What would you do if you could never die? Would your understanding of life and death change? And how would your family and friends react? What about the government? They say that humans are afraid of what they don’t know and, therefore, can’t control. This concept is deeply explored in Ajin, a 13-episode anime adaptation of the manga by the same name.
NOTE: This review is spoiler-free
Before the 2016 anime winter began, Ajin was, next to ERASED, the most talked about upcoming anime of the season, especially in Japan. Funnily enough, one of the first things that was said about the series is that it was very similar to Tokyo Ghoul, which is yet another super popular anime series. The connection is understandable: both series treat similar topics: strange half human-half supernatural beings appear, population freaks out and tries to control them, often via hunting them for unethical experiments. Oh, and the fact that the main characters of both series look alike made the similarities even more obvious!. In Ajin’s case, the story deals with “ajin”, humans who are incapable of dying and who seem to be able to create some sort of “black ghost” that they can order around and use to fight.
Nagai Kei is the main character and the one in charge of carrying the weight of the story, but the series soon shifts its focus to new characters. In fact, many characters who had very important roles in the first episodes didn’t get enough time to grow, and some plot points were also left unresolved, but that is something that is already expected with 1-cour seasons of on-going manga series. However, while the 13 episodes of Ajin are not enough to judge the series as a whole (there were also some changes from the source material), Polygon Pictures did more than a decent job at grasping the general concept and atmosphere of Ajin.
Addressing now the elephant in the room, the main factor that made potential viewers either stay away from the series or drop it altogether after a few minutes was its use of CGI animation. CGI animation in 2D is often up to the viewer’s tastes, but Ajin‘s use of CGI was still pretty decent and it especially shined during Ajin fights.
Unless you absolutely cannot stand CGI, once you’re a couple episodes in and you start getting invested in the plot, you will barely notice the CGI. What you will probably notice is the OST, though. Composed by Yugo Kanno, Ajin‘s unique tracks do a great job of building the atmosphere of the series, even if they were a bit overplayed and repetitive at times.
Any series that challenges the notion of humanity’s nature is worth watching in my book, and Ajin does not disappoint in that aspect. The only complaint that I have about their treatment of the topic is that, even though Kei’s personality is influenced by his Ajin nature throughout the episodes, it would have also been interesting to see him pondering what it meant for him to be a seemingly immortal being, especially since “death” is such a big, scary topic for us as humans
It’s unknown whether there will be a second season yet so, if you want more, you can look forward to the movies (the first one is already out!). And, of course, check out the manga for more!