What They Say:
They seem like the perfect killing machines: taking the form of their latest victim as they move on to hunt their next meal, blending invisibly into chaos of human civilization. But as the human race becomes aware of the invaders, the rules unexpectedly change. Because, while the predators may be far more deadly individually, human beings hunt in packs… and no species in the universe has spent more time perfecting new ways to kill than man.
As the military secretly mobilizes and a shadow war erupts, Shinichi and Migi find themselves trapped in the escalating purge. Born from a merging of both sides and yet belonging to neither, the best they can do is merely hope to survive as the lines between friend and foe cease to exist. The war between the planet’s two apex species spills into the streets as human sheep reveal the wolves hidden inside in the apocalyptic second collection of PARASYTE- THE MAXIM!
Parasyte – the maxim Limited Edition contains episodes 13-24 plus a chipboard box, manga, manga art cards, and a CD.
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.
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.
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 uses the same thematic design and style as the first set that holds the two clear DVD keepcases where each case is a different format. 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 with its focus on the most dastardly of the parasites that Shinichi has to deal with. It’s a good wraparound that has its colors really stand out here against the black background, though I can understand why it’s not appealing to some 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.
While the first set had a spacer box that contained an array of amusing and interesting little goodies the last time around, this one goes a different direction as we get a third clear DVD case that holds the original soundtrack. With it using the original series name of Kiseiju along it and a fun image of Migi laying down some sweet beats, it’s a fun piece that works well. The soundtrack has nineteen tracks to it and we get a great comment from Ken Arai on the reverse side that digs into how he viewed the property. Also in this set are a small selection of art cards that has some beautifully creepy illustrations of the characters from the show which should be put together in a frame that would make for a conversation starter.
The other extra included in here is an exclusive variant edition of the first volume of the manga from Kodansha Comics. With Sentai branding on it and a variant cover not like the regular releases, it’s an interesting piece to bring into the market since I’m not sure how into variants manga fans are compared to comic book collectors. But I like trying to sway some anime fans over to the manga as it definitely deserves to be read.
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 clips playing underneath the navigation and that works well enough, though it’s not the most engaging of pieces to begin with. Navigation works well and is problem free throughout.
The only extras included on-disc are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
The opening half of Parasyte was a show that was a pretty weird trip for me overall. Having originally read some of the manga back in the Mixxzine days of Tokyopop with the garish colors and a whole lot “who the hell thought this was a good idea?” feelings as I perused my comic book shop racks, I loved the concept and weirdness of it but was never able to really reconnect with it later on amid the deluge of other more recent works. So when the anime series came along, and it makes its own deviations I’m sure as I recall quite a few people grousing, my instinct was to again not read the manga and just enjoy the show for what it is, an adaptation as opposed to a reproduction in animated form. That helps to ease some of the frustration that I’m sure others felt.
At the heart of the series it’s about the relationship between Shinichi and Migi, though that often gets subverted to focus on the chaos caused by the parasites. Shinichi really did stand out here in a way compared to other leads in similar series in that as things got serious and there were real and actual losses for him, he got out of town. Instead of continuing to go to school and getting in deeper with his father, he extracted himself from the situation and just moved forward from there. It’s a refreshing element to the show because of the way it does something sort of smart for him, even if it costs us some of the supporting cast of characters and consistency that some viewers might want. You can imagine a range of bad Satomi-in-danger- episodes if he had stayed in school as well as the chaos that would be brought there. By isolating him from his friends, his home, and his family, it puts him in a position where he and Migi end up bonding even more because of that lack of familiarity and comfort. It also helps that as time goes on, the two of them do start to understand each other more as Shinichi is more accepting of what’s going on after things get bleak and we get the continual changes that Migi goes through since he wasn’t able to infect Shinichi’s brain.
And that plays well to the other aspect of this half of the season in that we see how other parasites are changing as well. The exposure to humanity for them does keep them rather focused on the why of it to some extent, noting how mankind has befouled the planet and aren’t the kind of people that as individuals they want to be or actually are. The parasites see humanity as its whole rather than its parts and that made the first half easier for them in that they just killed and consumed. Now that they’re exposed more, they’re gaining better understanding of individual traits and are taking on more personality aspects than ever before. Some of this is played out more in the epilogue as we see them blending in better than ever, though one wonders how long they can keep it up, as they become more human than parasite. It’s an interesting absorption that plays out over time because of the level of exposure combined with the fear of being discovered, knowing what fate awaits them.
