- 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!
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.
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.
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.
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