Immortality is a theme that has been addressed in numerous shows, but not in this particular manner, where it is to be feared. “Ajin: Demi-Human” looks at this idea in a disturbing approach. What is an ‘ajin’? This is a person who is an immortal and almost cannot be killed (they did research and experimentation on all of this). The problem is that you do not know you are an ajin until something happens to you that reveal it. Kei Nagai is just a kid (that angry one in the center; he really liked that shirt!), going to school or whatnot, when he is run over by a truck and killed, but on the way to the hospital, he revives and discovers that he is an ajin. Thus is the end of his ‘normal’ life.
Since people are terrified of these life forms, he is taken into custody by the Ajin Task Force, where he becomes a guinea pig and is endlessly killed by numerous methods. Now, keep in mind that they still feel the pain and torment of dying, so to have your days filled with dying by any and every means out there. It starts to grate on one pretty quickly. There is another ajin out there, called The Hat (actual name, Sato), who professes to want to rescue ajins from these barbaric tortures, but Kei soon discovers that he has ulterior motives, especially when The Hat does a daring raid on the facility Kei is warehoused at. We then learn of these Black Ghosts or IBMs, (as they are referred to. “Irritable Bowel Movements”? Well, they are a pain in the ass….)
This is a manifestation of your ajin power and can wreak especially fatal results to those around the ajin, as it strikes without fear or conscience. The series details the double stories of how Kei tries to harness his power to protect himself and how The Hat has monomaniacal aspirations to bring Japan, and then the world, to its knees in a bid for world domination.
The one drawback on the show is the art style. I feel it is done by the same people who did “Knights of Sedonia”, as it is this flat, CG style. I suppose it helps with the other worldly feel of it, but the people move rather herky-jerky and the ‘lighting’ seems unnatural. Now, it does help when the Black Ghosts fight one another, as there is nothing to tether them to 2D animation and that part flows better, but the rest of it labors, in my opinion.
This is a grim show, considering the sheer amount of death and bloodshed. And since an ajin cannot die (although there is a sliding reference that they seem to really die if you cut them apart), it is not uncommon that in a pinch, they will slay themselves, regenerate as new and dispense some more damage. It’s just that a society that prides itself on its humanity seems to find none where ajins are involved, which means that there are a bunch of these people out there who are angry beyond belief and will seek a murderous form of revenge. But not undeserved, considering what was inflicted on them for ‘science’. The show ended with the guarantee of a second season, as none of the real issues raised were resolved, but a (vague) promise to do so next go around. There is an OVA that is best seen at the end of the season, as you will fully understand the events contained therein better.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 7 (Too CG for my tastes)
Plot 8 (Hot and heavy)
Pacing 7 (Can get a bit prolix)
Effectiveness 8 (Explains things mostly well)
Conclusion 7 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 0 (A similar show would be “Honey and Clover”)
Overall 8 (A bit too bloody for my tastes)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. When do I get my reward?