Parasyte Review

Today, I want to post about one of the best television series I have seen in a very, very long time. Parasyte is the type of anime that can have crossover appeal to those that are interested in science fiction, drama, suspense, and even horror to a degree. If you enjoy well written fiction then Parasyte is an excellent example, and it is only 24, 20 minute episodes, so it is equivalent to watching a 12 episode normal series, and it has a conclusive ending. If you are interested in watching the series, you can officially on by clicking here.
Plot Summary: One night, worm-like parasites that takeover the brains of their human hosts mysteriously descend upon the Earth. When one of these parasites attempts to takeover Shinichi Izumi, it fails to reach the brain and is forced to takeover Shinichi's right hand. With a sentient right hand, which names itself Migi (right-hand in Japanese), Shinichi must coexist with Migi to survive as other man eating parasites try to kill Shinichi due to his brain remaining intact.

Despite the seemingly simple summary, Parasyte -the maxim-, aka Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu, is a thrilling and thought-provoking anime that is a must-watch.

Going into Parasyte, I knew nothing about it other than it was based on an old horror manga about man eating parasites, so I expected another pointless censored-gore-fest like Tokyo Ghoul (anime, not manga). After episode four, I knew it that was far from the case...

The Good: Edge-of-your-seat suspense, Dissects what it means to be human, Avoids tropes and cliches, Emotionally riveting, Thematic depth, Deep character development, Constantly high quality animation, Never holds back on gore, Mature romance, Shocking plot twists, Superb performances, Shinichi and Migi's cooperative partnership, Intense score, Terrifying at times, Thought-provoking,

The Bad:

Fall 2014 - Winter 2015 | 24 Episodes | R (for violent) | Madhouse
Action | Drama | Horror | Sci-Fi | Seinen | Suspense | Thriller

Plot: 10/10- Parasyte is paced to near perfection. Every episode moves the plot towards its ultimate destination with even the slower episodes providing greater insight into the characters and plot.

Constantly throughout the series, plot twists are thrown at the audience to always keep you on the edge-of-your-seat. Countless times I would catch myself holding my breath, literally gasping in shock, or breaking out in a cold sweat due to the amount of suspense the anime creates. This tension is able to be built up because early in the series you are shown that anyone can die, and yet it never overplays the death-card to the point of exploitation with just enough characters dying to always keep you on your toes, so to speak. Despite the suspense and thrills, Parasyte even manages to be emotionally impactful, much more so than most other anime.

Thematically, Parasyte portrays various thought-provoking ideas without ever allowing the themes to overshadow the story or characters. One central theme is what it means to be human, and Shinichi and Migi's cohabitation turned almost friendship is a perfect venue for conveying this idea. Later in the series, you begin to question who the real monsters are: the parasites or us humans, and are we really all that different? Parasyte never once pulls its punches. It has something to say and it will go as far as required to make its point. Another venue to convey its themes and character development is through very subtle symbolism, which might not be apparent upon first viewing. Despite the heavy overtones of various themes, the series rarely loses focus on the characters and plot.

One common misconception is that Parasyte is a horror anime, and while there are horror elements, it is more of a suspense drama with science fiction and elements. However, Parasyte is far more terrifying than any horror series because it creates so much tension.

Being based on a manga that has finished its run long ago, Parasyte has a definitive and conclusive finale that wraps almost everything up well. Sure, some viewers might have wanted to know where the parasites came from, but that is never the point of the story, and the ending leaves you fulfilled and not wanting more.

If a negative had to be stated, it would have to be episode 22. It slows down the story before the big rush towards the conclusion, which some viewers might dislike, although I had no issue with it. The only other minor issue is that the environmental message is overstated ever so slightly, although it is one of the better uses of said message in a long time.

