Thursday, June 18, 2015

Anime Review: Parasyte The Maxim

PARASYTE: Man and animal, where do you draw the line?

Parasyte is a sci-fi horror anime based on the 80’s manga of the same name. It follows Shinichi Izumi, a high school student who becomes the host of an unidentified parasitic species. Since Shinichi has prevented the parasite to take over his brain, both beings retain their intellect and have no choice but to co-exist, for better or worse.

From the premise, it is obvious that the anime will ask questions about human essence, and it does. Parasyte makes the viewers reflect on what it really means to be human, which is not really a new dilemma. Ghost in the Shell and Battle Angel Alita question where to draw the line between humans and robots, and as for Parasyte, it is between humans and other organisms.

Parasyte tackles these kinds of questions in a span of 24 episodes using interlocking plotlines. What I like about these small story arcs is the fact that they have plot elements and characters that have pivotal roles in the next ones, so the transition between arcs doesn’t appear forced. This also gives the impression that the writer is trying to put together one big story.

Sadly, the anime’s general story structure is not very good. There are plot elements and characters that are not gradually built up but just pop up unexpectedly. This flux becomes more and more obvious in the second half. It renders the later part of the series relatively underwhelming.

Parasyte has one of the more interesting pools of characters I have seen in a while. We have humans acting like parasites and parasites acting like humans. We have environmental characters that turn out to be key elements for plot and character development. In fact, there is a very limited count of background characters. Most characters in the series take a supporting role in at least one of the interlocking plotlines.

The characterization also has some Shounen feel to it. There are some petty romantic fights that take away some of Parasyte’s Seinen appeal. Other than this, the characterization does a good job. The character archetypes fit well with the anime’s message.

As for the art style and animation, I appreciate the fresh look that is the same and somewhat different compared to that of the manga. It transforms the 80’s style to be more suitable for the contemporary audience. The use of gore and other effects also add to the horror and entertainment value of the show.

Overall, Parasyte is a great watch. It juggles a considerable amount of plot elements. Though it does this not in a perfect manner, it is still entertaining and deep enough to last 24 episodes. The characters are not unique archetypes, but they go well with the plot and the existential questions the anime is trying to force into the viewers. This is a recommended watch, particularly for those who have enjoyed sci-fi titles like Ghost in the Shell and Neon Genesis Evangelion, and dark titles like Tokyo Ghoul.