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Parasyte The Maxim Collection 1 UK Anime DVD Review

10 min read

Parasyte Collection 1 UK DVD CoverThis show intends to screw with you right to the hand (groan) but then you realise just what an interesting show it becomes…

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:
For this DVD release we have a 5.1 Dolby Surround release in English and a 2.0 stereo release in Japanese – nothing wrong with either track (fine on the default settings, watched the first disc in English and the second in Japanese – no problems with the synching or with the subtitles, also has subtitles in general and subtitles for the hearing impaired as well separately), Very straightforward release quality wise, no glitches I noticed with music, foley, background noise, etc – just great.

Set in the standard PAL format (anamorphic), with the original 1.78:1 aspect ratio on a full screen format, we have this series when the manga came out in the late 1980s, suddenly getting an influx of interest and the anime in the 2010s, the gritty darkness and confusion of the openings contrasts with the modern scale of the cities, which then is further contrasted by the gore and sheer horror of the true looks of the parasytes – the animation feels loved because the work doesn’t suggest majorly computer influences and the detail that goes into it is superb – this flows well because there is so much action intermixed with the monologues and back stories being told that it is clear what is going on and transfers well onto the small screen. A quality release.

There was no packaging for this test release.

Very basic menu on the three discs, the episode lists are on the left (no play all though if you select episode 1 it is the same thing) on a red, scary background with Shinichi and Migi on the right hand side – your selections are basically the episodes themselves, set up and on disc 1 extras – all are easy to navigate, quick to select both from the main menu and to return to said menu it isn’t slowed down or difficult – very basic and simplistic.

The only extras on the DVD is the clean opening and ending, and trailers for the following shows; Akame Ga Kill, Vampire Hunter D, Bryhildr In The Darkness, Black Bullet.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Parasyte, as briefly mentioned, is a strange series that was based original on a late 80s to mid 90s manga, yet has had a resurgence of popularity for a body horror/sci-fi style show, with this anime series originally released in 2014 and a two-part live action film in the same year. I can’t say what brought this into the modern era but Parasyte was seemingly quite ahead of its time, a new take on an ‘alien’ style franchise, and seems to fit in with today’s market. And on the basis of this anime series, it is hard to disagree with that.

Parasyte showcases our lead named Shinichi, a supposed normal young man who is a bit wishy-washy, nervous around people but has a good heart. However his world takes a turn for the nuts when a mysterious being, known as a parasyte infects him – we see at the start of the episode these parasites infect by boring into their brain, pretty much turns them into controlled zombies, where they feed on human flesh – it isn’t the most pleasant thing to watch that is for sure. However, then this one tries to bore into Shinichi, he had the fortune to be wearing earphones whilst he slept. In fact, he thought he dreamt the image of a being boring into his hand but then weird movements such as his hand accidentally grabbing his crush Murano’s chest and moving with strange signs makes him wonder – and it isn’t long before the truth is unveiled and the parasite introduces themselves. It’s only goal appears to survive, and doesn’t need to eat humans thanks to absorbing the food Shinichi eats, but is also completely emotionless, and doesn’t understand a lot of what Shinichi does or thinks about, his concerns, his emotions, his loves, etc.

Shinichi calls his new partner Migi, as he desperately tries to live a normal life with this new problem, a bit difficult when it talks to him at bad times and people wondering if he is going mad, including his friends – however Paraystes seem to be able to sense when another one is around and he has to deal with ones who want to kill him – fortunately Migi is quite a handy (pun intended) partner as knowing he relies on Shinichi to survive cannot let him die, can transform into blades and with Shinichi capable of moving himself and thought, they slowly become a team…

Not without its problem obviously. Not all Parasytes are one-trick mind killers – for example, a teacher in Shinichi’s school, Ryoko Tamiya, is a parasite who knows his secret and is similar as in whilst has inhabited the brain, she is not completely ruthless as wishes to co-exist with him, especially as we discover she is pregnant. This brings in a lot of moral questions for her as what to do with the human child once born – initially looks like she is ruthless in terms of wanting to experiment on the child but things occur that may suggest she may change her mind – the fact the father Mr A is a normal parasite and is just ready to kill and feed however is not on the agenda and thanks to Shinichi, Migi and Ryoko, he is disposed of. However it isn’t just parasites that Shinichi needs to be wary of…

We are introduced to a girl named Kana, who was initially part of a gang who was bullying Shinichi’s friend – when Shinichi defends him, he has to hold back and not reveal Migi who could annihilate them in seconds, but Kana senses something unusual with him, not a Parasyte but seems to sense the supernatural – unfortunately she clicks it as a red string of fate and believes she and Shinichi are destined together which definitely causes some problems by the end of the first half…however worse things are destined for Shinichi when his parents take a holiday and one of the parasites out there comes across his mother once she returns…

This is where the series changes to somehow even darker – with police baffled about these parasites (initially don’t think it is possible but thanks to other murder sprees they soon change their mind), Shinichi can’t attack his mother and is mortally wounded. Migi then actually injects part of his being inside him to heal him which has two effects – 1) it weakens Migi that he has to rest for 4 hours at a time meaning he can’t help Shinichi at certain times and 2) gives Shinichi near superhuman reflexes, able to jump, react and strength more than a regular human. The cost however appears to be that he is slowly becoming more parasite-like, as his emotions seems to be getting lost in the shuffle (something his crush Murano does recognise, causing strain on their relationship) – especially with his mother dying, and his father into a depressed state that he resorts to alcohol, some may see him manning up (the bullies from earlier are no longer a match for him), some will say he is losing his humanity…

