Warning: The Following article covers a series depicting self-harm and suicidal ideation.
While I consider myself an optimist, I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy fatalism at times.
As my love of Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō might suggest, I quite enjoy stories about people accepting and going along with the inevitable, choosing to make the most of what they have left. So it should come as no surprise that I fell in love with Just Like This, Until The World Ends, a one-off Yuri manga about the end of the world.
The plot of the series is simple. An asteroid, named Minus, was discovered to be hurtling towards the earth. Two girls, Aki and Sakurai, meet on a hill to talk and watch the asteroid in the week before it strikes. While most of the world struggles to find a way to stop Minus, Aki and Sakurai are content to enjoy each other’s company and talk about their lives (what little life they have left).
What makes Just Like This, Until The World Ends interesting to me is it’s not a story about heroes trying (and failing) to save the world. We see the nations of the world working together to try and stop Minus, but that’s not the core focus. The focus is on the lives of two civilians, who simply have to accept that their actions have no affect on whether the world survives or not. Aki and Sakurai have no choice but to sit and watch as Minus approaches, knowing their lives might soon come to an end.
What I also find interesting is the way Aki and Sakurai accept the end and their inevitable death without much fear. Both Aki and Sakurai are shown to have suffered in the past, with Aki being a victim of bullying and Sakurai having attempted suicide during intense depressive bouts. Neither particularly fears death, just the idea of facing death alone. In each other, they find a companion to face the end with.
As the end approaches, the two reflect on that which should have happened sooner. How they wish they could have met one another earlier, how the nations of the world should have set aside their differences sooner, and how they wished the two could have spent just a little bit more time together. As the world ends, they agree to meet up in the afterlife, and embrace as Minus impacts.
Themes of suicide and fatalism can be very difficult to do well, and oftentimes they just come off as a means to pull the audience’s heartstrings. But Just Like This, Until The World Ends does so well, and manages to tell a bittersweet story about enjoying life while you have it. It’s dark and tragic, but sweet nonetheless.
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