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Manga / Ajin

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Seventeen years ago, demi-humans, otherwise known as Ajin (亜人), appeared. These are people who suddenly rose from the dead after suffering otherwise fatal injuries, who seem to be utterly unkillable. Now there are only forty-seven known Ajin in the world, and they're an extremely valuable commodity to every nation in existence for research purposes.

Enter Kei Nagai, who one day is run over by a truck, but returns as an Ajin. All of his friends immediately betray him in the hopes of getting a reward for turning him in, save for his delinquent friend Kai. Now Kei and Kai are on the run, and have to track down a small resistance group of Ajin who themselves are not too kind to humans...

Ajin was created by artist Gamon Sakurai and originally written by Tsuina Miura, though Miura left shortly after the start of the series and Sakurai took over as the writer. An anime adaptation in the form of a film trilogy and tv series was produced by Polygon Pictures, the 3DCG studio behind Transformers: Prime and Knights of Sidonia, the first film being released in October, 2015 with the series following in January, 2016. It also has a live-action film adaptation that released on September 30, 2017.


The series is also the third anime to be licenced by Netflix (Following Knights of Sidonia and The Seven Deadly Sins), who released the show globally on April 12, 2016. With the second season following on December 27, 2016.

This work contains examples of:

  • Adapted Out: Kaito and Kou are absent in the Live-Action Adaptation. Satou's backstory was cut out either due to its runtime, but it is also implied that he was experimented by the same people who tortured Kei.
  • Adaptation Deviation: The anime adaptation begins to go on a different path after Satou announces his second wave of attacks.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Satou in the Manga looks like an old man. Here, he's a young man in his thirties.
  • A Friend in Need: As mentioned by Kei in a heartbreaking dialogue, Kai is willing to risk his one and only life to save Kei. Even after Kei is caught by the government, Kai still goes out in search of him.
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  • A Million Is a Statistic: Discussed in Chapter 42, when Kei gives a huge "Reason You Suck" Speech to Kou and accuses him of only really caring about the life losses of people he knew personally, since while he gets distraught and angry about Hirasawa's death, he barely reacted when the president of Forge security was murdered despite both men being killed by Satou.
    Kei: You'd help your own family if their lives were at risk. But all you'd do is feel a little sentimental if you saw on the news that a million people died in some random country! [...] All of us weigh other people's life on a balance, in the back of our minds. Don't go around criticizing me just because I do it consciously.
  • Age Lift: Two examples in the Live Action film:
    • Manga!Kei is a High School Student. Here, he's a Medical School student in his late twenties.
    • Manga!Satou is an old man in his late fifties or early sixties. Here, he's on his thirties.
  • Age Without Youth: Possibly. Ajin can apparently age like normal humans as evidenced by Tanaka and Kei, but their current appearances may simply be the age when they first died - especially since Okuyama, who was born with a disabled leg, never regains mobility even if he's killed.
    • Actually, the first time Kei died was right after he was born. So, even after they first died, they do age.
  • And I Must Scream: Captured Ajin are left completely restrained and blindfolded, and are executed in a myriad of ways in the hopes of discovering the source of their immortality.
  • Astral Projection: IBM or Black Ghosts that Ajins manifest work like this for the Ajin, as IBM serve as Ajins' second bodies. As a matter of fact, Ajins can see, hear, and even project their voices with their IBM. Kei's IBM however, seems to have a mind of its own.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: An IBM's head can be crushed, which immediately destroys it because it severs the Psychic Link between an Ajin and the IBM.
    • Even when he does finally decide to oppose Satou and the terrorist Ajin, it isn't because Kei wants to do the right thing, but because Satou's acts of terrorism put Kei back in the spotlight and destroyed his chances of living peacefully.
  • Author Appeal: Gamon Sakurai is a big fan of video games, especially western first-person shooters, thus the work's theme is quite different to many other manga works with a focus on gun action and realism, and there are also loads of shout-outs to video games littered throughout the series. Satou, the main antagonist, is also a heavy gamer.
