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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I think I learned something from watching Parasyte. Smart execution is more important than interesting premises. Parasyte surprised me in this sense, as I was not at all interested in the premise at a glance, but found myself enjoying the show because it is so carefully written. ***As always I’ll preface up front to be wary of minor spoilers from this point forward.*** Let’s break it down:
Art: 10/10 –I’m not terribly fussy about art. I’ll point out major issues when I see them, but none are to be found here. The production values of Parasyte are fantastic.
The character figures were well-drawn and proportioned; and fantastically emoted. As integrated with the storyline itself, it was easy to tell a parasite from a human by their expression; so my kudos to the artists of this show who captured that effect so aptly.
I have no complaints moving on to the backgrounds, as they appeared well-enough detailed.
The animation and visual effects were great too. The parasites moved and attacked in weird and whacky patterns, and it seemed well captured on screen. Though some of the movements were unintelligible, this was excused by their extreme speed more so than blatant laziness on the creators’ part. The action sequences were great. The effects were enjoyable too. The way the parasites looked and moved in their natural forms were outright creepy.
Sound: 9/10 – Much like its visuals, Parasyte did well for itself in the sound department as well.
I had watched it subbed (I would doubt that such a new show even is dubbed yet), but as is so often with subbed anime; the Japanese voice actors were fantastic. While I cannot think of any character in this show that was poorly voiced, I especially enjoyed both Shinichi’s and Migi’s performances. Shinichi was a dynamic character (a feature I’ll applaud in the “Characters” section), but with such a dynamic character comes a lot of acting. In 24 episodes Shinichi cries, or screams more times that I could recount. But it wasn’t that sort of shounen-like crap you’d expect from Naruto or Attack on Titan. The feels were always warranted – and the voice actor nailed them.
Likewise, I thought Migi was fantastically voice acted. I tend to browse the comments section of sites when I stream anime, and it seemed that many long-term fans of Manga (which is nearly 30 years old) were thrown off by Migi’s voice. I suppose I can understand that, as Migi’s voice was unfathomably… weird. There’s no way his voice was what a long-time fan could have imagined in their head. But I think that’s exactly what I loved about the performance. Migi was a talking hand, after all. Aside from a fittingly unusual tone, the performance itself was just great. It was perfectly flat, for the emotionless talking-hand alien. I’ll never forget Migi’s signature “Shinichi.” Which would almost always be followed by some warning of imminent danger.
The music was enjoyable. The OT had a metalcore sort of edge to it, which was pretty awesome, and the BGM was outstanding. It varied from combat dubstep to a sweet recurring piano theme. My only critique of the show’s music might be that the track list was small – but this is hardly a large complaint for a 24 episode-long show; especially since the songs that were used were great.
The sound effects were spot-on. The squishy gory mutilations that frequently occurred were sickeningly well done. And later on when the show introduced guns and explosives; including AA12’s (full automatic shotguns), the SFX was crisp and believable the entire time.
Story: 6/10 – Though the story section is this show’s weakest category, it still does many things right. Looping back to my introductory paragraph, Parasyte is a really well-down show with a less-than-remarkable premise. But it gets better and builds itself up – which in my opinion, is better than what Sword Art Online did when it took an incredibly interesting premise, and outright FUBAR’d it.
So our premise is that these parasitic (aliens? I don’t think it was positively explained) creatures have appeared on planet Earth. They are extremely intelligent, fast, strong, and perhaps most importantly, remorseless. Their big weakness, perhaps, is that they rely on human hosts, which they infest by taking over the hosts brain (effectively killing the human, and then masquerading as said human). The main character is special because the creature fails to take over his brain, and instead takes over only his right arm. That’s basically the entirety of the premise – there’s no real overarching quest or mission, just the main character’s survival in a world that is a little more than most people realize it to be. Ground-breaking? Hardly. But interesting enough, I suppose. Sometimes there’s strength in simplicity.
Moving on, the pacing of the show was not great. It started out fine, but after several episodes in, the show slowed down dramatically. This is not to say the show ever got boring; it didn’t. But events and episodes did begin to drag near the middle and end.
This show gets a full score on complexity, and I believe this score is well earned. While the parasites do seem to come out of nowhere; their presence and sentience lead them to ask some very interesting questions. Who were the villains? The parasites or the humans? From our own human perspective, the parasites were terrifying monsters, but would that perspective not be the same of humans from parasites (and all other living things)? When the situation started to cast itself in a light that parasites were the new apex predator more so than something purely evil, many of the human characters (including the lead) began to face cognitive dissonance in their assessment of the parasites. It was a truly deep development.
I really wanted to give the show a full score for plausibility, but I simply couldn’t. In this category, the show handled itself very well – even despite the crazy premise. While it can be argued that many of the properties of the parasites are far fetched, they are at least very well explained. The viewer comes to learn that their brains are also incredibly strong and flexible muscles. Again; far-fetched, but at least we get some understanding of what the creatures are. The plausibility is reinforced in that the properties from one creature to the next were fairly well grounded. They all attacked with blades fastened from their own muscles – and mostly shared physical properties. Sure, they differentiated at a mental level, but I think that was fair considering parasites were intelligent creatures. Gotou did seem a little bit overpowered, but again his properties seemed to fit within the context of the show, by simply being multiple parasites in one (and created through experimentation by an exceptionally clever parasite.)
