Friday, September 15, 2017

Ajin, vol. 11 review

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Ajin, vol. 11 (Good Afternoon, 2016-17), by Gamon Sakurai. Grade: A-.
The new book starts out with a doctor delivering a still-birth, and about to give up and walk away when the baby begins crying. The mother is just happy that her child is alive now and calls him "Kei." Back in the present, Kei and the rest of the group are waiting for things to start snow-balling. Tosaki confronts Cnl. Kouma, and tries to get him to join the anti-Satou group, with no results. From here, the storylines fragment, with Kei encountering Manabe, the last surviving bodyguard from the last major battle. Manabe sees Kei holding the gun he'd given his boss, and realizes that the man must be dead now. He has decided to run away, and goes to a phonebooth to book one-way tickets to nowhere, but as he looks at his reflection in the window glass, he makes up his mind and disappears before the travel agent on the other end can complete the travel arrangements. Satou and his two coke-head minions take an ice chest out to a field for some reason, while Tanaka decides to make a parlay for peace with the government, supposedly with Satou's blessing. One of the cabinet ministers prepares Sokabe to take over Tosaki's position in the Ajin research group, and Tosaki's group picks up the researcher, Ogura, on their way to a pre-arranged meeting place between Satou and the cabinet minister at an abandoned sports arena. When they get to the arena, Ogura warns Kei about the hazards of "flood"-type ghosts (IBMs = invisible black monsters). The problem is that floods, which consist of a large number of ghosts at one time, tend to only follow simple "win" orders when their "host" is overcome with extreme emotion. Ogura mentions a Dutch Olympic speed skater that had been in the middle of a race during the Games, and at the end collapsed. He accidentally summoned 9 ghosts, which went on a rampage in the arena for several minutes before dissipating.  Ogura says that Kei has the potential to summon 15-20 ghosts, then tells the boy to forget everything he's just said - he'd love to be around when Kei does invoke a flood. Then he turns to leave, opening up the last of his stashed cigarette packs.

(Manabe decides to not run away after all.)

Kei and Kou position themselves on the roof of the stadium, while Tosaki and Izumi go to the security room and watch the TV monitors. Sokabe shows up and tries to talk Tosaki into quitting again, to no effect. Satou and his two minions get into one car, and Tanaka into a second (the programmer hangs back and asks if Satou is really going through with this, and the guy smiles and says, "yup"). During the drive to the arena, Tanaka doesn't notice that Satou dropped back and took a turn off the pre-determined route. When he gets to the meeting point, Satou is missing, and the cabinet minister accuses Tanaka of trying to play games with him. Tanaka still thinks that Satou is going to show up to negotiate a truce with the government, but Kei realizes that this is just another stage in the game Satou is playing with them. He and Kou run into the building to find a TV to watch the news. Elsewhere, the Japanese Prime Minister is attending a big public event at an air force base, and as he gets on the stage, Satou shows up through the heat haze in the distance, armed for bear and approaching to attack the PM. Just prior to this, a camera man looking like Satou tried entering the air force grounds through the front door, was recognized, and immediately straitjacketed and dragged to an interrogation room. The TV news crews aim their cameras on the Satou on the runway, allowing everyone in the arena to see what's happening. Tanaka feels betrayed, and as he slumps to his knees, one of the cabinet minister's bodyguards shoots him with a tranq dart, and the minister gives an order to take Tanaka with them for torturing as they leave.

(Yes, Satou is coming in through the front door.)

