A couple of weekends ago, I was flipping through all of my queues of shows I’d bookmarked but yet to watch in search of something to occupy my days off. I settled on Parasyte -the maxim-.
Agent Aaron is an avid fan of the manga, although I’d never even heard of Parasyte until the show came out. It generally falls into the science fiction/horror category, and as you may know I am NOT a fan of the horror genre in any way shape or form (oh, you didn’t know? Now you do) so I was more than a little wary about picking it up but decided it was worth a shot. I ended up watching the whole series, which I’ll tell you about (with only mild spoilers) along with my own two cents.
The premise of Parasyte is that one day, these small parasitic slug-looking creatures appear and start crawling into people’s heads through their ears, noses or other orifices in the head. These Parasites, as they’re aptly called, then proceed to essentially kill the host by destroying the brain and take over the body. The body continues to live with the Parasite consciousness, looking like an average human to anyone who doesn’t know better, although the body does gain some traits from the parasite like the ability to shapeshift and turn the inhabited body part into a weapon. This is actually probably the most difficult aspect of the series to explain, come to think of it.
The story follows Shinichi Izumi, an average high-school boy who lives in his average home with his average parents and goes to an average high school. One day, Shinichi is listening to music with his earbuds in and out of seemingly nowhere, a Parasite appears and tries to jump in his ear! But, it fails, not having seen the earbud, and instead it bounces off and burrows into his hand, much to Shinichi’s utter horror. The Parasite is completely able to control Shinichi’s hand, and is able to talk to him too! Migi, the Parasite, and Shinichi form a very tenuous relationship as they together try to understand what the goal of the Parasite race is and battle enemy Parasites that are driven to destroy and eat humans.
As a non-horror fan, the story got a little gross at times but it was never really overly scary to me. There were some elements of the story that were very hard to predict, while others were kind of standard for the genre (someone says they’re leaving on a trip and will be fine? Do we think we’re ever going to see them again, really?) Anime is a great forum for this kind of story, I think, because I never expect it to conform to reality anyway. Maybe that makes it less scary, I dunno.
For me, the story was interesting enough but this series really fell down for me every time it tried to dig into philosophy. Shinichi and Migi spend a good deal of the series contemplating and waxing poetic about how humans are different from animals and how humanity separates people from animals and also puts parasites in a league of their own. I just don’t necessarily find the philosophy compelling, since humans practice animal husbandry pretty extensively which is not so different from how parasites are driven to eat humans, and humans DO kill other humans. Maybe the philosophy works better in the manga or something. It also seemed like a bit of an afterthought at times, but just wasn’t necessary for me. We KNOW that parasites are creepy and gross. Some things are better left unstated or to subtext, in my opinion, and this is one of those things.
The series continued to throw new twists and turns and ramp things up each episode, which I really enjoyed. I can’t really say there were many dull moments in the series and did enjoy the thrill of Shinichi and Migi trying to navigate new situations. The character development was also great not only for Shinichi and Migi (who slowly moves from being Shinichi’s hand that kind of talks to really being a major character) but also for the side characters and the people and other parasites that meet and interact with Shinichi tended to change and evolve. It didn’t feel stale.
My husband and I disagree on how to rate this series. For him, he felt like he wanted to like it more than he actually did like it. For me, I felt that I liked it more than I actually should have. It’s a confusing conundrum, but overall I did enjoy the story and thought it was a fun ride, despite a few aspects that I could do without. I would recommend it if you’re looking for something entertaining and don’t mind the weird aspects of it.