Parasyte The Maxim Collection 2 (Episodes 13-25) (Cert 15)
2 Discs DVD/2 Discs Blu-ray (Distributor: Animatsu Entertainment) Running time: 274 minutes approx.
Part two of this superlative sci-fi/horror series kicks off with central protagonist Shinichi Izumi in the doldrums after witnessing the death of schoolmate Kana Kimishima at the hands of the parasites. Having exposed Shinichi and the parasite in his right hand named Migi, Reiko Tamura has Shinichi followed by private investigator Shiro Kuramori.
Migi however spots Shiro and tries to kill him by Shinichi stops him, offering Shiro a deal to help him and Mamoru Uda, also carrying a parasite, to turn the table on Reiko and her dangerous group of parasites. Unfortunately for Shiro, his involvement in this incurs serious ramifications, leading to a tragic outcome that forces Shinichi to reconsider his whole stance towards humans and parasites.
This doesn’t stay that way for long as it seems the parasites are divided between those who have assimilated to human life and those still hell bent on destroying it. Led by Takeshi Hirokawa, who posing as a human has gained the office of mayor of the city, they begin a plan to wreak their cleansing of the human population, but now the police are involved it is all out war.
While it seems rather criminal that it took nearly twenty-five years for Hitoshi Iwaaki’s manga to be adapted to be adapted into an anime, in many ways the wait was worth it, as the animation techniques of the time would not have been able to do it justice. However the story stands up to scrutiny today, remaining every bit as vital and provocative as it did in 1988.
Creating a stable balance between visceral gory action and incisive philosophy on life, death, humanity and the environment, Parasyte is more than the sum of its parts in terms of delivering something for everyone’s tastes. Of the many new developments that arise in this second volume, the most interesting one concerns how the empathy created between the two sides forces the key players to evaluate their personal morals.
Reiko Tamura had given birth to a human baby whom she treated with nonchalance and borderline contempt but over time she begins to feel a maternal connection to her child and her stance towards humans softens. But, with the authorities now involved, they view the parasites as he enemy regardless and a gross misunderstanding leads to a tragic ending.
In the wake of the harrowing outcome of this situation, Shinichi begins to wonder who the true monsters are in this scenario. Migi remains ambivalent as ever, yet explains a side to the parasite’s thinking which gives Shinichi more moral quandaries to ponder. The script beautifully explores how some instinctive actions and reactions of humans makes them no better than the parasites in terms of perpetrating indiscriminate acts of violence.
For Shinichi this comes to a head when a supremely powerful parasite experiment created by Reiko, named Goto runs amok, absorbing lesser parasites into his body and grows in strength and stature. As much as the final showdown between Shinichi and Goto is physically brutal, a cleverly applied moral undercurrent imbues the battle with an emotional and philosophical edge debating the right of one living being to kill another.
Profound and effective, this is an example of the weight of intelligent behind what is superficially a body horror series, which it also does well. The sight of a human head splitting open to reveal a blade-wielding parasite remains a chilling and unforgettable experience, and gore fans should have little complaint with the resultant carnage of these transformations either.
The psychological and moral aspect of the story is given further room for exploration with the addition of Uragami, an unhinged serial killer who has the ability to spot evil in other people. The police use him to spot a parasite in a person and he has a pretty good success rate. Luckily for Shinichi, Migi was asleep when he is shown to Uragami thus he remains undetected, but when the police storm City Hall, Uragami’s skill pays dividends with selecting the right targets to shoot.
Uragami is a fascinating character in that he is pure disturbed evil, unrelenting in his lifelong acts of violence, rape and murder and unrepentant too. He openly admits he is sick but he proclaims himself to be completely honest as a human being by succumbing to his natural urges. There is unnerving sense of ambiguity in his guiding the police during the shootouts, leaving us to wonder if he chooses someone to suit his own sadism.
It is rare for a series to continue to pick up steam and tread new ground as it nears the end but Parasyte does that, and majestically so. It is not even a case of surplus ideas being thrown in to fill the episode count, everything is congruent to the plot and the moral issues raised throughout the script. The fantasy/sci-fi approach adds a certain creative flair to make this more palatable for a wider audience but the sharp and engaging writing is the show’s heartbeat.
Visually the show remains as vibrant and eye catching as ever, while a special mention must go to the Japanese voice actors, particularly Nobunaga Shimazaki as Shinichi, whose performance in the latter half, especially during the face-off with Goto is rich with the nuances required to relay the internal conflict of his character. A superb effort all round.
When you consider how much ground was covered in the first volume it is remarkable to see this second volume step it up a gear and refresh itself at least twice with a new direction to head in. If you are viewing this series after seeing the live action films the divergence in the coverage of the story will be far more apparent in this volume as will the depth of excised material.
A guaranteed future classic without question, this anime adaptation of Parasyte: The Maxim is the definitive way to experience this intelligent, well crafted, thought provoking and utterly compelling sci-fi/horror story.
English Language 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
Optional English HOH Subtitles
Japanese 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio
Disc 2 Only:
Rating – **** ½
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