Friday, June 17, 2016

Ajin, vol. 3 review

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Ajin, vol. 3 (Good Afternoon, 2012), by Gamon Sakurai. Grade: B+.
As Satoh prepares to take him out of the building, Kei looks at the dead bodies lying all over the place. The fact that they're dead doesn't bother him, because it's something that's already happened. But, he does ask Satoh to avoiding killing anyone else from this point on. Satoh's doubts regarding the boy continue to grow. When they get to a room with three unarmed surgeons, Satoh shoots one, then gets into a tussle as Kei tries to keep him from killing anyone else unnecessarily, and by accident he shoots Satoh square in the chest. The older guy vows to kill Kei, and just keep killing him. He says that if a body part is lopped off and the bulk of the body is moved too far away, the body will grow a replacement part, while the dismembered member DOESN'T dissipate. He's going to cut Kei's head off and carry it away. He asks, "Which is the real head with the real memories?" Answer, "The one I'll be holding by the hair."

("Oops. It was an accident. Sorry."

At the same time, Tosaki's superiors are in the security monitoring room, watching the screens while asking Ogura questions that the researcher considers stupid. His answers tend to take on an insulting manner. He tells the General that the "black ghosts," or "IBMs," are a form of matter that just happens to have the same transparency factor as glass. Izumi wonders why Ajin can see them. The lead Japanese researcher of the group, Kishi, confronts Ogura over some of the evidence, and asks what the connection is between Ajin and IBMs. Ogura counters with "Why do we eat oranges? It's because we need the vitamin C. IBMs are a side effect of the Ajin's ability to heal their bodies after being injured or killed." That is, the black matter that comes down from space to heal an Ajin is the same matter that the ghosts are made of.

(Kei's ghost arrives to commit mayhem.)

Kei fights Satoh a bit, but the older man is clearly the more experienced butcher. Kei holes up with the remaining two doctors. He proposes a truce, but one doctor (A) refuses to work with him. The other (B) is more realistic and agrees to a partnership, apologizing for the mistreatment he'd doled out during the "research." Kei tries to slow Satoh down while the two doctors run for the exit. Doctor B uses a marker to leave a trail on the walls for Kei to follow. "A" decides to take his chances and holes up in a storeroom until everything settles down. During the fight, Satoh switches to a machete. They get into close quarters, and Kei prepares to defend himself by putting up his arms to slow the blade and keep his head on his neck, then black matter starts forming in the room to create Kei's ghost. The problem is that the ghost is autonomous, and injures Kei almost as much as it does Satoh. The older man considers this interesting. Kei escapes down the hall and sees the marker on the wall. Satoh follows, and gets to the door where Doctor A is hiding. Satoh gives his own ghost (a mummy humanoid with a flattened snake head) a pistol. It shoots out the lock, and then eats Doctor B, saying that it likes killing stuff.

Kei gets to the roof, where Doctor B is waiting for him. The doctor apologizes again, and offers to get the boy to his car and drive him away to safety, confusing Kei as to his motives. Satoh reaches them and prepares to shoot Kei in the back. Then there's a flashback to when Satoh had asked Eriko what kind of person her brother is. She replies "He's garbage." She repeats a litany of complaints against him: He claims to want to become a doctor to cure her illness, but he's just in it for the praise he gets from the adults. When their mother demanded his cellphone to erase Kai's number from the phonebook (because Kai's father was a criminal of some kind), Kei simply handed the phone over. (This affected Eriko a lot, because she had a crush on Kai, and had seen Kai crying on being told that Kei wouldn't be playing with him anymore.) The bottom line is that he's selfish and only thinks for himself.

Satoh shoots, clipping Kei. Then B steps in the way and takes the next bullet in the chest. Kei prepares to run across the roof and jump over the railing, then take his chances when he smashes into the ground far below. As he starts running, he passes B's body, and the guy groans. Kei realizes that he's still alive, and is conflicted over what to do next. B is probably going to die soon, but he also can't just leave the guy there. Kei grabs B and starts dragging him to the railing. Satoh gives chase, so Kei asks his ghost to help save him. Kei's ghost materializes at the same time Satoh's does, and they bump heads. This causes an exchange of memories, with Satoh seeing Kai saying that Kei has 47 other Ajin he can meet, and Kei seeing an older man preparing to throw a punch, saying in English, "How many times do I have to tell you? You've got to learn to listen." Kei's at the railing, and the doctor directs his attention to the river at the other end of the building. A crowd down at street level watches as the doctor wriggles free of Kei's grasp and plummets to a lower floor (we don't know if he survives), while Kei races along the roof ledge to dive into the river.

