Unlike what a lot of popular opinions might state, it’s safe to believe that we are a legion of completely different beings. Unique in mentality, emotional structure, and often argued, purpose. Knowing this… Do you ever just, sit and wonder why we are here? What is our purpose? What does it even mean to be a human? Is it your bones, your skin and body? Or is it your soul, intelligence, and compassion?
If you were to lose your body, would you still be human?
There has been an amazing story written in the purpose of asking these questions, readers. That story… is Kiseijuu.
One of the main purposes of Science Fiction is to mask the author’s true objectives and purposes for writing their story, using interesting psychological concepts and distortions of reality. Science Fiction can range from a number of different ideas, and has the most diverse body of stories ever, including vastly different things like Star Wars, Steins;Gate, Gintama, Terminator, and even George Orwell’s classic, Animal Farm.
In Kiseijuu, or Parasyte –the maxim’s- case, the subject of the madness is an alien invasion, where worm-esque body snatching monstrosities hiding away within tiny little orbs rain from the skies. They’re ordered to destroy humanity by taking over the brain of a random host and eating as many people as possible.
As usual, this kind of happening induces mass concern as the “mincemeat murders” start piling up on one another, and the issue of the invading “Parasites” gradually becomes something that will change one young man, Shinichi Izumi, for the rest of his life.
Have you ever asked yourself if there was a difference between a human killing and eating a cow, and a lion killing and eating a human? If, because we can think, build, and thrive on the environment by destroying it, does that mean we’re the monsters ourselves?
Do we deserve to be here? Do we seriously, truly, understand those species we murder for our own profit?
Is… pollution actually a worse crime than murder?
This anime asks a big chunk of the questions like this in-between its own lines, whilst reinforcing them by stating others aloud, just like proper Science Fiction should. I won’t be the one to tell you what conclusions the anime and I came up with, because as the viewer, that means it’s your job. But, in short, I would say that this is not a television show. It is a political statement disguised as one. The ideals are so standard, yet incredibly deep and meaningful; I find it hard to believe it comes from the same country that has condom vending machines.
All jokes aside, writing like this is rare. The ability for any story, let alone anime, to foreshadow through symbolism is a quality that seems to have been lost over the years, and Parasyte surprised me by doing just that. So much thought goes into foretelling what will happen with subtle visual and textual hints, without entirely giving it away. It’s a rarity that’s truly refreshing to see amongst the ocean of generic anime every season.
There remains, however, one major problem many will have with the story, and that is its conclusion. (Or lack thereof) Many of the lingering questions one will have after viewing Parasyte will remain unanswered. While many of these questions speak for themselves, the rest of them remain uncloaked.
It’s that very fact that enforced this statement; Stories don’t always need an answer. Sometimes, its impact is left imprinted in the viewer’s heart and mind specifically when they don’t figure out what happened canonically. When this is done, one is left to interpret what happened themselves.
We’ve become so engulfed in knowing the answers right away with the media we have to use at our leisure; we forgot what stories were originally created for. A long time ago, stories were written to stretch the imagination and teach a moral, instead of just to entertain. They always encouraged the readers to “make up your own continuation.”
Parasyte reminded me of that, as it was the type of story that was written to provoke heavy thinking and to teach something to its audience. That is what makes the series a true gem.
Characters are often the most difficult portion of the story to write. Parasyte takes on the difficult task of being dedicated to developing its two main characters throughout its entirety, as development and realization is a heavily central theme. Shinichi, our main lead, is a cautious and quiet young man in his teens. On the fateful night that he is assaulted by a symbiotic larva, his life changes forever. With quick thinking, he stops it from reaching his brain and forces it to mature within his right arm. He doesn’t know why this strange bundle of sentient muscle, (later named Migi) has been ordered to destroy humanity, or who even created it. All he knows now is that he and his now talking, shape-shifting hand must co-exist.
The course of their interaction really shows that two beings with different outlooks and points of view can still influence each other, grow a bond and live in harmony, even if they don’t entirely understand one another. In a way, Shinichi and Migi’s relationship is not too different from that between two humans.
Both of them change a lot over the course of Parasyte, and they became two of my favorite characters because of how well written they were.
