Saturday, November 30, 2019

Ajin, vol. 15 review

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Ajin, vol. 15 (Good Afternoon, 2017), by Gamon Sakurai. Grade: A-.

Kou has dropped Saito's arm into the utility pole stump, and stands there waiting for something to happen. As time goes by, Kei Nagai, our hero, starts realizing something's wrong. He asks how many flights Satou has made so far, and the answer is "who's counting?" Kei lets out a scream of frustration, yelling that Satou's probably gone senile (because his head is constantly being recreated when his body regenerates around his amputated arm, he's been losing his memories every time he blows up himself and his target). It seems Saito simply forgot what he was doing, and decided to fly off somewhere else. Kei falls into despair, and the others try to figure out what to do next.

The scene changes to the prison, where Kei's childhood friend, Kaito, reminisces in a series of flashbacks about how his life has always been one big mess. The problem generally is that he would become attached to someone being bullied, or a criminal, and his sense of loyalty would cause him to defend them at the cost of his own reputation. While Kei never claimed to be friends with him, that sense of loyalty is still very strong. When he escapes from prison with the help of someone else's black smoke ghost, there's only one place he would go (after watching the fiasco at the air base on TV). Back in the present, Saito returns to the air base in his jet, ejects, and smashes the craft into the refueling station a little ways away from Kei. The explosion detonates the weapons and fuel reserves underground, killing the Anti-Ajin forces there, and sending large blocks of debris falling down on Izumi and Tanaka's car. Saito frees himself from the ejector seat harness and discovers Kei in the middle of the resulting crater. He starts talking about how all of this has been fun, but he's bored now and is thinking of going to some other country that's a little less noisy. As he's prattling on, Kei sees the empty sleeve of his jacket, and realizes that his original plan can still work if he can only get Saito to fully die again. As the old man is saying "goodbye," there's an approaching roar, and Kaito leaps out of the oil smoke on a motorcycle in his general direction. Saito pulls out a pistol and tries to shoot the boy, but the bike knocks it out of his hand. Kei hits him with a tranq dart, so Saito presses the trigger of his bomb vest. The blast bowls Kei over, and Saito vanishes.

In the woods near the base, two men find one of Saito's weapons and clothing stashes. Naked, he finds them, kills them, gets dressed and rearmed. Because his body wasn't fully vaporized, he regenerated around his other arm, and now has both arms again. Kei and Kaito say hello after a long time, with Kei still acting as if he's in a drugged, depressed stupor. Suddenly, Saito shoots them both, Kei in the right eye, and Kaito through the back of the neck. Kei loses it, and black smoke billows from his back, generating close to one hundred ghosts in a full-blown Flood. Saito sees this, and decides he wants to do this too. He has one of his ghosts smash its head into one of Kei's, and exclaims that he has the same power now. Unfortunately, the flood ghosts are uncontrolled, and attack Kei, Saito and each other indiscriminately. Kei manages to pull Kaito's limp body into a sewer drain, and the ghosts lose track of him. Kei discovers that Kaito's bullet wound has healed itself for some reason, but that his heart has still not started beating. He spends the next few minutes calling himself an idiot, and trying to perform CPR on his friend. Finally, Kaito takes a small breath and continues breathing shallowly. Kei collapses against the sewer wall, exhausted. Up on the surface, Saito is getting overwhelmed by sheer numbers, and is starting to become concerned, when his primary ghost shows up in a small military helicopter to rescue him. In the sewer again, Kaito is sleeping as Kei tries to talk himself into running away and making a new life for himself elsewhere. But, it doesn't work, and the book ends with him hauling himself up the ladder to the carnage above.

Summary: Lots of action, not much plot, makes for a fast read. Great artwork and action scenes. I'm glad to see Kaito reappear, and I'm fully looking forward to book 16. Highly recommended if you like the series.

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