Congratulations! You have been randomly selected...
...by the government... to die in 24 hours!
Obedience is the key to happiness according to a dystopian Japanese government in this manga, upon entering elementary school every child is immunized and one out of every thousand syringes also holds a nano-capsule that will rupture on a predetermined day sometime between the ages of 18 and 24. Twenty-four hours before they are to die an Ikigami (death paper) is delivered so that the person has 24 hours to prepare for death or to live the last minutes to the fullest. With the possibility of death hanging over everyone it reminds citizens "how precious life is and how important it is to be a productive, active member of society."
The concept isn't really all that new (Battle Royale for example) but it puts a unique and exceptional twist to the story and it is by far one of the best manga I have read in a long time and I'm sure it will eventually be one of my top five favorite manga series ever.
The first episode revolves around a now twenty year old young man that was bullied through high school and because of the abuse from his attackers was never able to complete high school. When he received his Ikigami he takes it as an excuse to get revenge on those that tortured him only to find out that his bully's no longer remembered him and that once finished his vengeance didn't make him feel any better but instead made things worse. As a last act, upon seeing a young boy being bullied he told him to stand up for himself now or his life will never get any better and the boy takes his advice and breaks the cycle at least for one person.
The second episode focuses on a young musician that is part of a street performing duo that wants to be rich and famous but decides to take the quick route and abandon his friend instead of working hard and improving as a duo. Taking the quick route backfires and he ends up being shuffled around bands and ends up being a backup guitarist to a harmonica player... To make amends after receiving his Ikigami he plays a song written by his former street duo partner for his first live radio appearance over the air, putting his whole being into the song he dies as soon as he finishes the song, his former partner (being in a coma from a recent accident) hears the song and awakens from his coma even though the doctors said he wouldn't.
I'm glad I picked up most of this series on a whim all at once and I can't wait to keep reading it.