Characterization: 10/10- Shinichi Izumi is the protagonist of the story, and he starts out as a likable and compassionate guy. As the series progresses, he slowly begins to lose his humanity, thus turning into the one thing that is trying to kill him: the parasites. His journey is a compelling ride that makes you feel for him as character, especially when his actions cause conflicts with his family and girlfriend. From beginning to end, Shinichi transforms into a different person with a very organic sense of growth, which is reflected by the series’ themes.
Migi is one of the most unique anime characters in recent years. He is literally a hand that can morph into deadly weapons, and yet, his development is a minor image to Shinichi's transformation. The characters symbiotic relationship is rife with inner conflict and distrust as neither side wanted to be in this partnership. As the series continues, their relationship slowly changes as each one begins to understand the other, which makes for compelling drama and thought-provoking material.

Satomi Murano is Shinichi's girlfriend, and she symbolizes Shinichi's humanity and who he once was. The romantic relationship between the characters is believable and mature without much of the typical annoyances that plague almost all anime today.
Despite the parasites being monstrous creatures that devour humans to survive, one antagonist becomes a fleshed out character with motivations to the point that you care about the character. As for other supporting characters, Shinichi's parents are surprisingly well developed as entirely believable people, compared to the almost non-existent parents in every other anime. Kana Kimishima is the only supporting character who is not as well realized as the others, although she is still very well utilized.

Action/Suspense: 10/10- No other work of fiction, not just anime, builds up more tension than Parasyte (more about the suspense under "Plot"). As for the action, Parasyte is not necessarily an action series with overly long battles, but when Shinichi needs to fight for survival, the fights are intense and often use strategy to outwit rather than simply overpower the opponent.

Acting: 10/10- Nobunaga Shimazaki as Shinichi Izumi gives a superb performance that reflects the character's change throughout the series. Aya Hirano gives Migi a fittingly bizarre voice, and fan favorite Kana Hanazawa plays Satomi and gives a fine performance. 

Animation: 9.7/10- Studio Madhouse's animation is incredibly consistent with very few mistakes, except for the CGI. The designs for the characters and parasites are very interesting and unique, and the animation’s fluidity never takes a noticeable drop. Thankfully, the anime manages to avoid the annoying censorship of violence by using shadows to skillfully obscure the most gruesome frames, yet never censoring anything important.

Soundtrack: 9.5/10- If I hear one more person complain about the use of dubstep in the soundtrack I am going to punch something. Sure, there are three scenes in the early part of the series where the techno dubstep-like music sounds a bit strange, but the majority of Ken Arai's score always sets the right mood, especially with tracks like "Next to You." The techno tracks even make the suspenseful sequences all the more intense and nail biting.

Humor: N/A- During the first few episodes, there is a bit of humor with one off-color joke, albeit a funny one, but it generally not a humorous series.

Opening and Ending: 9.6/10- The OP, "Let Me Hear" by Fear, and loathing in Las Vegas, is a cut above the band's usual autotune "screamo" music, and it fits the series well as it gets you pumped up before every episode. The ED, "It's the Right Time" by Daichi Miura, is a slow and pleasant piece that serves as a perfect way to calm down after each episode's pulse-pounding cliffhangers or to compliment the often tragic episode conclusions.
Entertainment Value: 10/10- Parasyte was the highlight of every week for the past six months; it made each Wednesday so entertaining and intense.

Overall: 10/10- Virtually flawless, Parasyte -the maxim- (Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu) effortlessly balances riveting suspense, emotional character drama, and thought-provoking themes without ever allow one aspect to overshadow the other. No other anime has ever been able to execute all these aspects to such an effective and mature degree in the past. Undoubtedly one of the best works of fiction in years, not just anime, Parasyte receives my first ever 10 out of 10 as an anime that is about as close to perfect as an anime as can be. 

Closing comments: If you are adverse to gore, or only watch anime for mindless ecchi or shounen action, then Parasyte might not be for you. Otherwise, do yourself a favor and watch Parasyte; it is truly amazing.

Watch if you like:  High quality anime, Suspense/Thrills, Sci-Fi, Drama, Thought-provoking themes, Horror, Gore, Madhouse, 

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