Parasyte: The Maxim
Things haven't been quite right since Izumi had a nightmare believing a tiny creature bored itself into his arm. In fact the dream was real, and the arm is no longer his own. A strange parasite like organism took over his arm, with its own free will. It can morph into many shapes, can form weapons, and even talks. He names it Migi (Japanese for right) as it inhabits the place of his right arm.
Adjusting to the situation is just the start of his new life. He's not alone in this phenomenon. Others are infected by parasites, but normally the creature bores into the brain and takes over completely. Inhabiting humans this way, they blend in well enough to eat unsuspecting people. Izumi wants to keep others from being harmed, but Migi isn't so keen on cooperating. If both want to survive, they'll have to find a way to work together.
Hell yes! Watching Parasyte is like getting naked and slathering yourself in awesome-sauce. Something which would scare the hell out of your neighbors, much like Parasyte the Maxum would if they were cool enough to watch anime like you. Anyway, by the end of the first episode I knew this one would be weird enough to love. It's has an old school awesomeness like titles from the 1980s. It turns out this IS such a manga, which never made it to anime form. It shows a high level of depth and intelligence compared to the degenerate ultra-violence anime it would have been if made 30 years ago. This is the kind of title which got me into anime, so take my rampant fanboyism with a grain of salt.
Parasyte starts strong, with a heavy sense of mystery and weirdness. The story is surprisingly dynamic. The premise seems ripe for a battle of the week formula between parasytes, however it rarely does so (until later anyway), with the story going in odd directions.
What really makes this anime into something amazing are the characters, or specifically the main two. Parasyte looks similar to other anime in the "symbiotic partnership" vein, but the circumstances between Izumi and Migi (which means right in Japanese) isn't quite like that. Migi lacks emotion and cares for nothing but its own survival, making Izumi necessary but nothing more, and perhaps an obstacle if not a threat. The two are often at odds with approaches to problems, and Izumi is to some extent a hostage. As the two battle other parasytes to survive, cooperation is required, yet the air of mistrust hangs between them. As the stakes get higher, mutual understanding is the only path left, and it's fleshed out in this anime very well.
It gets stranger still as Izumi is infected by parasyte cells, causing him to lose compassion and emotion. Izumi struggles with this loss of humanity, but finds it difficult to understand what he's lost. He logically knows his behaviors aren't right, yet cant explain how he should act because logic can't tell him such things.
At 24 episodes this one is probably a little too long for what it has. That's not to say it drags. Parasyte has a very well distributed story, with enough happening per episode to justify the watch, but later on the concept loses its luster. I think that's partially due to Parasyte leveraging the mystery and freaky weirdness so well in the beginning. As that atmosphere clears later on, it doesn't quite have that edge that made it so compelling. It's still damn good though.
I give this high marks because it's so unusual, but more so because the partnership between Izumi and Migi does something I don't think I've seen done before in anime... or anywhere else for that matter. It tends to be violent, so be prepared for that, even if it's not explicit. Also Parasytes are never explained (yes, I can hear the belly aching about that already), and the ending is kinda... trippy. Overall I loved the hell out of this anime. It's been well worth the wait for this made into an anime the right way.
Migi: The majority ganging up on the minority... They make better animals than you Shinichi.
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