Ikigami to Donor – Yamanaka Hiko
Yuki Yoshino, a junior high school teacher, is informed that he’s an “Ikigami donor.” Ikigami are the strongest military-operated human beings, and the treatment for these super humans requires body fluids from their unique donor. As Yoshino is about to learn what it means to be an Ikigami donor, Kido storms into the room and demands for his donor. Kido, a super famous Ikigami, is told that Yoshino is his donor and Kido orders Yoshino to treat his open leg wound with his saliva. In disbelief, Kido and Yoshino both witness the leg wound heals in front of their eyes.
Ikigami and Donor is a dystopian story with an interesting and kinda gross premise. Ikigami are supersoldiers who fight for their country in a world where military might is based on the number of ikigami they have. These superhumans can only be damaged by their fellow ikigami and they cannot be treated by ordinary medicine. Instead, each of them has a specially matched donor whose body fluids can heal their assigned ikigami. This can be as simple as licking a wound to extreme such as donating the entire skin off your back or giving up multiple organs.
Which is what happened to middle school teacher Yoshino, who suddenly found himself a donor and assigned to an asshole ikigami named Kido. Said asshole demanded he lick the open wound on his leg upon their very first meeting without so much as a hello, nice to meet you.
This manga can be quite emotional and thought-provoking as it touches upon human rights, war, and the intensely codependent relationship between donor and ikigami. A pair does not necessarily becomes emotionally involved with each other. More often than not, it’s a cold, efficient transaction of harvesting blood or body parts. Yoshino and Kido is actually a rare case.
Kido is a man-child who does what he wants with Yoshino to the point of almost raping the guy. He doesn’t really have anyone to protect, merely fights simply because he’s an ikigami. Yoshino felt protective of his ikigami almost immediately. He is a mild-mannered man who was fast learning the kind of damage the supersoldiers had to endure.
The story is mostly from Yoshino’s POV but we also see Kido’s thoughts and history. As the story progress, Kido’s character grow and learn the most important lessons in life. Their bond grew stronger, the longer they were together. The war continues, and soon, ultimate sacrifices had to be made.
There was a part where he and Yoshino talked about what they want to happened 10 years into the future. It was a such a poignant moment that showed the kind of empty life Kido was living all this time. Later, he told Yoshino his dreams for the future. I was teary eyed.
Yep, this is one of those manga that can break your heart to pieces, then put it back together again.
There’s a bonus mini-thread between the sunshine-y ikigami, Taki, and the stoic ministry official, Shibata. I love this pair! They need their own story.