  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Implied with Tanaka who is saved by Satou and joins his crusade. However, he hasn't completely lost all his morality as he tried to stop a group of girls from going near the Grant Pharmaceutical Company headquarters Satou would be ramming a plane into.
  • Beleaguered Childhood Friend: Roles are reversed in that Kei is the fallen friend and Kai is the one who has to save him from the evils of the world.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Kei, seemingly. While at first he's depicted as being an extremely nice person, later on in the story he pretty much becomes a sociopath with a bit of a moral compass. He only changes after having spent some time in government custody, so it's unclear as to whether he was always secretly this way, or whether its the result of a Trauma Conga Line. His sister seems to think it was the former though.
  • Bookends: The story kicks off with Kei getting run over by a truck, revealing him to everyone as an Ajin. The story ends right after Kei gets run over by another truck, though this time it's treated as comical as by this time he's revived from much worse.
  • Crapsack World: The government is performing horrible experiments on the Ajin they capture to test their immortality (as well as keeping tabs on people suspected of pro-Ajin sympathies), nearly all normal civilians are terrible people, and most of the Ajin we have seen aren't much better. The number of truly good people we've met so far can probably be counted on one hand.
  • Childhood Friends: Kei and Kai. Although they stopped being friends for a while.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: What the Ajin are subjected to when captured, done in order to figure out the origin of their immortality. Whether or not it is deliberate, the experiments in the story are eerily similar to that of Unit 731, the infamous biological and chemical warfare research and development unit of the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War.
  • Complete Immortality: Or just near it. As long as there is something to regenerate from, an Ajin will reform completely. Even if that something is a deep fried hand; to get into a secure airport, Sato cut off his hand, deep fried it to hide it in a box of chicken, had said box delivered to the airport, then threw himself into a wood chipper. After that, his hand was the largest single piece of him remaining, so he completely grew back from that hand.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The President of Grant Pharmaceuticals refuses to close the building (which Satou openly planned to attack on a certain date) because it'd lose him money.
    Police Captain: Their lives are at stake, sir.
    Grant's President: Money and life are actually one-in-the-same.
  • Cursed With Awesome: Ajin are immortal, but lose all human rights and wind up in a living hell if captured.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Played straight, then subverted: when Kei's IBM headbutts Satou's IBM, he sees a memory of Satou being physically abused by his father, then it is revealed that he hit him as punishment for killing animals for no reason
  • Death Activated Super Power: Death is the only way to trigger an Ajin's regenerative powers. Lost a limb? A bullet in the brain will heal that right up! (Although this does not affect "natural" body deformities.)
  • Death Is Cheap: No matter how or how many times they are killed, Ajin always come back.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Tanaka after his time being experimented on by the government. He has lost his faith in humanity. What Satou was hoping to happen with Kei after his week in the government's hands but sadly (or thankfully) it didn't.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The first ending song, "How Close You Are", is sung by Mamoru Miyano, Kei's seiyuu.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • A call to participate in a huge event meant to rally for change initially gets a lot of thunder but ultimately winds up not doing much brings the Kony 2012 movement to mind...
    • Satou's first major attack in the manga is to hijack a civilian aircraft and crash it into a building. The anime didn't try to be that blatant and went with toppling another building on the target building instead.
  • Evil Sealed In A Can: This is the ultimate fate of Satou. As he seemingly cannot be permanently killed and the world can't afford to simply let him age in a cell, as knowing Satou he'll come up with some insane way to escape, they cryogenically freeze him in an underground pod. It's noted that due to the technology, Satou won't age which means he won't die of age within the pod, but the pod is self sufficient enough to last for at least 200 years without shutting down.
  • Evil vs. Evil:
    • The Japanese government versus the Ajin terrorists. The Japanese government is in cahoots with corporations and private organizations to systematically oppress and abuse the Ajin population for endless human experimentation, violating just about every single human right in the process. Satou's Ajin terrorist cell however, practically follow The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized as a rule and regularly commit attacks that while technically targeting Asshole Victims, result in massive collateral damage to innocents, with often far more damage done than what's necessary (and indeed, some of their tactics seems to be actively maximizing destruction, something they clearly enjoy). The only good guys seem to be the Ajin who want to establish rights for their kind and also stop others like them from hurting the innocent.
