Things have returned to normal for Shinichi. Changed after his experience with Gotou, Migi retreats into his own mind to ponder his very existence. Living a normal life only lasts so long until the final loose thread comes into play.
I suppose I should have expected our murderer to come back into the spotlight. From the start, Parasyte was always a show about exploring the human condition when faced with an existential and mortal threat like the Parasytes. Shinichi has long struggled for a meaning to human existence and how it exceeds the Parasyte’s brutality. After the police raid, it’d be easy for the show to simply write off humans as equally destructive. It’s long been mused at how humans can be fare more brutal and vile than anything possible in nature. It is partially our intelligence and our sentience that allows us to commit acts such as these. However, this has always been one side of the same coin as empathy and altruism.
In saving Satomi, Shinichi reaffirms that human worth comes from our ability to care for others. Uragami’s inhumanity is highlighted through his inability to connect to others, and eventually dehumanizing them as a murderer. Migi confirms as much himself in the most hilarious dream sequence to date. Migi did a lot to engender himself over the course of this show, and this last act was the icing on the cake. In the original manga, he is portrayed a bit lankier and wrong looking, but here he’s just this goofy facsimile of a person with these cute tiny hands. More importantly, he makes the save that Shinichi’s human strength could not accomplish alone. He saved Shinichi from further heartbreak because he too is a being with the time to care about someone, namely his friend Shinichi. And it is after this message that the most inappropriate ending of all time finally fits as we reach our finale. It’s kinda weird to think of them planning this for that long, but otherwise it’s kinda hard to understand why they would have such an uplifting pastel ending in such a crushingly dark show as Parasyte. Finally, it’s the right time.
Gee’s Final Thoughts
Between being a 20-year old series and the inconsistent Madhouse stepping up to bat, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Parasyte. As a fan of the original manga, I had long resigned myself to the fact that a story with its unique degree of horror and violence would ever get the adaptation it deserved. Imagine my delight when the Parasyte anime went on to prove itself as one of the best adaptations of the year, doing a fantastic job of adapting the story while retaining the horror elements that had drawn me to it in the first place.
One could argue that it’s only thanks to the success of Parasyte’s thematic descendents, such as Attack on Titan and Tokyo Ghoul, that allowed Parasyte to get an anime in the first place. After all, with grimdark anime quickly becoming a highly popular trend in modern anime, it only made sense to adapt one of the original progenitors of the subgenre. However, those similarities are only skin deep. Yes, Parasyte is a dark and violent anime, its moments of levity few and far between. But Parasyte keenly understands the importance of making the distinction between a truly grim situation and mere power fantasy. Whereas most modern anime are content to “curse” its main character with fantastic superpowers with nonexistent drawbacks, Parasyte does an amazing job of punishing Shinichi for his newfound abilities.
While Migi itself is an undeniably charming character and definitely one of my favorite sidekicks of the year, never once in Parasyte’s run does it attempt to portray Shinichi and Migi’s bizarre symbiosis as a wholly good thing. Shinichi is constantly hounded by the other Parasytes and endures ridiculous levels of suffering throughout Parasyte. He’s a genuinely tragic character who witnesses some truly terrible things. While it could be easy enough to portray Shinichi’s fight against the Parasytes as a revenge-fueled power fantasy, the Parasyte anime never goes in that direction, instead retaining its feel as a dark, but necessary mission.
Overall, I’m quite pleased with Madhouse’s take on Parasyte. It nails all of the important thematic elements while maintaining its tone. Unfortunately some moments had to be cut to ensure it could fit its 24 episode run, but on the whole, they’ve done an exemplary job. Throw in some fantastic presentation and one of my favorite soundtracks of the year, and you have an anime that hit all the right points from start to finish. It never strays too far into the childish power fantasy that so many of its peers fell into, but at the same time, it retains the dark mood that made it such a compelling story to begin with.
