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Parasyte ~ the maxim Collection 1 Blu-ray Collector’s Edition Anime Review

9 min read

Parasyte Collectors Edition 1A new kind of relationship series.

What They Say:
It’s the ultimate nightmare. One minute Shinichi Izumi is a normal teenager asleep in his bed. The next he’s been infected with a deadly parasitic organism determined to devour his brain and turn his body into the planet Earth’s new apex predator.

But Shinichi partially foils the attack and, instead of being consumed, finds that the creature known as Migi has taken the place of his right hand. Now forced to share the same body, the two must become unwilling allies. Migi isn’t the only one of his kind, and unless human and parasyte work together, they’ll both be killed as abominations. Prepare yourself for a horrifying new world where the survival of the fittest and the survival of the human race are no longer the same thing. Monsters lurk behind every corner and every face as the human race becomes prey in Parasyte ~ the maxim!

Contains episodes 1-12 plus a chipboard box, microfiber cloth, tattoo set, green-eyed Migi [email protected] collectible figure from Medicom Toys (exclusive to the Parasyte collector box set).

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo while the English language track gets a good bump up to the 5.1 level, both of which are encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The series is one that works a decent blend of action and dialogue, though it’s restrained in how much action it will bring in with each episode. The bulk of it is the dialogue that goes on, which is nicely done with some of the things they do with the parasites and those they’re controlling or have taken over entirely, especially when there’s a little internal dialogue. The action side is given mostly to the nature of the aliens attacking each other and the sounds of their creations, which is works well. We do get a few other big moments and both tracks capture it well as the source material is solid even if a little underwhelming at times when you think it might go bigger.

Video:
Originally airing in 2014, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes in this set are spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second. Animated by Madhouse, the show has a good visual style to it that separates it from most shows out today while still adhering to some of the usual conventions. It certainly looks like it’s from the source origin time period but with some adjustments along the way that one might expect. The transfer captures the look of the show well with bright and clean colors and details that are well represented. There are some really nice moments of very smooth and fluid animation that has a lot of appeal here in how it’s presented. Fans of the show will definitely like the look and representation here as it’s pretty much problem free.

Packaging:
The collector’s edition is one that works some very solid packaging with some fun pack-ins that fans will either crave or not care about, much like every collector’s edition. The set comes in a solid heavy chipboard box that holds the two clear DVD keepcases where each case is a different format. We also get the space box that holds the goodies. The main box is one that goes for the violent look with a dark and murky piece with lots of blood and guts that highlights the horror feeling well. It’s a good wraparound that has its colors really stand out here against the black background. The keepcase artwork inside works the same kind of feeling while bringing in touches of the anime characters themselves, though the paper used keeps it from being quite as vibrant, which diminishes its terror level just a bit. The back covers for each breaks down the episodes by number, title, and what disc they belong on with a shot from each episode included. We also get the rundown of the production credits and technical grid for their respective format. The reverse side is kept simple with a lot of blackness broken up by splotches and streaks of blood.

The spacer box has all the extras and it’s certainly got some cute stuff. The [email protected] is new to me but it’s a fun and unique item to have to represent Migi. We also get the cloth and a small set of temporary tattoos. These don’t do much for me overall but they’re all well put together and definitely separate the release from the usual sets out there.

Menu:
The menu design keeps to the recent trend of Sentai menus that aren’t doing much for me with the episode selection by blocks along the bottom with a lot of gap space around them. They layout works well enough and there’s some nice if minor thematic elements to it and we get the logo kept to the lower left so that it doesn’t dominate. What most of the menu works with is the opening sequence playing underneath the navigation and that works well enough, though it’s not the most inspiring of openings to begin with. Navigation works well and is problem free throughout.

Extras:
The only extras included on-disc are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga from Hitoshi Iwaaki, Parasyte is a twenty-four episode anime series that aired in the fall of 2014 and ran into the winter 2015 season. The original manga ran from 1988 to 1995 and you can definitely see its origins in there with the science fiction elements, the violence, and the character designs to it. There are a few small upgrades to account for more modern times, but they’re negligible and really don’t impact the story. For me, I remember reading this back in the Mixxine days with its garish pages and being intrigued by it but turned off by the localization. It since saw release through Del Rey and recently through Kodansha Comics USA, so the book has managed to find its audience well enough – and the anime certainly didn’t hurt either.