The character we see this through the most is that of Reiko, whose arc through the first half painted her as the potential main villain that became more human but was still driven by her nature. Watching her change over this set for how little she’s truly here overall is wonderful because she learns more of who her host was and those feelings and emotions seep into her. When she does manage to reclaim her child and feels some kind of weird bond with it, one that cause her to protect it above her own existence, it’s a sign that these creatures are far more adaptable than one might have thought in the first half. Migi is one of those weird exceptions because of the brain thing, but Reiko shows a different path. One that really makes an impact with Shinichi as he sees what she’s doing when surrounded by the cops while holding the baby. It’s a well played tragedy overall that gives her arc some real substance and meaning, making you wish she could have survived to explore a different life.
As most series of this nature will do, when it goes into the final arc it goes pretty big. Seeing the way the police have figured out methods to try and determine who is a parasite works well and that there are a few different methods is a big plus. While the blunt way of doing it is with the big scanner that they have, I liked that they brought Uragami back in and use his seeming sixth sense as to who is a parasite and who isn’t. Some of his philosophy aspects are a bit comical about how he’s a true human because he kills and has no issue with it and all, but it makes for a good reason why he can sense something different about the parasite hosts as opposed to normal people that are like sheep to him. Uragami also adds a little black humor to things and just has a fun wrinkle in events by his mere presence. While it initially has him being dealt with while in custody at the precinct, it shifts to more fun at the big hospital arc where thare are multiple parasites supposedly within it.
This is a really fun section overall as it goes big with a lot of them in there and trying to figure out how to get out and survive when they see the kinds of systems that the police have in place. There are some nice twists that come into it as it progresses, but I really just like the fact that the police are on the right page at this point and are treating the parasites as a true threat and will deal with civilian casualties later on. While you may not want that to be a thing, the truth is that they’re engaged in a brutal war with creatures that really need to be eliminated. I do wish they were using more blunt instruments to do it since the tools are there, but there’s fun in seeing them going through the hospital, taking them out and not reacting poorly when a normal person is taken down accidentally. They know the threat and are dealing with it pretty coldly as that’s what’s needed. Though it doesn’t go exactly too well overall, the shift in tone with how the response is to the parasites makes for a good shift in the dynamic, though I really wish we had seen more of what was going on worldwide in regards to the pushback against them in addition to the more localized story that we get to follow.
Shinichi and Migi get a very good final arc after all of that with Goto and the way he’s working a very different variation on the parasites. The variety is certainly interesting in general for these creatures but putting five of them together with one controlling personality is pushing the limits a bit. But it provides for a supremely overpowered and sentient opponent that goes all out and savors every minute of it, especially as we get the usual round of sacrifice and heroism to try and make a real impact against what they’re facing. There are no surprises here, to be honest, nor with the epilogue that kind of wipes the slate clean and closes up a few loose ends, but I like just how much the final arc works to reinforce the bond that Shinichi and Migi share and what they go through in order to bring the story to a close. The two of them have been all over the map over the course of the series but the constant presence for both of them really does work well in how they come to grips with their situation and the larger expanding elements that Migi slowly brings into it.
The fact that Parasyte got animated is something that has me holding out hope for other older properties getting a chance at finally getting the treatment that might have missed out during their original runs. Parasyte has a creative concept that works well and does some decent explorations throughout on a few different topics, though I don’t think it excels at any of them in a big way. What it does present is a solidly tense and terrifying situation for the characters to deal with and the surreal nature of it all. This set brings it all together and to a close quite well by upping the ante with the action and the interactions all while showing the evolution of the parasites themselves. Sentai’s collector’s edition may not be massively packed in some ways but they’ve put together a strong dual format release here with some good extras to it and some unique pieces as well. Fans of the show will definitely enjoy the set overall and it’s great to get a series that largely does have an ending here that feels complete.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, manga, art carts, soundtrack CD.
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: July 5th, 2016
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
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.