In secret, alien parasites drift downwards toward Earth. Their directive: to take control of a human body and thrive in secret. When a parasite attempts to take over Shinji, an ordinary high school student, he stops it in his arm to save his mind. With the strange power of amorphous muscle, the curious parasite strikes an uneasy truce with Shinji: it will keep him alive and strong so that it may continue living, and will help protect him from the other parasites that might not take kindly to Shinji's mind still actively working. Can Shinji gain the courage to face the parasites and protect humanity? And would it even make a difference if he did?
Story: After recently watching Shiki, and finding myself most impressed with an impeccable delivery of a cliché in terms of both story and characters, I have discovered a newfound interest in highly-rated horror stories. The gore and bloodshed does little to fan my interest, but the willingness of these types of stories to “ignore the rules” and brave sadder, more dramatic paths increases the likelihood of encountering a legitimately well-done series. Of course there is the other end of the spectrum with shock-value buffoonery such as Deadman Wonderland, but Parasyte falls cleanly in the category of “a cliché that does it right.” Within the first few minutes, one can notice striking similarities to the famous “The Puppet Masters” by Robert Heinlein (fans of this particular show would like the movie adaption, certainly, but the book is even better), with small insidious alien parasites finding themselves dispersed about the earth wreaking absolute havoc. From this premise springs an interesting tale of these intruders attempting to adapt to life on earth in human society, driven by their own instinct, lack of social cohesion, and virulent self-interest. Where Parasyte deviates from the original sci-fi norms is that it grants these aliens near impregnable superpowers; though certainly not a fatal flaw to the story, at times feels a bit overdone and more a plot device to keep the story moving in a predetermined direction. While the story may be imperfect at times, however, incredible characterization drives the narrative forward with intensity and purpose. The tale follows Shinichi, a high school senior, who by simple chance becomes target for one of the parasites. As he struggles against its assailment, he forces the alien to gestate prematurely and take over his right hand while leaving his nervous system intact. From this emerges an intriguing drama in which he and his hand, affectionately named Migi, must coexist within the same body, navigating ordinary life as a human with a substantial handicap. With the truly “complete” parasites being cannibals against humanity, the duo find other parasites, family, friends, and random strangers on the street all to be potential enemies. Were events simply a spin on survive-against-all-odds or aliens-goring-everything-in-sight, this series would no doubt have done little to stem beyond shock-value gore and bored me to tears. More than these things, the story emphasizes the interpersonal interactions of all parties involved – just because Shinichi has attained a parasite for a right hand, for example, does not mean his crush loses feelings for him or he loses his desire to maintain his family bonds. Yet, his necessary secrecy causes friction among these relationships, and encounters with other parasites – also desperate to keep their anonymity – creates situations that may either bluff away or turn into fights to the death where incidental casualties are a very real possibility. By the time Parasyte comes to a close, it does not feel spectacular in any particular way. Rather, it carries a certain concoction of tension and sadness that grips from start to finish, and despite its lack of any superlative qualities feels remarkably well done in composition. Importantly, while there is a general linearity to the overall plot, there are many twists and turns that keep it anything but predictable. The ending proper is a bit lackluster, but in the grand scheme of bad endings (of which are the multitude of anime endings) it is passable. Animation: The choice of animation style keeps Parasyte from becoming too brooding. From a glance at the cover image, one might expect a phenomenally dark and bloody alien invasion with a moody tone and pallid lightning. On the contrary, the parasite designs are certainly alien and twisted, but are not particularly shocking or overly-disturbing nightmare material. It many ways I am reminded of Narutaru in which the horrific elements are masked behind a somewhat cheerier mien. That said, Parasyte is visually brutal when it means to be. With spiraling head cleavers for weapons, people do get decapitated and gored when parasites happen to have a go at each other. At no point, however, does the shock value feel excessive or the gore glorified. Those with a softer stomach should be forewarned, but it’s nowhere near the level of a Hollywood Saw-style production and should not be thought about as such. Sound: The musical score works well generally, and aids with the animation style in keeping a relatively neutral tone for most of the screen time. Sad piano pieces are appropriately placed for the plethora of melancholic events, as are chilling tracks accompanying a parasite in action. All in all, the music seemed to sit idly in the background and not contribute heavily one way or another. Fitting, yes, but not particularly remarkable. Likewise, voice acting was on par with standard quality. Shinichi’s seiyuu does a great job capturing his evolving character, and Migi’s dispassionate analysis with hints of emotion remind me a lot of Nanachi from Made in Abyss. Passable works by all parties for sure, but again I cannot really cite any outstanding performances. Characters: Migi, hands down, steals the show. His character fills a multitude of roles from dispassionate observer to self-interested actor to comedic relief. At first glance I thought Parasyte to be a dark or morbid show, but as it moves along it comes across as far more blunt and carnal. Life is cheap to the parasites, surely, but each one values its own above all else. Migi thus finds himself caught in the middle of needing to keep Shinichi on his side, but Shinichi is a human and has far more that he cares about in his life than himself. Migi’s constant struggle against his human host creates a gripping drama in which the underlying brutality functions well