Volume two of Keiko Suenobu’s Limit throws us right back into the action; having survived a horrific bus crash during a class field trip, our main character Konno is now forced to fight, seemingly to the death, for food. It’s a stark reminder of the hierarchy the survivors thought they had left behind; trapped in the wildness, “survival of the fittest” takes on a whole new meaning. Will help come in time to save the five high schoolers or will they be forced to fight one another for survival?
Rumor has it that Justin was far less enamored with the first volume of this series than I was; volume two gets my blood pumping a little less than the prior volume, but I’m still enjoying the series. At the end of volume one, the butt of the in-class jokes Morishige has turned the tables; with scythe in hand, Morishige quickly exposes deep-seated jealousies and insecurities between Konno and her best friend Ichinose, pitting them against one another in a deadly fight for food. In the midst of arguing, apologies and uncertainty, Kamiya steps in and inadvertently reminds Konno of the importance of having a will to live–something to live for outside of others’ expectations. Meanwhile, the bus company is quickly realizing something is afoot and makes a scramble to locate the missing bus and driver before word spreads.
While time felt more pressing in the first volume—the girls’ lives seemed constantly in danger—this volume focuses more on the psychological aspects of social collapse and the fear of death. For some, like Konno and Ichinose, constant presence of death serves to potentially bring them closer together; everyone seems a little more human in the end. For others, like the timid Usui, injury and social isolation feed paranoia and helplessness. When the group discusses spotting potential help, Usui sees a group discussing the quickest way to dump her. What other characters like Morishige both lack and envy—over-protective parents and a sheltered but happy life—Usui slowly begins to see as a life-threatening crutch. Usui’s sudden desperation and ultimately rash decision-making may not save her life, but she notes that it’s the first decision she’s ever made on her own.
And ultimately, Konno still can’t decide who to trust. Is Kamiya’s cold calculating personality a help or a threat? Is it wrong to have a will to survive—even at the expense of others? The series has obviously never been about whether or not the girls will be saved—I’d argue that it may not even matter—but moreso about the effect of the collapse of social order and what that exposes about human nature. For those that have found a comfortable and beneficial place in social hierarchy, a collapse can give them the will to fight and maintain their position or cause them to withdraw completely. Konno continues to compel the reader because she’s constantly straddling that line; she doesn’t want to be “that” person and is disgusted at “those” kinds of people, but is constantly pushed to the edge of valuing her life or someone else’s. While I don’t see the rest of Limit being able to maintain steam for more than five or six volumes, I’ll be interested in seeing whether Konno eventually does “break” in later volumes.