Iro’s Final Thoughts
Parasyte was definitely a big surprise, seeing as how it’s based on a 20-year-old horror manga. At first glance I thought it would fall into the same sort of rut as other recently popular DARK and MATURE power fantasy anime like Attack on Titan, but Parasyte explored its tone more deeply than I expected. Shinichi isn’t some sort of steadfast avenger, driven to slaughter every single parasite with his new superpowers; his chief concerns are retaining his own humanity and keeping his loved ones safe. How can he protect them and connect with his fellow man if, in a way, he’s closer to the monsters hunting them? In particular, Shinichi’s shaky truce with Tamura (whose own obsession with humanity makes her a fascinating and intimidating character) highlights this better than even his relationship with Migi, and leads to some great moments both tense and cathartic.
Considering their dwindling reputation in recent years, Madhouse did a an impressive job adapting Parasyte. The parasites stretch and undulate in ways that are inherently unsettling, and by the end of the show we’re somehow both comfortable with Migi’s transformations and creeped out by the bad guys’. Special note should go to their pacing: the show manages to stay engaging throughout 24 episodes, ending nearly every week with a cliffhanger but never in a way that feels exploitative. Everything feels significant, from the occasional moments of levity with Uda to the quiet conversations with Satomi.
Speaking of Satomi, one major way that Parasyte truly shows its age is in its treatment of women. During the show’s middle stretch, it’s nearly impossible to take either Satomi or Kana seriously as they basically fawn over Shinichi. Kana basically lacked any personality other than wanting to shack up with Shinichi, up to and including the moment of her death, which served little purpose other than to affect Shinichi. Couple that with his mother being murdered and the subsequent (albeit short) quest for revenge, and we have a conspicuous blemish on an otherwise strong show. Parasyte probably isn’t about to win any awards for driving the medium forward or anything, but it was a competent story the likes of which I wish were more common. I’m glad I was able to experience it.
Marlin’s Final Thoughts
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Parasyte in the beginning. I have a certain respect for manga from the 1990s, so my initial reaction was positive. The only apprehension was the idea that it was a grimdark story in this age where those stories have become a dime a dozen. Thankfully, Parasyte quickly proved itself to be an incredibly competent show. It uses its heavy themes with the proper respect. In an atmosphere of self insert power fantasy characters, Shinichi’s power was something he could never fully control, and was never anything one could consider enviable. Parasytes mirrored humans closely in their development throughout the show. For every empathetic Parasyte like Tamura, the Gotous abounded. Intelligence paired with the deadly force of Parasyte abilities made for constantly tense scenes and great action shots. Few shows have married that kind of philosophical thought to heart pounding action quite as well as Parasyte.
Despite my praise, Parasyte did not always manage to impress. It suffered early from having strikingly weak female characters. This isn’t new in anime, but Satomi’s constant berating of Shinichi’s behavior coupled with Kana’s willful disobedience in the face of obvious danger made for an annoying combo. As for Shinichi himself, I was always very impressed by the show’s portrayal of him. Starting out, his reactions to his new scenario were very easy to empathize with, and his interactions with Migi provided a very good contrast between human emotion and the cold calculating logic of Migi’s initial Parasyte thoughts. Once he lost his mother, we see the understandable change of someone suffering something akin to PTSD. He finds himself reminded of his dead mother constantly, and his emotional state begins to shut down as the strain of stress bears down upon him. It’s Migi’s increased humanity at this time that helps bring him out of his funk, as well as a revival of his own convictions. It says a lot about this show that my two favorite characters are two Parasites. Migi is a calculated killer who is forced to work with Shinichi. As he starts to understand Shinichi’s point of view, we see him change until it’s hard to tell the difference between his thoughts and that of a normal person. Tamura’s evolution is even more impressive, as she comes to her conclusions through living the human experience. She was always much more intelligent than her contemporaries, but beyond that she comes to understand the way humans think despite only having a short time in this world to experience what humanity is like.
Parasyte has delivered a lot of memorable moments over the past six months. Its competent storytelling and engaging characters are a breath of fresh air in today’s LN clogged. It makes it all the more ironic that this fresh air is over two decades old. If only more stories would take the chance to actually tell a story with their work instead of pander to an audience, maybe anime would be respected as an art form. This winter has brought the good with the bad, but as good as good gets, the terrible stories seem to only get worse. Should we really have to expect that half the shows being produced are garbage? Shouldn’t we expect more from fiction than titillation and power fantasy? As long as the Parasytes of the world exist, I will be happy.