I deducted a point, because despite the show being thorough, well-thought, and consistent with its monsters, it still seemed to slip in some oddities. I found it odd that the parasites remained “secret” even after two public attacks on the same school, and public attacks elsewhere. Likewise, I thought it was sort of corny the way Shinichi received an essential power-up when Migi operated on his heart. Sure, they sort of explained it – and sure, it had its drawbacks, but it still seemed corny. Lastly, I thought it was strange that Gotou was able to dispatch an entire SWAT team with relative ease, just to be defeated by a one-armed kid with a dirty stick. Gotou was built up to be too overpowered to have been defeated as seemingly easily as he was. Those things aside, I think the show stayed fairly grounded otherwise.
I feel like the very last episode of the show felt forced. It could have taken more time to resolve the internal philosophical debate about the parasites’ place in the world, and the relationship between Shinichi and Murano, rather than have a last hurrah with that serial killer (whose name I forgot). It sort of muffled out the resolution of the story with an unnecessary final climax. Not the worst ending, but it could have been better.
Characters: 8/10 – Parasyte does not feature an exceptionally large cast, but I think it did well with the characters it did feature. I would say Parasyte is a character-driven anime, with the actions of both Shinichi and Migi essentially driving the entire story.
Without a doubt, the show’s scope is narrow in its focus on Shinichi and Migi. Overall, Parasyte did a great job with character personality portrayal. In Shinichi’s case, he is dynamic, but in a way that feels real or organic, rather than flimsy or whimsical. In Migi’s case, he is relatively flat, but again this excused by the storyline of the show. Supporting characters including Tamura and Murano were well-portrayed as well. The dynamics were just spot-on. Tamura was still flat and unemotional (as all parasites were), but her exceptional intellect and curiosity managed to propel her to be significantly different than the other parasites. Likewise, Murano was well portrayed. Even despite being a secondary character, and being Shinichi’s obvious love-interest, the characterization of Murano was handled very maturely. There was no excessive fan service, or over-the-top cutesy bullsh*t. The interactions felt natural, and the characters’ actions did seem to affect the health of their relationship. It wasn’t some stupid blind obsession (like Attack on Titan), incestuous, fan-servicey, lite background noise, or overly forlorn. In the domain of love, Parasyte dodged all common anime tropes! It almost fell into a love triangle, but to my satisfaction, the writers put the kibosh to that. Shinichi and Murano’s relationship was a good formula. It felt honest and tangible without being overblown (like Sword Art Online.) My only complaint about Murano is that she seemed pretty dense to the circumstances surrounding Shinichi (which shouldn’t have been the case after the public attack).
I really cannot accredit this show for applying any backdrop. The only I can think of was a single flashback between Shinichi and his mother. Parasyte is by no measure a big story, though it does ask some big (and arguably important) questions – it’s not the type of show that really needed much backdrop. Though the flashback bore some significance in the show later on, it was too narrow and isolated for me to justify giving the show credit in “backdrop” section.
The character development in Parasyte was great. Some of it was rigid and corny (power-up, personality change, AND a hair-do change!?), but it otherwise felt well incremented, and rich. Shinichi underwent drastic changes, even forgoing the power-up, and faced his circumstances with very real qualities. Sometimes with fear, and apprehension. Others with anger and indignation. And yet others with resolve. Even Migi had interesting dynamics that I won’t bother to spoil. But much like Tamura, their intellect – moreso than their personality – drove changes. Great writing indeed!
While the ending of the story felt as though to too have too much excessive noise, the show definitely earned a full score in the “catharsis” sub-section of my review. Virtually every relevant character seemed to take something from the events that happened in the show. Heavy? Sure. And maybe a little drastic (such as Migi). But well integrated nonetheless.
Overall: 8/10 – Overall, I think Parasyte is a fantastic show. I would be thoroughly surprised if I chance upon a 2014 – 2015 anime title that I enjoy more, and doubly surprised if I find one better made. Even with a premise that is arguably lame, and with a story that is very narrow in scope; the show was created so smartly in its execution, that I think there’s a little something in it for everyone. Its got decent action, lots of gore, spot doses of suspense/creepiness, and even a smartly written love story (rather than your otaku fap material).
Parasyte was a solid viewing experience that I would recommend to just about any anime fan; enough spectacle for the casuals, and intelligent and well-enough made for the critics. Enjoy!
And now some excused scorings (thanks to Roriconfan for the template).
ART SECTION: 10/10
General Artwork 2/2 (great)
Character Figures 2/2 (well drawn)
Backgrounds 2/2 (well done)
Animation 2/2 (crisp)
Visual Effects 2/2 (gory/creepy)
SOUND SECTION: 9/10
Voice Acting 3/3 (outstanding)
Music Themes 3/4 (great OT, good BGM)
Sound Effects 3/3 (great)
STORY SECTION: 6/10
Premise 1/2 (basic)
Pacing 1/2 (slowish)
Complexity 2/2 (heavy on themes)
Plausibility 1/2 (some)
Conclusion 1/2 (rushed, but ok)
CHARACTER SECTION: 8/10
Presence 2/2 (strong)
Personality 2/2 (interesting and dynamic)
Backdrop 0/2 (mostly weak)
Development 2/2 (strong)
Catharsis 2/2 (overblown, but solid)
VALUE SECTION: 7/10
Historical Value 1/3 (under the radar)
Rewatchability 2/3 (slow, but well done)
Memorability 4/4 (unique and well enough made to the point of forever remembering it)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 7/10
Art 1/1 (great)
Sound 2/2 (solid)
Story 1/3 (basic premise, but well done)
Characters 3/4 (small cast, but great)
I think that this anime show is way overrated and worse than Tokyo Ghoul