(Satoh cries crocodile tears.)

Satoh gets down to the parking lot, where he meets up with Tanaka again. They plan to do a "Silence of the Lambs" bit, with Satoh as Hannibal and Tanaka as Mardock. They change clothes, and Satoh pushes Tanaka in a wheelchair out into the midst of a wall of reporters. Satoh identifies himself as an Ajin, and says that he's uploading to the net, at, videos of the "research" that had been conducted on Tanaka. He asks how much reward money people have gotten for turning in Ajin, and the answer is "nada". There's a flashback to when Tanaka had discovered he was an Ajin and told his parents. His father took the teenager out to the city by truck, and they passed by a store with a bunch of TVs showing a report where a TV station was offering $1,000 for information on him. From that point, people equated Ajin with reward money, but it was a false assumption.  Satoh cries as he implores the people at home to join him to form a society to protect Ajin from institutionalized torture by gathering in front of the Ministry of Labor, Health and Welfare in 3 days.

Two days, later, the hit count for rolls up to 189,000, but on the appointed day, there's almost no one at the Ministry, except for a few cops. Izumi asks why, and Tosaki replies that the humans took a look at Satoh's videos and quickly decided that they were fake. But, the Ajin in Japan realized right away what they were looking at. While most people see the street as empty, Izumi witnesses a number of black ghosts swarming the building. (The person in the hoodie at the lower right side of the scan below is "Kou." He shows up in volume 4.)

(The society of black ghosts, outside the Labor Ministry.)

Back at the research facility/hospital, Tosaki's superiors complain that they've lost their last sample (Kei), and it's his job to get it back. Tosaki remembers when one of the Japanese Diet Cabinet members had told a flunky (the leader of the gang that was killed by Shinya) to show Tosaki behind the scenes. The gang leader, muscle who casually flashes his shoulder holster and pistol) took Tosaki down into the basement of the building, where Tanaka was being tortured. Turned out that one of the biggest benefactors of the "research" is Grant Pharmaceuticals, which has been churning medicines out derived from Ajin DNA. Additional Ajin-based creations include medical equipment. As long as Tosaki helps find more Ajin, he's going to be rolling in money; money that can be used to save his fiance, who is in a coma in the same hospital as Eriko. In the present, Tosaki asks Ogura why Satoh didn't use his ghost very much in the fight with Kei. The researcher is about to say that ghosts don't fully cooperate with their Ajin partners, when his bodyguard interrupts him. Ogura finishes with "No Comment."

The guard takes Ogura out of the room, just as the TV news coverage announces that Kei has jumped into the river. The Cabinet member calls to ask what Tosaki is doing about getting the "sample" back. Tosaki is afraid of losing the money for paying for his fiance's hospital care, so he runs to the hallway, spots a rifle lying on the floor, and uses it to shoot Ogura's bodyguard in the back, killing him. He takes Ogura into one of the lower rooms, and demands answers. He looked at the bodyguard's wallet, which identified him as a member of the U.S. National Security Agency. This is proof that Ogura is probably the most knowledgeable person in the world regarding Ajin. Ogura says that Tosaki is brilliant. We get a flashback with Tosaki talking to a boy in the hospital, while standing outside his fiance's intensive care room. He says that he'd go through hell for her. Then the volume ends with Kei washing up on a rock near the sea one week later, having drowned painfully several times along the way. He decides that saving people isn't worth the inconvenience.

Summary: We're learning a little bit more about Ajin and black ghosts, while getting a few more players in the game. The lines are being drawn up between Satoh and the rest of humanity, while people like Tosaki and Izumi are not exactly the "good guys." Lots of fighting and violence, but the story is good. Recommended.

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