I can’t remember when I heard about Parasyte, it was either early last year or the year before, but I do remember it was news about both the anime and the two live action films, and right out of the gate I knew it was something of serious interest to me. Toonami acquired he series and began airing it last year. I started watching, but stopped around episode seven or eight, not because I lost interest. I just decided to wait for the eventual DVD so I could see it in pristine HD and without commercials. Commercials really do kill a series for me at certain times.
What we’ve got here in Parasyte is an interesting combination of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1956/1978), The Thing (1982), Slither (2006) and at the end of the first 12 episodes, which is what you get in this first collection, a burgeoning They Live (1988) vibe.
Where these parasites come from is still a mystery in this first collection. There’s only a single scene showing a “spore” falling out of the sky (A hint they’re aliens? Maybe), landing on someone’s property and out bursts this weird, little worm. The objective of this worm is to find a human being, enter its body, travel to the brain and take over the body. Once fully mature and merged with the human these creatures have the ability to shape-shift. Not so much the entire body, but everything from the neck up since that’s the parasite’s home base. Which means they can change their appearances totally within the confines of the body’s gender. They are as intelligent as any human, except that lack all emotion and empathy, and their purpose appears to simply exist and eat. What do they feed on? Human meat. It’s theorized by them that they’re here to replace humans since we’ve done such a lousy job as of late taking care of Planet Earth. But like humans when pressed these creatures have no clue where they came from, or why they exist.
Scientists in the latter part of these episodes explain their shape shifting away as being a form of sentient muscle, which allows them to also form bladed weapons out of the ends of their tentacles. And when they are in feeding or combat mode it’s the head that shape-shifts only, segmenting itself and creating tendrils with lethal blades that can literally slash a human in half. The only way to kill one is to cut off their heads (shades of Highlander there) or destroy their hearts for a massive loss of blood is too much for them to heal.
They can, however, jump hosts if their body is critically injured, all they need is another human being within range that can lop the head off of and replace with their own, kind of a reverse of the head-borrowing alien in The Borrower (1991).
The series focuses on teenager, Shinichi Izumi, who’s almost unique among these creatures, his parasite failed to reach his brain and take him over. It invaded his nose one night while he was sleeping listening to his music through his ear buds, but he sneezed it out. When he awoke and saw what was trying to get inside him he freaked, but the worm attacked his arm, burrowed into the skin and tried to get to his brain that way. Shinichi tied the cord from his blinds around his arm preventing it from getting any further. The creature matured, however, and when that happens whatever appendage or body part it’s in becomes totally assimilated. So Shinichi’s hand is now all parasite. This means it can be shape-shifted into anything the parasite wants it to look like. This now sentient muscle being grows eyes and a mouth and starts to learn language and general Earthen knowledge by reading any and all books in Shinichi’s room and anything it can locate through the Internet on his laptop. These two are now more symbiotic than parasitic.
Once they begin interacting with one another, Shinichi names it Migi, for he has to call it something. Apparently, Migi means “right” in Japanese and it’s his right hand that has been assimilated. Makes sense. Migi can sense the presence of others of his own kind and what he and Shinichi learn is fully assimilated parasites don’t like what Migi and Shinichi have become, seeing them as a failed merger. But their relationship becomes problematic in that Shinichi being an organism ruled by emotional states has to understand the demands of one that has no emotional state and vice versa. Think Spock from Star Trek and you’ll understand what it’s like reasoning with one of these things. They view humans as nothing more than a vast food supply and there are roughly a thousand of them all over the world.
Outside of his parents Shinichi has two other people important to him and they’re both girls: Satomi and Yuko. The former is a potential love interest while the latter is more a long time friend, more like a sister. There’s one other girl he meets later on, Kana, who takes a shine to him, but it’s not totally reciprocated. She, unfortunately, doesn’t make it out of this collection alive. She’s telepathic, but she had issues. She was part of this gang who liked to rob and beat other kids. She also seemed to turn all stalker-ish. Maybe more obsessed would be the better term, but she eventually dies at the hand of a parasite.
That’s one of four crucial events that highlight these 12 episodes. The first one is the death of his mother and her attempted murder of him. With all these strange killings happening he persuades his parents to go away for a while. On that vacation a parasite is terminally injured in a car accident and it stumbles upon Shinichi’s parents as it searches for another human to take over. They just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. His mother returns home and while shocked to find out what’s happened to her, she manages to impale Shinichi’s heart with one her tentacles. Which leads to crucial even #2. If Shinichi dies so does Migi, so Migi attempts to save his life by clogging the hole in his heart and mending it. This works but cells from the parasite have now infiltrated his body; an unintended consequence. As we get nearer to episode #12 we slowly notice changes within Shinichi. He now has superhuman agility and strength, but his personality it becoming more like Migi—logical and cold.
The next crucial event, #3, is a massacre at his school by a parasite that was sent to watch over him by this female school teacher parasite. Some of the parasites are more curious about he and Migi than hostile, but this new student goes berserk after Yuko stupidly confronts him and as he tried to eat her she threw a bottle of paint thinner at him. I guess paint thinner is toxic to them, it burns the thing’s skin and having accidentally ingested it, the parasite goes insane and wanders the school killing anyone it encounters. If you think about, I guess, paint thinner is everyone’s kryptonite. Burning skin not withstanding any human who ingests it would be poisoned.
I have to say two of the girls in this series: Yuko and Kana, to put it bluntly, aren’t all that wise. Yuko learns of these parasites and suspects the aforementioned kid of being one of them, so what does she do? She confronts him, tells him she knows and that he should just leave the school. You don’t tip your hand to potentially lethal organisms and be surprised when they ask, “have you told anyone else about this?” and then try to eat you. Kana’s death (crucial event #4) isn’t quite along such stupid lines, but her telepathy and her obsession with Shinichi basically got her iced. Thankfully, not eaten, just killed.
These 12 episodes close out with Shinichi battling between cold logic and emotions, concerned why he can’t cry, as the parasites are starting to band together. One of them is running for some kind of political position in the community. Migi reasons they are trying to secure a safe haven where they can feed without consequences. They are learning every time they feed someone goes missing and those missing are actually missed by others, which could bring undue attention to them.
One of these parasites conducts an experiment. He walks into a Yakuza stronghold and wipes everyone out. His objective was to find out how they would do up against a group of heavily armed humans. He was struck three times. He even kept count, but none were life-threatening blows. This begs the question, are these things mobilizing for some kind of massive assault upon mankind? We won’t know for sure until the next collection is released.
On April 5th Section 23 (a division of Sentai Filmworks) releases these first 12 episodes here in the U.S. for the first time on separate DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray/DVD Limited Collector’s Editions!
Extras included . . .
- Clean Opening Animation
- Clean Closing Animation
- Sentai Filmworks trailers
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Episodes are spread out over two discs, with the extras being on disc #2. For those not familiar with clean opening/closing animation. This is simply the opening and closing credits without the text for those who just want to enjoy the animation and the music.
This horror anime is gory, grim (I’m talking Lovecraftian grim), very well animated and sucked me in from the start. There’s even an episode titled, “What Mad Universe,” which perfectly encapsulate everything H.P. Lovecraft ever wrote. And you know me, I’m all about the Lovecraft where ever I find it.
No word yet if Sentai will be getting the two live action movie adaptations.