Saturday Anime – Ajin: Demi-Human (2016)

Watch the trailer. Have you watched it yet? OK good, then we can discuss.

Ajin: Demi-Human is now streaming on Netflix, the dubbed version is anyways. Is it worth sitting down and binging the entire first season without blinking or taking a bathroom break? Yeah pretty much. It’s probably not quite as action filled as the trailer portrays, but there’s plenty of action to be had in every episode. With the voice talents of some pretty major players in the field, and a very enjoyable artistic style, Ajin is a must see.

Ajin: Demi-Human follows the story of Kei Nagai. Ajin are known, but extremely rare. One day Kei is in a terrible accident and he’s discovered to be an Ajin. There’s been rumors floating for some time about what happens to the Ajin when they’re captured by the government. Brutal and bloody torture to test the limits of their healing and immortality. Kei, being aware of these rumors, wisely gets the hell out of there. He’s on the run, but not alone. His childhood friend Kaito helps in Kei’s escape. However, a mass media campaign is on to track down the newly minted Ajin. Things look grim, but really their troubles are just getting started.

The premise of Ajin: Demi-Human is fairly simple, kind of. In this world there are people who cannot die, or more accurately, do not stay dead. They are called Ajin. When they are “killed”, their regeneration time is pretty quick. They can regrow limbs and organs, and a kill is more of a reset button. They have some interesting powers to go along with their possible immortality. There’s a very curious scream that has a very interesting basis in real world biology. It can apparently stun human beings temporarily. I am extremely not qualified to make a judgement on its merits, so I’ll take the creators word on it for now. Then there’s the black ghosts. They are kind of like avatars in that they are an extension of the being. Semi-autonomous, the black ghosts can do a lot of dirty work. They do have a time limit and daily limit. Well kind of. They do follow a general set of rules, but there are anomalies.

The most interesting things about the entire first series is the moral questions raised, and the rather sociopathic behavior the lead character possesses at times. The idea that Ajin are no longer humans, therefore nothing they do to them can be by definition inhumane, is a prevailing societal attitude. Imagining a world where this is accepted, you can start to see where the torture and study of the Ajin becomes justifiable in the eyes of the torturers. It’s not that the community at large is indifferent to the Ajin plight, it’s that they’re scared of the unknown and it’s easier look the other way as opposed to standing up for their fellow “human”. How far is too far? What happens if the advanced torture techniques were made public? Who the hell would honestly be surprised if there was a resistance movement?

The fighting in the series is incredible. I don’t just mean how soldiers put bullets into Ajin. No, I mean the tactics that become possible when you can chop off your own arm to keep moving knowing it will grow back, or purposefully kill yourself to “reset” your body in the middle of a fight! The possibilities are fascinating, and this series does make some interesting choices to that end. There are some seriously fun sequences in that arena.

I absolutely recommend this series! I’ve watched the entire thing twice now. The first time it was just kind of on as background noise, but it got me interested enough to go back and give it an honest go. Totally worth it! I’m hearing rumblings that the second season should be out this October. I sure as hell hope so, there’s far too many questions I NEED answered and soon!

Thanks for reading!

-Ray Nichols, Editor in Chief SQ Horror Magazine