“Satou’s Grand Scheme”
Let’s just set the record straight – in terms of writing, Ajin is a truly outstanding series. I might quibble with the odd detail here and there, but this is one of the most tightly-written thrillers I’ve run across in anime in a long time. Every episode absolutely flies by, and I never once feel my attention wandering. We have the usual one-cour adaptation syndrome to worry about, but at least there are the movies to theoretically take the story further – though of course, the original is still running.
If there’s any one thing that worries me apart from that, it would be that Ajin does have the tendency to veer pretty close to torture porn at times. I have no problem with gritty, especially when you’re telling a story as sharp-edged as this one. But is there a point at which seeing bad people graphically do bad things to good people over and over passes the recommended dosage? For me at least there is, though we’re definitely not at that point yet. I do hope there’s some semblance of balance in the story going forward, though, because up to this point anyone with a shred of decency is seriously getting the shaft.
Speaking of that, Satou-san is certainly revealing his true stripes. His clever plan to invite Ajin to a meeting under the cover of inviting humans to a meeting was actually a secret plan to weed out any Ajin opposed to his plan. And what is that plan? Well, let me just reproduce what I posted last week, as it could hardly have been more on-point:
What’s Satou’s ultimate goal here? It certainly isn’t making peace with humans, and gathering Ajin together seems to suggest trying to find a way to be as much of a threat as possible. I don’t know how Satou will respond to the Ajin unwilling to join his crusade of hatred, and I’m not sure exactly what he intends to accomplish by going to war (if indeed that’s his plan) but clearly Satou is not a man to be taken lightly.
Satou’s plan is indeed war – or more ambitiously, genocide. And once he puts the others to the test and learns their true colors, he declares that any who oppose him will be “sealed in drums underground” – just think on that, for a moment, and what it says about any Ajin who would do that to his fellows. Satou is a very, very bad man – and only one conscientious objector escapes him, a young teen named Nakano Kou (Fukuyama Jun). He’s helped by an older Ajin also horrified at Satou’s plans but who doesn’t make it out. One of the Ajin who signs on to Satou’s war is a tech expert named Okuyama (Yoshino Hiroyuki) who promptly sets up “Ajin.net” to help disseminate the message.
Unfortunately for Kou, Tosaki has spotted him a surveillance video with the help of Sokabe (Suzumura Kenichi – Sheeeh!) clearly able to see an IBM during the secret meeting. Tosaki’s goons are waiting for Kou when he gets home, but fortunately for him the meddling oba-san neighbor who saw him covered in blood after his Satou escape has called an ambulance, which arrives just in the nick of time – and Kou-kun dies just in the nick of time to escape. It’s a rare piece of good luck for someone in Ajin who deserves it, and hopefully the fact that Kou spotted Kei (Kai? Kei? Kou? Sheeeh!) exercising his IBM while passing by on a train will be another one.
Kei, it happens, is staying at the house of an old lady he inadvertently startled into crashing off her bike – one who doesn’t like to meddle. It seems this is an exception to the “no good deed goes unpunished” rule, and it’s notable that Kei helped the old gal immediately after forswearing ever doing a good deed again (drowning sucks). This again begs the question – if Kei does the right thing over and over, does it even matter why he does? It seems that Kei and Kou are about to get together, and I hope they hit it off because both of them could use an ally right about now. And as far as I can see, they’re both genuinely worth rooting for even with Kei’s odd behavior last week, and in this cast that stands out all the more.