Feature Play: AJIN:Demi-Human
Netflix struck gold with their original series, created by Polygon Pictures. AJIN: Demi-Human shows that Netflix is hell bent on not letting Crunchyroll gain all the anime fans. The CG animation is in the same style as Knights of Sidonia, and that too is a good thing.
Demi-Human is an adaptation of the manga by Gamon Sakurai. It is dark, violent and will not hold your hand as it takes a hard look at the darkest parts of what it means to be human. The story avoids the shounen-like nature of looking at altruistic characters, though you will find some people to cheer for, like the lifelong friend who came to Kei’s rescue.
The story starts in Africa, with child soldiers, so you know it’s going to be pretty “uplifting.” Two men have kidnapped a young woman and were planning to use her as a profit by making her a sex slave. We are also introduced to traffickers of human organs, and scientists who don’t have an ethics code, and therefore have no problem experimenting on human subjects.
Continuing with the dark side of humanity, we have the main character Kei. Although he does show a sense of depth in that he’s not just all darkness, but you will come to find that some of his actions will keep you in the darker to gray area of morality as his story unfolds.
He inhabits the idea of the reluctant hero, even after he finds himself struggling to be socially empathetic to other humans and is seen through a rather troubling lens from his sister’s perspective. And when he does oppose certain story elements, he does it for the most selfish of reasons.
This sense of uncertainty in his character will either appeal to viewers or outright make them stop watching. It is nice however to see a story challenge the stereotype of the altruistic hero. In this case it’s also as if the creators are asking us: how far are you willing to follow this man?
Supernaturally speaking, the demon angle of the anime works. The lore of Ajin is decent enough. They don’t regenerate from regular injuries, instead they recover completely once they are dead.
This gives them an interesting JRPG-ish feel to them as we see them become temporarily incapacitated until they regen and then come back to life. Ajin, in a way, should just off themselves in order to heal up. There is a depth illustrated in their regeneration of severed limbs which is worth analyzing as you go through the series as well.
It’s grotesque meets philosophy, in that weird way that only anime and manga can capture.
Character designs are done pretty well, and have a movement pattern to them that is eerily inhuman, which will disjoint some viewers but for us it emphasized the strange nature of the creatures themselves. There is also a sense of realism put into the character’s costumes, you’ll notice the attention to detail as their clothing shows the wear and tear of the conflicts they encounter.
The marriage between both the 3D animation and the anime style are seen in the crumbling and re-emerging of items, limbs, and other things in the animation.
We can definitely recommend AJIN: Demi-Human it to those who want to think and be entertained but at the cost of some intense gore.