Warning: this review might get kinda graphic. That is right bitches! I am back with a parasitic review of disturbing proportions. With all due respect though, I must apologize for my month-long hiatus from writing anime reviews. I have been very busy with the first month of my final year of undergraduate work and it was difficult to find time to write a quality review. Nevertheless, I am finally back, and back in style with a review for a show that is not for the faint of heart. Without any further ado, I present to you a review that has been a month in the making: Parasyte -the maxim-.#### The Plot:
Our story begins with worm-like parasites coming to Earth, killing their human hosts by taking over the human’s brain, and then surviving by living out of the host’s body. The parasite allows the human body to morph in very disturbing ways, and they use this ability to kill and eat humans, seemingly out of a natural predator-based instinct. Now enters are main protagonist Izumi Shinichi, a stereotypical 17-year-old Japanese boy who is deathly afraid of bugs. Shinichi is targeted by one of the parasites, but thanks to a rather hilarious set of events, is unable to take over Shinichi’s brain and instead takes over his right hand. Due to this lucky circumstance, Shinichi retains his own personality and intellect and the parasite, who is eventually named Migi, must rely on Shinichi’s survival in order to sustain himself. Thus, the plot of the anime follows Shinichi and Migi’s struggle to coexist together in dealing with both other parasites and humans while also coping with the normal struggles of everyday life.Now this plot could have been rather generic, or slow, or choppy. However, this show has two things going for it that help a lot outside of the normal things that make an anime great. The first is that this anime is based on source material that has been really well received (even if the material itself is rather dated). The second thing that it has going for it is that it actually decides to follow the source material extremely closely (at least in terms of anime standards). This is such a breath of fresh air and while the anime takes creative liberties, it does an excellent job of keeping the main and sub plots largely in tact, ALL the way to the end of the show. I can’t stress how happy I was about this and it really does come across in how enjoyable the show was. While I have not read the source material myself, as I outlined in my anime fluff review of anime endings, when a show follows its source material, it will more often than not make for a better show overall. For a recent example of a show that failed at following its source material all the way to the end and ended up suffering majorly for it, please see my [compatriot’s review on Akame ga Kill!](http://www.animeinspectors.com/akame-ga-kill-review/)
Before we move on, I feel that we need to address the elephant in the room. YES! This show does have a reasonable amount of body horror in it. The show is rather graphic at times from parasites morphing their human bodies in ways very unnatural for the human body, to human victims being dismantled and eaten in gory detail. However, with that being said, the body horror takes back stage after the first couple of episodes, and while it never goes away, it is not what the show counts on to carry it through all 24 episodes of the anime. The viewer gets the opinion that the show was created to tell a great story that happens to have unnatural body morphing in it, not so there would be a medium to show off disturbing transformations. The plot excels at telling a great story of what it means to be human and to analyze the concept of being human at an in depth level. It does everything the show Tokyo Ghoul tried to do, but it does it better and it is able to take everything to a more mature level. So yes, if you get queasy easily, or if you cannot stand the horrifying animations in the show, then this isn’t for you and I totally understand. However, also please understand that it gets easier to handle as the show goes on and it is used in order to craft an excellent plot, not just to freak the shit out of the viewer.
I feel like this show had a lot of strong characters but also suffered from some of the various character interactions. The main interaction that this anime pivoted on was how relatable it could make the relationship between Shinichi and Migi be. I am happy to say that the show pulled this off incredibly well. The relationship never felt forced and like any relationship, it had its ups and its downs. It was also interesting from a psychological point of view to watch the conflict between Shinichi’s view, that staying human and protecting others was paramount, versus Migi’s view in which survival for the two of them was the most important problem that they faced. By the end of the show, the viewer really cares for these two characters, which is no easy feet when you are dealing with an emotionless alien that is only worried about its own survival.As I mentioned above, a big aspect of the plot is analyzing what it means to be human. This analysis is driven well with Shinichi’s constant struggle to stay human with a creepy, human-devouring parasite attached to his right arm (and yes I know Migi doesn’t eat humans, but his species certainly does). However, the plot goes above and beyond this by also analyzing this major question from the perspective of the parasites. One way it does this is through the anti-hero parasite Tamiya Ryouko. I won’t give too much away, but Tamiya Ryouko’s subplot has such an excellent story arc to it and her interactions with Shinichi/Migi become “edge-of-your-seat-worthy.” She is a brilliant addition to the story that helped make parasite a two way analysis of humanity. Unfortunately, there are also some flaws with the characters, as I alluded to in the above paragraph. Shinichi’s character goes through several huge changes throughout the series, which are fine and to be expected. However, there are several times throughout the series where his character slips out from being realistic (or at least as realistic as you can be with a parasitic alien acting as your right hand) to doing things that make no god damn sense given the circumstances and knowledge possessed by the characters. I’m glaring at episodes 5 and 6 right now for those of you who have already seen the show. Some of his actions and choices just come across as “being done because it is needed for the plot to progress,” which is just frustrating for the viewer. This also crops up with the love triangle of Shinichi, Kimishima Kana, and Murano Satomi.
