Ever want to watch an anime about a parasitic being that takes over the main protagonist’s hand and can transform it into all sorts of blades and stuff? I didn’t think I would, but the English dubbed version of “Parasyte: The Maxim” on Netflix proved me otherwise.
Why the dub version? While I recognize that subbed versions are usually better, as a native English speaker, I find them more accessible, especially when looking for a new show to commit to. And for the record, Parasyte’s dub is pretty good.
The series focuses on Shinichi Izumi (Adam Gibbs), a 17-year-old about to graduate from high school in the quiet neighborhood of Fukuyama, Hiroshima, Japan. One night, small wormlike creatures called parasites arrive on Earth — in most cases eating the brains of the victims before taking over their bodies — but something goes wrong when one such creature tries doing this to Shinichi, as it is forced to take over his hand instead. Shinichi freaks out when his hand begins talking to him, complete with eyeballs and a mouth, and I admit, it’s a little disturbing, but over time you get used to it.
His parasite soon learns that it cannot survive without the nutrients of Shinichi’s body, and immediately forms a symbiotic relationship with him. Shinichi names him Migi (Brittney Karbowski), and their relationship varies from being cooperative and extremely beneficial when they are able to focus on a mutual objective, like hunting down a rogue member of Migi’s kind, to combative, as Migi lacks human emotion and his only goal is his own survival. He only sticks with Shinichi because he has a better chance of surviving, as he shows a preference to siding with his own kind otherwise.
Speaking of his kind, the other parasites — specifically those that take over the brain of their hosts — quickly become pests, and it might have something to do with the fact that they kill their hosts, as they essentially eat and replace the part of the body they merge with. These parasites have a constant need to eat humans, though it proves to be purely instinctual, and not something they need nutritionally, with other parasites of this type being able to sustain themselves by eating human food. Still, they develop hunting patterns and even parasite societies in which they agree on designated “communal dining halls” to consume humans.
Shinichi is out to kill every last parasite, especially after they start killing people close to him. He forces Migi to help him, even though he is initially against it, though in truth the man-eating parasites do threaten all of their kind by spurring government action against them when their crimes are brought to light.
“Parasyte” has a light main cast, including Shinichi’s mutual love interest, Satomi Murano (Luci Christian); Kana Kimishima (Maggie Flecknoe), a girl who has a crush on Shinichi and who, like Migi, has the power to detect parasites; Mamoru Uda (Mark X Laskowski) and Jaw (Greg Ayres), a host-parasite combo like Shinichi and Migi that prove to be valuable allies; Ryoko Tamiya/ReikoTamura (Joanne Bonasso) one of the parasite antagonists of the series; and Goto (Jason Douglas), the series’ big bad (he’s a parasite made up of other parasites) being major characters. Uragami(Andrew Love), a serial killer who can detect parasites, also plays an important role, but he’s only relevant for a few episodes.
I say light, because most of the time, we’re just with Shinichi and Migi as they try to foil various parasites in the area, with the supporting cast rarely offering any substantive support; most of the time, they function like NPCs in a video game, getting caught up in the drama and carnage, sometimes falling victim to it, but rarely participating in it actively or offering Shinichi any help, and a lot of this is because Shinichi keeps Migi a secret for most of the series, which forces him to live a double life.
For the most part, the action is pretty good in this show, with Migi and Shinichi often finding creative solutions to their problems. Shinichi gets a power up at one point in the show, which allows him to fight stronger parasites, but comes at the cost of his humanity, which brings up interesting themes the show explores pretty well, specifically on how conflict often changes those in a way that allows them to better handle it, but it makes them less equipped to handle everyday life, as while he becomes stronger and more logical by his power up, he ends up alienating his friends and drifting away from all those he is trying to protect.
The show’s finale is also really good, and I’m not going to spoil it. It builds up tension and plays with your expectations in a way that you might kind of see how it’s going to end, but you won’t fully see what’s coming, and it plays again with this theme of what it means to be human, as well as what human life is all about.
This isn’t a generic Shonen anime in which our main characters are rarely allowed to die, and when they do, it’s only in honorable, scripted ways. This series kills off some pretty important characters in gruesome, bloody ways, and its structure and direction is not one you can easily predict, which I appreciate.
If you can get past how weird Migi — and all of the parasites look — in this show, this is a pretty good anime that’s well worth your time.
“Parasyte” Season 1 gets an 8.5/10