*This Review is Spoiler Free*
Much like Pandora Hearts and Vinland Saga I actually have my local public library to thank for this one as I came across this wonderful series while browsing the adult manga shelf section. I’d never heard of it before hand, but as someone who grew up watching shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer I took one look at the cover and fell in love. I tried to resist getting into it after looking it up and noticing it was an on-going series (I’ve mentioned before the madness that plagues me when waiting for a good series to be released), but after a couple months of the premise and cover haunting me every time I thought of what to read next I finally caved. Even with the insanity inducing cliffhanger of the latest volume I read I don’t regret it.
I won’t give away anything beyond the first 25pgs (about halfway through the 1st chapter) as the less you know going in the better. Ajin is set in an alternative universe where the existence of immortal humans called Ajin or Demi-humans were only recently discovered. These very rare people, said to have additional powers and not considered human by the Japanese government and general population where the story takes place, are systematically rounded up by the government as soon as their existence becomes known. What becomes of these humans under the government’s care is not well known, though recent rumors hint at a horrifying existence: extreme and cruel human experimentation. Though hunting Demi-humans is a very difficult task given the fact that the only way to find one is to watch as they come back to life. Unfortunately for the main character of this story Kei Nagai, an intelligent high schooler well on his way to a medical profession, this shocking event is exactly what happens to him in on the way home from school with the eyes of dozens of onlookers. Nagai quickly realizes the position he’s in and takes off, leaving family and false friends behind, but not before reaching out to the one person he believes may still be on his side.
Though they are both different stories in their own rights it’s contrasting premise to another series I recently reviewed, Immortal Hounds, has really added to my interest in both (though I read Ajin long before Immortal Hounds was published).
So far Ajin is a pretty condensed story with plenty of action and progression in each chapter, and unique characters to go along with it. The story itself has been amazing with quite a few unexpected and surprising events (sometimes horrifying and a bit bloody) with enough to hook you within the first 30 pages, but in addition to that this story has a great antagonist and a very unusual protagonist. I knew from the beginning that something seemed a bit off about Nagai (the protagonist), but it took me awhile to put my finger on it. Though I won’t come right out and say it I will, however, say that this aspect or characteristic makes Nagai an anti-hero and is something (which the 2015 anime adaptation unfortunately fails to convey) that feels central to the story and that I really love about this series. I also really enjoyed how even though we get to see the POV of other characters central to the story (the antagonists, the police force chasing Nagai, and a few others), the focus remains on the main character. I can’t wait to see how this story progresses between the bad-ass antagonist (seriously, I am often in awe of his tactics…which leaves me feeling morally conflicted lol), protagonists, and the additional characters in between.
Ajin is something I wouldn’t recommend to everyone, namely those who steer clear of anything involving blood, horror, or murder, but would recommend to anyone who is looking for a good story (without fillers), and unique characters that make lasting impressions. 8/10 Unicorn Horns