Rule of Three Review: Parasyte (Kiseijuu) – Episodes 2-3

The tale of a boy, his hand, and the trouble they get into together.

I worried during my premiere post that I might not be able to stick this one out, not because it wasn’t good (it was), but because it was a horror series that was hitting one of my major Heebie-Jeebie buttons, as I have a deep-seated terror of mind-controlling aliens crawling into people’s ears (thanks for that one, Animorphs!). So how do we stand two episodes later?

Well, I am pleased to announce that Parasyte looks to be an official part of my watchlist. After the initial invasion, the series settled into a balanced blend of tension, action/horror, character development, and even humor. The humor goes a long way here, as Migi’s dry observations and “experiments” concerning human behavior give the show enough levity to keep it from spiraling into GrimDark Gore Mode. Although, for those with a distaste for violence, be aware that when things do get dark here, there’s plenty of blood and gore to go around, along with some pretty grotesque (albeit quite well-animated) shapeshifting and fight sequences. If that’s a dealbreaker for you, then regardless of the series’ other strengths, this won’t be the show for you.

What really gives Parasyte that extra boost in quality (and keeps it on my watchlist despite my only having a mild interest in horror stories) are the hints of broader themes being addressed here. The series seems interested in using its amoral, chillingly rational alien race to hold a mirror up to humanity and show how our own irrational natures and fluctuating moral compasses can lead to both great altruism and great cruelty. At the heart of this conversation are Shinichi and Migi, the only true symbiotic relationship between humanity and the new parasites, and I’m very interested in how their relationship is going to develop over the upcoming weeks. I suspect they will change each other in surprising ways, and perhaps are already doing so.

One last thing that deserves mention: the studio, Madhouse, who look to be delivering another excellent adaptation. The animation isn’t the flashiest on the market but it does exactly what it needs to do: Characters are expressive, Migi’s transmutations continue to be unsettling and a little humorous, and the violence is effective without being excessive – when it happens, it is sudden and brutal and very much a part of the story, either a way to expand on the world or reveal something new about one of the characters. And, wonder of wonders, there’s none of that black bar censorship nonsense that plagued both Tokyo Ghoul and Terraformars. Manga adaptations are no easy task, but Madhouse sure makes it look simple sometimes.

While I suspect I will end up enjoying Parasyte on an intellectual more than emotional level, appreciating the story and production without ever really loving it, I am glad to have it on my watch list. If good, tense, psychological horror stories are your thing, then you should definitely give this one a try. Judging by the reviews I’ve seen of the original manga, this should be a quality series.

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