Tag Archives: Ajin: Demi-human

Ajin Series 2: Could be Better With Competent Art

I reviewed the first series of Ajin two years ago. It was okay but suffered from being under-developed in general and from having artwork that was bad enough to be detrimental. So, when we left off our antagonist, Satou, had gathered a group of Ajin in order to perform acts of terrorism under the guise of trying to win rights for their people. And our protagonist, Kei, had narrowly escaped capture along with another Ajin.

Ajin2 1.png

Story:

We open with a brief recap of what happened in the last series. You know, in case someone decides to watch the second series without having seen the first. Satou unveils his intention to assassinate a list of people who he accuses of being involved with experiments performed on Ajin. Meanwhile, Kei comes to the conclusion that he can’t beat Satou on his own and decides to join up with Tosaki and the group who spent the last series hunting him.

The biggest flaw with this one isn’t that they rush from big plot point to big plot point without regard for things like pacing or developing their scenario. The biggest issue with this one is that, in the first half, very little happens. Kei and his companion join with the group trying to hunt Satou and then they spend a lot of time talking about how they should catch him while we cut to him either murdering one of his targets, bragging about murdering one of his targets or making plans to murder one of his targets. While I appreciate them trying to develop their situation a bit better, the execution is more than a little tedious.

And then when they finally get moving halfway into the series, it goes right back to rushing through plot developments. It’s like they can’t find a happy medium and the result is going from one extreme to another.

Once again, the series has some good ideas buried beneath the flaws in the execution. The bits where Kei tries to connect with his sister and his old friend, Kaito, are pretty good. Although they still haven’t given any compelling reason for Kei’s friendship to mean so much to Kaito. The parts where they explore Shimomura’s back story and why she has such a strong sense of loyalty towards Tosaki are pretty strong. The element of giving both sides of the conflict legitimate reasons for fighting breaks down a bit which actually results in questions over whether or not the conflict is worth it and multiple characters deciding it isn’t. Which I can appreciate. At least the series doesn’t fully Flanderize one side and just decide they’re all evil now.

Characters:

I’ll continue to give the series credit for mostly having characters with realistic motivations and personalities that have enough to them to ring true. This series does run into a bit of a problem, however. In order to continue Kei’s ongoing conflict against Satou, they start showing a selfless side to Kei’s character. Which really doesn’t mesh with anything we’ve seen from him before and there’s not really a compelling reason for the change. It’s like they needed him to be less self-centred and more moral in order for the plot to work and, instead of developing his character in that direction naturally they just changed it.

Art:

The artwork continues to be pretty bad. This is a case where you might be able to make the art style work for a comedy. Gdgd Faeries has worse artwork than this, for example. But, when you’re trying to have a more serious dramatic work, art like this really detracts from it. Having characters move in stilted, awkward ways, including one unintentionally hilarious moment where people are supposed to be fleeing in terror but look like they’re trying to have a dance flash mob, really lessens the impact and makes it difficult to have a real sense of gravity in the situation.

Ajin 2 2.png

Sound:

The acting continues to be a strong point. Miyano Mamoru, Ootsuka Houchuu, Komatsu Mikako and Sakurai Takahiro are all solid actors. We’re talking solid enough to manage to convey things in spite of having no help from the artwork in quite a few cases. Kanno Yugo’s music is pretty strong as well.

Ho-yay:

All we have in terms of romantic content is hetero normative. None of the same sex dynamics come across as romantic.

Final Thoughts:

Like the first series, this one is okay. If the artwork wasn’t distractingly bad, I might go so far as to call it good. But as is, I’ll give it a 6/10. If you can tolerate the art, and the pacing issues aren’t going to bother you too much you might enjoy it.

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Ajin: Could have used more development.

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.

Ajin1.png

Story:

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.

Characters:

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.

Ajin2.png

(This fight scene makes Kirk vs the Gorn look  natural)

Art:

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.

Sound:

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.

Ho-yay:

There really isn’t any. Nor is there romance in the series in general, save for one character’s motivation.

Final Thoughts:

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.