AJIN: Demi-Human vol. 13 – Gamon Sakurai

5 out of 5

Back on top. I couldn’t help but smile while reading this volume, so satisfied by the way the various characters and plot beats of AJIN so effectively come together.

Some stray observations which have been gelling throughout, and pay off especially well here: sometimes when watching TV shows or reading comics / manga with a large cast of characters, I accept that I don’t always remember who’s who as part of my viewerly / readerly burden. That is, I get that some people are apt to keep track of these things (and maybe there’s a correlation there for some of the genres I enjoy more or less), but I often don’t. …Until I do; until series like AJIN make me fully aware of each character and their involvement at appropriate points, or take steps to remind me of their part without patting me on the head. I love looking at the cast list that opens up each tankobon and knowing who each person is (just on visuals alone, which is a huge part of this). That obviously makes allegiance flip-flops and characters’ fates much more grabbing throughout.

Also, more specific to manga (or so I’ve found), a lot of creators love throwing endless quirks at a reader – new tweaks to their core idea or formula – which can be fun, and is generally more prevalent in younger-geared manga ’cause I guess attention spans and whatnot, but almost inevitably results in stuff that would be worth exploring just being left in the dust for the next flashy idea. Stack that up over several volumes, and nothing holds much traction. While AJIN is almost an endless rollercoaster, volume 13 points out how one of Sakurai’s biggest skills is, actually, restraint. He’s waited this long to pull out a new demi-human ability that would’ve easily been burned through way earlier on by manga in line with what I’m explaining above; for me, this means its appearance here is badass instead of just-another-thing, and leaves us with a great cliffhanger.

Both of these observations are to say that volume 13 is effing fantastic, bringing Sato’s plans to a head (complex and insane as always) while pitting that against Nagai’s fast-paced adaptations, as well as – as suggested – some expertly earned plot additions.