Anime Review | Parasyte the Maxim (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 27.09.2015 2

Image for Anime Review | Parasyte the Maxim (Lights, Camera, Action!)

Parasyte the Maxim

Considering the original run of the Parasyte manga was from 1988 to 1995, it's surprising to see the attention now being paid to it. Along with two live action movies and a mammoth amount of new merchandise, the centrepiece is the anime adaptation, a series being produced by one of the best anime studios out there, Madhouse. Madhouse is previously responsible for megahits like Trigun, Ninja Scroll and Death Note, along with many more, and is also the studio being trusted with the upcoming adaptation of the visual spectacular that is One Punch Man. With a solid studio, veteran voice cast, and well-loved source material, it seems like a recipe for success, but will the story transition well to today's audience?
Image for Anime Review | Parasyte the Maxim (Lights, Camera, Action!)

The series is a Cronenbergian horror: the whole world changes overnight when parasitic worms fall into the atmosphere and find hosts to infect. These worms enter the head of their victims via the ears, nose, or mouth, to find the quickest route to their new host's brain. Once they have reached the brain, they quickly gain control over the whole body. After the assimilation of their host is complete, they are able to freely control and alter all parts of their new body, an aspect that becomes the source of the Cronenbergian body horror, with there being obvious parallels to John Carpenter's fantastic The Thing. The Parasytes can twist and morph their hosts' bodies, with the ability to harden or soften body parts, resulting in some twisted and monstrous amalgamations. Using the hardening ability, the Parasytes can transform into blades and spikes - a useful ability since the Parasyte is instinctively driven to cannibalistic consume its host species - resulting in them hunting and killing human beings.

The story follows Shinichi Izumi, a typical student that is lucky enough to be wearing headphones in bed when a Parasyte tries to invade his body. With no immediate path to his brain, it instead enters his arm. When Shinichi realises and traps it there, it is forced to assimilate Shinichi's right hand and forearm instead of his brain. The symbiotic, yet strained, relationship between Parasyte and host becomes the focal point of the series. The Parasyte is fully self-aware and develops into a secondary protagonist, quickly evolving and consuming knowledge from the Internet. The creature takes the name "Migi" (Japanese for 'right' since he took Shinichi's right hand). Migi's ability to transform allows him to produce eyes and a mouth on Shinichi's arm, so that he can converse directly. The relationship between the two is fascinating and it's great to see Shinichi try to come to terms with this new reality. An intelligent, evolving life form sharing his body, along with possibly changing who he fundamentally is and, of course, the looming prospect of others of its kind being out there and eating people.


 
The anime adaptation is well done. Along with a strong studio and production team, the cast is also of particular note, with some massive names, including Shinichi being played by Nobunaga Shimazaki, most famously known as Haruka from FREE!, and playing his right-hand man, Migi, is Aya Hirano, best known for her work on Death Note as Misa. The opening and ending themes are also some of the best of the season - real earworms that will stick with the listener. There are some differences that fans of the original manga will be surprised by, although they are not in the usual areas an anime adaptation would usually focus. Instead of changes to the story or the pacing, it is the designs of the characters that have had a major overhaul to modernise them up to current day. Hairstyles and outfits are more realistic for what's seen in Japan today, for instance, with less sailor uniforms and Yankee styles and more everyday wear instead.

What seems to start as a generic Shonen premise, with the protagonist being given dark powers and a mission to save the world, actually has deeper undertones. The dark and bizarre body horror aspects of the series act more as a backdrop as the story develops into something insightful, and at points, beautiful, with long and probing looks into the nature of humanity, and dealing with subjects like loss, growing up, and the nature of humanity.

Image for Anime Review | Parasyte the Maxim (Lights, Camera, Action!)

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10
With so many anime out there falling into formulaic genres - the Shonen that have to include a fighting tournament or the harem romance that requires the typical archetypes, for example - it's always refreshing to see something new and original. While Parasyte the Maxim itself certainly isn't "new," the story is still original and it's great to see it have an opportunity to be introduced to today's audience. This adaptation is quite possibly superior to the original manga, too, being a modernised retelling with a great cast, decent production values, and good pacing. Stick with Cubed3 to see how the Live Action measures up, as well.

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Comments

This is one I keep meaning to watch!

I play games... sometimes.

Excellent show. Great concepts, well-delivered, and it doesn't overstay its welcome. I watched the Japanese version, can't wait to see the English dub on Toonami.

NNID: crackedthesky
My blog, mostly about writing: http://www.davidjlovato.com

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