Home > Manga Reviews, Reviews > Ajin: Demi-Human, Vol. 2

Ajin: Demi-Human, Vol. 2

Annnnd I’m back! Hope everyone had a Happy Holiday season! For those just joining us, welcome to Sequential Ink, a manga and comics review blog. Usually new posts go up once a week on Wednesday evening, but I figured I’d kick off 2015 with a sped up schedule. So, for the rest of January you can expect two reviews a week, one on Monday and one one Wednesday. For the time time being the news link round up will be exclusive to the Wednesday posting.

And with that out of the way, onto the first review of 2015!

Ajin: Demi-Human, Vol. 2Ajin: Demi-Human, Vol. 2
By Gamon Sakurai
Vertical Comics, 200 pp
Rating: Not Rated

With Ajin: Demi-Human, Gamon Sakurai takes an idea that Western audiences should be familiar with, but approaches it from a slightly harder science fiction angle. Every now and then someone in the world dies, but they don’t stay dead. Dubbed “Demi-Humans” this small group of people are hunted and feared by society and sought after by the scientific community. Ajin: Demi-Human, Vol. 2 sees young Kei struggling to deal with the aftermath of his recent death and what his survival entails, but sadly he’s not given much time to figure things out as two factions quickly engage in a struggle for his body and his mind!

I haven’t had a chance to pick up volume one of Ajin: Demi-Human and was a little worried that I might be a bit lost because of that. Thankfully that wasn’t really the case and I found myself slipping right into the world Gamon Sakurai created with little trouble at all. I think a lot of this is helped by the fact that the series takes a premise that many American comic fans should be familiar with, but keeps it closer to its science fiction roots rather than the spandex clad superhero genre. Echoes of the X-Men are instantly recognizable as Gamon Sakurai depicts a world inhabited by super powered individuals who are hated and feared. However, unlike those altruistic superheroes battling an endless propaganda war they’re destined to never win for franchise reasons, Gamon Sakurai’s cast and world isn’t bound to a static state. So instead of slapping on a costume Kei finds himself caught up in a struggle between other Demi-Humans and the rest of society when all he wants to do is be left alone.

The maneuvering and psychological operations undertaken by the Demi-Humans as they attempt to recruit Kei to their cause is clever and paints them as less than trustworthy, something that’s reflected in the ways the scientists and Japanese government handle the emergence of Kei’s Demi-Human status. They’re quite happy to simply strap him down and commit medical atrocity after medical atrocity in an attempt to understand how his powers function as they try to trigger the activation of the “Black Ghost,” an otherworldly manifestation of the Demi-Human’s powers. These sequences once again bring to mind another property, this time Japanese. The medical experiments and Gamon Sakurai’s clever use of immortality during the fight scenes brings to mind similar moments from Hiroaki Samura’s Blade of the Immortal. Thankfully, unlike Samura’s drawn out torture arc, Sakurai keeps the torture and experiments that Kei endures short and sweet without sacrificing any of the horror or disturbing imagery associated with it.

Page from Ajin: Demi-Human, Vol. 2

The kick off to a fantastic action scene.

Gamon Sakurai’s artwork is slick and sharp looking, with the heavy black inks really popping off the bright white paper used in Vertical’s edition of the book. I’m told that the bright white paper is cheaper than other paper stock, and it’s apparently supposed to be uncomfortable on the eyes due to the high contrast it causes with the black and white artwork, but I still can’t help but think that it really made the artwork pop and it’s not bothering my eyes, so hey. Gamon has a really good eye for action and pulls off a lovely rescue sequence that left me hoping that we’ll get to see him really cut loose in an extended fight at some point. The character designs are fairly run of the mill, reflecting the more contemporary setting of the series. The stand out exception to this is the Black Ghost, which is pretty damn memorable! The weird, hollow, black wrap mummy look is creepy and really impressive, it looks like something pulled from a nightmare. Despite its lack of a face, Gamon manages to imbue it with a tangible sense of dread and malice that oozes off the page.

Ajin: Demi-Human, Vol. 2 was pretty interesting with aspects of it harkening back to the weird sci-fi series of of the 80s and 90s, with the promise of action scenes that can hang with some of the best of them. The fact that it also brings to mind one of my favorite manga series of all time is a definite plus, and the vague echoes of America’s X-Men franchise seem like it would help it sell to American comic readers as well.

Ajin: Demi-Human, Vol. 2 is available now from Vertical Comics. Review copy provided by the publisher.

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  1. January 12, 2015 at 7:34 am

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