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Parasyte -the maxim- Episode #17 – 18 Anime Review

4 min read

parasyte1718The lack of character development of our heroines cuts the impact out of Parasyte’s emotional high point.

What They Say:
They arrived in silence and darkness, descending from the skies with a hunger for human flesh. Parasites – alien creatures who must invade and take control of a human host to survive – have come to Earth. No one knows their secret except high school student, Shinichi Izumi, who’s right hand has been invaded by an alien parasite. Shinichi and Migi, the parasite in his hand, begrudgingly form a friendship and find themselves caught in the middle of a war between humans and parasites.

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I decided to watch these two episodes back to back, as together, they comprise Shinichi and Tamiya’s showdown in the park, the high point of the series. When reviewing the manga omnibuses back in 2010, this scene tied together so many of Parasyte’s ideas and plot threads that I gave the manga an A+. In skimming over the manga to prepare for the scene, I teared up despite knowing exactly what would happen. To truly equal the scene, the anime would need to make me tear up as well. I’m sad to say it failed to do so.

When Parasyte stuck to the manga, it excelled. But the further is goes from the source material, the worse problems seem to become. And bearing the brunt of the changes are the female characters, sadly relegated to the sidelines often enough in the source material. But in the anime, girls fall for Parasytes where in the manga they were suspicious of their motives. Kana was transformed from a spunky sukeban bad girl to a creepy, hair-stealing stalker. And when I heard people discussing Tamiya Ryoko’s character as a waste, as a female character humanized “only because she became a mom,” I knew something terrible must have happened.

Some of the changes are understandable: Parasyte was never very inventive with action, so moving Tamiya’s battle with her Parasyte assassins from a bare empty lot to a construction site makes sense. Hiding and dodging between steel beams improves the fight choreography in a way that fits the animated medium.

Other changes were not so well-considered. Tamiya, who sacrifices half her head to burrow under the skin of her attackers, runs laughing through a crowd of pedestrians. In the manga, this shows that she knows her time has come, as she’s no longer trying to keep the Parasyte’s existence a secret. In the anime, she passes a single couple who think they saw a ghost. In the manga, the cute girl guise she uses to buy some time is hit on by two guys, and she splits her head open to terrify them. In the anime, she harasses the couple instead, for some unknown purpose. Her dismissal of her adversary’s boasting about his superior male strength is also removed, showing she hasn’t come to identify with her female persona, and that she’s developed a sense of humor along with her creepy laugh. The moments that show what kind of parasyte Tamiya Ryoko is are completely gutted, leaving nothing but motherhood as her sole motivation.

It is because of her child that she kills Kuramori, who threatens to murder the baby by throwing it off a ledge. It is also solely for her child that she sacrifices herself, shielding the baby from the police’s bullets. As she dies, she entrusts the baby to Shinichi by taking the guise of his own dead mother. Shinichi recognizes the similarities in motherhood between parasytes and humans, and comes to understand Tamiya’s statement that the parasytes are the children of mankind. It’s a powerful moment, but in a series already under fire for giving women the short shrift, having Tamiya’s character seemingly reduced to reinforcing stereotypes about womens’ roles strips her of her dignity.

It doesn’t help that Murano, and even Kana, factor into this climactic showdown. Murano has become a helpless, mopey girl without any of the spunk she demonstrated in the manga. Kana’s brief appearance as a kind of ghost is stripped of meaning, as many could not bring themselves to care for such a seemingly unbalanced stalker. The melodramatic addition of snow to contrast with Tamiya’s blood, and the awful decision to use the ending theme as an insert song as Tamiya died only reinforce the emotional tone-deafness the series has suffered from in its second half. Parasyte deserved so much better.

In Summary:
I ironically hope you haven’t watched this episode yet, as you’d be much bettered served by reading the manga. When I warned in a previous review about jumping ship and reading the original source instead, this was the scene I worried would be ruined by the anime’s approach. Sadly, it seems I was correct. As the rest of the series focuses on action, in the final showdown with the Parasytes, hopefully the anime can improve enough to end on solid footing. With the emotional punch of the series pulled, what follows seems much less impactful than it might have been.

Grade: C

Streamed By: Crunchyroll

Review Equipment:
Sony VAIO 20″

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