Parasyte -the maxim ‘Kiseijū Sei no Kakuritsu’ – Otaku Review
Parasyte -the maxim (寄生獣 セイの格率 Kiseijū: Sei no Kakuritsu) is the anime adaptation of the 1980’s manga series Parasyte. The series, produced by Madhouse, first aired in 2014, over twenty years after the manga was first published. Parasyte -the maxim ran for 24 episodes before wrapping in 2015. The final English dub episode aired last year.
The plot follows a young high school student, Shinichi Izumi, who awakes one night to find himself struggling with an alien entity. This being is a Parasyte from another world, it and hundreds of others fell to Earth as spores and consume humans to survive. The Parasytes kill their host before taking over the body and the mutating it. Shinichi manages to keep the alien life form trapped in his arm and survives. So does the alien and both are thrust into a battle for survival against Parasytes and humans. Shinichi and Migi, the Parasyte, must learn to work together if they’re not only to understand each other but to fend off the lethal Parasytes.
Parasyte -the maxim blends science fiction and horror, ripping through both genres with teeth. The series draws on interesting concepts going beyond action and violence purely for the sake of it. Of course you can take as much of that from the series as you wish Stripping all of the philosophy away and you’re still left with an entertainingly gruesome anime. How it does ask interesting questions of its audience. Not just the standard ‘What does it mean to be human?’ but also ‘What would aliens make of our humanity?”. The characters, human and Parasyte alike, are constantly confronted with these questions. Is there more to living than survival?
The series revolves around Shinichi and Migi. Host and Parasyte coming together for mutual benefit; not being slaughted by other Parasytes. Shinichi starts out as a mild-mannered young student. He is often overcome with guilt after causing his mother to burn her arm in an accident. After being attacked and through working with Migi he comes to understand more about himself and his place in the world. His personality develops over the course of the series and he appears to become somewhat colder towards his peers, it’s very much possible that this is a side effect to Migi’s presence but I’d argue it’s merely another form of self-preservation for the teenager. Shinichi experiences a tremendous amount of tragedy, violence and loss, his lack of expression could be taken for his subconscious blotting it out for the sake of his mind and spirit.
Migi undergoes a similar transformation. It’s insatiable thirst for knowledge opens Migis eyes to the world, to humanity and to concepts deeper than just surviving. At first we see a Parasyte struggling to convince its unwilling host to strike but as the series progresses Migi becomes somewhat reluctant to kill unless totally necessary. It isn’t the only other Parasyte we meet though, nor is Migi the only one to fail to consume the host. While many of the Parasyte’s are driven by their base instincts, there are those who strive to find more meaning in their existence.
Of those, it’s Reiko Tamura that stands out the most throughout the series. Reiko, a high school teacher was consumed by her Parasyte while pregnant. The Parasyte, unaware of the host’s condition, inevitably found itself torn in what to do. Only existing to kill and consume, it was now a host in its own right, giving birth to a human child. Reiko’s character explores or rather is forced to explore the questions the anime poses.
These aren’t questions that are easily answered though and human, Parasyte and hybrids all come to their own conclusions.
Man And Monster
Take what you will from the series though. On its own as I’ve said it’s a brutal and entertaining series. Visually it’s graphic in its depiction of violence, battles and deaths. Those easily grossed out should probably look elsewhere as Parasyte -the maxim enjoys its gore and then some. The transformation or reveal of the Parasytes is never not disturbing as skin, faces and skulls are peeled back to reveal true horrors.
The 24 episodes are all pretty heavy with no filler between and little room left for the plot to deviate. It also means the whole story develops pretty quickly and at times it can get fairly heavy with developments. As such the pace gets somewhat muddled. But I’d argue that by breaking the episodes down into thirds, the pace is a metaphor for the development stages of Migi and Shinichi; surviving, understanding and living.
Parasyte -the maxim is on the surface a monster of an anime worthy of the sci-fi horror and at its core a monster with a story to tell!
Editor-in-Chief, part-time super villain and hoarder of cats. If you can’t find me writing, I’m probably in the kitchen!