We all know tapeworms, leeches, and the one friend who always forgets their wallet. Shinichi, our main character, is one of an unknown number of people who fall victim to alien parasites who drop in from space. This tiny bug eats into his hand and works its way in until Shinichi stops it in his arm. He wakes up to find this parasite can talk, think, and looks just like the arm it completely consumed (if it wants to). Shinichi and the newly-dubbed “Migi” must now live as part human and part parasyte in a world that contains more than just one of them.
Shinichi Izumi is our main character and is attached — at the arm? — to Migi. The two characters are hard to distinguish given their interwoven nature, and this becomes more clear as time goes on. The problem with Shinichi is that he is so blindly spirited in the beginning of the show. He blood lusts after all the parasytes due to his parents falling victim to an attack. His hate, paired with specific events, turns him cold and indifferent. Indifferent main characters are some of the hardest stories to convey because you relegate your character to shock value and force your side characters to be emotional parodies. Since the show generated the same amount of shock that my feet do on the carpet, Shinishi comes across as one dimensional and uninteresting. He has the moments that are clearly intended to be shock value but overall, he tastes bland.
Migi feels like a character on occasion, but I suspect that he was mostly a metaphor for the animal side of humans. The literal attachment to Shinichi just reinforces man’s connection to the beast. When we think of Migi like this, we could see why he largely lacked personality and inflection. Later, we see Migi transition to being the more human side of the duo, and I think he provides some interesting perspective that makes him likely the second most interesting character, but one that throws away the progress that viewers felt like they made at the end of the show. I was actually angry at his choices in the final episode due to how contrary they were to the character that the writers developed over the course of the show. I would love to share but it would be a huge spoiler.
Satomi Murano failed. She failed to do her job. Her job was to be the emotional parody of Shinichi and she failed. I was so perplexed at how the writers messed her up in the writing process that I did some research on how they did it. Here is what I found:
None of that literally happened, but Murano is supposed to be Shinichi’s foil! How can you be the foil if you have no discernible personality other than being damsel in distress. The trope is tired and she has no motivation, interests, or expression. Bad. Female. Writing.
Speaking of bad female writing, let’s talk about Kana Kimishima. It’s normal to compare female love interests and the Lotad Gang did just that. We were pretty split, but we all knew they were “meh” characters. I set sail from Port Kana with winds in my sails and love on my mind. Not one episode after I set sail, my sails were slashed and the writers wrote a hurricane of crazy with Kana as the eye of the storm. This girl went off the deep end with as much grace as a walrus on a diving board. Zeroes across the board. Plus, she feels like a tool to introduce a concept that comes up later, but I’ll let you see what that is. Actually, don’t. You can miss this one.
Reiko Tamura was, is, and will be the highlight of this show. Tamura drove what interesting parts of the show there were. She had a life of experimentation and learning that extended outside the view of our main character and had her own wants, motivation, and quirks. Out of all the characters, she was the best not only for her role as a female (who normally get the short end of the stick) but also as a villain who did not do things aimlessly. She was framed as evil because her motives clashed with Shinichi’s. Yet you could understand her, you could empathize with her, you could even root for her. These characteristics are what I look for in a character and this is why the rating is even as high as it is. 2/6
In the coronavirus world, society’s emotion reminds me of my dog, neutered. This show isn’t about a coronavirus society, but this show also had its emotions neutered. Not only did the main character have a difficult relationship with emotions, but almost all of the antagonist group had literally zero emotions. Indifference and fear dominated the show. But when the fear is not developed and the parties in which we are supposed to relate to, or at least entertain, care little or none at all, where are we left? The answer is simple: we have no choice but to be indifferent ourselves. 2/6
This show would likely be a favorite for wannabe philosophers and vegans. The two central ideas revolved around these questions: “What does it mean to be human?” and “Who are the parasites in the world?”
Given the inhuman looks of the parasytes when they take over a human body, it was not hard to say, “Well that clearly is not a human.” But the show utilized Reiko Tamura as an ominous pseudo-villain hell bent on understanding her own being, and the being of others. Her dialog and intellectual challenge of Shinichi’s conceptions drove the development of this idea. It is almost impossible to separate the idea of what it means to be human in this show from her character. She is the one who brought up the idea that Shinichi was no longer human, forcing him to grapple with this idea himself as a human, a parasyte, or neither. Reiko’s character and the question of what being human is was a major point of interest in the show, and how they approached her and her ideas felt natural and interesting until three-fourths through the show.
