All You Need is Kill is a light novel that was published in 2004. It is written by Hiroshi Sakurazaka and illustrated by Yoshitoshi ABe. It spawned a manga adaptation of it in 2014. The same year a live action american adoption of it was released. The movie was called The Edge of Tomorrow or better know as and marketed as Live. Die. Repeat. It was nominated for the Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia Eisner Award in 2015. This article will have spoilers for the light novel only, well manga as well, so if you want to see The Edge of Tomorrow you don’t have to worry about spoilers from this article. The science of All You need is Kill is pretty sound. Of course it is science fiction but the rules Sakurazaka set up stay in play through the whole book. This being said, we don’t learn what is really going on till more then 3/4th of the way into the book. All we know is that Keiji goes through 160 loops of the same space of time. We don’t know why. I’m perfectly alright with a big reveal around the third or final act but as far as we knew it was just happening. That being said why he gave us the rules let him have is tragic ending, but more on that latter.
Sakurazaka does an amazing job writing this book. At no point does it feel like, it’s just the same day over and over again how boring. He makes every thing move forward even though every thing stays in the same spot. He changes enough each loop and makes Keiji change every time he dies, that every things just goes together very smoothly. If you read the afterward in the book, he states that this book was inspired by video games. That is what Keiji and Rita are, video game characters that die, come back to life, and have to start over.
This book is quite dark. It doesn’t romanticize war, death, or killing. He shows the wear and tear on some one who has fight hundreds of battles. At one point Keiji even tries to kill him self to stop his loop, it doesn’t work of course. Him not caring about the normal every day mundane things, because he knows he’s just going to fight over and over again. Keiji and Rita both feel so distant from the world because the fell like nothing matters to them, but fighting. They only want to rid the world of Mimics. They feel like no one can ever understand why they have this drive, because they get stuck in their time loop. That is until they find each other.
The relief that Rita and Keiji find in each other is very endearing. They lived through so many loops alone that finding at least one person that understands them is the the best thing that could ever happen to them. This makes the end much more tragic. Keiji is will live in a loop for the rest of his life if Rita lives. She will have no memories of him
and he will. She can never fall in love with him, even though he will with her. He will have to continually die over and over no matter how long he lives. He will live the same 30 hours over and over and have them mean nothing. So, Rita makes the choice for him. Only one can live and survive. Rita lets him win, she lets her self be killed so he can live on. So, he can go forward. Either she is done fighting and knows that Keiji will keep fighting for her, or she doesn’t want him to end up like her. I think it’s a bit of both. In the end she puts the lives of every one on earth ahead of her own wants desires and dreams.
I highly recommend this book. Mind you it is not for the faint of heart. This is a love story but a very tragic one. And even though it is a love story that is not the main focus of the story. It is more about the continued fight and death that comes with an almost unwinnable war.
Photo Credit: All You Need Is Kill, Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Yoshitoshi ABe; All You Need is Kill (manga) Takeshi Obata, Ryōsuke Takeuchi, Shueisha Inc.