While I think that Kana and Satomi were both interesting characters in their own right and I still cared about them, their interactions surrounding Shinichi grew to be repetitive and face-palm worthy at times. Also, some of Shinichi’s actions towards both these characters were extremely frustrating. At times, I just wanted to throttle Shinichi over his questionable decisions. Nevertheless, there were also many times that Shinichi’s interactions with these two girls were epic and marvelous and at the end of the day, I still worried for their safety. Sometimes though, I had to wonder if Kana was trying to get herself killed, given several of her poor life decisions.
I also must give credit to the show for not giving characters plot armor. Attack on Titan tricked us into thinking that it was doing this, but then none of the main characters really ended up kicking the bucket. This show, however, was not afraid to pull punches and it did a good job of showing that even when the main character seemed to have plenty of plot armor, it didn’t mean everything was safe. Even up to the last minutes of the show, nothing was handed out for free. Even with all of Shinichi’s power, he was never given a break. Lets just say after episode 1, I would not want to take Shinichi to a casino.
Finally, before we wrap up this in depth character analysis, I just want to say that the rest of the supporting cast, including the second part of the show’s villains were very well done. Kudos to the show for not making the show feel crowded. They supported the main cast well, and I really did care for a lot of the characters, even some of the villains. I won’t spoil anything, but you will not be disappointed in the supporting cast. Also…damn! The mayor really threw me for a loop! That is all.
The music in this show is pretty hit or miss. There are tracks that are really memorable, particularly the song Next to You. This track has the ability to hit you in the feels while also being able to pull off epicness. However, this show also inserts quite a bit of dub-step into its official sound track. While this in itself isn’t a bad thing, it can turn some people off. Also, I would argue that sometimes the dub-step takes away from the viewing experience. This is not to say that it doesn’t always fit into the theme of the show, but it does miss occasionally. I was not in love with the opening theme either, although this is really based on personal opinion. It does set the tone of the show well enough. I just wasn’t able to get into the song on a personal level. The closing also did not do much for me, although I did appreciate the contrast between the opening and closing. Overall, the sound track did what it needed to do to set the tone for the anime, but I did not find the OST to be spectacular.
The AnimationFirst off, I would like to say that overall the animation in this show was very good. It wasn’t perfect, but it was very good. At first glance the animation does come across as stylistically generic. It certainly isn’t bad animation, stylistically speaking, but it doesn’t wow the viewer either. With the first episode of the show, the viewer will certainly take notice, and might be wowed at what is being animated, thanks to the many horrific animations that occur in this show (with all those parasitic transformations and splicing of humans), but the animation style itself is pretty standard. The parasites are certainly gruesome and horrifying, and props to the animators there, but the normal human character models do come across as rather generic. Also, part way into the series, Shinichi goes through quite a few physical changes, covered by the plot of course. The animators provide a great emphasis on his physical changes. However, it makes me wonder how none of Shinichi’s friends seemed to bat an eye at all his physical changes. They do bring it up of course, but most of the characters just run with it after a simple two sentence explanation. I understand why his appearance had to change, I just felt like the animators might have went too far in one direction, either with his base character model being too much of a dweeb, or his second character model being too athletic. Take your pick.
The action scenes are smooth and crisp thanks to the high production value Madhouse put into them, although it can be difficult to follow some of the action that is occurring, as most of the action takes place very quickly. Overall though, an excellent performance by Madhouse’s action scenes, including the amazing transformation sequences for the parasites. I must also appreciate that this show lives up to its reputation for the blood and gore that it puts out; it does not shy away from what it is. It also refuses to censor its material, which I am very thankful for, unlike another show that tried to cover the same themes as Parasyte….cough Tokyo Ghoul cough.#### The Final Verdict
So at last, we come to the end of the review, a month in the making. I thoroughly enjoyed this anime. It was a great “edge-of-your-seat” show with a fantastic horror aspect to it, but not in the shitty jump-scare horror sort of way. It was more of a psychological thriller with gruesome, graphic scenes in it, which I loved. The show isn’t for the faint of heart, but it also shouldn’t be shied away from just because of the graphics. I would recommend giving the show at least three episodes even if you are hesitant about the graphic nature of it. I found that the awe factor calmed down quite a bit after you got used to the way the animations worked. However, I totally understand if you turn away from the show because you can’t handle the graphic depictions in it. The show is a great psychological look into the age-old question of what it means to be human. The series also provides plenty of action, some unexpected twists and turns along the way, a lot of quality character interaction, and an ending that holds up nicely. Also note that its transformation and action animation is seamlessly done. Nevertheless, it does suffer from some stylistically generic animation at times and the music is really a personal taste with this anime, with the OST getting the job done and setting the tone, but not being too memorable either. Plus, the dub-step is hit or miss. You also do have to suffer through some repetitive character interaction and some facedesk worthy decisions and actions that the characters in this show take from time to time. This doesn’t stop me from giving this show a horrifyingly awesome 4 star recommendation, because I would willingly buy 2 copies of this gorgeous anime.