Ajin – 12

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Which one were you rooting for?

Ajin - 12 -1If rooting for Izuku from Boku no Hero Academia is like rooting for Leicester City (easy), then this current “war” going on between Satou and Tosaki is more like Manchester United vs. Chelsea.  Anyone with a shred of sense hates them both, but the game is a lot more interesting if you have a rooting interest so your instinct forces you to pick one or the other.  It’s not incumbent on a series to give you someone that’s easy to root for, but the absence of any force for decency does leave a thriller like Ajin a bit empty on some level. And as long as Kei sits on the sidelines eating rice crackers (not for much longer it seems, though not by choice) he’s their moral equivalent.

By the way, I was Team Satou this week.

Ajin - 12 -2As Ajin soldiers on, oblivious to the calendar on its way to finishing its season next week, it’s frustrating to consider what a challenge this show’s odd production strategy makes of following the story.  Presumably the plot will pick up in the movies where the series left off – but then, since the series rehashed the first two movies, maybe the movies will keep going from where they left off and rehash part of the TV?  Who knows – but what I do know is that watching this series play out, I can’t help but grumble a little that it’s receiving this oddball TV-movie hybrid in CGI when lesser thrillers get much better treatment.  Let’s be honest – Ajin is certainly a better series than Shingeki no Kyoujin, but the world of anime is anything but fair.

Ajin - 12 -3At least the turn the story has taken – much more action and big special-effects set pieces – is far better-suited to Polygon’s CGI treatment than the character drama earlier on.  This battle between Satou and the anti-terrorism unit was a fascinating one to watch play out, a real game of cat and mouse between Satou and Tosaki.  Having the swat teams keep up a near-continuous volley of fire on Satou and not allowing him to revive was pretty clever.  There were several cards to be played on both sides – Dueling sniper teams, drones – and the momentum of the conflict seemed to flow back and forth several times.  But Tanaka’s IBM was the wild card that trumped the hand – though Tosaki did have a counter-measure planned, it wasn’t enough.

Ajin - 12 -4Meanwhile, the bubble of security Kei has imagined surrounds him is about to be formally burst.  As the old men of the village watch the horrifying events in Tokyo and get hammered on umeshu and box sake, and Kou does his best impression of Robert DeNiro in Cape Fear, Kita-san sees his retirement go up in smoke along with Grant Pharmaceuticals’ future.  And when news of an official ¥100 million reward flashes along with Kei’s photo, whatever hope Kei had of continuing this charade goes up in smoke too.

Ajin - 12 -5Honestly, I would have kinda liked to see what Kei would have done if his hand hadn’t been forced – if all he had prodding him towards action was his conscience.  Now he’ll have no choice but to change his plans and flee at the very least, and I do hope he takes the time to free Kou from his prison before he does.  Watching Satou is undeniably fun – he’s a serious badass, and he goes about the role of psycho-terrorist with a good deal of panache.  But ultimately I think the story is more interesting if it has at least a bit of moral texture and shows us characters genuinely conflicted over what they should be doing.

 

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10 comments

  1. Satou has been the best part of Ajin for me, and as the suspense grew, I became more interested in how he was going to escape. That’s where my interest was held, since the swat team did come up with a good plan but you knew it wasn’t gonna end here.

    I suspect the finale will be Kei being forced to decide to fight Satou by some means of escaping and possibly taking Kou’s side. The movies are a whole nother mystery.

  2. The police made some very stupid decisions. Just sitting there looking at the drones was just asking to be killed.

  3. To be honest, that nameless police squad was never going to win. Satou is definitely being set up as the main villain here, but Tosaki seems to be making his next move next episode and it’ll be very interesting to see what happens next.

  4. If they’re trying to make Satou out to be more evil than Tosaki, I think they’re doing a poor job. I would say they’re equally despicable, but Satou is a hell of a lot more likeable.

  5. I agree that Satou is more likeable, but I just don’t think Tosaki will be around for the long game since he has so many pitfalls that have a good chance to bring him down(Ajin girl who doesn’t like him, Mr. Smiley, hospitalised fiancee, kidnapped Ajin expert).

  6. I’m loving the English Premier League references in this post and the BnHA post. Manchester United fan here by the way.

  7. It seems to me that Tosaki’s actions, while immoral, are mostly driven by a sort of despair. The guys in the ministry already knew he couldn’t refuse the job they gave him because he needed the money for his fiancee’s hospitalization and obviously he realized there was no turning back once he was shown how Ajins were used for tests and somehow he decided then and there that if he’s in Hell already he might as well become king. The thing is, I feel this story is mostly about characters who have been driven into a corner and how they fall into a fight or flight behavior. I think what saved Tosaki in my eyes was that moment after Kei managed to escape the institute and the higher ups called to say how disappointed they are his first thought at the idea that he would be disposed of was that he should flee. I tend to think that confronted with death people are their most honest. Why is this important? Because the problem was they lost all their Ajins (test subjects lost means no more making money) and yet he does not consider for one split second the idea of handing Shimomura over. That would have been the easiest way out, but apparently however much he may snap at her when he’s angry he’d rather keep to whatever agreement they have (which is probably along the lines of “I’ll protect you if you protect me”). Also, I think it’s more fun rooting for the team of someone who’s basically trying to walk a thin line knowing any mistake will result in death (probably final, in his case) than for Mr. I’ve-got-all-eternity-to-be-mad-so-I-might-as-well-enjoy-it Satou (don’t get me wrong, I find him quite charismatic, I just have a problem with him randomly killing people).
    That’s my take on it and while I may be wrong about some things, I think there’s a tiny, tiny glimmer of… I can’t really call it decency so I guess I should go with “dignity” – that is still present.
    [Also, thanks for the reviews, it may seem like I’m arguing here, but I really enjoy reading your thoughts on the series.]

  8. G

    Always on Team Satou. The moral lines aren’t clear but I’m still enjoying it. For me, Satou is the better of the evil because in a warped way, this is payback. Though, ultimately, it is all self-serving.

    I find it pretty odd how loyal Shimomura is to Tosaki. It seems to go beyond Tosaki keeping her identity secret (maybe her family is under threat by him). Anyway, can’t wait for the review of the final episode – the stage has only just been set.

  9. J

    Not enjoying the United hate to be honest, GE but I will refrain from the usual pompous response that only adds to the animosity. As long as you don’t think that the likes of City are any better (I don’t think they’re any worse than United for the record, just a different type of dodgy) it can all be forgotten though.

    Apart from that, the sudden crack-shots and wizard hacking that the Ajins had, seemingly over and above the SAT team’s capabilities, knocked me out of my suspension of disbelief, but the back-and-forth was suitably tense.

  10. A

    As said, it’s hard to completely root for one, because both sides are pretty ruthless.
    I’m with Satou vs government & Grant, because honestly someone who inflict deliberate endless torture for their gains deserves to die and more.
    I’m with SAT vs Satou, because these guys were just trying to do their job and protect collaterals (they deliberately didn’t kill the guy who was surrendering for example).
    So a bit of both :p

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