There’s no question that the view Ajin presents of human nature is not an especially optimistic one. As grim as things have been over the first six episodes, if anything they’re getting even worse the more we find out about what’s really happening (and about the people driving it). That makes the direction things seem to be headed with Kei (who was largely absent this week) all the more interesting, because depriving us of a rooting interest in him would seem to tilt Ajin over into Nihilism, pretty much, and the narrative kind of rudderless.
That’s for later, though – for now Kei’s character remains an enigma for one more week. The focus this time around is on two villainous types, Tosaki and Satou. We get a little backstory on the latter, and why he’s dedicated himself so strongly to this cause. It seems the government isn’t simply conducting hideous experiments on Ajin, but selling off the right to do so as well to the highest bidder (and it’s easy to see why those untroubled by decency or a conscience should find that opportunity so valuable). That means a financial windfall for those few chosen to be in the inner circle, which is important to Tosaki because he apparently has a fiancee who needs expensive medical care.
I thought for a moment that there was disgust in Tosaki’s eyes when he saw for the first time what was being done to the Ajin, but no – it was just greed. If the fiancee story was an attempt to make Tosaki seem sympathetic it failed utterly, but I don’t think it was. And it also explains his willingness to use an Ajin as his assistant – he has no moral horse in this race one way or the other. Ajin aren’t evil, they’re simply useful – and Shimomura is no exception. It does seem as if Tosaki’s handlers at SEELE are tough guys to work for, and he’s scrambling to stay in their favor after letting Kei escape. Desperation forces him to hatch a plan that involves kidnapping Ogura and trying to find out what he knows in order to try and bring Kei and the man with the hat to his bosses.
As for Satou, he’s in planning mode too. His strategy to use the media to his advantage was one I didn’t see coming, and he certainly hammed it up pretty good in telling the story of what’s being done to Ajin in Japan. But of course this is not a man who cares what normal humans think, and he has no intention of trying to win them over – his real aim is to use the media as a platform to get a message out to the Ajin in Japan and set up a secret meeting.
That works just fine – and it seems there are only about a dozen or so Ajin out there, at least ones willing to expose themselves. But what’s Satou’s ultimate goal here? It certainly isn’t making peace with humans, and gathering Ajin together seems to suggest trying to find a way to be as much of a threat as possible. I don’t know how Satou will respond to the Ajin unwilling to join his crusade of hatred, and I’m not sure exactly what he intends to accomplish by going to war (if indeed that’s his plan) but clearly Satou is not a man to be taken lightly.
As for Kei, we see only a few moments of him – drowned and revived, dragging himself up a cliff at the shoreline. Just what exactly he plans to do next is just as pivotal a question – will he seek out Kai again, despite his resolve not to do so? It would seem any alliance with Satou is a near impossibility, which doesn’t leave Kei with many options. The change in tone surrounding Kei is one of the oddest parts of Ajin, and I’m quite curious to see how he’s portrayed in episodes to come. He certainly doesn’t look like the sympathetic protagonist he once did, but I look at it this way – as long as he tries to do the right thing, does it make any practical or moral difference why he does? Ultimately, maybe that’s the question Ajin intends to build around.