「もうダメじゃないかな?」 (Mou dame ja nai ka na?)
“Am I Now Useless?”

Ajin may be the ugliest series of the season, but that episode felt like it lasted about five minutes.

Here’s the thing about Ajin, which is reminding me more and more of Kingdom and less and less of Sidonia no Kishi with each passing week.  It’s an incredibly straightforward show, really, despite the fact that there’s a mystery at its heart.  Where a show like Dimension W swerves all over the road, Ajin just gets you there.  Dimension W is a roller coaster, a sensory overload – but the thrills with Ajin are more like being in the passenger seat of a race car.  It’s an good old-fashioned supernatural thriller, as comfortable to slip into as your favorite recliner.

I’ve always appreciated series whose grasp of pacing is such that an episode seems to last a lot less time than it actually does, but that’s an especially important quality with a thriller like Ajin.  Seriously, when I went to rewind a part of the scene where Shimomura was visiting Eriko at the hospital, I was expecting the slider to be somewhere around the halfway point, but the episode was almost over.  Because this series is so direct and straightforward in style, there’s just no wasted space here – every scene matters, and links to the next.  Perhaps you lose something in character nuance with an approach like that, but it seems to fit Ajin like a glove.

We’re learning a bit more about what may really be going on here, piece by piece.  It’s immediately obvious that the “man in the hat” is an important character – he’s Satou (Ohtsuka Houchu).  What’s not immediately obvious is whether he’s a white hat or a black hat, but he does at least seem to be a leader (possibly self-appointed) among the Ajin.  Does he seek out newly “born” ones and come to their aid, or are his aims more sinister?  The first time we see him he’s doing terrible things to fellow Ajin Tanaka Kouji (Hirakawa Daisuke) though he’d probably have said it was for his own good.

Satou at least is well-known to Tosaki and Shimomura, who spot him as they’re leaving Kei’s house after having interviewed his mother.  She’s another human who should have some loyalty to Kei but seems to have none whatsoever.  Tosaki leaves his assistant to deal with the hunt while he goes off to deal with the higher-ups, which leads her to the hospital and Eriko.  Meanwhile Kei and Kai are still fleeing into the mountains, pursued by another would-be reward-seeker on a motorcycle.

I like the way the reality of the two boys’ situation is slowly being laid out, largely from Kei’s perspective.  Not only is he realizing just how fucked he is, but it’s also becoming clear that for all his bravado Kai is no professional operative – just a clever kid with a bike and two helmets.  He’s in over his head and Kei is smart enough to understand that by sticking with his friend he’s putting him in terrible danger – but as well, that without Kai he’s even more fucked.  Worse still, Kei’s hesitation in using his voice to cause their pursuer to crash could easily have gotten Kai killed (I’m not sure yet how he survived – or if it’s connected to his partial immunity to Kei’s voice).  It’s a grisly yet very cool moment when Kei realizes that the only way to fix his broken legs and move on is to kill himself – a kind of macabre reset button.

The black ghosts are certainly crucial in all this, and they seem to some extent to reflect the nature of the Ajin they’re joined to. When Shimomura goes to the hospital, she manages to get Eriko to recall the story of her brother’s strange behvior when their puppy died – but in doing say says a little too much about blacks ghosts.  And when Eriko is about to let slip that Kai may be Kei’s accomplice, the episode ends on a truly shocking note – thanks to Tanaka’s black ghost (both of them seem pretty psycho). There’s a whole lot more to this moment and it looks as if we’ll be finding out a lot more next week, but the other element of this scene that interests me is the indication that Eriko may yet turn out to be loyal to her brother.  We haven’t been given much to feel hopeful about in terms of humanity, so that would be a nice change of pace.




  1. From this episode, I was under the impression that the man in the hat actually “saved” the ajin from the scientists who were presumably testing on him.
    In the screenshot, you see all the dead scientists.
    Which would also explain why they’re actually co-operating…

    1. I had the same impression, Satou actually looks like he “saved” that other Ajin guy from the cruel experiments the scientists were conducting on him, and clearly he is grateful for him and joins him out immediately, although it seems the torture he went through quite unhinged him as we saw how psychotic he was when he pulled off that hospital attack.

  2. Yeah, that definitely felt too fast and when i knew it the credit was rolling already. What i like about this series is that everything seems to be constantly moving. There was no dull moments and even during more subdued scenes (like interrogation with Kei’s Mom) the raw display of her troubled and mixed responses actually felt impactful. And when it started to become a bit dull during hospital scene, a creepy guy just appeared and had his black ghost slaughter anyone in the room, thus keeping the tension high again.

  3. I watched the movie part 1 first and this now and it seems like they toned down sound effect for TV viewers.

    The movie version has much more dynamic sound effect (the sound that impaled Shimomura in particular was quite loud and it got me good whereas here it is very much muted). Makes sense though.

    The only difference I see is that TV episodes have some added scenes, so I’d recommend others to check out the movie as well.

  4. Whoever is deciding what clips went in next weeks preview needs to be fired… they did a wonderful job of taking all the shock from the end of this episode and what shock there would have been at the start of the next and flushed it down the toilet.

    1. To be fair if the reason for
      Show Spoiler ▼

      it has been alluded to subtly the past two episodes.

      Of course we could be in completely in the wrong (the scene could be a flashback for example) but it does look like a ridiculous spoiler, no matter how one looks at it.

  5. Okay. That sealed the contract. The goodness of Ajin is real – only Rakugo and Erased had theirs earlier.

    Now that I am used with its CGIs, I want to commend its well laced third episode. The last part gave me the chills, I went “OH CRAP” with the horror unfolding in my eyes.

    Seriously, this is like the lovechild of Death Note and Tokyo Ghoul, isn’t it?

  6. “Ajin may be the ugliest series of the season”
    I disagree, the CG used here is not perfect by any means, there are a lot of movements that feels unnatural, but there are many moments where, in my opinion, the CG shines:
    The shadows and light effects are pretty detailed and dynamic.
    The black ghosts, regenaration effects and some faces the character make looks cool.
    But the train and chasing scenes are where the CG animated series are the best (those were gorgeous scenes), because most of traditionally animated shows uses subpar CG for cars and stuff like that, and the tend to look like sh*t, or even if the CG is good, it difficult to combine it with a 2D world, it will stand out and look out of place.
    For me those are the ugliest series, like this thing…
    That’s ugly.

    1. Seriously, the word ugly is just too much. You can complain about the movement or frame rate or whatever, but the art style is no where near ugly. Some of the characters even look better compared to the manga imo.

    2. I was under the impression that referring to the show as ugly was more to do with how it seems to be showing the ‘ugly’ side of humanity. That, and the goriness. Or something like that.

      1. I would say it’s both – maybe in a 50-50 ratio. I won’t deny that in character terms, this series is – to me – pretty ugly. The movements, the facial expressions, even the character designs. But the behavior too. I think Ajin is presenting something of a similar mosaic as Kiseijuu – who are the real monsters here?

      1. Actually the manga artist is a big fan of western sci-fi video games especially the Halo series(he even said he want to stop Ajin for a while when Halo 5 came out lol). And he is the one who agreed to use CGI to adapt Ajin, so maybe the show is intend to be like a in-game animation.


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