This show is a bit newer than what I’ve been watching and I was ready for a welcome change. The series premiered in 2014 and contains a concise 24 episodes in it’s entirety. Being a huge fan of horror, aliens, and sci-fi in general, this series seems to be a perfect combination for my tastes. I viewed it on Crunchyroll with subtitles.
The plot starts simple enough, aliens have invaded Earth and takeover human bodies by removing their head and replicating then assuming the host’s identity. Our main protagonist is a nerdy high schooler by the name of Izumi. Our sidekick is a Parasyte that has plans on making Izumi it’s host. One big problem though, Parasytes normally enter through the ear to attack the brain directly, but Izumi has a nasty habit of wearing headphones to sleep. The Parastyes don’t have very long to enter a host after an attack is launched, so after a bit of a struggle, the Parasyte lodges itself into Izumi’s arm. Izumi quickly applies a tourniquet so it can’t get further up and the Parasyte resigns itself to it’s new home in Izumi’s right arm. To Izumi’s surprise, this creature has full control of his arm whenever it is awake and begins to speak to him and address the situation at hand.
Apparently there are a lot of these creatures around and Izumi’s Parasyte, named Migi which is Japanese for “right,” is able to detect them. It’s normally a defense mechanism so that they can tell where other allies are but in the case of Izumi, other Parasytes want a creature like him dead. The beginning of the series starts as a very straightforward shock horror, Migi can target the body snatchers and kill them as Izumi meekly watches while fearing for his life. It intensifies when some high ranking officials are revealed to be Parasytes and Izumi’s mother, who was taken over by a Parasyte and presumably dead returns home.
After attempting to stop Migi and and getting impaled through the heart, Migi sacrifices some of his existence to save Izumi since their existence is connected. Izumi somehow becomes more handsome and more powerful and is dead set on stopping the Parasytes. The parasyte Reiko is at first the main antagonist of the series but her analytical mindset leads to her discovering an appreciation for the human race and eventually sacrificing herself. She did live long enough to create Gotou, a creature with a parasyte in each limb and in his head. The series reaches it’s climax with a special squad of humans that round up all of the Parasytes and kill them all except Gotou.
Gotou singlehandedly wipes out the force and their leader and challenges Izumi to do battle with him. Izumi eventually overcomes Gotou and Migi decides to go to sleep to review a bunch of information that he acquired.
There aren’t that many characters that play a huge role in this show but they are all some doozies. Shinichi Izumi and Migi are our two main characters. Izumi starts as a meek little nerd that has his right hand taken over by Migi and still remains a meek little nerd. As weak as he may be, with or without Migi, he definitely has heart to his core. Despite being beaten relentlessly, he will always fight for what is right and not back down. He quickly shows that he has the inner makings of being the hero of the story except for the part where he’s a weakling and Migi is the only thing keeping him alive. After a misstep with dealing with his Parasyte inhabited mother, Migi gives up a portion of his existence to save Izumi (because Migi dies if Izumi dies, he wasn’t being noble in the least bit). Izumi immediately changes. First off he’s more handsome, second he’s crazy strong and fast now, and third, his emotions have dulled considerably. He isn’t able to reel them back in until Kana is killed but he goes pretty far into the opposite direction. He finally comes to terms with his existence and levels out his emotions and becomes more aware of the world. Izumi becomes determined to stop Reiko’s plan of what we all assume is to have Parasytes take over the government and subsequently, the world. This gradual change in Izumi was very nice despite the initial shock of him absorbing Migi’s presence.
Migi on the other hand (heh) starts off with a very analytical mindset. As a parasyte, his main focus is survival but when things don’t go as planned, he is forced to re-evaluate his existence. He starts very predictable at first since his core nature is to do things that are logical to his own personal survival. After hanging around Izumi for so long, Migi does actually soften up a bit though he doesn’t lose that analytical mindset. You can see that even though they are two different species, Izumi and Migi have a very special bond and become great friends along the way. Even with this bond, we all know that Migi is out for Migi and Migi only. To our surprise, when the fight with Gotou goes south, Migi sacrifices himself so that Izumi can continue to live on albeit with one arm and no Migi.
Reiko was easily had the most surprising development in this series. She starts off as one of Izumi’s teachers and pretty much calls a truce between her and Migi. She makes it clear that she’s much smarter than the rest of the Parasytes and has a grand scheme to propel Parasytes to the top of the food chain. With the mayor of the town and more badass Parasytes at her beckon, it pretty much seems that Izumi and Migi will have to fall back and watch this happen. But, even with her intelligence and analytical mindset, she is eventually overcome with emotion after a look change placed her in charge of a human baby. Before being shot to death by the detectives that had been tracking her, she leaves Izumi with a message – “don’t bully us” as if she was getting her head chopped off and body taken over.
The Question of Morality
Parasyte: the Maxim seems really straightforward at first, Parasytes are taking over human bodies a la Invasion of the Body Snatchers so they all need to die so that we can live right? That’s always making the assumption that humans are inherently the good guys. During the rounding up and killing sequence of all of the Parasytes, humans are still seen as the good guys despite rounding up and murdering another intelligent species. This reaches it’s peak in the giant conference room where the mayor is killed because he was assumed to be a Parasyte. Turns out he wasn’t, and the Parasytes saw the good in him and he saw the evil in humans. It goes deeper into how humans aren’t as deserving of the Earth since we in essence destroy and are well on our way to making it uninhabitable for ourselves. This all reaches a climax with Izumi ultimately killing off Gotou with a dirty, rusty spike instead of actually overpowering him. Of course, we never get to find out what the earth wold look like if ran by Parasytes they were all killed off by humans aside from Migi.
Parasyte: the Maxim is a fantastic series that jumps straight into the storyline and doesn’t slow down until it’s all over. I was expecting it to be mostly shock horror style from the beginning, but I was pleasantly surprised that it ended up fleshing itself out into a deeper school of though that really makes viewers think about what’s really going on in the story instead of just letting us accept everything as fact. Definitely add this one to your Crunchyroll queue as a short 24 episode viewing is well worth the quality of this show.
Image: Agents of GUARD