• Genre: Horror, science fiction, action, drama
  • Episodes: 24
  • Studio: Madhouse


Something has gone wrong. We can’t quite figure out what it is just yet but something is off. People are getting viciously murdered left and right. A new horribly mutilated body is found at least once a week. You say that’s considerably less frequent than usual. Well, wait, that’s not all. People are acting strange. Like really even tempered and not that emotional. You know, calm and professional. Wait hear me out. Yakuza groups are getting wiped out. I guess that’s still pretty normal. Um.. Some people don’t have skulls, I mean that’s kinda weird. And their heads can unfurl into meat whips with blades at the end. Technically it’s no more dangerous than some average weirdo with a gun but it’s freakier, right? Ok fine so nothing’s changed really…

I won’t lie, I watched Parasyte specifically (and only) to have another title to add to my countdown to Halloween posts. I actually read the Parasyte manga years ago and although I found it interesting enough, I didn’t feel the need to watch the anime as well. I mean I already knew the story. At least I thought I did. Turns out I had forgotten a few things.

First IMPORTANT WARNING: Parasyte has a few Sad Dog Scenes. Don’t watch it if you don’t like Sad Dog Scenes. I will not talk about them in this review, so your safe! I might spoil the show though…priorities!

Parasyte mondays.jpg
Mondays, am I right!

One of the things I did remember quite vividly about the Parasyte manga is that it was tense. To the point that I needed to take reading breaks and started suspiciously eying my closet in case of monsters. I swear I thought I heard a noise coming from there. I was ready to move! For some reason, despite it being considerably more graphic, the anime didn’t fill me with the same anxiety and I blame a lot of that on the production.

Blame isn’t the right word. Madhouse makes a good anime (duh)! It,s just that there are some things that got lost in adaptation. For one, the colours in the anime are quite pretty. Bright blue skies, lush green nature and crisp clean school uniforms. It’s considerably less foreboding than the drab black and white panels of the manga. It really gives you a sense of space. It’s a good thing technically but it also takes away that claustrophobia that serves to heighten the unease of the story.

Also, Migi’s voice is really endearing. It’s already kind of cutesy in design but when you add in that sweetie pie voice, it makes it very difficult to take as a threat (cough Kyubey, cough). This is neither here nor there but have you guys seen the voice acting cast of Parasyte? That’s one attractive ensemble. This is probably the first time I’ve wished an anime was I’ve action instead. Rwar.

rawr indeed!

So, where was I? Oh yeah attractive voice actors. No wait that wasn’t it… That’s right…Body horror. All things considered, Parasyte is a fairly classic Sci Fi horror story. It’s rather similar to The Invasion of the Body Snatchers but adds in quite a bit of gore and body horror. The premise of having monsters that can take over human bodies and blend in with the population is a classic for a reason. It’s one step above the invisible monster. From a practical standpoint, it avoids you having to design lots of monsters which can often end up looking more silly than threatening. Fro a narrative approach, it gives you a nice constant tension of having a threat lurk behind every face.

You can probably imagine where the story goes. One lone hero knows what’s happening and needs to fight against the invading hordes. Eventually the government gets involved. Turns out Man was the real Monster all along. Have you notices that that’s the thesis of most horror movies. I mean it’s not wrong. It’s just that the message gets muddled when you spend 20 episodes establishing one side as pure unmitigated nightmare fuel, with just about no redeeming qualities (I mean they talk about physically experimenting on their babies, how much more moustache twirling does it get) and then expect the audience to suddenly empathize with them.

And then it turns into a high school philosophy class and I hurt my eyes rolling them. This is just the last episodes mind you. I’m saying it sort of looses it at the end. Horror shows do that a lot. 

Parasyte head split
no wait, he makes an excellent ethics point

The way I see it, Parasyte is a mix of three different genres that have different plot structure and pacing requirements. It goes from slow burn suspense thriller, as Shinichi tries to tell friend from foe, to high octane action once he’s found the foes, pretty well. The scenes mirroring school massacres were troubling enough to have me holding my breath throughout entire episodes. Not sure how many brain cells I have left now.

