Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Usui has fled the camp, taking with her Morishige's scythe. This, coupled with the arrival of fellow survivor and lone boy Haruaki Hinata, drives the troubled Morishige over the edge, even as Hinata's appearance helps Konno, Ichinose, and Kamiya feel better and tighten their bonds. Morishige is now motivated solely by her need to reclaim power – and what's that that they say about absolute power...?
Limit's second volume ended on the reveal that the five girls we knew to have survived the horrific bus crash were not as alone as they thought – a boy had also made it out alive. The addition of Haruaki Hinata, a gentle beta male type, serves to shake things up a bit for the rest of the band, in ways both positive and negative. While Usui's flight from camp in volume two also upped the stakes, it is Hinata's entry onto the scene that really allows for some new character development to occur as we learn about the past of Arisa Morshige and what made her who she is.
Wracked with guilt over Usui's apparent defection, Konno, Ichinose, and Kamiya begin volume three by setting out to look for her. Morishige appears not to care about the loss of their companion until she realizes that she has been left without her scythe. When she is reminded that the weapon was the only reason that she was able to take control of the situation in the first place, Morishige becomes obsessed with reclaiming her sceptre of power, setting off to join the hunt as well. While looking for Usui, Konno (who has right along been the most emotionally invested in their survival as a group) and Hinata find each other. Mutually relieved to have found another survivor, Konno brings him back to the camp. Hinata appears equally happy to see everyone until he sees the chart Morishige scratched into the dirt back in volume one. Unaware of her violent tendencies, Hinata stands up to her, serving as a dual catalyst for her actions in the latter half of the book.
Most of the volume deals with Morishige, and a large section is devoted to her home life. While parts of it will not be surprising to readers (particularly those who are paying attention when she realizes that Hinata has joined the group), Keiko Suenobu maintains her signature power/horror combination as she relates to us the reasons behind Morishige's actions. Very few people become troubled in the deep way she is without a little (or a lot) of help, and the world Arisa Morishige lived in was a dark one indeed. For her the accident was a godsend, a way for her to reclaim power in a life that had been sadly lacking in it. Now she sees herself as backsliding, and she doesn't like it. While we as readers might not agree with Morishige's decisions or even really sympathize with her, Suenobu forces us to at least understand them, making her more than just the villain of the piece. Her actions may be inexcusable, but to a certain degree, Suenobu makes us wonder if there are inevitable as well.
It is difficult to read Limit without comparing it to the other teen survival adventure currently being serialized in English, Kodansha's Cage of Eden. While both do treat on similar topics – the changes in humans when they are isolated from society at large and forced to survive in desperate circumstances – Limit takes a closer look at the emotional process undergone by the characters. Simply put, Cage of Eden's action is external, while most of Limit's is internal. Those who have written this (or that one) off because “it's another teen survival story” should consider that they show two different sides of the same coin. No where is this better seen than in Morishige's character, but Kamiya and Ichinose also serve to highlight the emotional changes, with Kamiya coming to realize that being a loner may not be the best way to survive and Ichinose beginning to understand the effect she may have had on others before the world fell down. Konno, who most often serves as point of view character, has already shown us who she is and why she became that way; as the series progresses, we see the other characters being given that chance as well.
As has been the norm, Suenobu's art works to compliment her story. Small details – the fact that Hinata's sweatshirt is too big and has a torn sleeve subtly indicating that he removed it from the crash – and larger spreads, such as a murder of crows, set the mood and remind us of what is at stake. The mountain may seem a little too clear in places, often looking riddled with trails, but another detail helps to explain that as well. Gray and black spaces are used mostly for emphasis to good effect, and the confines of the smaller trim helps to make the story feel more confined, rather as the characters are.
Limit continues to do what Keiko Suenobu does best – highlight the very real problems of adolescence. The survival story helps to make the story more palatable to those outside her usual readership, combining teen angst with adventure to create a compelling read fraught with perils both physical and emotional. As time passes and the school alerts the authorities, the question of whether Morishige can be contained and if the rest of the group will survive their ordeals looms large and with increasing worry. The fact that they are so close to civilization makes things that much more anxious. Can you wait to see how things will work out?
Overall : A-
Story : A
Art : A-
+ Thrilling story based on the emotions of the characters as well as their struggle to survive. New character adds to the suspense without feeling like an add-on.
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