「いやあ、疲れたね」 (Iyaa, Tsukareta ne)
“Man, I’m Tired”
Which one were you rooting for?
If rooting for Izuku from Boku no Hero Academia is like rooting for Leicester City (easy), then this current “war” going on between Satou and Tosaki is more like Manchester United vs. Chelsea. Anyone with a shred of sense hates them both, but the game is a lot more interesting if you have a rooting interest so your instinct forces you to pick one or the other. It’s not incumbent on a series to give you someone that’s easy to root for, but the absence of any force for decency does leave a thriller like Ajin a bit empty on some level. And as long as Kei sits on the sidelines eating rice crackers (not for much longer it seems, though not by choice) he’s their moral equivalent.
By the way, I was Team Satou this week.
As Ajin soldiers on, oblivious to the calendar on its way to finishing its season next week, it’s frustrating to consider what a challenge this show’s odd production strategy makes of following the story. Presumably the plot will pick up in the movies where the series left off – but then, since the series rehashed the first two movies, maybe the movies will keep going from where they left off and rehash part of the TV? Who knows – but what I do know is that watching this series play out, I can’t help but grumble a little that it’s receiving this oddball TV-movie hybrid in CGI when lesser thrillers get much better treatment. Let’s be honest – Ajin is certainly a better series than Shingeki no Kyoujin, but the world of anime is anything but fair.
At least the turn the story has taken – much more action and big special-effects set pieces – is far better-suited to Polygon’s CGI treatment than the character drama earlier on. This battle between Satou and the anti-terrorism unit was a fascinating one to watch play out, a real game of cat and mouse between Satou and Tosaki. Having the swat teams keep up a near-continuous volley of fire on Satou and not allowing him to revive was pretty clever. There were several cards to be played on both sides – Dueling sniper teams, drones – and the momentum of the conflict seemed to flow back and forth several times. But Tanaka’s IBM was the wild card that trumped the hand – though Tosaki did have a counter-measure planned, it wasn’t enough.
Meanwhile, the bubble of security Kei has imagined surrounds him is about to be formally burst. As the old men of the village watch the horrifying events in Tokyo and get hammered on umeshu and box sake, and Kou does his best impression of Robert DeNiro in Cape Fear, Kita-san sees his retirement go up in smoke along with Grant Pharmaceuticals’ future. And when news of an official ¥100 million reward flashes along with Kei’s photo, whatever hope Kei had of continuing this charade goes up in smoke too.
Honestly, I would have kinda liked to see what Kei would have done if his hand hadn’t been forced – if all he had prodding him towards action was his conscience. Now he’ll have no choice but to change his plans and flee at the very least, and I do hope he takes the time to free Kou from his prison before he does. Watching Satou is undeniably fun – he’s a serious badass, and he goes about the role of psycho-terrorist with a good deal of panache. But ultimately I think the story is more interesting if it has at least a bit of moral texture and shows us characters genuinely conflicted over what they should be doing.