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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ajin: Demi-Human is a pretty violent, creepy, and mature anime series that will appeal to fans of the genre while not being appropriate for younger viewers. The human characters known as "Ajins" possess supernatural abilities of resurrection and destruction tied to giant, unsettling "black ghosts." But their immortality and power come at a cost, as their human companions experience extreme pain when regenerating their bodies from fatal wounds. Intense fight scenes with the government, local law enforcement, and opportunistic civilians end in death and dismemberment. There's some implied threat of sexual violence, but mostly the show deals in the damage and torture enacted by the Ajins, which makes it a show for older anime lovers only.
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What's the story?
Seventeen years ago the first AJIN: DEMI-HUMAN was discovered in Africa. These superpowered, immortal beings are bound to humans known as "soldiers of God." Though 46 Ajins have been discovered around the world, only two have been found in Japan -- that is, until aspiring medical student Kei Nagai (Mamoru Miyano) is killed in a traffic accident and resurrected by his giant "black ghost" in front of a crowd of onlookers. Having previously viewed footage of government officials torturing Ajins to try to harness their power, Kei flees the scene. Now a fugitive with a bounty on his head, Kei enlists the help of his friend Kaito (Yoshimasa Hosoya) to evade capture by local authorities and opportunistic citizens. Their journey leads them to encounter other Ajins and reveal a number of secret organizations and government entities who seek to profit by exploiting the immortals.
Is it any good?
This is a fast-paced but sometimes formulaic anime series based on an ongoing and popular manga. While it suffers from a less than original script, it has solid characters and a unique style that's a blend of 3-D modeling and more traditional animation. The show wastes no time in jumping right into the action, where eye-catching visuals pair with an intense soundtrack that will appeal to both younger and older teens. An ever-present sense of menace, violence, and fear are hallmarks of the show as Kei, Kaito, and the Ajins they meet on the run are constantly in danger of being captured or killed.
The moral questions posed by the series, however, concerning the limits of government power, corporate greed, and personal responsibility will probably be lost on a tween audience. They'll need some guidance to navigate the thornier social issues and ethical quandaries that give context to the death and destruction on display. Still, unlike many entries in the manga-and-anime genre, Ajin: Demi-Human shows a sophistication in both concept and execution that makes for engaging viewing.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how governments can misuse their power to infringe on the rights of their citizens. How might the authorities deal with the threat of the Ajins and their extreme powers without resorting to torture and intimidation in Ajin: Demi-Human?
Families can talk about cartoon violence. Does it have less impact than live-action battles and fight scenes? Why, or why not?
Families can talk about friendships and loyalty. Why does Kaito risk everything to help Kei? And why does Kei trust that his old friend will help him escape danger?
- Premiere date: January 16, 2016
- Cast: Mamoru Miyano, Yoshimasa Hosoya, Hōchū Ōtsuka, Takahiro Sakurai, Mikako Komatsu, Daisuke Hirakawa, Aya Suzaki, Jun Fukuyama, Hiroyuki Kinoshita
- Network: Netflix
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Character strengths: Perseverance, Teamwork
- TV rating: TV-MA
- Available on: Streaming
- Last updated: February 8, 2021
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