    • It says a lot that Kei and Satou, the two opposing forces of the story, are scarily alike after a closer look. Both are very intelligent, show great Lack of Empathy, are capable of killing with little or no hesitation, have an unsettling lack of fear of dying (yes, they are immortal, but even other Ajin note that dying is far from a pleasant experience, not to mention the natural apprehension of not coming back to life), and care little for the actual causes they fight for: Kei doesn't seem that worried about the human lives Satou have or will take, but he aids Tosaki because it gives him a chance of having a normal life again. Satou talks a great deal about wanting to create a good world for the Ajin to live in, but everything he does shows he just wants to fight and destroy everything in his way. The main differences are that while Satou shows no signs of redemption and is firmly The Sociopath, Kei has his moments of at least considering changing and has a few Pet the Dog moments going for him.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • A Deconstruction exploring What Measure Is a Non-Human?. From the start, it's established that people, especially in Japan, are trained to hate and dehumanize Ajin, even though Ajin are otherwise normal people. Compounding the issue is that the government has issued a huge bounty for captured Ajin, and people will go to great lengths to capture them for the reward. Captured Ajin are then subjected to monstrously cruel treatment to find the source of their immortality and as reusable fodder for medical experimentation. The reasoning appears to be that if you don't stay dead, then you don't need human rights.
    • Inversely, if the whole world wished you to suffer forever, how far would you go to make it leave you alone? Kei's asking that question every day. Satou's answer is basically kill every human he possibly can as spectacularly as possible.
  • Government Conspiracy: The Japanese government is looking for Ajin to perform inhumane experiments on, since they make perfect guinea pigs.
  • Guardian Entity: Each Ajin can summon an IBM, an invisible humanoid which will protect their owner automatically. Not exactly the case for Kei though. His IB Ms have developed a mind on their own, and are shown to act out of instinct rather than follow Kei's orders. Kei can only control them to some extent.
  • Guilt-Ridden Accomplice: Izumi seems to be conscience-stricken about the treatment of Ajin considering she is one, especially after she was forced to run over over an Ajin kid.
  • Genre Shift: The manga starts out rather shounen, just with some very seinen aesthetics and themes. Then Kei gets hit with a Trauma Conga Line...
  • Gratuitous Japanese: The English dub keeps the term Ajin which means "half-human".
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: The public and government of Japan. Strangers and even loved ones will betray someone they know is an Ajin. The government rents out captured Ajin to other entities to perform unethical research ranging from becoming lab mice for drug studies to live crash test dummies for car companies. The government themselves perform horrific experiments on the Ajin to figure out their biology and limitations.
  • Hate Sink: While most of the villains are cool and charismatic, the humans who betray their friends and family should they be revealed to be Ajin are anything but admirable, and the ones who use them as guinea pigs in gruesome experiments even less so. Special mention must go to one of the workers who experimented on Kei. He has the balls to pull a hollow, hypocritical What the Hell, Hero? on Kei for getting his co-workers killed.(Being in the facility that Satou stormed looking for any Ajin he could find) He shows zero remorse for anything he did, even going so far as to threaten to put him through those horrific experiments all over again when Kei rightfully points out that this wouldn't have happened had they not abducted him and the other Ajin.
  • Hypocrite: Applies to the humans who treat Ajin differently as well considering them inhuman or soulless monsters, along with countless inhuman experiments. Special note goes to one of the workers Sato killed. He has the gall to act outraged when his co-workers are killed when they themselves had just spent several hours torturing and dissecting a teenage boy.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Most of the anime's episode titles are a line one of the characters (mostly Kei) say regarding his or her inner thoughts. With jewels like "I'm Surrounded by Idiots" and "They Make Me Sick", you can guess they say quite a lot of Kei's manner of thinking.
  • Immortality Hurts: The Ajin may be immortal but they can still feel the pain of death. And pain in general, as exemplified by the "experiments" that captured Ajin undergo.
  • Immortal Life Is Cheap: Drug companies, the government, and other entities are eager to get their hands on an Ajin. Since Ajin can essentially not die, these groups can bypass pesky preclinical studies and perform directly on them. In their twisted minds the Ajin are animals to be used for business.