However the rest of the story is made up of character driven drama (with some light harem elements) and this, the show simply does not know how to handle. The narrative becomes clumsy, often resorting to melodrama or heavy handed preaching. Character development is rushed, by necessity up to a certain point, but it does render a lot of the tragedy less meaningful. Satomi is such an obvious expositional plot device and I stopped caring about her welfare within a few episodes. That’s a problem since she’s used as the main source of tension for a lot of the story. In fact all her appearances meant some type of melodramatic slow down in the action. She really knows how to put a damper on things

Because the narrative doesn’t have the time to really introduce us to anyone aside from Shinichi and Migi, they are the only two you end up caring about and it somehow seems pretty obvious that neither is ever in any real danger. By contrast the heaps of innocent bystanders and rarely seen supporting characters that end up as corpses, just seem inconsequential.

Parasyte supporting
these two are very important to the plot, I don’t remember the boy’s name

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that there’s nothing of interest in this series. It’s just that for my money I would have either made it two seasons and let the characters properly grow on the audience or taken all the drama out and kept a much tighter focus on the action and blood. For some reason, the narrative, with it’s somewhat clumsy dialogue, kept reminding me of Red Data Girl.

Full disclaimer, I watched the entire series in about 3 days. That’s a pretty intense binge and I think I may have done the show a disservice. Not letting any of the events properly settle in my mind before moving onto the next is undoubtedly part of the reason I failed to form much attachment to any of the characters. Still I stand by my assertion. Parasyte is a much better horror than drama. It’s a pretty annoying morality tale but a decent coming of age story. Ultimately, it’s a show about taking the good in with bad so I guess it’s fitting.

Favorite character: Yuko

What this anime taught me: If you care about your message, don’t make your messengers completely unlikable

Part of me says I should stop drinking like this, the other part says: Don’t listen to her, she’s drunk!

Suggested drink: Parasites-Be-Gone (not alcoholic but you could add some vodka..)

  • Every time there’s a murder – stretch, it’s good for you
  • Every time Migi acts on his own – take a sip
  • Every time Shinichi washes Migi in cold water – take a sip
  • Every time Migi goes to sleep – take a sip
  • Every time someone asks Shinichi who or what he is – take a sip
    • if it’s Satomi – roll your eyes
  • Every time Shinichi gets beat up – get a snack
  • Every time Shinichi worries about his humanity – take a sip
  • Every time there’s an eye close up – take a sip
Migi and Shinichi
am I the only one that really prefers Shinichi with his glasses?

33 thoughts

  1. I don’t even remember the dog scenes. My brains must be awesome at blocking them out. I did enjoy this anime but I can’t remember why and that probably speaks for itself a bit.

  2. “Every time Migi acts on his own – take a sip”

    I’m no lightweight, but I’m not sure I’d make it two episodes with that rule!

    “Full disclaimer, I watched the entire series in about 3 days. That’s a pretty intense binge and I think I may have done the show a disservice. ”

    That’s impressive!

    The show had a lot of really good ideas; many lively/fascinating/terrifying moments; and some interesting themes. I would have liked to have seen more even execution, but (and I know — this is shocking) I will enjoyed it!

    Though I can’t argue with any of your criticisms!

    1. Sometimes when i critique something people assume I didn’t like. I did, just think a few things could have been improved to my taste…

      1. I really should learn to not make assumptions. Okay, that’s wrong; I know better than to make assumptions! I should be more disciplined and not actually make them!

        Time to give myself r a stern talking to, I guess!

        You’ve brought up a really useful distinction, though. Sometimes a show is so darned likeable that its lesser elements just don’t matter. Kinda like HOTD for me…

          1. It has some of the most realistic and dramatic portrayals of society’s collapse after a zombie outbreak. It also has some of the most ridiculous fan service every produced. To the extent where it really detracts from the show’s effectiveness!

            But I like the characters, and the realistic parts are really well done, so I get through it. And not all of the fanservice is terrible!

            It’s also one of those shows whose dub I like every bit as well as the sub. The cast did a great job in both!

  3. I watched Parasyte as it aired. I quite liked it at the time, but I barely remember anything these days. I remember being ambiguous about the ending, but I don’t remember many details any more. I liked Migi’s voice acting a lot; I remember going back to check on something at some point and realised that Migi’s voice has developed more and more emotions, something I didn’t realise while watching (must have been in barely noticable increments; either that, or I was just dense – if so, that’s quite impressive).