Kei, Kou, and Tosaki continue to watch the TV, as "Satou" rushes forward, pulling a pistol and shooting at the PM and his bodyguards, and throwing three satchels into the crowd. The audience panics and overwhelms the military guards urging them to remain calm. The main question everyone has is how Satou could have gotten past security, and Kei comments that the attacker looks just like Satou, but it's like watching a rerun of his actions from the big battle against the SAT forces. In the air force compound, Kouma had been arguing with his boss over the treatment of the cameraman they'd apprehended. Kouma is convinced that this really is Satou, but the cameraman cries, saying that he's been mistaken for this "Satou" guy so many times that he's lost his job, and his family has disowned him. The boss sees Satou on the monitors aimed at the air field, and orders the cameraman to be released and taken to the safest, most secure part of the building. Kouma compares the "Satou" on the field with the SAT battle footage, and also realizes that they're being played. But, there's still the question of how "Satou" got onto the base. One of the guards says that there was a sensor trigger at one of the far compound walls, but a guard dog patrol failed to turn up anything out of the ordinary. And, to go from that wall to the event podium would have required someone to run faster than a car, which Satou can't do. Then, the results of the fingerprints the guards ran on the cameraman come back, and they're a match for the real Satou. Finally, after the boss finishes keying in the security codes at the last door, the cameraman asks him if he REALLY thinks that this part of the base is safe from "Satou."

(Tanaka feels betrayed by Satou.)

Back on the airfield, the fake Satou keeps shooting and running forward, until he runs out of bullets. He's ordered to drop his pistol, and kneel where he's standing. He drops the gun, but waits for a pick-up truck to arrive and pick up the PM. The PM and his guards get on the truck, then "Satou" breaks left and chases the truck as it tries to race away. He's actually getting up to 30-40 mph, catches up to the truck and makes a huge leap up and into the flat bed. One of the guards shoots him straight in the eye, and there's no reaction. The landing in the truck is too rough, and the clips holding Satou's head come loose and the head falls off to reveal a black smoke ghost hiding inside Satou's clothes. We then get a flashback showing that Satou had his minions lop off his head and pack it in the ice chest before Satou could generate an all-new head. Presumably, the minions drove the impostor to the far compound wall, as Satou himself pretended to be the cameraman and went through the front door. The ghost starts dissipating and makes a lunge at the PM, and it's unclear if it reaches the guy or not.

(Satou is just not himself today.)

In the arena, Izumi approaches Kei and tells him that she wants to save Tanaka. She's convinced that he's willing to join their side now that he feels Satou betrayed him, and Kei agrees, telling Kou to go with her. Meanwhile, Tosaki is making his way through the facility's kitchens when he's confronted by Sokabe. Sokabe had mentioned sometime earlier that he'd never seen his "sempai" (older colleague) without his gloves on, and expects that this is to prevent anyone from collecting his fingerprints. But, here in the kitchen, Sokabe notices that Tosaki has his gloves off and is prepared to fight him. Sokabe pulls out a tranq gun, saying that it's time for a regime change. He'll dart his sempai and kill him painlessly in his sleep. Tosaki picks up a knife from the counter. Sokabe also promises to "play" with Izumi, getting her name wrong.

(Tosaki makes the first move against Sokabe.)

In a rage, Tosaki leaps forward and stabs Sokabe in the stomach, while the dart gun fires off in the wrong direction. They fall to the floor, and Sokabe manages to grab a nearby ice pick, and jabs that into Tosaki's side a couple times before finally dying. Tosaki says that her name is Izumi Shimomura, and she's HIS personal secretary. He straightens up his clothes and joins Kei and the others. He apologizes to Izumi about lying to her about his having secreted records of her being an Ajin, and if she wants to leave now, she can. Izumi just stares at him, and says that she already knew that, and she's going to stay with them until the end. Then the group splits up to go their own ways, with Kou accompanying Izumi, and Tosaki and Kei going solo.

Summary: We're getting into the "Final War," and Satou is showing himself to be just as erratic and daring as ever, risking the loss of his memories by generating extra heads, just to achieve his objective. And Kei is scrambling to keep up. But, at least we're down one antagonist with Sokabe gone (unless he also turns out to be an Ajin). Lots of good artwork, especially the fight between Tosaki and Sokabe. Highly recommended.

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