to keep a massive level of unpredictability as to what will happen to any particular character. At times, however, the scenes which occur and the characters’ reaction to them seem a bit too flat. Digging into any level of detail here would spoil too much of the show, but in a world where the parasites are blatantly “overpowered” one has to take some of it in stride. Balancing this, though, is a far more realistic take on how humanity would adapt to an invasion of this nature. Shinichi is not a typical anime hero who confronts and fights the alien threat with his own misfit, wielding some superpower that can save the world; quite the contrary, he is a normal human teenager who gets wrapped up in some truly horrific events that make him a central locus of the drama more than a central player. In his place as the “hero” is an intriguing web of different actors all competing for larger goals, and “good guy” versus “bad guy” is a matter of perspective of who is fighting who. The resulting free-for-all of self-interested parties, each trying to preserve themselves, drives Parasyte forward with a powerful force that easily carries one episode to the next. Characters adapt and change to events around them, and the parasites, in particular, show the fundamental flaws of the “hyper-rational mind” that gets praised so much in the modern day. Logic and reason are powerful tools in the human arsenal, but their imperfectness is not a flaw as not all situations are aptly solved with these traits. Overall: Though it has its very “over-the-top” shounen-style moments, Parasyte is a riveting horror-drama that hits all important points to make it a captivating and well-written story. While certainly dark in several ways, the show does not carry the chilling atmosphere of Shiki or the underlying sadism/masochism shock of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. Emphasis is not placed on the gore for the sake of gore, but rather to create a more realistic tension as to the stakes involved with all parties, and in this way understands how such elements should be employed (unlike, say, Shigurui which is little more than a mindless rape and murder fest.) For those looking for a solid drama with good characterization and an emotional story, this one’s for you.
There are those who liked Parasyte, and those who didn’t. There are also those who didn’t watch it, or are too tokyoghoultards to admit it is better than it; but this analysis is not concerned with those groups. Nobody can deny that the premise of the story sounds very intriguing. Man eating monsters appearing and killing people from the shadows has a very cool vibe to it. And sure, there are hundreds of anime that have a similar get-up, but what makes Parasyte better than almost all of them is one simple thing: The monsters just appeared and the setting is just like our world. There is nothing supernatural in this world, no teenagers with superpowers, no secret organizations that protect mankind with giant robots, no magicians from other dimensions, and no 12 year old pink-haired busty girls with eyes half their head. Sounds mundane but it is also the thing that makes the threat of the monsters far more plausible and intriguing, since there is no pre-existing defense for such things. The premise of course means nothing if the presentation is not good, and this is where the series has a lot of issues that hurt the overall. Let’s start with how despite the production values being quite good to the most part, there are still lots of scenes that use really bad CGI crowds, which are an instant break of immersion. The main music theme is also dubstep, which is off putting for most people. These are issues alright but they are very superficial. They make it harder to enjoy the show, but don’t change the writing of it. I have tolerated lots of badly animated shows in my life, and the ones I didn’t like amongst them weren’t because the CGI was bad but because the plot and the characters were bad. And this brings us to an issue many had concerning the characters. WHY DO THEY ACT SO STUPID? WHY IS MURANO REPEATING THE SAME ANNOYING THINGS ALL THE TIME? I am not going to defend this, because it’s true. What I can do, is point out a mishap in the way the animators present the story. You see, the anime is based on an 80s manga, and yet the studio decided to make it seem like the anime takes place in our times, by having people using cell phones and the internet. You can’t believe how off tune it is to present a story that is supposed to take place in the 80s, instead taking place in 2014 with no actual modernization past cell phones and the internet. I grew up in the 80s. I remember very well what it was to be a kid in a world with no cell phones to warn others if something bad just happened, or search the internet for footage of things that happened ten minutes ago on the other side of the planet. We were far more isolated and uninformed back then. We were also far more naïve and high spirited, full of patriotic ideals and xenophobia. It is very far away from how things are now. We became more cynical, we scroll the internet while taking a walk, we know things the moment they happen, and we are in overall not as gullible. So, a story like Parasyte is not working if it’s supposed to be taking place today. The monsters wouldn’t be able to remain hidden for more than a few days with all the surveillance cameras, and the random people with cell phones making calls and taking pictures. The monsters would also not be able to fool today’s people as easily, eat them, and get away with it, without some forensic team doing some weird investigations that involve DNA analysis, satellite examinations, and tracing calls. It just doesn’t work. Something else which many didn’t like is how the show was becoming less interesting as it went on. The various arcs didn’t seem to connect with each other too well, and many of the best characters were killed off midway, leaving only dull ones to carry the story with far less charisma. These are legit problems as well; the anime was more focused on theme exploration and not on character appeal or plot continuity. And even then, many didn’t even like the theme exploration because they either didn’t understand what was the point of these monsters trying to act like humans, or why wasn’t the hero used as an intermediate to help the two species coexist, as he managed to do with his own Parasyte. These are issues I can defend. The purpose of the monsters is