Ajin – 06

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Well, that all just got a lot more complicated.

No question about it, Ajin has completely found its stride – and what a stride it is.  In terms of pacing this show is about as good as any we’ve seen in a good while.  In fact a an action-thriller the last four episodes anyway have been just about flawless – exciting, tense, relentless, smart, intriguing.  And the thing about a Polygon show is that you do sort of get dulled to how unnatural the characters look after a while – especially when the content is as riveting as it is with Ajin.

Drip by drip, the truth is coming out. – though the finish line keeps moving further and further away as it does.  Why doesn’t Satou dispose of this “project” when he deems it a failure?  Because Kei intrigues him – there’s something odd about the kid, though just how odd isn’t made clear until later in the episode.  Satou doesn’t seem to be a complete psychotic – he did let Eriko live, though that might have been just to avoid risking alienating Kei – but he certainly thinks nothing of killing anyone who might stand in his way.  That includes the “researchers” he and Kei cross paths with as they’re escaping the compound.

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I confess it – I’m not quite sure what’s going on with Kei.  He says himself that he never feels anything for anyone but himself, and seems genuinely puzzled when one of the researchers he saves from Satou tries to help him.  Yet try and save those men Kei did, at considerable risk to himself – those men who’d spent the last several day torturing him gruesomely.  Why would he do that if he were incapable of empathy – if he were the cold and logical automaton his sister says he is?  What I’d thought was developing into a straightforward struggle of Kei to maintain his humanity even in the face of relentless cruelty is apparently something quite different – though just what that is I’m not sure yet.

Maybe I’m looking at this too straight-on, but I do see a contradiction between the Kei Eriko (and Kei himself) describes, and the boy we’ve been watching for six episodes.  But one thing’s for sure – as human or as Ajin, Kei isn’t normal.  Even Satou is struck by the oddity of Kei’s black ghost, which seems to be composed of a larger amount of IBM than normal.  And he seems genuinely incapable of leaving the researcher who tried to help him behind, while at the same time genuinely dismayed that the man is still alive – almost as if helping him is literally a compulsion.

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The risk to Kei here is very genuine, because Ajin can die, as Satou reveals – if they regenerate without being able to access the head, a new head grows in its place (which leaves us with all sorts of philosophical questions about identity).  Ogura spills a few more tidbits too (to the discomfort of his American handlers) like the fact that the black ghosts are apparently transparent (thought not 100% of the time) and that the Ajin’s ability to generate nutrients is somehow key to their regenerative ability.

There’s a lot to take in this week, as Ajin seems to have taken a rather unexpected turn – but then, what’s a good roller-coaster ride without a few unexpected turns?  “Never a dull moment” is a turn of phrase that may as well have been invented for this show, because Ajin just doesn’t waste a moment of your attention – there’s always something happening, and always something to think about.

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15 comments

  1. I did say some human kindness would show up and I really appreciated seeing one of the researchers actually keep his promise to Kei. Sure he tortured him too, but the researcher’s genuine gratitude to Kei gives off the impression he was just doing his job. He does get Kei into further trouble with Satou, but that’s on Kei’s part. It’s the first time in the series a stranger and a main character have actually cooperated with one another and I really liked it.

  2. I hate when anime MCs go thru a horrible experience and still stick to their ideals that just are not believable( just for the story’s sake). I can’t believe you would find one person in 100 that would forgive the researchers like Kei did. If someone was killing and torturing me over and over for days (to weeks to months) I would not let them skate. Other then that this series has been awesome and creepy at the same time.

  3. Kei strikes me as an automaton who has spent his life trying to become a normal human(reminds me of Shinichi a little after he fused with Migi). I’m guessing that because of his upbringing he goes through with doing the right things like saving people because he deems it as normal, but without actually feeling anything while doing it.

  4. Great review! Kei is such a mystery, I don’t understand what he is thinking most of the time. He’s shown to be good, he’s shown to be heartless, he’s shown to be caring, he can be weak, he can be strong…….why so many differences in one personality?

  5. G

    well, all humans have contradicting personalities 🙂 it’s kind of like a spectrum.

  6. G

    It is as you said, Kei feels a compulsion to help the researcher – because he feels obliged to do what is right. He does not help the guy because he cannot bear to see another helpless person die (two very different things) – that would mean he can feel empathy. His whole life, he has been driven to lead a model life, which probably made him the oddball he is. He makes the correct decisions, but does not feel personal attachment to those decisions. Kind of like a textbook (look at how he analyzes things, even with himself). However, I see that possibly breaking with the influence of Kaito’s influence, someone who is basically an opposite of him.

  7. This is my kind of anime, thrilling and chilly cold. Not to mention an oddball of Kei as the MC. Thank God it has a really well written flat because.. Ugh. CGIs destroying facial expressions.

  8. b

    I agree with what someone mentioned earlier in one of the comments. I think kei is just doing the right thing because he knows it is right, not because he wants to or feels the need to, he just does things because it’s the right thing to do. Almost like as if he believes if he does the right thing he will genuinely what to do them and thus become a better humanbeing. If any of that makes any sense

  9. That seems as feasible as any other explanation. But I guess the question I would ask is this – if he’s doing the right thing, does it make any difference – either morally or practically – why he’s doing it?

  10. b

    I guess it could come across as pretentious or even self gratification to people what kei is doing especially if his true thoughts are known either by people or in this case we the viewer. He is lacking sincerity and that can be hard to accept. I even suspect now that the only reason he withstood his torture was because kai risked his life for him and he felt he should at least do that much. Not for any love of humanity but because he believes this is how one who experienced what he had should react. Heck he could probably turn on human beings if he had a good, logical and justifiable reason to.

  11. G

    Personally, I do not find much difference. Regardless of his motivation, the fact is he does the right thing. But the rational decision may not be what is ultimately best for himself and people around him – which is probably why he ended up hurting his sister (emotionally).

  12. R

    I like that when characters are more complex — especially for a protagonist — but there are two trigger points that could make me a skeptic:

    Why would a seemingly normal high-school boy be this complex and behave this way? We don’t know any backstory yet, so perhaps we will find out more later.

    Why wouldn’t Kei and the researchers run away as quickly as they could when Satou passed away? For this I can’t connect the dots but just suspend my disbelief…it’s not major that would make me dislike the show. Story-wise, I still like Ajin — it’s still engaging, compelling and trilling week after week.

  13. S

    I think Sato collapsed by the only exit and they didn’t want to risk a wrong estimation of the time within he would have come back.

  14. G

    Like what Say mentioned, you won’t want to be caught running on the hallway when he revives and comes after you (a big risk if you consider the quick revival time for Aijn).

    On the contrary, I think it is perfectly normal for every person to have complex personalities. Often, anime portray characters as too one-dimensional (leading to tropes) for simplicity’s sake, so I think this is a strong suit for the show. I agree, I do want to know his backstory badly, though I suspect it would along the lines of what we have already caught glimpses of – unfeeling, demanding mother, lack of paternal figure (?).

  15. S

    Backstory? Right now I am trying to figure out what kind of family is Kei’s… Kei isn’t hiding anything and seems not aware of any anomaly in his previous life. But:
    – Kaito’s father was a criminal…what if that crime was ajin related?
    – Kei’s mother insisted on deleting Kaito’s mobile number, though she sure knows her son had it memorised by now
    – Kei’s father is presumably gone (dead or alive)
    In addition to this the anime gave more screen time to Kei’s mother (I wonder why): I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that who informed Tosaki of Kei’s capture by phone looked exactly like her! Were I wrong?

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