions that I hoped for, but I realize that I was casting my own expectations of this type of story onto the book. It was interesting to see how differently such a narrative would be structured coming out of different storytelling and cultural traditions. Americans expect drastic battles with the elements and extreme individual sacrifice; here, it’s a matter of working together to simply wait for rescue. (The publisher provided a review copy.)