There you go Japan, making America the bad guys again…
There are many different wars going on in Ajin, and many different factions fighting them. Some of them are physical, some of them are mental. Some of them are between different species, some of them among members of the same species – and some of them are being fought inside a single, conflicted person. And this episode featured a little bit of all them, and it’s a good reminder of why it seems so far-fetched to imagine Ajin could have any sort of happy ending.
Indeed, conflict is everything with this show. Tosaki has certainly been conflicted, but in light of recent developments he seems to be on the verge of giving up – but then so does Kei, who Tosaki blames for everything that went wrong last week (but then, so does Kei). The Americans are watching at a distance, their intelligence slightly off-base, waiting for things to get so bad in Japan that they have the pretense to step in with a direct military intervention and claim “Satou” for themselves. As for the Japanese government, they really don’t seem to know what to do except panic – especially given the nature of what Satou stole from that military base last week.
One person who doesn’t seem at all conflicted is Satou, a man who always seems to know exactly what he wants (probably because what he wants is so straightforward – gratification). We learn a very important piece of information this week – Satou is in fact Samuel T. O’Brien, and someone who’s well-known to the American military. The exact nature of their parting isn’t detailed yet, but it’s obvious that Satou learned his tricks from the “other” Sam – and they definitely want him back. We’ve yet to see Satou react directly to the involvement of the Americans but surely he knows they are involved, smart as he is. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me one whit if Satou’s ultimate goal here is to make such a big splash that America is forced to get involved – maybe that’s what this is really all about for Satou, for reasons of settling scores or otherwise.
The only real problem I see for Satou is that conflict exists in the Ajin ranks, too – and he’s becoming well aware of it. Even Okuyama is growing impatient with all of Satou’s game-playing – he wants to see some sort of endgame, and he’s having a hard time doing so. Satou tells him that he’s finally going to negotiate with the government this time, but I don’t think Okuyama believes him (and I think Satou realizes it). There even seems to be some sentiment among the Ajin that this is one step farther than they’re comfortable going – a chemical weapons attack that could take out Japan’s entire population.
Tosaki may be resolved to stop Satou again after he sees Satou’s next video, where he lays out an impossible demand (“Hand over the country to us”) and spells out the nature of the threat he poses, but what can Tosaki do, really? How many chances has he had already? He seems especially overmatched if Kei refuses to fight, as seems the case here – though I suspect his sister is going to become embroiled in all this in some fashion that will change his mind. Still – I wonder if the only real threat to Satou comes from within, not without.
We’re coming to the end of Ajin‘s second season, and we don’t yet know if there will be more to follow. Certainly there’s too much story to wrap things up here, though it seems we’ll be getting a double-episode next week – meaning Polygon has three eps to tie a bow on this series for the moment. With its unusual distribution and cross-media presence, it’s hard to know what constitutes commercial success for the Ajin franchise – and thus, hard to know whether there’s likely to be a third season. But I certainly hope there is, because if anything Ajin is more like Game of Thrones than it is a typical anime – a mass appeal, multi-season epic with a huge story to tell. Now it’s just a matter of whether or not it gets the chance.