The direction this anime takes makes sure to have their personalities alter over time, which is comparative to scenes in fantasies where someone who is from one location is talking to a naïve inhabitant of another.
With Shinichi specifically, it starts slowly when over the course of a year, he begins to turn into an emotionless statue. First he stops smiling, and his eyes lack expression. Later he doesn’t even acknowledge tragedy, and can’t cry. As his father puts it, “You’ve become as hard as steel.” This gradual characterization is defining to him, and its part of what makes Parasyte original.
It’s not only the two main characters that develop either. Tamura Ryouko, one of the main antagonists, is a teacher who works at Shinichi’s highschool. At the beginning of the series, she is taken over by a Parasyte. Tamura goes through a development that changed the course of the series forever, and she remains to be not only one of the best written female characters, but one of the best written non-human characters in anime.
Despite these pluses, many of the other characters may appear ‘flat,’ and their only purpose seems to have been reminding the viewer that “Shinichi’s changing,” especially the love interest of the series, Satomi Murano. You can tell she deeply cares for Shinichi, and continues to try her best at making him talk and confess as to why he’s so different from his usual self. Though she tries and tries constantly, and because of this, her persistence comes off as shallow, and one might ask themselves why she’s so uncooperative. (Most people would probably just want her to shut the fuck up) However, that actually makes her seem a lot more realistic. In reality, a personality change wouldn’t go unnoticed by those around you, (especially your girlfriend) and actual people poke and pry and hound one another when they notice something is wrong. That’s just human nature, and while it doesn’t make her complex, it adds a sense of realism to the romance between her and Shinichi.
When something has inhuman characters that seem more like real people than in other series, (yes real people are annoying) it’s impossible not to give it credit. The cast is downright great, really fleshed out, and amazingly developed. Albeit while a few characters in the background lacked the emphasis ones in the foreground got, is it really possible, without wasting valuable time, to do an entire cast filled with three-dimensional people?
Apparently yes, it is. Madhouse doesn’t usually disappoint, but type of animation they’ve demonstrated in the past doesn’t quite apply itself this time. Granted, for what its worth, its really good. Very good, but Parasyte will occasionally resort to CGI rendered crowds of people and vehicles, and while that’s pretty much commonplace, I expect more from the infamous gods of animation over at MH. What they did get right though was human facial proportions. As we know, anime is famous for the exact opposite of this. But the character’s eyes were actually perfectly shaped and sized, as well as their noses, oddly enough.
Not only that, it really shines during action sequences. The fluidity during these portions is downright amazing, and the visuals are highlighted with heavily detailed sparks radiating from the swiping blades and morphing viscera. If you zoom in onto the muscle like structure of a Parasyte, you can see sparkling flecks in the pink of the meat, which is ludicrously professional. The background of nearly every scene is also so well done it looks like a painting. With how abstract the design of the monsters are, Picasso would be proud.
There are few soundtracks I can listen to all the way through and have no grievances. With this one, there are some pieces I like a bit more than the rest, (Hypnotik, I AM, and Galaxy) but the use of dubstep was highly appreciated. It gave Parasyte a fresh and somewhat urgent feeling, something an adaption that has source material from the nineties surely needed. Others may dislike it, but it all comes down to taste.
The opening, despite its Engrish vocals, was climactic and sums up basically the premise behind the anime in the lyrics alone. It was good to see it not get replaced halfway through, and the ending was a nice breather from the heavy tone of the show.
Nothing is perfect. Don’t be fooled by that 10 out of 10 score above, you can clearly see below that its only a definite 9.5. This story has flaws, but I chose to round up my score because I believe that even 10’s can have a few mistakes, and the best example of a 10 with mistakes is Parasyte. It knows what kind of series it is, stays consistent, and has brilliant writing.
Knowing this, Parasyte is completely subjective. It is something that splits its viewership; it appeals to people who think deeply about the themes it presents; and not so much to those who take it at face value. To appreciate it to its fullest, in most cases, a specific mindset is essential. Yeah, some might say it’s overrated. Some might say it’s all over the place, while in reality, its just tackling very many different subjects. But if you happen to be looking for something to test you like this, then Kiseijuu… is for you.