4 out of 5
Continued praise for how impressively Gamon Sakurai is maintaining the pace and his narrative: volume 4 of AJIN jumps between Kei, living off the grid, “Hat’s” pro-Demi-human machinations, and Tosaki’s attempts / difficulties in trying to do damage control for the government. Kei’s storyline gets the shortest shrift here, appearing only once, which is admittedly kind of disappointing; it’s as though, despite being seemingly the main character, Sakurai has become more interested in what makes Hat tick, since we spend much more time with him, and all of the best action and plot beats swirl around him. At the same time, I don’t want a story that just jumps between plot threads for the sake of it, so I’d rather some pieces get under-utilized than thrown in as filler. However – countering my own countering – with the single chapter allotted to Kei, it leaves questions as to who / what / where / why / how that I do hope get checked at some point down the road.
Sakurai’s artwork is… stunning. Action scenes and general dialogue pacing are fluid, and every new character feels immensely realized, and is recognizable – something a lot of manga artists handling huge casts struggle with. I should also note something I appreciate about these Vertical printings: they print the various line / background artists that assist Sakurai at the end. These are hard-working individuals that I don’t feel are credited enough in manga, or at least in the English versions I read, so it’s neat to see it here.