The issue comes when, for some reason, the writers decided that this idea is no longer good enough and they needed to inject another idea into the show. The show transitioned into an almost exclusive discussion of humans being a cancer in the world. If you know a vegan, this concept is not new to you. Time and culture has not been favorable to the depth of this concept through a fairly thorough discussion on our impact as humans. The elementary presentation of the idea combined with the mental shift from the first idea created a disinterest for me in the show overall.
I noted that there were two main ideas. But here we are with another paragraph. The writers broke my heart because they shoved another idea into the last 2-3 episodes: the idea that humans are monsters. The execution of the idea was terrible and the writers repeatedly threw the idea at the viewer like a child skipping stones with a brick. 2/6
The show was slow, almost as slow as me writing this review. Now, some might wonder how an action show could be slow. The action in the story was fast, but the development of the plot and the characters was slow. Like talking through molasses slow. But let’s give the writers the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps this could be explained by the nature of the ideas in the show. Perhaps we could give the show a pass on the pacing because they attempted to take on a concept that lends itself to reflection. Well fear not, I had the pacing pass in my hand. I was reaching out like an anime god to the writers. Just like the fucking painting they lazily reach out their hand for the pass. Just as I am about to hand it off, BOOM. Last episode happens. I scream because Adam (the writers) didn’t let me rest on the seventh day (the last episode) and I take the pacing pass and smite it into oblivion. 2/4
I had a couple issues with the animation in this show and they all stemmed from lack of attention to detail.
Issue 1) The panned-out shots of characters had awful faces
I think they paid Pablo Picasso to come back to life and approve these wide shots. Characters were indistinguishable in certain scenes except for clothing context clues. This is not an over exaggeration. Faces caused head tilting, furrowed brows, and squinted eyes on all parts of the couch dwellers.
Issue 2) Where is the world detail?
Where is the detail in this world? Don’t answer that — it is in the same place as the character development. Izumi wears shirts with traffic signs on them. This man kills apex predators during the day and works for the road commission by night. Locations look like they’re out-of-focus still shots. The most detail went into the parasyte flesh and it felt like we used our entire eye for detail skills there.
Issue 3) Where is the facial emotion?
“Marshal, a whole major point in the show explains this”– Someone who has watched this show, probably.
Yeah, you are right, but what about literally anyone other than Izumi? The characters feel stiff and the emotion feels muted. How are we supposed to grapple with the ideas and the emotion of the show if the animation doesn’t facilitate it? Short answer: you cannot.
Good enough to be a professional animation that has good and interesting moments, not good enough for me to prefer it. 2/4
You could tell me that 80% of this show was in a two mile radius, I would stare at you and wonder why you told me something so self evident. The kicker is that any observant person would realize that this is impossible. You never really felt like the world was being explored. Shops didn’t have any names, buildings had no details, locations were rarely returned to, and the location played almost no role in what was happening.
There were two notable excursions that Shinichi made to visit a friend and to visit his father. While those two instances were fun and showed more of the world than before, they felt out of place because their impact on the show meant so little. Dictating the mood of the show by location is a frustrating habit of anime writers. In reality, mood is determined by life state, people, and the anticipated future state. It does not make sense that the mood should shift dramatically following the character because the life state and the anticipated future state of the character does not change. Using the world as a replacement for what music and character development should be doing bastardized the point of world building. Thou shalt not birth a world out of wedlock. 1/3
The thing about the music was that I never noticed when it was good. I did notice however, when I was supposed to feel something because this stupid ass celestial piano solo came on. I think I spent seven vacation days in Athens, Greece during one of the emotional scenes and when the music finally stopped, I remembered I was watching an anime about apex predators murdering humans. Not only did the music take me out of the mood, but the music always started before the part where I could tell the writers wanted me to feel emotion. Using a highly limited score to repeatedly signal “hello viewer please feel something here” is… lazy, at best. 1/3
|Category||Points Given||Points Possible|
|I am interested in the characters in the story||2||6|
|I liked the emotion the story made me feel||2||6|
|The story brings up interesting ideas||2||6|
|I felt the pacing of the show was appropriate||2||4|
|The animation in the show is beautiful||2||4|
|I am interested in the world that the story takes place in||1||3|
|I felt that the music added to the story in a meaningful way||1||3|
Overall, the characters were uninteresting, the ideas were numerous and fragmented, and the music was a sore spot. I really wanted to like the show in the first 3 episodes. There is potential here but I would love to go through and comb the script and redesign some characters to make this a solid show. I don’t think I can recommend this show.