If I was to question a handful of people on the pros and cons of immortality, I’m willing to bet that the general response would be a positive one. And why not? Logically, the more time you’re alive the more time you have to enjoy the things life has to offer, right? Well, Ajin is an anime that reminds us that perhaps immortality isn’t all it’s cut out to be.
Ajin is based on the manga series by Gamon Sakurai, and introduces us to the world of high school student Kei Nagai, where immortality is very real. Unfortunately, those who are immortal are thought of as ‘Ajin’, or ‘sub-human’, people that cannot be killed and can heal all injuries upon death. Instead of being considered people, they are commonly referred to as criminals, revoking their human privileges the moment they discover their immortality. They are then subsequently hunted down by the government and made to spend the rest of their lives being cruelly experimented on as undying lab rats. Kei discovers this first hand when an impermanent encounter with death reveals him to be one of the dreaded Ajin. Thus, Ajin becomes a story about Kei’s attempts hide from the government as they mercilessly try to hunt him down, meeting others like him while trying to make sense of his new abilities as an Ajin.
The premise of Ajin is a fascinating one that takes the subject of immortality and seeks to tell a horror story with supernatural elements. While those supernatural elements have not yet been thoroughly explored and the interesting premise of the show can sometimes overshadow the characters themselves, my interest is peaked.
The animation also has its hits and misses, looking like a hybrid between Level-5’s Ni No Kuni game models with lighting from Disney’s Paperman. At times it looks great, especially when the background and lighting of a scene is in focus. But the character models aren’t quite as expressive as we’re used to in 2D animation and sometimes they come across as strangely vacant, something that harms otherwise intense scenes when the animation isn’t on point.
Ajin is not a feel good anime. Because of the nature of the story, you can expect violence, body horror, and body mutilation in spades. That being said, if you aren’t put off by liberal amounts of suffering in your anime, the core plot and setting of Ajin is intriguing and well worth a watch.