    I agree, the glasses should have stayed.

    I didn’t remember Kana at all; it took me a while to remember Yuuko. The one stand-out character that I still remembered apart from our protag-duo is Tamura Reiko. I found her arc to be one of the most interesting things about the show (though I wasn’t too hot about the finale; it made sense, I didn’t hate it, but i hoped for something less sentimental and of more world-builing interest).

    Was fun while it lasted, left little lasting impression.

    Parasyte is one of the few shows I always referred to with its English name. I tend towards Japanese titles usually, but not here. (There are others. I still doubt Paranoia Agent even has a Japanese title; that has to be some attempt to re-write anime history, no?)

    Also, a drink called “Parasites-Be-Gone” sounds like it should contain pangalactic-gargle-blaster levels of alcohol.

  4. I enjoyed Parasyte but you aren’t wrong in that the tone seems to change wildly from part to part and that ending is all kinds of cheesy drama that just doesn’t stick real well. Basically this anime has some very good parts to it and some good ideas, but the overall execution as a whole series is a little lacking. I still enjoy watching it though.

    1. I got a bit bored. I would have liked it a lot more if I didn’t already know everything that was going to happen

      1. I can understand that having this year started watching anime for the first time having already read the source material (previously I never read manga or light novels with the exception of the handful I tracked down after watching the anime so it is a new experience having read the source before the anime comes out). Part of me sometimes wishes I could watch these anime fresh without knowing where they are going and watch it without internally comparing it to my impressions of the story from reading it.

    1. Your best parts are rather murdery…I don’t disagree..
      I actually really liked the paint thinner scene!

      1. I earnestly liked the mom arc: the coming of age narrative was my emotional connection to the show, and i thought this was its high point. On the other hand, Kana dying meant we wouldn’t see her again, so there was much rejoicing!

        Oh, that’s the start of the school massacre, right? Man, was that fun… Although they really should’ve offed the philo teachers right then & there!

        1. Mean!!! I liked Kana.
          Yes it is the start of the massacre. I really liked how Yuko got her stuff together and exposed one despite being absolutely terrified!!! I was all You Go Girl!
          Smart girls are best girls!

          1. “Mean!!! I liked Kana.”

            OK OK, I can’t remember details as I watched it when it aired, but I think I did like her too! Mostly for one hilarious lurid dream…. I believe I simply disliked how the story used her — I’d have to rewatch Parasyte to make certain, but ain’t nobody got time for that!

            “Smart girls are best girls!”

            Yeah yeah, stop it with the projecting.




            (Ur rite tho)

  5. I did watch a couple of episodes of this show, but for some reason I couldn’t really get into it so I ended up dropping it. (Which is pretty rare for me, as I hardly ever drop shows…(cough Angels of death..cough). Who knows though…maybe one day I will get back to it 😊

    1. Personaly I wouldn’t go out of my ay for this one. It stays pretty even throughout so if the begining didn’t grab you, there’s not much potential for it to get better…

      1. Well…definitely won’t be getting to this anytime soon. I started yesterday with From the New World. And after having read Karandi’s post on Natsume (that one truly struck a chord in me, not even kidding here)that one has really become a must watch.

        1. Really…now… Karandi and I have collectively written probably at leas 50 posts on Natsume and you just decided to watch it…now…

          1. Haha…no…it has always been on my list. And I even struck a pact with you both for doing a watch a long with you if you remember. But…well…just read my comment over on Karandi’s blog. I think when you read that, you will understand what just happened to me, and why this one has moved up now…today 😊 Sorry…it’s a bit of a sad and melancholy comment there…but well…it’s been one of those days I guess😅
            But don’t think that this show hasn’t been on my list…I know you both loved this show…but that single post just…well…struck a chord😢
            And…I didn’t even need a D-mail this time😉

  6. Few years back when I watched the show episodically I really enjoyed it. That said I was 16 or 17 at the time and liked anything with a shred of violence. The directing and technical detail are outstanding like you said, but it does follow a pretty predictable path unfortunately. Might have to do a rewatch and write a review of my own. And yes. Four eyed Shinichi is best Shinichi 🤓

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