Gamon Sakurai’s impressive work on Ajin: Demi-Human keeps chugging along at a powerful pace in volume 4, which ramps up the action and the animosity between society and the immortal beings known as Demi-Humans. The calm but sinister Sato (AKA Hat) wants to turn the tables on those who would imprison and experiment on Demi-Humans like himself, so the hunter becomes the hunted in some of the most exciting chapters yet.
While Sato rallies an increasing number of Demi-Humans together to support his plans to terrorize humanity and put normal people in their place, there are some who find his ideas a bit extreme. Ko Nakano speaks out against Sato’s plans for mass murder, immediately landing him on this maniac’s bad side. Thankfully he manages to escape in one of a handful of thrilling action sequences, something at which Sakurai has proven he truly excels. It’s not just Hat and the Demi-Humans after him, though. Once the Ministry of Health spots him as a potential Demi-Human who’s privy to Hat’s plans, Ko is tasked with evading two groups that will stop at nothing to get their hands on him.
This eventually leads him to our on-and-off protagonist, Kei Nagai, who found a nice little hiding spot in the countryside and isn’t too keen on giving it up just to fight the good fight. As Ko and Kei kick off their own conflict, the Ministry learns a few key details about IBMs, the bizarre creatures that Demi-Humans have the power to control. Unfortunately for them, Sato is about to make good on his promise.
I’ll probably say this every time I review a volume of Ajin, but it’s worth reminding everyone not to miss out on this one. With each release my admiration of Sakurai grows. There’s a remarkable combination of fluidity and weight to his action sequences; he has a keen eye for dynamic angles and never holds back when a scene calls for some especially heavy hits. It reminds me of the way Yusuke Murata (Eyeshield 21, One-Punch Man) handles action, and both artists share a similar attention to detail that carries over to the quieter moments.
Ajin is more than just solid art, though. The way it deals with immortality is pretty unique, and there’s still plenty of mystery surrounding the mummy-like IBMs that haunt the covers of each volume. Sometimes it seems like Sakurai can’t quite decide how to play the whole “killing yourself to refresh” angle, but it makes for some interesting showdowns when Demi-Humans face off against one another. This is absolutely a series worth starting if you haven’t already, and it only gets better with each new volume.
Story& Art: Gamon Sakurai
Publisher: Vertical Inc.