The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Parasyte -the maxim-

Title: Parasyte –the maxim- aka Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu
Genre: Drama/Horror/Action
Company: Madhouse Studios
Format: 24 episodes
Date: 08 Oct 2014 – 25 Mar 2015

Synopsis: Izumi Shinichi is a normal 17-year-old boy living with his parents in Tokyo. One day, a bunch of worm-like aliens, named parasytes, invade earth and take over people’s brains by entering their noses or ears. An alien attempts to take over Shinichi’s brain, but fails and is forced to burrow inside and take over his right arm. As a result, this alien named Migi and Shinichi form a symbiotic relationship in which both their thought processes are completely intact. As parasytes begin to feed on human beings, Shinichi and Migi are caught in the crossfire between humans who want to kill off parasytes, and the parasytes who see their unique existence as a threat that must eliminated.

The Highlights
Body Horror: Grotesque imagery, but not that scary.
Existentialism: A fascinating exploration of humanity that does not shy away from giving answers.
Soundtrack: Filled with dubstep, but oddly fitting to the series.

Body horror is a classic science fiction concept with none being more famous for it than Alien. Deformation and destruction of the human body is disturbing and can quickly unsettle the stomachs of more squeamish individuals. However, while a lot can be said about the horrifying nature of parasites invading our bodies and taking over our brains, Parasyte is ultimately much less about body horror than it is something more existential. In a way, it is more similar to the recent Prometheus with its musings over the origins of humanity than any of the horror thrillers of the Alien tetralogy. In the case of Parasyte, the main questions it raises are about the inherent qualities that make us human beings and our roles on the planet we live on.

Undoubtedly, the heart of the show can be boiled down to the symbiotic relationship between the main protagonist Shinichi and his parasyte infested hand Migi. Where understanding between two human beings is already complicated, it is much more so for different intelligent life forms inhabiting the same body. Not only must Shinichi and Migi constantly contend with threats to their existence, they are also engaged in a tug of war between the basic tenets of human life and the cold, hyper-logical thought processes of the parasytes who care for nothing more than themselves. Their difficulty to communicate properly with each other produces many endearing and comical moments, but it also provides a compelling and raw exploration of our own humanity, both the good and the bad.

The great thing about Parasyte is that it does not shy away from trying to answer some of the bigger questions. There are simply too many creators in anime that rather leave things ambiguous than take an actual viewpoint. Parasyte actually lays its themes bare for all to see and confidently proclaims its message. While this may risk disagreement, it is highly refreshing to see a story string together lucid and thoughtful ideas that leave little room for interpretation. Additionally, it does so without feeling overly preachy or over simplifying matters for some sort of agenda.

It of course helps that every episode is extremely gripping with never a tedious moment to be found. Madhouse does an excellent job of modernizing Iwaaki Hitoshi’s old manga with less retro designs and an oddly fitting dubstep filled soundtrack that matches the mood of every scene extremely well. However, some of this comes at a cost, as the anime lacks impact when it comes to horror. Although the show can be very tense, the parasytes rarely look freaky enough to instill fear into our hearts quite like the characters on screen. For those who become easily nauseated, this may actually be a positive, as the show is surprisingly approachable despite the gratuitous amount of violence displayed throughout. I doubt Parasyte will manage to give too many people actual nightmares.

Over time, the ideas in Parasyte have proven influential on many creators’ works, including Togashi Yoshihiro’s Hunter x Hunter manga, and it is easy to see the reason why. The story is deeply fascinating on many levels, and provides tons of rich character development to chew on. About the only thing the show could have done significantly better is pace itself towards the finish line as a few too many things happen in quick succession. Nonetheless, any lover of good science fiction should not miss out on Parasyte; it is definitely a title worth remembering.

The Rating: 8

Reviewed by: Reckoner

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