Ajin 46-48 – Manga Review

Ajin Synopsis: Seventeen years ago, an utterly immortal human was discovered on an African battlefield. Since then, more of these new and unknown life forms began to appear among mankind. These undying beings start to be known as “demi-humans.” One day, just before summer break, a Japanese boy leaving his high school is involved in a traffic accident that kills him on the spot. Then, he comes back to life. A huge bounty is placed on his capture. Now the boy’s attempt to evade all of mankind begins. (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)

(Warning: Spoilers to Follow)

Since Kei discovered he was an Ajin he’s found himself in an increasing deadly situation. Sato, an Ajin bent on terrorism, continues to hound the Japanese government, seeking to rally the Ajin’s hidden across society and ultimately take over Japan. Kei, coerced into fighting back by Ko, another young Ajin, finds himself working alongside one of his former pursuers, Tosaki, a government agent tasked with finding and controlling the Ajin. Things come to a head as Sato sets his sights on Forge Security’s president, one of his many targets that he’s sworn to kill no matter who tries to get in his way. Unfortunately Kei, Ko and Tosaki are unable to stop Sato and now, in the aftermath of their greatest defeat, things seem darker than ever before.

Review:

Chapters 46-48 are fairly flashback heavy, choosing to either flesh out the world of Ajin, or its character’s backstories. 46 is a hugely interesting chapter, going back to Dr. Ogura’s time in America and his ‘assistance’, or lack thereof, with their research into Ajin. This chapter directly ties into one of the side stories, specifically the tale of Shin’ya Nakamura, and the ‘flood’ incident where he summoned dozens of IBM upon the death of his best friend. (It’s included in Volume 2 should anyone be reading this who followed the anime, as the western release on Netflix never included the OVA adaptation of this.)

We get some revelations here that really throw the accepted cannon of Ajins for a loop. Apparently Shin’ya’s best friend almost came back as an Ajin! As a result of the flood his battered and bloody body was somehow healed, but his vital functions never started up again. This makes him a ‘threshold’ case. Otherwise the chapter offers the surprise reveal that America has herded all of its Ajin into one facility they’re not allowed to leave from (still better than the experimentation Japan subjects its Ajin to) and utilizes them to try and learn more about what makes someone become an Ajin. We also spend a bit of time fleshing out the global/ U.S. response to the rise of Ajin.

An important distinction.

It’s a fun chapter, although again delays us away from the main story. But unlike the chapter focused on re-contextualizing Kei’s mother, I love the world building and backstory this one offers up.

Chapter 47 continues the flashbacks by primarily focusing on how Sato discovered he was an Ajin. We learn that after his military service, Sato returned a cripple and mainly spent his time playing arcade games. Due to his army background Sato’s uncle seeks him out to be an advisor for their ‘organization’ which focuses on drugs, organ sales, and other illegal activities. He wants someone to train his men in the ways of killing. Sato though, as we learn, is singularly focused as he is in the present: He only cares about games and turns his uncle down because the new Pac-Man is about to come out. (This must be before the franchise went sour.) What’s great about this flashback is that it’s totally in line with the Sato we know today. He only cares about his own entertainment, and he only signs on with his Uncle once someone points out that Japan it the land of video games and that peeks Sato’s interest.

A confusing excuse no matter what year this takes place in.

It’s this terrifyingly singular mindset that makes Sato such a horrific villain: He only cares about his own enjoyment and fun, something that’s expanded from playing video games to treating the very society of Japan he terrorizes as his own, personal, playground.

We jump back briefly to the present to showcase Tanaka’s budding resolve to try and end the bloodshed and contain Sato’s insatiable ‘bloodlust’ or I guess it’d really be ‘game lust?’ Ultimately though it looks as if Sato is planning to take Tanaka out, and has his other goons firmly on his side.

Returning to Sato’s past we ultimately learn how his uncle was gunned down by a rival syndicate, and Sato, being the bad ass he is, took the killer’s out, only to eventually become hunted himself, caught, and killed. In that moment Sato got a ‘continue’ and came back to life. It’s an incredible scene, one I would’ve loved to see in the anime adaptation, only marred by a sort of wonky final line, “I choose yes.” I actually think it would’ve been more powerful to end on the earlier page that I’ve used as the articles first image, it’s a less ‘on the nose’ line to go out on.

Clearly the greatest innovation of mankind.

The last chapter for today, Chapter 48, finally sends us forward again. We learn that things are only getting worse for Ajin thanks to Sato’s efforts. A bill has been passed that’ll allow for stronger measures to be taken against Ajin, treating the entire, hidden, community as true terrorists, regardless of whether they’ve sided with Sato or not. We get a sense the entire government isn’t for this new legislation, as the prime minister seems strictly against it.

We dive back to Tosaki, Ko and Izumi as they regroup. They’re still going to fight. There’s an assumption, based on Ko’s earlier argument with Kei, that Kei isn’t coming back on board. But, sure enough, he waltz in like nothing happened. Kei is quickly accosted by Ko and the others as to his plan, and his bizarre reasoning for why it’s ‘logical’ to continue fighting Sato. Kei’s flawed reasoning fits perfectly with the earlier conversation between him and his mother. Kei uses ‘logic’ to back up his emotional tendencies, and this is a perfect example. The chapter then ends with Sato wondering if Kei will challenge him again, and the Ajin.com website updating noting that the final battle is about to begin.

Well, I mean, Ko, you kinda are.

Overall these chapters have some great world building, flash backs and a few key developments. But it’s still taking a long time to really start up a new arc since the conclusion of Forge Security. I haven’t read past this point myself, as I’d already gone over these chapters months ago before I became too busy to get these articles out. So I’m excited to see how this ‘final battle’ is going to play out and what’s in store for our heroes. I’m also glad the manga seems to be wrapping it self up. This seems like the perfect place to build towards a conclusion, rather than dragging the story out. The final chapter is probably a long ways off, but the end is in sight.

Thanks for reading and please let me know your thoughts on Ajin in the comments section below!

Ajin is uploaded monthly on Crunchyroll. Volume 10 released on October 10th, 2017. Chapters discussed today are available in Volume 10 itself.

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