Check out the anime everyone will be watching this spring

Ajin 2

Every year or so there seems to be at least one anime that comes along that just about every fan has seen. In most recent memory, this honour went to Attack on Titan as suddenly every convention was flooded with cosplayers and merchandise from the series. In the time since, though, anime fans have been a little lost trying to find what the next big trend will be. However, the wait may be over this spring when Netflix drops the new seinen action horror anime Ajin on the world.

Ajin is set in a world where 17 years prior the “ajin” were discovered; “ajin” are apparently immortal individuals who appear to be able to heal any injury. The “ajin” are not considered humans in society and are in fact hunted down and experimented on by various worldwide governments in an attempt to harness their mysterious powers. These experiments are understandably gruesome and cruel, usually exposing their subjects to extreme pain to test their physical limits. This treatment from the world at large has bred a culture of resentment among the few known ajin, many of whom see ordinary humans as lesser creatures. Problem is that the true number of ajin in the world is impossible to determine, since the only way to know for certain whether or not someone is one is for them to die. Enter high schooler Kei Nagai, a dedicated if emotionally distant student, whose life is upended when his body knits itself back together following an unpleasant run in with a delivery truck. On the run for his freedom and with few people he can trust, Kei slowly uncovers the secrets of the ajin and their origins.

Ajin is based on the Gamon Sakurai manga, Ajin: Demi-Human, which has been published in good! Afternoon magazine since 2012 and won a number of literary awards in Japan. In 2014, the manga was picked up by Crunchyroll and translated into English. Following its popularity in print, the series is being turned into not one but two on-screen adaptations.

The first is a film trilogy, the first entry of which, Ajin Part 1: Shōdō, was released in Japan on November 27th, 2015. The second part of the trilogy, Ajin Part 2: Shōtotsu, is due sometime in May 2016. But the important point of focus is the anime series, which started airing on January 16th, 2016, and will be premiering as a Netflix exclusive world-wide shortly after its 13 episode run on Japanese television. This makes Ajin the second exclusive anime that Netflix has produced, following 2014’s Knights of Sidonia, and is being made by Polygon Pictures. Polygon was also the studio behind Sidonia as well as the Ajin movies, which gives a promise of consistency across the different iterations.

I’ve been fortunate enough to watch Ajin Part 1: Shōdō and was impressed by the story, world, voice acting, and sound editing. There’s something about the sound that plays as the ajin’s bodies knit themselves back together that’s so disturbing yet satisfying. However, the film was far from perfect. Being from Polygon Pictures, it has the same animation style as Knights of Sidonia, which uses 3-D models to replicate 2-D cell shaded animation. Unfortunately, it looks overwhelmingly cheap, stiff, and unpolished and the talented voice cast had to do a lot to make up for the lack of range in facial expressions in the animation. It also has an extremely awkward ending that left me feeling that it would have been better off if the credits had started rolling about a minute sooner. However, in spite of these flaws, it was a compelling film that showed enough of the series’ world and potential to leave me wanting a lot more.

Ajin seems to have that perfect mix of dark tones, mystery, and a youthful appeal to make it a big hit among anime fans. I’ve kept a lot of details out of this article in the interest of avoiding some of the juicier spoilers, so I guarantee that Ajin has a lot to offer. You can watch the trailer for the movie Ajin Part 1: Shōdō below. Keep an eye out for the series on Netflix this spring!


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Genevieve LeBlanc
Genevieve LeBlanc 126 posts

Genevieve LeBlanc is a contributing writer for and lives in snowy Canada.