This comes into play with the fact Migi is being a bit more emotional – not much but the reliance to keep Shinichi alive means others have to be wary. Some are actually similar to him (a Parasyte infected a human named Mamoru similar to Shinichi, yet through the mouth instead of the hand, leads to them teaming up but without Migi’s help due to him sleeping) and not so (Hideo, a parasite sent by Ryoko to keep an eye on him, but when his secret is discovered by a classmate, cue a bloodbath and the police finally getting a clue…). This leads to the finale of the first half, which is Shinichi wondering about his humanity, despite being in a relationship with Murano, Kana asks him out where he is going to tell her the truth about the fact her connection isn’t fate, but because of the supernatural…sadly it doesn’t go well…

There is a lot going on throughout but fortunately the core dynamic isn’t changed – the focus despite the amount of other parasites and characters around is between Shinichi and Migi – it is actually an interesting relationship as the series goes by.

The idea is that Shinichi is a normal human and gets involved in this supernatural world where they have to rely on each other – he accepts it but doesn’t like it. He also has human morals which are alien to Migi, which forces Migi into compromises yet he doesn’t understand human compassion. However with elements that humans are not exactly angels shown, this combined with the parasite attacks slowly descend Shinichi into an emotionless level. He isn’t completely there but his lack of smiling, calm demeanour, these are all different to how people knew him from the first episode. However, in episode 12, we see that he hasn’t lost it – he even says he knows he should cry, yet can’t – something is making him stop portraying these emotions – yet he is clinging to staying human…something that other parasites will deem as a threat…

Migi on the other hand seems at first to remain the same, without emotion and concerned with his own well being, and thus has to make sure Shinchi doesn’t endanger them. He is smart, gives Shinichi advice but all for its own benefit. Migi is clearly not like other parasites because he can’t eat humans due to the way he infected Shinichi, though we all know if he had infected his brain it would be the same. This however still means he can be reasoned with, even if he doesn’t understand why – yet he evolves in this half of the series, almost becoming a little more human and this seems to be the basis as the series goes into the second half, is Migi becoming more human whilst Shinichi is becoming less human? The dynamic between the two is a thin line always ready to break and this is why the series is so fascinating.

Parasyte - The Maxim

Because of this, pretty much all the other characters get a bit of a bum deal in terms of characterisation. There is a fun moment with the other parasite who has infected named Mamoru with his Parasyte in the jaw – the team up with Shinichi without Migi is pretty good but it only happens in two episodes and then we get the next Parasyte in Hideo, who seems to be on his side but then becomes the monster Shinichi was more expecting (in turn leading to the police now looking into parasites) – the human characters are either not involved bar a few moments (Mureno, Shinichi’s friend/girlfriend, gets a big damsel in distress moment when Shinichi saves her from Hideo, but other than that just seems to be there as the platonic interest and the audience exposition as she thinks Shinichi’s humanity is going) or could be potentially interesting but not enough involvement until it is too late (Kana is very guilty of this, the fact she could sense parasites could work but the fact even when she senses another one thinking its Shinichi she instead ignores it and just goes on the one true love angle…it doesn’t end well) – whilst I’m certain some characters will be more important (Ryoko is a big one considering she is pregnant, a Parasyte infected human with a child has interesting possibilities), they are mostly exposition or building up for the next obstacle Shinichi and Migi have to face.

Not that this is a bad thing because that is where the story is focused. With Shinichi crossing the line between human and monster, and Migi learning and trying to understand humanity and human emotions. There is huge potential here as the police are now learning about them and subtly introducing what they are without causing a huge panic in human society. The fact Shinichi now has Migi’s cells in where he was stabbed giving him better chance to fight without Migi when he is sleeping combining with his struggle against remaining human, combined with his parents’ tragedy, it brings him into a surprisingly big sympathetic character even when his emotions have been shed. His scream at Kana’s fate suggests he hasn’t lost it at all – his monologues know that he should be upset yet he can’t bring the emotions out – and it is going to deepen from there.

This is a great series, and whilst the fact outside of the two leads it feels very straightforward, the combination of gore, intelligent writing, action and development means this is definitely one of the better ones at the moment. If you have an interest in sci-fi, horror or classic manga, this is one for you.

In Summary:
Parasyte is one of those series that you are surprised it took this long to get an adaptation – the horror/sci-fi/shock value of the parasites make it a very unique experience even in this day and age, and the development between human and parasite is very surprising. The development from unemotional (Migi) and too emotional (Shinichi) takes a turn halfway through the series, bringing conflict, thought and tragedy to the protagonist, and it is here how he will deal with this which makes the series so interesting to watch. Whilst the secondary cast are not as developed, it is still a great start to what I hope is going to be a great series.

Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening And Ending

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

Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: June 27th, 2016
MSRP: £21.99
Running Time: 276 minutes
Video Encoding: PAL
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 – 1.78:1
Review Equipment:
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.

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