Let me start by apologising, somehow I got the mistaken impression that 91 Days was a horror anime, which it isn’t. I’ts a historical thriller. I got ahead of myself. For those of you who were looking forward to my reviewing that, I’ll review it in November, but for the moment, let’s talk about an actual horror anime. To be specific, let’s talk about Ajin. A supernatural horror mystery from Polygon Pictures. Based off of the manga from Sakurai Gamon. I have no idea what to expect from it. I haven’t heard anything about it. Let’s delve into it.
The titular Ajin look human, act human and think of themselves as human. The key differences are that Ajin can’t die. Every time they take mortal damage, a black mass swirls around them and they resurrect. Ajin can also summon black humanoid shapes that are invisible to human eyes. There are rumours about the Ajin. Some say that the government offers a reward of a hundred million yen to anyone who helps capture one. Some say they’re subjected to cruel and inhumane experiments once they’re captured. Nagai Kei is a quiet, studious lad who doesn’t much care for people. After an accident, he learns that he is, in fact, an Ajin. Now, the government is after him and he’s on the run, convinced that there’s some truth to the rumours.
The biggest flaw with this series is that it doesn’t really develop its ideas that well. It’ll spend a little time with something and then move on to the next thing without ever returning to flesh out the previous thing. The consequence is that there are a lot of plot points that are allowed to drop and others that could have been considerably more interesting, but aren’t given time to build up because they really wanted to get to the next big moment. Not like the big moment they were on mattered that much. It’s also worth noting that the “horror” of this series is largely just that it has supernatural creatures. There’s all of one moment in the entire thirteen episodes that actually kind of works as horror.
In spite of that, I do like the idea of the series. I like that it has moral ambiguity with neither side of the conflict being moral. And neither one is morally questionable in some over the top or cartoonish way. They have motivations that legitimately work, given the scenario. The narrative does also do a good job of keeping you interested in what’s coming next. In spite of its tendency to rush things. Its very good at ending its episodes at just the right moment to get the audience interested in what’s coming next.
This series is somewhat reminiscent of Phantom: Requiem in that it doesn’t have any morally good characters, mostly. It has a couple side characters who seem genuinely like good, supportive people. Its major characters, in contrast, are very much a self-centred group. Each of whom is willing to do terrible things if it serves them or helps them towards their goal. That being said, it is interesting to watch how they respond when their interests clash and they do, largely, come across as actual people, at least in terms of personality. It’s also kind of interesting that so many of them act out of desperation at various points in the narrative. That being said, the dynamics don’t always work. A big example is Kei and Kaito. We basically see flashbacks of how they used to be friends a long time ago and, somehow, it left such an impact that Kaito is willing to risk himself for Kei. Even though Kei’s literally spent years ignoring him. If their relationship troubles had been a recent development, it might be believable, but with that much time it comes across as really contrived. They really needed to show us more of their relationship and why it means so much to Kaito even after all this time, which does tie into the series’ general problem of rushing ahead without developing things properly.
(This fight scene makes Kirk vs the Gorn look natural)
The artwork in this isn’t very good. Its not that it uses obvious CG, it’s that it uses obvious CG that looks to be at about the level of a Playstation 2 game, and not one like Final Fantasy XII that looked really nice. No, it looks like an early PS2 game when developers weren’t even close to pushing the system’s limits. It’s more than a little distracting to see those visuals when they’re trying to have a serious moment.
The vocal cast in this is pretty good. Miyano Mamoru, Ootsuka Houchuu, Hosoya Yoshimasu, Komatsu Mikako & Sakurai Takahiro are all good in this. Kanno Yugo did the music for the series and it’s decent enough.
There really isn’t any. Nor is there romance in the series in general, save for one character’s motivation.
Ultimately, Ajin is okay. It has some good ideas and it is interesting, but rushing from one major plot point to the next hurts it. As does the generally weak artwork. If the series had had twenty episodes and spent more time on its important plot points, it could have been really good. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have that time. So, it’s rushed, but still decent enough. My final rating is going to be a 6/10. If the premise sounds interesting and you can forgive the artwork, you might get into it. Next week I’ll end this year’s horror month with Danganronpa 3: Zetsubou-hen. In the meantime, keep your fabulosity gauge filled.