Gamon Sakurai’s Ajin: Demi-Human is one of the more memorable series I’ve discovered in the last few years. As a horror-thriller it’s very effectively paced, and the action is consistently enjoyable. Add in an oppression metaphor that’s handled more interestingly than the X-Men ever have been and you have a manga well worth your time. Vol. 13 just came out, and it details Sato’s ultimate plan to take over Japan. Is this volume good?
There’s a lot to appreciate about the art here, especially where the characters are concerned. This is one of those rare series where every single character truly has unique features and doesn’t just adhere to the same style template as most of the rest of the cast. From the bridges of noses to cheek depth to furrowing brows, there’s a lot of attention paid to making people look instantly distinguishable from one another. This all helps make the manga’s world feel all the more real and the events, by extension, feel more plausible. This uniqueness continues to extend to the Ajins’ IBMs as well. Though they’re more visually uniform than the humans, they all still have slight variations to match their casters’ unique temperaments.
The visuals’ polish also extend to the perspective, sound effects, and splash pages. There are a number of great shots and panel sequences dramatically highlighting sudden physical movements and changes in distance. The most memorable of these is a set of two adjacent splash pages depicting a man standing in a building and looking out the window. He sees a fighter jet heading right for him; in the first panel it’s small and in the distance, but in the second it’s right outside the window and only fractions of a second away from crashing. The tension here is fantastic as Sakurai does an excellent job conveying that specific split-second of terror. Most of the volume’s splash pages and two-page spreads work in similar ways, highlighting pivotal reveals and transitions. Even the sound effects get incorporated effectively with fonts and placements varying to reflect the intensity of the noises in question.
The writing throughout is on point as well. Sato’s final plan is thrilling to watch unfold as it combines both merciless cunning and creative uses of his powers. There’s a real sense that no one could ever pull it off but him, and the plot grows naturally from the series’s unique paranormal conceits. The pace at which information is revealed is also great. The reader mostly figures out details as Kei pieces them together, adding a fun sense of mystery and deduction to the horror. The character writing is also effective; all the major players have well-defined personalities and bounce off each other in compelling ways.
All in all, Ajin: Demi-Human Vol. 13 is a great read. There’s the occasional minor clarity issue here and there, but otherwise everything is polished and exciting to follow. The action is well-paced and the art is fantastic, especially where the characters are concerned. If you’re into supernatural thrillers then this series is not one to miss.
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