(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)
Ajin, vol. 9 (Good Afternoon, 2016-16), by Gamon Sakurai. Grade: A-.
The battle between Satou's forces and Tosaki's continues, although it's really Tanaka and Satou, with the police inadvertently getting in the way of the defenders. The one guard recognizes Kei, and the boy takes Kou as a hostage, whispering out a quick plan. Kei shoots Kou in the legs, giving the guards the chance to dart him. Kou then darts the medics tending to him, and shoots Kei in the head with a gun, resetting him. After a brief skirmish, the guards are all down, and Kei and Kou work their way up the stairs. Elsewhere, Izumi and Tanaka fight it out, until Tanaka succeeds in darting her a couple times. He handcuffs her to a railing. The medics arrive, and think that Tanaka, who is in a uniform, is on their side, and they let him leave. Unfortunately, the medics realize that Izumi is an Ajin, and they prepare to shoot video with their smartphones to put on the net, as Tanaka is still within earshot. (He may have become a little more sympathetic after exchanging memories with Izumi when their ghosts came into contact with each other.)
(Izumi's and Tanaka's ghosts fight; Tanaka prepares to dart Izumi.)
Hirasawa and his two remaining men have Satou pinned down on one floor, next to an indoor swimming pool. Satou takes a dart to the arm, and tries resetting himself by shooting himself in the head, but his revolver is out of bullets. He collapses. Hirasawa radios Kei, who tells him to see if Satou's throat is vibrating as he plays possum (breathing shallowly). It is, and there's more gun play until Satou takes a dart to the back of the neck and collapses for good this time. (He has a tourniquet around his bicep, keeping the sleeping drug in his arm from entering his bloodstream.) However, his ghost is capable of going autonomous now, and it kills the two remaining bodyguards before resetting Satou. Satou almost kills Hirasawa, but Kei saves him. Hirasawa hits his head against the wall, and Satou punches Kei in the face, hard. When they recover, Satou is gone.
(Satou takes a dart to the arm, then pretends to be out of bullets to set a trap for anyone that gets close to him.)
Satou gets to the executive floor, where Kai, the company president, thinks he is safely locked inside. Kai tells Satou to end this and go home. Instead, Satou cuts his arm off, presses the stump up against the saferoom door, and resets himself. The black smoke that causes Ajin to regenerate discovers the door in the way, and assimilates it to make the guy's arm whole again. Leaving a hole in the door for him to shoot Kai through. At the same time, Tanaka discovers Kai's secretary, and takes pity on her for having had pity on him. He tries to get her to safety before his boss finds them, but it's too late. Tanaka threatens to shoot Satou if he tries to kill the woman, and Satou backs off, claiming that he's more interested in capturing and torturing Kei. Tanaka doesn't trust him, but he and the secretary head to the lobby. Simultaneously, Tosaki, in the main security control room, had activated the lock down system, then gotten a phonecall that is too important to ignore. He leaves the room, and finds Izumi cuffed in the stairwell, surrounded by dead medics (their smartphones all have bullet holes in them). Izumi tries to get Tosaki to help her rip her wrist off so she can escape the cuffs, but her boss looks at the blood, and leaves to find the keys to the cuffs instead.
(Satou promises to cut Kei's head off and have the boy generate a new one.)
Satou gets to the control room, and activates the PA system. He says that he's going to track down Kei, cut his head off, and carry it far enough away that he'll generate a second one to torture. Given Kei, the boy will be able to let him do this. Kou and Kei argue over what to do, and Hirasawa orders them to the roof. The exit door is locked, so Kei has the other two cut his arms off and reset him so that he can disable the lock the way Satou had. Hirasawa orders them to escape, and Kou stands close enough to the edge of the roof to be blown off by a strong gust of wind. Kei doesn't want to run away, and he realizes that Hirasawa is bleeding. Turns out that somehow, Satou had managed to shoot him through a gap under his bulletproof vest. He's dying. Satou finds a gas-powered weed trimmer, and reaches the roof. Hirasawa shoots Kei in the head, causing him to fall over the ledge. Satou is disappointed, but consoles himself with the idea of going toe to toe with the lead bodyguard in a boxing match. Kei orders his ghost to go to the roof to help Hirasawa, but when it gets to the top, Satou is gone (he admits Hirasawa was a great fighter) and the bodyguard is lying on the roof, dead.
(Hirasawa prepares to box with Satou, while Kou attempts to hold on to a ledge a few floors down.)
Kei lands on the pavement in the middle of a crowd of reporters. They recognize him, and some cops rush up. Kou steals a TV transmitter truck, because it has the keys in it, and he rescues Kei. They get to a bridge next to a river, and ditch the truck. Kei orders Kou to use the fact that no one knows he's an Ajin yet, and return to his safe life. He himself will seek out another backwood mountainside to hide in. Kou asks about all the people Satou is going to kill, and Kei replies back that Kou was only concerned about the death of Hirasawa, yet had no feelings when he saw president Kai dead. That is, he's being irrational. Kou replies that when he first died, he'd been trying to replace a lightbulb in the family's apartment. He was just a kid. He'd climbed up on a chair and a stack of newspapers, slipped off, and broke his back on the floor. His family moved away, leaving him there, paralyzed, waiting to die. It took days to die and reset. He is desperate now to help people who need him, but he can't do it alone. He needs Kei, too. Kei leaves, trying to think of somewhere that has no people. Suddenly, he stops and says that he'll try calling his mother one more time.
Summary: The security doors of the Forge building open the next morning, and everyone is shuttled out. Tosaki and Izumi leave together, while Tanaka continues pretending to be a guard, then ditches the uniform in a nearby alley. No word on what happened to the secretary. Satou threw himself off the roof and escaped that way. And essentially, everyone is back to square one. Although, Satou is in the lead because he had succeeded in getting one of the two remaining people on his top ten hit list. Great artwork, great action, great pacing. Lots of gory combat. Recommended if you like this kind of thing. Upgraded to A-, based on the improvements in the character art.