Ajin really is one of those shows that’s too easy to take for granted, because it’s damn good at what it does and I don’t think I give it enough credit. This was another episode that felt like it lasted 10 minutes instead of 22, something Ajin has become something of a specialist at pulling off. It’s a credit to the internal pacing of the series, which is as good as in any anime we’ve had these past couple of years.
Maybe Ajin glides under the radar because it’s very linear about what it does. This is a straight-ahead thriller in every sense, and I think it’s quite fitting that Ogura wears a shirt stating “He who moves not forward, goes backward” because that could be Ajin’s mantra. There’s a sense of a locomotive about it – not a runaway train, because the narrative rarely feels rushed, but rather insistent. It’s always plowing ahead, clearly with a destination in mind. I never feel frustrated with Ajin because it always gets me from Point A to Point B in entertaining fashion, and an episode never feels as it it was wasted. That’s not sexy as far as analysis goes, but it’s damn fine storytelling.
I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the shift in narrative with Kei and Kou joining forces with Tosaki – I’ve found him the most reprehensible person in Ajin so far (though objectively Satou is obviously worse). But it’s worked – even if this reset is temporary, things feel fresh, and it’s nice to see the boys in a different setting. Their interplay (“You’re scum.” “You’re an idiot.”) continues to be entertaining, as is the contrast between them. Kou is (like Ajin) quite linear in thinking, and he simply makes the best of any situation he’s in. Izumi is hot, and the guys who were trying to capture him for experimentation hours earlier are now candidates to teach him cool stuff about guns. Kei, for his part, is already thinking about how he can use his new “allies” as disposable pawns in an eventual strike against Satou. Emotions just get in the way, he tells Kou – the heart will always lead the body astray.
It’ll be interesting to see the impact speaking with Ogura will have on Kei. He’s introspective enough to want to understand his own nature, and Ogura is as likely as anyone to be able to teach him. That Kei is a freak among Ajin is beyond dispute – the reason why still a complete mystery. Kei’s IBM seems to be evolving quickly, already having moved on from simply doing the opposite of whatever Kei tells him to acting on its own free will (Ogura tells us there’s precedent for this) and even attacking Kei himself. Strikes me that all those emotions Kei bottles up are manifesting themselves in his black ghost – because humans just don’t work that way, and Ajin or no, I think Kei is just as human as anyone else.
As for Satou, he remains the magnificent bastard who drives the train. With a little prosthetic enhancement and some help at airport security from Okuyama’s black ghost, he boards the same flight as his next (idiotic) target, Sakurai. His guards are dumb enough to discharge their guns on a pressurized airplane in mid-flight, and taking the flight in the first place was incredibly dumb, so not a lot of sympathy there – but the rest of the passengers are collateral damage when Satou brings the plane down (though some may have survived). Satou is the big bad here of course, but it’s hard not to admire him – he really is a nasty piece of work. Even if Satou is eventually defeated, there’s an entirely worthwhile element in his crusade – somebody needs to try and stop Ajin from being persecuted by society after all. Maybe that job will fall to Kei in the end – though as he is now, I’m not sure I’d feel that much better about him having that power than Satou…