A psychological character-driven action manga with underlying elements of horror, Ajin is surely not a story for everyone. But for those with suitable leaning it may very well come nothing short of a masterpiece.
Whilst the anime adaption of this manga did a great job setting the tone, handled their cgi with surprisingly high quality and produced some absolutely outstanding music, they dropped the manga's story only a few episodes in and continued the show with an original plot and ending. For anyone who might still be confused about this and or thus hold preconceptions about Ajin because of that, know simply that beyond the initial
episodes the two works branch out to become vastly different from one another.
From the very in your face action scenes varying from a personal scale to the governmental one, the mystery of the demi-humans; what they are and where they come from, to the story onto and behind each character the story revolves around, Ajin plays on a beautiful balance between each element to really tell its full story. Sometimes the scenes are big and bombastic, sometimes they're silent and subtle, but what they all have in common is this eerie feeling that they could be real. Or should I say, that they deal with elements we all carry close to us, all think about and ponder at one point or another, all experience in our own time and ways, that as we read them we know they are real. And that is what makes it so intriguing, so gritty, emotional and scary.
I truly cannot empathise enough the extent Ajin has gone to forge its characters into actual individuals. Characters who are so authentically thought-through and who quite in truth do realistically exist all around us, with real personality-cues which we as a society more often than not shun upon speaking or making mention of. In fact, a large portion of the cast are all like this; individuals with a mask, in one form or another, hiding their true selves away because of society's neglect or even enmity towards what is not seen as normal- despite most of us carrying these very traits or experiences to one degree or another. Despite all of us already knowing this.
When he writes, the author is clearly self-aware, and never inputs a loose string, hint or an element without cause or reason. There is always something to say, always something to be found or to happen, and always a sense of respect towards the readers who are dedicating their time and effort to this piece of work.
Ajin really uses each of its element for a reason; the demi-humans aren't so much a plot point as one might expect; the continous attempts of taking the antagonist down and putting and end to his havoc really isn't what the show is actually about, and the characters' own motivations and history are essentially irrelevant whilst viewed as standalone. It is however precisely because they are all conciously and deliberately woven together, that they are able to create the impact, intrigue and value that they do.
So what's the TLDR, really?
Ajin is an action-packed and deeply psychological manga sure to draw you in and grab you on the hook. Hand to hand combat, guns blazing and explosions? We've got you, fam. Undying humans who restore themselves in the most eerie ways every time they die and spawn violent, inhuman beings who may or may not attack everything they see? Oh you'll like this. And lastly, realistic characters who are all so uniquely real and deal with elements most fiction doesn't even dare to step close to? Oh we've got that too.
- Not to mention the art develops incredibly throughout the span of the series, truly becoming and forging an identity for Ajin of its own.
Altough Ajin might be a masterpiece for a potentially small crowd, I stand by that Ajin is nonetheless a definite masterpiece.