Written by: Keiko Suenobu
Illustrated by: Keiki Suenobu
Publisher: Vertical, Inc.
Format: Softcover, 5 x 7, 176 pages, Black and White, $10.95
Reviewed by: Diamond BookShelf
Keiko Suenobu merges high school drama with a Lord of the Flies-style survival tale in Limit.
This volume begins as a typical high school story, focusing on Konno, a member of the popular girls clique. Konno establishes herself as a deliberate follower early on, gladly going along with the "queen bee" as way to thrive in the social hierarchy. Others are not so lucky, as is quickly shown when social outcast Arisa is picked to draw for the class' spot for a school camping trip. When Arisa pulls the last spot, the popular girls proceed to torment her, with only classmate Kamiya offering support.
On the day the class sets out for camp – located deep in a nearby forest – the school bus runs off the road into a ravine, killing all but four of the students – Konno, Kamiya, Arisa, and Konno's friends Haru and Usui. Lost in the forest with no connection to the outside world, the girls attempt to gather supplies and survive until help arrives. But with everyone else gone, the tormented Arisa seizes the opportunity to put herself at the top of the social order, through use of a scythe found in the wreckage. As the girls struggle to endure in the wilderness, they also try to survive their new world with the unhinged Arisa calling the shots.
Suenobu won the Kodansha Manga Award in 2006 for her shojo series Life (published in English by Tokyopop), and similar to that series Limit looks at the darker side of the high school experience. The jealousies and insecurities of the girls are brought to the fore as they struggle to stay alive, both in the forest with limited supplies and under the tyranny of Arisa, who relishes the opportunity to exercise the power she was denied in everyday life.
While the story is told mainly from Konno's point of view, Suenobu does not necessarily establish Konno as the hero of the manga, and her philosophy of "giving herself over to the current" causes rifts with friends still loyal to the now-dead head of their social circle. Arisa is fleshed out as well, for while she is easily established as the antagonist of the group, the reasons behind her cruelty are well-examined.
Limit offers a gripping and compelling read, juxtaposing high school relationship hierarchies with a desperate survival tale. With six volumes in the complete series, it presents a strong reading experience that will fit easily into an older teen or adult manga collection.