Ajin: Anime/Manga Comparison – Episode 3
Ajin – Anime to Manga Comparison:
Episode 3/Chapters 3-4
With just a month until Netflix releases Ajin’s 2nd season, now seems like as good a time as any to compare Ajin’s Anime and Manga forms. The series is one highly polarized by the Anime’s usage of CGI, rather than traditional 2D animation the medium is often known for. But let’s look beneath that, beneath the stylistic choice and at the actual content. How does Ajin’s anime live up to the original source material? What changes were made? Were any for the better, or is Ajin’s anime the inferior way to experience the story? This is part three of a thirteen part comparison of Ajin’s first season to the Manga’s content. To see which comes out as the ‘truly better’ way to experience Nagai’s epic tale of self discovery.
Ajin Episode 3/Chapters 3-4:
Unlike Episode 2, Episode 3 is much more like the series opener, content to make a number of changes in an effort to streamline and perhaps even tighten up Ajin’s narrative. For starters the anime opens with a scene from Chapter 4, cutting the scene where The Hat is watching footage of Tanaka on his computer. Instead we insert Chapter 4’s scene where he’s already freed Tanaka and is conversing with him in a room splattered with blood and guts.
From there the anime continues on its own path with a news report that helps to remind the audience of the public’s general perception of this newest Ajin incident. We meet two average guys getting gas who briefly converse over the story. After that the anime rejoins the manga for the bike sequence as Nagai and Kai continue to make their way to his hideout. This sequence is similar, although shortened as dialogue is contracted or cut entirely. Also the anime gives Nagai a flash back to the incident with the thugs from the last episode. When the biker arrives to attack the two much of the action plays out similar, although the biker’s internal dialogue is severely shortened.
Tosaki and Shimomura’s meeting with Nagai’s mother gets a brief establishing shot outside, reminding us that the police and news crews are still covering this story. Tosaki’s brief conversation with the mother plays out very similar, save for Tosaki pressing Mrs. Nagai for her feelings on her son turning out to be an Ajin. In the manga she volunteers these feelings freely. Once they head outside the scene where Tosaki spots Satou is much the same, save that he calls in a tracking team rather than texting for it. There’s also a bit more dialogue between Tosaki and Shimomura.
Returning to the bike chase scene things play out much the same, again with only minor dialogue differences. When the biker kicks Kai and Nagai off the road, Kai falls onto pavement rather than into a nearby stream. Also, when Nagai decides he needs to kill the biker, the manga’s art is far more sinister, perhaps better conveying the dark turn Nagai is turning down. Although perhaps at odds with where his character ultimately ends up later on.
When Kai rises to beat down the Biker, the anime is much less focused on the violence, keeping Kai’s punches and strikes against the biker mostly hidden off screen. From there the aftermath of this battle is similar, although the manga draws the character’s face in a much sillier manner, alleviating the scene of its darker tones for a moment. Also, the dialogue about Kai being Nagai’s friend is cut, and Nagai’s internal musings about what a freak Kai is are also absent from the anime.
Chapter 3 concludes with the scene where Tanaka and Satou are discussing humanity’s hesitation to go after them, afraid of another death toll and Satou’s own desire to show Nagai the way. This scene happens in a different location, but is virtually the same otherwise.
Chapter 4 opens with the Satou and Tanaka scene that the anime moved ahead earlier. (Which would’ve been intensely confusing from the last Satou and Tanaka scene since this second one is a flash back.) The anime rejoins the manga as we get a look at Nagai and Kai’s hideout. The conversation here between Nagai and Kai is much darker and significantly different from the manga. In the manga things are much lighter between the two, calmly discussing the idea of taking Nagai to Kyushu, with no mention of Nagai having killed himself earlier to heal his wounds. It’s interesting in the anime, as Kai disagrees with Nagai’s solution, criticizing him. The relationship feels rightly strained, as Kai has been fervent in trying to convince Nagai that he’s human and here he’s seen his friend caving to the idea that he isn’t. This characterization makes more sense and feels more natural. Also Nagai destroys his phone in the anime, to prevent the government from possibly tracking him.
The scene eventually does move around to discussing the Kyushu plan, although Nagai is much less enthused with it. It also comes up after Nagai asserts how much he doesn’t want to lose his normal life just because he’s an Ajin. From there we get an additional scene at a restaurant where Shimomura is given an assignment by Tosaki to interview Nagai’s sister. There’s also some talk about Satou here as well, reminding us that the agents he sent to track down Satou after the sighting have failed to locate him.
From later in the manga the anime rips forward another scene, with Nagai contemplating Kai’s plan to take him to Kyushu. It’s here Nagai vocalizes how he can’t get Kai involved any further in this mess. Nagai also catches a glimpse of his ghost here. Manga Nagai is very calm upon seeing it, yet Anime Nagai is much more startled and troubled seeing the Ghost for the first time.
The anime rejoins the manga as Shimomura visits Nagai’s sister in the hospital. The scene is nearly identical up until Nagai’s sister realizes that Kai might be the one helping him. Manga Sister is very forthcoming with the realization, ready to give Shimomura the information if not for her untimely ‘demise.’ Anime Sister is more reserved and it paints her character in a more grayish light, unsure she wants to give her brother up just yet, even if he is an Ajin. It provides a little extra nuance that the manga is lacking.
After Shimomura is murdered the anime doesn’t flash to Tanaka on the bench right away, more interested in providing a slightly more fleshed out version of the police officers slaughter. The episode chooses to conclude on Tanaka’s Ajin Ghost reaching for the sister, saving the reveal concerning Shimomura’s character for the next episode.
What few meaningful changes we have here I’m confident are for the better, particularly the darker conversation and tension between Kai and Nagai. It feels more natural as Nagai gradually turns away from Kai’s view of his friend, choosing to accept that he’s an Ajin and no longer pretend to be a human. It helps to sell the idea that Nagai is going to abandon Kai and set out on his own. The sister change is subtle, yet important, again providing a more nuanced depiction of the world where people may not be out to get Nagai, but are still weary of his Ajin status.
That’s all for today! Please feel free to comment with your thoughts on Ajin and how Episode 3 compares with the manga’s second chapter.