I just finished watching Parasyte: The Maxim (Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu), last week, and though it has only 24 episodes, it took me over 2 months to finish it. I’m usually just able to watch one or two episodes a day, and some days I even forget all about it.
One day, in Japan, for no apparent reason, alien creatures begin to invade Earth. The aliens burrow into the bodies of human beings with the aim of taking over their brains. Once the aliens have successfully taken over their human host’s brain, they succeed in “killing off” that persons personality and humanity; his/her body then becomes just a vessel for the alien to use in killing off other humans for food. The alien parasites are controlled by their animal instincts for survival, and have no feelings or emotions like human beings.
Izumi Shinichi is a high school student who, during the night gets his body hijacked by one of the parasitic aliens. However, instead of his brain, the alien only successfully takes over his right hand. Once the alien has entered a host body, and matures without having taken over the brain, it’s apparently just stuck in that particular body part. In this case, Shinichi’s right hand. Izumi is surprised, to say the least, when he wakes up the next morning and finds an alien living on his right hand, but finds that he cannot do anything about it. In an attempt to “humanize” the parasite, he calls it Migi, meaning “right” in Japanese.
The premise of this anime sounds like a comedy, but it’s not. It’s actually a very serious, and sad anime. In order to live, the aliens who have successfully taken over their hosts brains violently and mindlessly kill other humans for food. It is only later, and through the efforts of some of their alien companions who seemed to have evolved, that they begin to strategize more systematic and less noticeable ways to kill/eat humans and slowly take over human society.
Besides the very graphic violence and killing, Parasyte also tackles a lot of serious issues such as the essence of humanity – its good side, and equally dark and destructive side. It focuses on discrimination and prejudice against the foreign, and society’s natural reaction to fear the unknown. Unlike the zombie-like humans whose brains have been taken over by the aliens, Izumi has only been partially taken over, but it doesn’t stop him from fearing for his life once society finds out that he is not like them. Nor does he identify with the violent, heartless parasitic aliens. Izumi’s unique situation enables him to fight the aliens to save his friends and family. Izumi fights against the aliens and help stop their invasion, with the help of Migi, who has become not only essential in Izumi’s life, but a good friend who has been with him during the darkest times of his life. Most of all, Izumi fights to survive and partly to prove to himself that he is still a human being.
Aside from the alien elements of Parasyte, the plot also includes the usual problems Japanese teenagers face; budding love, trying to fit in, and not be bullied, friendship, and family relationships. Parasyte has a very interesting, compelling plot, but if you don’t like gory, bloody, violence, it might not be the anime for you.
Parasyte: The Maxim (2014)
24 episodes (October 9, 2014 – March 26, 2016)
Personal rating: 3/5