  • Japanese Delinquents: Kai, which forced Kei to pretend that they didn't know each other for a while. Kai still drops everything to save Kei.
  • Jerkass: The trucker who runs Kei over.
  • Invisible to Normals: Downplayed, under normal circumstances, an IBM is undetectable, but whoever is sufficiently emotionally involved with it (like fearing for his life) will see them.
  • It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": It's Tosaki, not Tozaki.
  • Killed Off for Real: Ajins can sort of experience this if they get decapitated. The rest of their body will regrow a new head with a copy of the conscience that the Ajin had before the decapitation. Meanwhile, the decapitated head essentially dies. As Satou notes, Kei may be willing to kill himself to regenerate his body, but he always makes sure to avoid being decapitated to avoid that fate. Satou, who has no such fears, wants to decapitate Kei to make him the same way.
  • Mundane Utility: Satou came up with a great way to finance his terrorist activities; he has Tanaka remove his organs so he can sell them on the black market. Repeatedly. One slash across the throat, and he regenerates everything.
  • Nominal Hero: Kei. He's very clear on the fact that the only one he wants to help, first and foremost, is himself. Kei could almost be considered a (Anti)Villain Protagonist if it wasn't for some select instances of morality and decency.. It helps that many of the bad guys are so vile and downright sadistic in their carnage and bloodshed that he comes off like a knight in shining armor in comparison.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Kai is kicked off a speeding motorcycle and emerges from it with just a small scratch to the head. In contrast, Kei had both his legs broken. And he's the Ajin!!
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Tosaki momentarily drops his cold demeanor when he spots Satou in a crowd, hinting at how dangerous he is.
  • Photographic Memory: Kai
  • Psychic Link: When two IBM's heads collide, their owners can see each other's memories.
  • Race Lift: In the Live Action film, Satou is Asian instead of an American in the manga.
  • Resurrection Teleportation: Satou cuts off his hand, mails it, then throws himself into a wood chipper so that he can revive himself at another location. He does this despite knowing that this will kill his current consciousness, which is why no one expected him to actually resort to it.
  • Rule of Empathy: The series is good at manipulating this.
    • A significant amount of the time, Kei is very sympathetic, fleeing so as to avoid being vivisected. He even hesitates to use his Voice because he might hurt the people pursuing him. Then he traps Kou in a crashed semi trailer for fear of him drawing Saito in his blundering attempts to fight him.
    • Satou seems like the good-natured Mentor and leader of La Résistance. Unfortunately, he's actually an Affably Evil Blood Knight who loves killing humans, an Evil Mentor who deliberately lets Kei get captured and vivisected to make him hate humans as much as he does, and The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized.
    • Tosaki seems like a hardcore sociopathic Ajin-hunter, but he's concealing an Ajin - Izumi - for use as his bodyguard. Self-serving perhaps, but his superiors would summarily execute him if they knew he was depriving them of an Ajin.
    • Humanity in general is easy to hate throughout the series, and after seeing humans jump to turn Kei over to the authorities for the reward - which doesn't actually exist - hunting him non stop, assaulting him, killing him repeatedly and viscerally slicing him up on an operating table, seeing Saito butcher dozens of cold-as-ice SWAT commandos has an incredible Catharsis Factor. Of course, one has to remember humans like Kaito who are willing to risk their one life and non-regenerating limbs to help Kei and other Ajin.
  • The Reveal:
    • Tosaki's protector Izumi is an Ajin as well. The series loves to do surprise reveals near the end of a chapter.
    • It's shown that research of Ajin in America is far more humane than that in Japan, at a flashback taking place 20 months prior to the series. We see a whopping three Ajin walking around a research facility unattended, one even being allowed to conduct research himself. While they're forced to wear GPS's around their ankles, it's definitely better than being shot and tortured to death, then being revived.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Satou assembles several Ajins to performs terrorist acitivities, so that Ajins can live in peace. Or at least, that's what he says he's doing; actually, he's so bitter from being experimented on he just wants to kill as many humans as possible, and leading an Ajin terrorist group will enable him to multiply his kill count. Considering his true nature of a gambler, it's likely that he only provokes Human-Ajin war because he enjoys the risks and challenge it brings.
