I think I preferred this series back when it was on the verge of becoming a trainwreck. Even if “Ajin” was preparing to go off the rails at any moment, there was fun and excitement at the thought of seeing it happen. This is compared to the series as it is now which is fairly generic when the bullets and body parts aren’t flying. Take the sudden change of heart Sato’s right-hand-man, Tanaka, displays towards two female characters in this volume. After taking down Izumi and revealing her to be a demi-human in the process, he goes back to kill the witnesses and smash their cellphones. Later, he winds up saving the secretary who oversaw his torture while he was in the hands of the government. Why would he do either of these things? Because that’s what characters like him — subordinates to the main antagonist who are starting to have second thoughts about their line of work — do in these stories. Some characters do die in this volume. I’m not sure that anyone will be bothered to care since one of them didn’t have a name in the dramatis personae at the front of the volume and the only one that has had a decent amount of page time goes out in a predictably tragic and manly way.
Is there anything about this volume which rises above mere competence? Well, the action scenes are as slick as always and some interesting tricks regarding how demi-humans can use their regenerative abilities and IBMs are shown off here. Everything else is straight out of the genre playbook. Which means that while I know I’m not supposed to have any sympathy for a psycho killer like Sato he still remains the most interesting character in the series because he’s committed to his cause and clearly enjoying himself in the process. When he offers to cut off Kei’s head in order to get our protagonist to utilize his powers in more creative ways, I was actually kinda rooting for it to happen. If nothing else it would’ve saved us from the painfully generic verbal throwdown Kei has with Ko about leaving that closes out this volume and arc. Things are left fairly wide open with regards to where the narrative could go from here. At this point, I feel somewhat confident in guessing that “anywhere interesting” won’t be one of those places.