While looking for a new horror anime to watch for this week, I decided to check out some of what was on Netflix as I almost never watch anime on there mostly because I use Crunchyroll to watch anime. Ajin was recommended to me by Netflix because of my interest in things like Attack on Titan, Death Note, and Tokyo Ghoul which are all pretty standard horror anime so I figured I would add it to my list and check it out later. I was initially excited to watch it because it is a Netflix original anime and I had yet to check out what their original anime's were like. The first thing that really struck me about this show was that it wasn't a traditional anime in the sense that it wasn't in 2D. I can't really describe the animation style, the best thing I came up with was if you're familiar with the Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm video games and how the characters look in those, then that is how the entire anime is done. I personally think it was really cool and innovative as I have never seen a show that looked the way this one does, but I also found myself being distracted from the story at times as I just wanted to look at the characters (and also wanted to play this as a video game).
To give you an idea of what this anime is about, basically there are some humans in the world that have regenerative abilities and are unable to die because they will just come back to life. These people have been labeled as "Ajin" and are generally feared by society. The main character, Nagai Kei, just wants to be an upstanding human in society and is aiming to be a doctor. He studies every chance he gets and surrounds himself with people he (and his overbearing mother) deem to be acceptable in society and that have the potential to further his own gain. One day when Kei is too busy looking at his phone he gets hit by a car and is killed. And then he gets back up. People find out he is an Ajin and immediately try to capture him and turn him over to the government. The anime then focuses on him trying to live life as an Ajin, the government trying to capture and then torture the various Ajin's they come across, and the rouge group of Ajin's trying to overthrow the government. I have an issue with this anime mainly because I don't understand where the conflict stems from. All that makes the Ajin different is that they are essentially immortal. They don't eat people, they don't need to kill anyone, they are basically no different from regular humans except they can't die and they have this strange black ghost that follows them around (that most humans can't even see). Ajin are literally indistinguishable from other humans until they happen to die and come back to life. I don't really get why there is such an uproar in their community and I don't understand why they don't just coexist. I mean I guess they try and explain this because the opening scene is the first Ajin ever discovered slaughtering several African children and that makes them dangerous, but literally every Ajin in the show is just a normal person. I kind of kept thinking about how when applied to this world, Kenny McCormick from South Park would qualify as an Ajin so long story short, this anime is basically about Kenny's life if he were Japanese.
Another thing that I found really weird about this was that I didn't really like any of the characters. I couldn't sympathize with any of the sides in the anime because they all had some sort of drawback. Of course I wanted to cheer for the protagonist Kei and see him live a good life but as I kept watching I realized something. Kei is a horrible person who only wants to further himself in life and will betray anyone including his own family (but not his estranged childhood friend) to ensure his own well-being (even though he does have moments where he tries to understand other people). Then you have the humans/government who are trying to subdue and capture Ajin's. I couldn't root for them because they capture the Ajin's and then perform horrific torture on them under the guise of research. Again, I don't understand why they don't just cooperate with the Ajin's in the pursuit of science. One human even has this weird relationship with an Ajin that he keeps as his secretary and personal body guard and because I really like the secretary I hated seeing how badly he treated her. And then you have the renegade Ajin's that are attacking the human's saying they are fighting for their rights (even though the Ajin running it just wants to take over the world and murder everyone). These guys are kind of like the mafia and are just horrible people and there's no way I would want them to win. The only three characters I liked were Kai, who was the childhood friend of Kei that rushed to help him out when he was being pursued by the government and was later ditched so Kei could pursue other opportunities, Shimomura, the aforementioned Ajin working with the humans for reasons unknown to me, and Ko who is basically replacement Kai who also happens to be an Ajin and wants to take down the mafia Ajin's.
So overall I actually did enjoy this anime despite hating almost everyone in it. When the second season comes out I will definitely be watching it, and I'm kind of considering reading the manga to see what else happens and if Kai ever reappears. I would say that if you enjoyed Death Note that is what this anime felt the most similar to but kind of with a reverse Kira. I can't really put my thoughts about why that is down on paper, but maybe if you watch it you'll see what I mean. Also apparently a couple days ago it was announced that Ajin got green lit for three live action feature films, so definitely be on the lookout for those whenever they come out, I know I'm going to watch them.