Ajin: Anime/Manga Comparison – Episode 4 or How Netflix’s Copy is Missing Footage.
Ajin – Anime to Manga Comparison:
Episode 4/Chapters 5-6
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 four 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 4/Chapters 5-6:
Before we dig in I want to point out a startling realization I made while preparing for this article: Netflix has accidentally cut content. In Netflix’s effort to make Ajin a friendly binge watch it’s cut Recap segments from both the beginning and ends of the episode. However, Netflix wasn’t careful and has actually cut a cold open segment that occurs before the credits. Anyone comparing the Anime to the Manga will notice a rather crucial reveal is missing concerning Shimomura turning out to be an Ajin. This scene is absent from the Netflix copy, but present in the Japanese copy, as seen in the Gif below. This makes the start of the episode ever so slightly confusing, as Shimomura is alive again, despite having ‘died’ at the end of the previous episode. I’ve contacted Netflix in hopes that making them aware of the problem will perhaps lead to the restoration of the footage on their service. In the mean time there is, unfortunately, no other legal way to watch Ajin, leaving many viewers without the ability to see the story in its entirety.
With that noted, let’s jump in, as the rest of the episode is intact. In the manga Chapter 5 opens with Satou talking to Tanaka about video games at an outdoor cafe, notedly asking him what you could do with two lives at once. This scene is also in the anime, but occurs in a hotel like room, their hideout, with Tanaka actually playing a video game.
The manga snaps back to the Shimomura fight, which is currently confusing in the anime, as the pre credits sequence is missing on the Netflix copy. The lead up to the fight between Tanaka’s Ghost and Shimomura’s is very similar, with minimal differences. Tanaka’s attack on Shimomura’s ghost is different, in the manga he slices the neck away, where as here he breaks the neck. The fight is also a bit longer, more complicated and dynamic, making excellent use of the animated medium. Everything after plays near identical.
The same can be said for Tosaki’s meeting, although he gets a call from Shimomura rather than a text and some minor dialogue edits. The anime also has an additional scene here with Satou and Tanaka relocating Nagai’s Sister, Eriko, to their hideout. They wake her and she freaks, before they calm her while insisting they are allies of Nagai. This scene is some great misdirection for the audience, forcing viewers to be continually unsure of the kind of person The Hat, Satou, is.
The Anime rejoins the Manga as we return to Nagai and his Ajin Ghost. This scene plays similar, although lines are cut and dialogue is altered. A lot of dialogue. Anime Nagai abandons the plan to stay in the woods very quickly, hardly entertaining the notion. There’s also no additional talk about abandoning Kai. Instead he jumps right to the idea of contacting the other Ajins and realizing there’s more than just 2 others hidden in Japan. There have to be.
Kai returns and things again play very similar until the anime switches to include another scene with Satou and Nagai’s sister, where she questions if they’re being truthful with her. This includes a flashback to Nagai’s childhood, where his mother told him about Kai’s dad being a criminal to convince him to give up their friendship. Nagai then admitted he was only friends with Kai because the kid was always alone. It helps to highlight why Eriko doesn’t really like her brother. This scene also helps to develop a very different Nagai from the manga. Nagoya’s persona seems much more disconnected in the anime, giving the impression that his more ‘noble’ like qualities are perhaps little more than a facade. The manga doesn’t really carry this notion, at least not right now, presenting a slightly more likable protagonist. The music takes a turn, becoming menacing as Satou reveals he’s done with her and the two advance on her menacingly. Again, this keeps the audience in a state of confusion, unsure if Satou is a good guy or indeed a bad guy.
The anime returns to the manga as Nagai steals Kai’s cellphone while he sleeps. The following sequence plays out similarly, but with heavy edits. Manga Nagai thanks Kai for all his help, at least internally, acknowledging his friend’s efforts. Anime Nagai makes no such comment, venturing from the hideout without a second thought. Also, when he gets a call from his sister, Anime Nagai has the bonus dialogue of noting that his sister wouldn’t rat out his relationship with Kai, although Manga Nagai clearly can’t say the same. The subsequent chat with Satou is very much the same.
During Nagai’s bike ride to the meeting spot, the Anime and Manga differ again in their portrayal of Nagai. Manga Nagai makes note that he understands violent Ajin, and that there are a lot of humans that deserve to die. This is perhaps the manga’s first real example of how Nagai may not be an up and up hero. This comment is cut from the anime, possibly since we’ve already had a number of scenes noting Nagai’s Anti-Hero status already. Instead he jumps right to condemning Ajin for violence against innocents and noting that he’ll kill them if they do, with a brief flash to an image of his sister. Manga Nagai says similar to end Chapter 5. The emphasis in the anime is probably to offset the heavy anti-hero sentiment otherwise present in the episode. It’s hammering of scenes showing a less noble side to Nagai require something to pull him back around and make him likable in the audience’s eyes.
The anime then cuts a scene from the manga, between Tanaka and Satou as they discuss Nagai’s ‘potential.’ Chapter 6 of the manga opens with Nagai making his way to the temple meeting area, and the anime’s adaptation of this scene is fairly faithful. The anime then reorders several sequences here.
Before meeting Satou we snap to Tosaki and Shimomura as the police call them to inform them of Eriko’s cell phone usage. In the manga it’s the detective who puts it together that Nagai is likely where that cell phone is. In the anime Tosaki pieces it together, probably to act as evidence that he’s a credible villain. In the manga there’s also talk about Tranquilizers finally getting approved for usage. This is omitted entirely in the anime.
Nagoya’s meeting with Satou is largely the same, and the anime even fills in some of the gaps when Tanaka stabs Satou, which was merely implied in the manga. The anime then snaps to a scene with Kai waking to find his cellphone gone and Nagai missing. This includes a flashback to Kai’s childhood, remembering when Eriko came to tell Kai that Nagai had basically abandoned him. I think it’s actually quite a sad scene and really makes the viewer feel for poor Kai, who’s been an amazing friend, only to be cast aside a second time. A sequence featuring Kai is present later on in the manga, but doesn’t cover any of this. Instead it merely shows him waking down the road, trying to beat the heat and get back to civilization after having been abandoned.
We return to Nagai and Satou’s meeting, which plays very similar. There’s some added dialogue, like Nagai noting that Tanaka looks dangerous. Besides some changes to the flow of the conversation, the general gist is much the same. However, the manga has a lot of internal dialogue about misjudging Satou and feeling bad for thinking the man is a terrorist. But thanks to the anime’s earlier efforts this dialogue is unneeded, as the audience is already feeling this way, or perhaps weary of Satou as is. There’s no need for Nagai to hammer this idea home.
When the tranquilizer darts start firing off the scene plays much the same. The episode ends however with Satou noting that they need to educate Nagai, cutting out large portions of dialogue in order to end on a cliffhanger.
Overall I think the anime makes some solid choices in tightening up the narrative and keeping the episode flowing at a brisk pace. I’m hoping that once Netflix is aware of the missing footage they’ll restore it and fans can experience the show as it was meant to be.
That’s all for today! Please feel free to comment with your thoughts on Ajin and how Episode 4 compares with the manga’s fifth and sixth chapters.