The population was beginning a slow descent into decadence. No one seemed to care about the important things in life: honor, integrity, even life itself. So, the government began a new program to make life precious once more. When vaccinations were given to every child, a certain percentage was, instead, randomly injected with a capsule that would activate at a random time, resulting in that person’s death. Through a complex set of procedures, these capsules were tracked in such a way that, without anyone knowing the particulars, an Ikigami – a death paper – would be sent to each of those selected twenty-four hours before the capsule activated. The uncertainty this caused would make people value their lives more, and increase social productivity.
Volume One of Motoro Mase’s Ikigami contains two episodes – each dealing with different aspects of the process. Episode One, The End of Vengeance, is concerned with Fujimoto, a young man who gets work delivering Ikigami, and the story of one of the people to whom he delivers them – a bullied youth who uses his last day for actions both heroic and evil. Episode Two, The Last Song, deals with a young man in a busking duo who tries to achieve pop stardom even though it means deserting his partner.