With a bit of an Invasion of the Bodysnatchers riff to it, we’re introduced to third-year high school student Shinichi Izumi. Shinichi’s a fairly average guy in most ways and is an easy enough person to project oneself onto for the series. His life is going crazy from the get go as he has what seems like a bad dream at night involving a snake in his bedroom only to be laughed at by his parents as they think it was just him having a nightmare after getting caught in his headphone cord. The reality is that a small spore did open up outside his window and an alien parasite snake-like organism did get into his body, but the cord kept it from reaching his brain. The end result is that the organism ends up taking over his arm and, more specifically, his hand, where it can rework Shinichi’s body into whatever form it needs. That provides it with a weapon as well as a face so that it can communicate with its now symbiotic host.

Initially, it’s fun to see the surreal aspect of this as Shinichi is convinced it’s a dream, but the creature ends up learning things quickly through books and the internet and is able to communicate before Shinichi realizes it. Taking on the name Migi (right) so that they can function better, the reality is made clear to Shinichi; there will be no cutting off of his arm as the two need each other to survive. Sort of like a Hunger Games design, there are a lot of these spores that have hit around the world and almost all that take on a host end up conquering the brain and then go on killing sprees, gobbling up some of the remains and just looking at humans as little more than sustenance that they’re surprised can form a thought. Migi is one of a handful that didn’t succeed and didn’t fail and instead ended up in this halfway position. All of these creatures are seemingly looking out only for themselves, intent on killing others of their kind when they sense them, but there are changes in regards to that toward the end of this first set.

This first half of the series explores the basics of these creatures and the really disturbing imagery of how they operate, creating their weapons and killing those that discover them along the way. With Shinichi is our window into it all, it works very well as he and Migi make quite the pair, with his empathy quite high and Migi having none of that or any sympathy for things either. For Migi, it’s all about survival and nothing else and his survival is dependent on Shinichi. The two have a pretty tense relationship in a lot of ways, especially with Shinichi doing his best to hide what’s going on from friends and family, resulting in him having something of a personality change along the way. A lot of this is certainly familiar in that regard, but since we do have a lot of people being taken out along the way, brutally so and quite close to Shinichi, it has a greater threat and a greater sense of isolation for the young man. And with Migi as his only confidant, it just reinforces his own retreat as things get progressively worse.

 

While I had read some of the manga back in the day, it’s been far too long and I have no real connection to it outside of some of the visuals. This series definitely works to play the “mature” side of things as it embraces the violence for the most part, but it does avoid certain graphic elements that sometimes surprise. It doesn’t want to go full on Gantz yet at times it feels like it needs to in order to really drive home what it’s attempting to do. Seeing the creepy level of the various creatures and how their forms work is hugely engaging, but it’s something that doesn’t happen often enough and we instead end up with a lot of kind of “blank” enemies that are almost like zombies wandering around to find their proper prey. There’s a good cast of characters that support this that are still human, such as Kana and her seeming ability to sense them, Maruno and her interest in Shinichi, and there’s even some quality time with Shinichi’s parents that plays well to his evolution in how he has to focus on all of this. These smaller and irregular interactions feel a lot more organic and help to set things up well, explaining why Shinichi isolates himself as much as he does.

In Summary:
With this being just the first half of the series, Parasyte works to lay the foundations well. We get a fair number of opponents for Migi and Shinichi along the way, but they’re well managed and aren’t kept around in a way that defies belief. The two core characters are what we follow and it’s a really interesting evolution that we see take place, especially with some of the physical evolutions that occur as it progresses. Shows like these are still few and far between because it doesn’t treat everything as safe and there’s a lot of appeal in that – just like the shows where things are simple and safe have their appeal. But this kind of show is rare these days and I love the dips that we get into adapting material from this time period because there was so much that was skipped for so many reasons. Parasyte has a lot to offer and I’m really interested to see how it all unfolds in the second half when it hits. Definitely a show that knows what it wants to be and engages in it wholly.

Features:
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, microfiber cloth, tattoo set, green-eyed Migi [email protected] collectible figure from Medicom Toys (exclusive to the Parasyte collector box set).

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: April 5th, 2016
MSRP: $139.98
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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