DVD Movie Review | Parasyte The Movie: Part 1 (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 26.03.2016

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Parasyte The Movie: Part 1 (UK Rating: 15)

Parasyte was originally a horror manga by Hitoshi Iwaaki in the late '80s and early '90s in Japan, although it took all the way to 2001 to get an English release from Tokyopop. For fans of manga from that era, it is one of the noteworthy and seminal series of the time. It helped craft and create many aspects of the manga industry today and its touch is certainly still felt today. You only need to look at recent mega-hit Tokyo Ghoul to see that. It's amazing to see quite the resurgence in recent years for such a classic series, with an anime and a ton of new merchandise, plus now a live action adaptation, which is due out on 11th April in the UK via Manga Entertainment.

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Parasyte tells the tale of strange snake-like parasitic creatures that fall to Earth, immediately finding the nearest human and attaching themselves to them. Entering through the ears or nose of its new host, the Parasyte heads straight for the brain and takes over completely, killing the host and gaining control of the body. Its true form completely replaces the human's head, able to morph and transform in body horror reminiscent of classic movie, The Thing. As if the bodysnatching wasn't bad enough, once the Parasyte has taken control of its host, it feels an insatiable drive to devour other humans.

The protagonist of the series, Shinichi Izumi, is lucky enough to be wearing headphones when his Parasyte tries to infiltrate him, so it is instead forced to infect his hand and instead of taking over Shinichi's body, the Parasyte is stuck in something more of a symbiotic relationship with him. Shinichi has to deal with sharing his body, the risk of being found out, and the threat of other Parasytes, while also living his day to day school life.

This first film covers around half of the story of the manga, which is well over 1,000 pages in the original manga and twelve episodes of the anime. Condensing all of that into a movie that's just under two hours means that there obviously has to be some cuts. Shinichi's father is the first casualty, for instance, as there is only a tiny bit of exposition establishing his death, plus there are numerous character development cuts, along with changes to many characters. With adaptations that have large source material to pull from, it's impossible to not change and adjust some elements, but the important thing is the core remains here and there is plenty to appease fans of the original while still being succinct enough for the casual viewer.

While it's disappointing that the effects are all digital, with no practical effects blended in, the creatures are superb, creating terrific Cronenbergian amalgamations. This, combined with the body count and some truly visceral moments, helps to add a real horror element that felt lacking in the anime version.

Fights between the Parasytes are much more impactful in this adaptation, as well, as the anime showed the whipping blades moving with such speed and ferocity that it was just portrayed as blurs of motion. A tried and true method of representing frantic high-speed battles in anime, perhaps, but in live action it never looks as good, and instead the frames are fully animated as the fleshy tendrils slash and clash against each other. There are some big battles due in the sequel that will look spectacular, if it's kept to this quality but on a bigger scale.

There are fantastic performances all around in the primary cast and with the secondary characters, as well. Shinichi's actor, Shota Sometani, delivers a particularly strong performance, developing Shinichi from a cowardly, quiet, and frankly neurotic character, to someone strong enough to bear such a heavy burden. Jump fans can look forward to Sometani-san as Eiji in another live action adaptation, this time of manga making series Bakuman. Shinichi's counterpart, Migi, is very different to its anime version, as gone is the strange inflections and alien delivery, replaced instead with a smart and bookish voice. This new performance is all thanks to veteran actor Sadao Abe who provided not just the voice-work for Migi but also motion capture for Migi's movements and expressions.

On top of the obvious horror aspects, one of the best parts of Parasyte The Movie: Part 1 is its examination of the nature of humanity. As some of the Parasytes learn and adapt to human life, they look at just what it means to be human, and the value of human life as a bigger picture considering the state of our planet. If the human population was halved, would the number of forests being burned off also be halved? If the human population was reduced by 99%, would that similarly reduce the amount of poison produced? Shinichi, too, has to look deeper at what it means to be human and confront if he even truly still is.

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This first film covers the first half of the story superbly and does a great job of setting up the sequel, with a first look at how the humans begin to unite in the face of this unknown threat, a look into a whole new Shinichi, and finally a peek at the series' antagonist, Goto. Here's hoping the second film is released here quickly.

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10
Whenever a favourite series gets an adaptation to live action, fans are tense. No-one wants to see another Dragonball Evolution. Thankfully, this is more in the vein of the Japanese Death Note and Ruroni Kenshin live action adaptations. It manages to compress the source material into something on par with the original and actually does certain things better. There are some small issues but this is an example of how to make the transition a smooth one.

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