AJIN: Demi-Human vol. 17 – Gamon Sakurai

5 out of 5

God damn. I have never – never – read a more satisfying series than AJIN. Across a couple decades worth of dedicated comic reading, plucking selections from the 60s onward, from multiple countries, while I’ve definitely had the pleasure of reading some perfect standalone issues, or minis, or even maxis, a series with this page count – 17 tankobons worth – has never met such consistent quality on all levels as AJIN.

The action has been unbeatable, yes, but what’s sustained things way beyond that is how affecting the writing is as well, with a large cast that all become deeply familiar and interesting to the reader, and surprising emotional hooks delivered with the utmost precision.

That latter strength is fully driven home in this last volume. I haven’t checked out any other review yet, but I’m supposing one could criticize the final Kei / Sato showdown for being fairly lowkey, but it’s not – the way it’s done is perfectly in sync with how Sakurai has continually reinforced his action with intelligence, and character, and that’s all here. Plus, given how nearly the entire series has been one long action scene, this really was the right way to conclude. And the 100 pageish epilogue that steps through the aftermath is perfection – giving us a sense of what happens after the sun sets, while not sacrificing giving us a satisfying ending.

Even the creator’s afterword is perfect.

I was fortunate enough to start reading AJIN close to when it began – rare for me with manga, where I’m normally catching up afterwards – and while there have been moments where maybe the choreography wasn’t as clear, or the narrative took a slight downbeat, we never went off the map; the way Sakurai made this series his own after volume 1 (which he didn’t write) is astounding, and even better is that I’ve reread this thing front to back several times over the years, when new volumes came out, and its never dimmed in impact. If anything, it gets better – sometimes I was so antsy to know where the story was going that I’d blaze through a volume, and with that soothed, it works incredibly well taking your time to go through and appreciate all of the nuances.

So: yeah. God damn.