spelled out not only in the opening song, but it’s also infodumped by the politician that is allied with them. They are not alien invaders, and they were never meant to coexist with humanity. They were created as a reminder of what it feels like to not be on the top of the food chain, thus becoming means to modesty and in the longrun to help people appreciate life and nature, themes very prominent in the 80s. These themes are very corny today, so again it didn’t work so well. What I will strongly defend the show for though, is how it was never a battle shonen. Many didn’t like the battle scenes because they were short and simple, with the final one in particular being anti-climactic and lame. I disagree; I found it to be a great subversion of typical shonen nonsense (if some want to see the show as a shonen so much). The hero didn’t get another power up after training with a powerful martial artist, and didn’t obliterate the big bad with an energy beam after they trash a whole valley with their punches. The hero was left weakened after he lost his Parasyte, afraid and helpless. He was found by a simple old lady that reminded him of what it means to be human. That is all it needed for him to face a monster which was a hundred times more powerful than him. Although the way he won was lazy as shit (the monster was accidentally impaled with a poisoned stick), you can’t deny that it was still following the theme of the series, instead of trying to be flashy. The Parasytes never had the ability to form societies, they were just tolerating each other for the sake of increasing their survival rate. The moment something goes wrong, they betray each other and it’s dog eats dog. Even that woman Parasyte that managed to feel like a human, failed to make others of her kind to understand her. What she achieved as an individual couldn’t be taught to others, and everything she learned died along with her. This is what eventually defeated them at the end; their inability to fight as a real group. Which brings us to the infamous hostage situation that took place a few episodes before. Many didn’t like the way the police handled the situation, which led to the deaths of many innocents, and most of their armed forces. They also disliked how the hero did NOTHING in this whole arc; he was just a passive observer. I say this was another great example of how the themes of the series are written in an amazing way, but their presentation is off. Just think how humans managed to find ways to spot and kill the monsters once they worked as a team. They didn’t need superpowers, super technology, or epic level wizards to do all the work for them. It was simple men, working as a team. Sure, mistakes were made, as mistakes are always made in real life as well. Lots of innocent people were killed in the process, which is again part of how plausible it feels. What, you expected the hero to teleport, grab bullets before they hit civilians, and bring the rest back to life by using the dragon balls? Not in this show. It’s not a silly shonen where the hero is overpowered and everybody else is worthless. So as you see, it all comes down to a simple issue. Parasyte is far better written than it is presented. I am the kind of viewer who appreciates writing more than anything else, so I liked the show as a whole. I also understand why those who want cool fights and a fairy tale ending, will not like it because it is not a fighting shonen but an anachronistic seinen that focuses on the values of humanity. And if any of that are not convincing enough, look on the bright side. It is not a complete thematic and writing failure like Tokyo Ghoul is.
This is my first review so take it easy on me. Kisejuu or translated in English, Parasyte, is an anime adaptation of the manga from the 90s. The story follows an average high schooler named Shinichi Izumi who lives with his parents within the the safe, quiet neighborhoods of Tokyo. One night, bugs fall from the sky, let's call them parasites for lack of a better term. One of these parasites enter Shinichi's room and tries to enter his brain through his ear, but fails due to Shinichi wearing headphones. Because of this failure the parasite enters through his right hand instead, Shinichi manages to stop the parasite's path. The parasite eats his right arm and matures into an intelligent being. That said the two now have retain both their intellects with Shinichi's body. The parasite names himself/herself, Migi. The reason behind this is the English translation for the word is Right. As the story progresses this dynamic duo gradually encounter other parasites that have taken over other human's body and eat other humans. The two work together to survive these encounters because they depend on one another to survive. The plot progresses very well compared to recent horror/gore animes these past seasons. Compared to Tokyo Ghoul's protagonist, Ken Kaneki, I like this duo better. Ken Kaneki was used more as an infomation dumpster, learning new info from experienced people as the story progresses whereas in the case of Shinichi and Migi they are both new and no one knows as to why the parasites were unleashed upon the Earth and why they crave human flesh. The whole mystery behind it is very appealing and likeable to the point where I want the story to continue. Character development in the show is very much to be praised as well. From the beginning to later episodes, from being a parasite to being a hand with a separate intellect, Migi starts to develop rationality and starts to analyze all of their predicaments logically, whereas Shinichi starts off as a shy, timid, understandable character that people can relate to. I won't talk about his change in character because I find it interesting and want you guys to learn as the show progresses. The music is fitting to the genre. Using a quasi dubstep style during the show's fight scenes. The opening and ending to the anime is very good also. Sorry for lack of content in the music section, I'm still development my analytic skills in music. I enjoy Madhouse animation most of the time, including in this anime. The animation is fluid and flowing with emotions, which is a must-have for the fight scenes with this anime. The fight scenes are used with primarily the parasite's morphing blades. As depicted below. Overall, I enjoy this anime and believe it is top 5 of this fall season. I recommend anyone who is a fan of the gore genre.
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