Parasyte: The Thinking Man’s Horror Manga

So I picked up Del Rey’s snazzy new and massive re-releases of the first two volumes of the Parasyte manga on a random whim recently, and pretty much blazed through them both today. The author, Iwaaki Hitoshi, is currently doing another manga for Monthly Afternoon called Historie, which I read one volume of a while ago and really liked (and will talk about more when I get around to reading more), which was part of the reason why I picked up Parasyte as I did. I’m extremely glad I did–it’s not only thrilling and suspenseful, it’s also got a fair bit of brain candy to chew on.

The plot runs something like this: Izumi Shinichi is your average second-year high school student, but when a mysterious alien invasion hits Earth, his right arm ends up being “devoured” by an alien parasite. This is, of course, a failure for the parasite, because Migi, which Shinichi ends up calling him, was supposed to devour the brain and not the hand. The other, more successful, alien parasites are currently rampaging throughout humanity, devouring hapless humans and mutilating the remains. Shinichi knows of this, and decides to try and stop the invaders, with the somewhat reluctant help of Migi, who is interested in preserving Shinichi only by way of the fact that he is his host, and his life is bound to him.

As Migi evolves and Shinichi deals with the agonizing problem of having a talking hand with eyeballs, the reader is left to ponder some interesting questions: what does it mean to be human, and at what point does our humanity end? In the case of those infected by the parasites, their humanity is literally devoured and they become soulless killing machines. But Shinichi is left with his brain intact, and no choice but to try and stop the invasion by himself. The matter is complicated somewhat by the fact that as Migi becomes more human in his thought patterns, the kind and gentle Shinichi is becoming ever more ruthless and apathetic. He’s certainly spurred by a noble goal, and his methods (in the first two volumes) are not cruel, but people around him are starting to notice his humanity slipping away. Is this a good thing, then? Is it truly a noble thing to sacrifice one’s well-being for the sake of all humanity? Migi even points out that he doesn’t understand the self-sacrificing nature of humans, and considers them just another form of animal. If that’s the case, then why do we feel unique as humans? What makes us human? Is it that we are the only animal that we know of who cares for other animals, both of and not of our species?

I could go on endlessly on some kind of philosophical rant, but that’d just be my opinion. The correct thing to do, then, would be to get thee to a bookstore, and pick up Parasyte now. If you were “blessed” with reading the ancient Tokyopop/MIXX releases, more power to you–you know more about this series than I do, at the moment. The Del Rey re-releases are certainly snazzy and cool, and May can’t come fast enough for me.

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5 Responses to “Parasyte: The Thinking Man’s Horror Manga”


  1. 1 Owen 26 February 2008 at 2:22 am

    Thanks for the great review — I’m certainly motivated to go ahead and pick this up after reading this. Nothing much to add, but keep up the good work!

  2. 2 maglor 26 February 2008 at 7:09 am

    This is one of the all time great manga series. It also happens to be one of the kind that would translate better into a lengthy novel/book instead of an anime series, in my opinion.

  3. 3 Animefig 16 July 2008 at 5:42 pm

    with this review i think i will read this manga, hope happy ending


  1. 1 The Mugi-Choco Chibi of Apology, Regret, and Cuteness « Anime wa Bakuhatsu da! Trackback on 26 February 2008 at 12:29 am
  2. 2 MangaBlog » Blog Archive » Flipped finds a new home, Infinity goes online Trackback on 26 February 2008 at 10:00 am

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