  • Shout-Out: Satou is an avid gamer and is well-versed in pop culture in general, and compares his immortality to having infinite continues. Most other characters refer to pop culture at one time or another.
    • When his uncle asks him to help with his crime organization in Asia, he is unwilling to go until his uncle's associate informs him that the country in question is the birthplace of Pac-Man, Japan.
    • While preparing to make themselves known to the public via press, Sato and Tanaka get themselves dressed up, with the former in a suit and the latter in a medical gown. Sato compares himself to Hannibal, and when Tanaka asks if that makes him Clarice, Sato replies that he’s Murdock.
    • When assaulting the Iruma Air Base, Satou and his sentient Black Ghost call each other Sonny and Tubbs.
    • The T-shirts worn by the characters often contain pop culture references.
  • Shout-Out Theme Naming:
    • Some chapters are named after video games like Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Shadowrun.
    • An unusual amount of characters share their last names (sometimes first names as well) with characters from K-On!. Just focusing on the central band here, Hirasawa is the bespectacled agent subordinate to Tosaki, Tainaka is the original family name of Izumi, Akiyama is the big Ajin who also resented Satou and helped Kou escape, Kotobuki is the Ajin Kai met in jail, and Nakano is, well, Kou Nakano.
    • Just to drive the point home, some of the chapter titles are also named after K-On! songs, with matching gratuitous punctuations. Chapter 24 is "Come with Me!!", Chapter 26 is "Genius...?!", Chapter 29 is "Listen!!", and Chapter 31 is straight-up "Don't say 'lazy'".
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The first ending song, "How Close You Are", sounds so calm and sad... while showing the numerous deaths of the Ajin characters throughout the first season. Though on the other hand, it fits with the mourning of losing a normal life for an eternal life as a prized fugitive.
  • Species Title: One-Word Title named after the term for the undead beings of the story.
  • Stupid Evil: The Japanese government. Ultimately, Satou is able to gather so many followers on account of the government's cruel, callous and inhumane actions toward the Japanese Ajin, leaving many to feel that they have no choice but to align with Satou in order to avoid an eternity of suffering and torture. Had Ajin been treated in a similarly humane fashion as they are in the US, Satou's task would have been much harder.
  • The Unfettered: Kei. His goal is to become a doctor who will find a cure for untreated illnesses which originated from his sister's illness. He studies endlessly, even during summer break. So much so that he got first place in the National Medical Facilities mock exam. He had no qualms ending his friendship with Kai once he realized that associating with the son of a criminal could ruin his future reputation. According to his mother, he chose to give up on Kai for the sake of someone closer, his sister. After escaping government custody his new goal is to stay hidden and live his life peacefully in a small country town. He will stop at nothing to protect his new-found freedom, even poisoning, drowning, and incarcerating a kid in an abandoned truck to prevent word of his location from getting out.
  • Villainous Rescue: Sato comes to save Kei from the inhumane experiments the government is performing on them, but only because he thought the period of torture was enough to invoke Being Tortured Makes You Evil.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Inverted. Kai still comes to Kei's aid even after Kei stopped being friends with him and would knowingly ignore and insult him when they happened to see each other around town.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Sato reeeaaallly didn't like it when Kei turned on him and riddled him with bullets when they were trying to escape a government facility.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Quite literally, given the nature of Black Ghosts. There have been multiple times, most notably in the fight between Izumi's and Kei's Black Ghosts where IBM employ wrestling maneuvers in combat.
  • You Are Not Alone: Kei has been betrayed by his so-called friends, classmates, fellow countrymen, and even his own family, but he still has Kai who dropped everything to help him escape the police. Kei is later able to live in an isolated village where an elderly woman named Yamanaka resides and takes him in while knowing he's an Ajin. When the other villagers realize who he is and his covers blown, she gets a friend of hers to help him escape.
  • You Could Have Used Your Powers for Good: Sato and his Ajin team.


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