AJIN: Demi-Human vol. 1 – Tsuina Miura

4 out of 5

It’s very simple, and then very promising: within a few pages, AJIN introduces us to its ‘demi-human’ concept – people who appear, for all intents and purposes as human except that they can’t die – and also to the way people respond to demi-humans, which is as something quite “other.”  They’re rare, at this point – less than 50 world-wide – and head-down student Kei’s classmates are keen to tease school oddballs for being demi-humans; a class discussion on them exposes the disdain everyone assumes for them.

Tsuina Mirua’s AJIN isn’t whipping out much surprises in its first volume, as Kei inevitably discovers he’s a demi-human, and then goes on the run as police and scientists immediately start to track him down – his family turns against him; “friends” turn against him – but along with Gamon Sakurai’s art, the duo craft a very compelling tale that sort of uses our familiarity with this monster-on-the-run format to set, for now, all the background information aside, and just focus on what’s before us.  When some abilities of demi-humans beyond their seeming immortality start to crop up, it’s presented with that same momentum – accept it and move on – and thus things get really entertainingly weird within just a few chapters, with really well choreographed and realized visualizations of these abilities from Gamon.

Kei’s awareness of the nature of demi-humans sort of goes from 0 to 100 during the last part of this collection, making some huge assumptions that I’m not sure are actually earned by What We Know, but it effectively sets the story up to keep moving, and puts Kei on a trajectory to start interacting with other demi-humans for volume 2.