Ajin 61-63 – 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 Ajins 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. With Sato now poised to initiate his final campaign against the Japanese government, its up to Kei and Co. to put a stop to him once and for all.

Review:

Chapters 61-63 take the attention off Sato and focus near exclusively on Nagai and his team’s effort to foil Sato’s plans. We don’t quite get to that point however, with each group of characters still struggling to narrow in on Sato’s brutally effective operations.

Chapter 61 is mostly setting the plan’s stage. While Nagai explains the details of it, and we finally learn Mr. Firefighter’s name (It’s Akiyama!) things get off to a bad start as Nagai finds himself cornered by Sato’s human allies. Not only that but the Anti-Ajin Forces arrive on the scene and take Nagai down in an instant. There’s a wonderful twist here, set up by Chapter 60.5, where the Anti-Ajin forces finally receive updated intel, marking Nagai not as a target, but rather a much needed alley. Nagai even wakes to find that the Anti-Ajin forces have turned sides and are now protecting him!

I love this twist, but feel like the manga doesn’t quite do it justice. It happens too fast, with not enough panels spacing out the time between Nagai getting attacked by the Anti-Ajin, knocked out, and reviving to the new status quo. It’s truncated and that damages what could’ve felt even more impactful. Still, it is a good twist, lukewarm execution or not.

Chapter 62 addresses the big question: “Will Kaito ever matter?” Kaito finally escapes prison with the help of Takeshi, although unlike the anime Takeshi does not escape with him, choosing to remain inside, or perhaps incapable of carrying two people to freedom. We still don’t get to see Kaito do much, if anything, but at least he’s finally headed towards the battlefield. I do have to wonder however how much of a service he’ll be to the group, since he’s not an Ajin, or even an armed professional.

This chapter also dedicates a good chunk of its page time to the other groups, Izumi and Tanaka, and Nakano and Akiyama.Part of the issue our goodies are facing is trying to narrow down Sato’s ‘base of operations’ or where he keeps returning to after he blows himself up in his kamikaze attacks. Both sets of heroes find themselves confronted with previously unseen allies of Sato’s, kinda indicating that the author maybe didn’t have enough bad guy characters to fill out his roster before the finale? We’re introduced to a few new IBM designs, and what initially feels like a cool, potentially action packed confrontation, dwindles quite quickly. 62 and 63 see these new, minor, villains defeated almost before the fight can even begin, almost making their inclusion feel pointless. It’s at least disappointing we didn’t get a little more IBM vs IBM action out of it.

Chapter 63 ends with a return to Nagai and his Anti-Ajin team, who meet with a set back in efforts to locate Sato’s base. They’re right on top of it, trouble is it’s underground. Cutting away from that we finally return to our single surviving mercenary, Manabe. Like Kaito, Manabe is still prepping to join our big conclusive battle. Visiting a weapons dealer, Manabe is offered an arsenal of weapons to avenge his deceased boss.

Ajin’s kind of in a weird place with these chapters. Stuff like Manabe and Kaito only just prepping for the final battle feels like content that should’ve come before Nagai got his counter attack plan off the ground. It’s not so much that either character should be working directly with Nagai, but rather both should’ve already been on their way to the military base. As it stands we’ve got most of our characters actually playing out the manga’s final act, with another couple trailing behind. It feels a little awkward.

Otherwise these chapters are fine. Not amazing, a few good moments, but fine. It’s all a waiting game until the big fight finally hits and everything comes together for the climax. I’ll definitely be interested to see what kind of finale we get. The anime’s Season 2 finale, which basically wrapped up the entire story, was pretty crazy. I kind of suspect the manga won’t end with quite as big a bang, particularly based of Nagai’s idea to drop Sato’s arm down a shaft and trap him in the ground. While a clever use of Ajin mechanics, it doesn’t have the explosive visual impact of raining gunfire, exploding bombs, and collapsing tunnels.

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 will likely be available in Volumes 11-12.

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