Panning the Stream: Parasyte, Garo the Animation, Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai, Trinity Seven

No, it’s cool, you guys. I didn’t really want to sleep tonight anyway.

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I crammed four shows onto this list because only Parasyte is getting a full review, but boy howdy, is it a doozy. I’m still on the fence about whether or not it will make my watchlist, although this has nothing to do with the show’s quality and everything to do with me being creeped the hell out. Screw your courage to the sticking place and hit the jump for this skin-crawling Meet ‘n’ Greet.

Parasyte -the maxim- (Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu)

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Studio: Madhouse
Based On: The manga by Iwaaki Hitoshi
Streaming On: Crunchyroll (USA, Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Latin America [Central and South America], Europe, Middle East, and North Africa)

In a Sentence: High schooler Izumi Shinichi finds himself host to an otherworldly parasite as a number of snake-like creatures appear in Japan and begin infecting the populace.

How was it? Like a nightmare version of The Animorphs. (Which is a weird way of saying that it was great, but…)

Overall
I don’t think there’s any question that Parasyte is one of the better- (if not best-) executed premieres of the Fall season. It’s a horror series that knows how to unsettle and unnerve its audience, using a combination of grotesque mutations and the threat of possession to explore the fears inherent in trusting others and in maintaining control over oneself. The story utilizes key moments of both humor and violence in ways that left me feeling unbalanced, as if I too were on the edge of the panic Shinichi often feels during this episode.

Madhouse (the studio responsible for such great manga adaptations as Chihayafuru and Hunter x Hunter) does a bang-up job as well, bringing the more monstrous elements to life in all their (to use the technical term) squicky, icky glory. Shinichi’s own parasite, Migi, serves as the highlight of the premiere, as Madhouse combines writhing, deformed animation and childlike female vocals (Hirano Aya) in ways that are both unsettling and strangely cute (and all the more unsettling because they’re strangely cute).

It’s too early to say much about the characters other than that they mostly act like realistic people, particularly Shinichi, who balances believable terror with equally believable pragmatism. The plot feels familiar but not overly so, and while I could certainly name other horror stories about parasitic invaders, there’s a freshness to the interactions (particularly between Shinichi and Migi) that lead me to believe this story could go off in unexpected directions. The question, though, is if I’ll be around to see it happen.

Did it make the watchlist? I have a pretty high tolerance when it comes to what I’m willing to watch, and I’ve never balked at horror movies, but this series may just unsettle me to the point where I don’t particularly want to see what happens next. I’m giving it the three-episode rule – we’ll just have to wait and see if I can handle my heebie-jeebies or if Parasyte (literally) scares me away.

Digests

Garo the Animation (Garo: Honoo no Kukuin)

Another western medieval fantasy, although this one exists in a grimmer world, where witches are burned at the stake and demons (or “Horrors”) feast on humanity. There’s a dark, kinda sexy tone to this premiere, and like Rage of Bahamut (also produced by MAPPA), the 2D animation has a distinct style that piqued my interest during the opening sequences. But the CG suits of armor felt like they had fallen in from a different series and had the effect of pulling me out of the story every time they appeared, and by the end of the episode I felt as if I’d spent 25 minutes watching a very extensive preamble, and one that did little work to introduce or endear me to the characters. I may come back to this one, but in a season full of high fantasies there were others I liked better, so the odds are fairly slim.

Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai

A high school story with a supernatural slant about a book worm, the library club, and a mysterious “shepherd” commenting on the school activities via email. The premise has promise but the execution is lacking: It’s a lot of cliched accidental gropings, a stereotypically cute introvert and her hotheaded friend, and a protagonist who, while not unlikeable, doesn’t leave much of an impression. Which is really how I felt about the series as a whole: Parts of it annoyed me, parts of it made me chuckle (okay – the fat cat made me chuckle), but for the most part I was pretty apathetic about it. I finished the episode but I don’t see me watching a second one.

Trinity Seven

Sort of a hot mess of unnecessarily complicated story elements and plot points, particularly since the world really just boils down to “mage prodigy boy battles hot girls to save damsel-in-distress.” I don’t mind harem (or reverse-harem) anime as long as (a) the lead is likable or at least sympathetic, and (b) the story treats its multitude of love interests as actual characters instead of walking sex dolls. And on that count, Trinity Seven looks to be oh-for-two. I stopped watching when I realized I wanted to kick the protagonist down a flight of stairs.

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