Parasyte -the maxim- – Anime Review
Synopsis: The invasion has begun. Alien creatures are infecting the minds of humans, assuming their identities, and feasting on the flesh of the unsuspecting. Only Shinichi Izumi knows of the terror lurking behind the faces of everyday people. (Official HIDIVE Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Parasyte -the maxim- is based upon a classic 80s manga that went largely overlooked in the west. This anime takes something that shows its age, both in terms of art and story, and successfully modernizes it for today’s audience. What would be considered a dated art style is brought to life with a new, fresh, modern, yet faithful take on the original manga’s art. While several characters, including our lead, get new designs that barely resemble their original forms, it all still feels within the same vein as the original work.
Linny: The modernized art style really helps to sell what could have been ignored had it retained the outdated look. Given that the story is from the late 80’s, it’s actually rather impressive how well Parasyte holds up. Whether it be a result of good adaptation or actual original content, the show successfully avoids feeling antiquated throughout its run. What further elevates Parasyte is that the alien species, the parasytes, have their own unique personalities and evolution adding not only intrigue, depth and dimension but some mesmerizing action scenes based around their unique abilities and fighting styles. They’re not there just for shock value or appearance and even add to the emotional content of the story.
Tom: Our titular villains, the Parasytes, have wonderfully varied and alien personalities, and what makes the show so worth watching. A lot of care has been put into depicting the way this species grows and adapts and change as individuals, which is what makes Parasyte -the maxim- so fascinating. Really the character development in general, across the entire cast, is terrific. Shinichi, our lead, offers up a solid, emotional arc that takes the character far and away from his starting point as a meek teenager in over his head. By series end he feels different from the boy we first met and gives the anime this sense of a greater journey that has deeper meaning for its characters.
Linny: But the show definitely stumbles when depicting Shinichi’s romantic life. There seems to be little to no spark between him and his eventual girlfriend, Satomi. Sure, this is a sci-fi show first and a romance/drama second but if you’re going to give the hero a love interest, you have to make it seem believable with chemistry and emotional connections. Instead, Shinichi’s romance comes across limp and unconvincing.
Tom: The lack of chemistry between our two love birds isn’t the only deficiency the show unfortunately suffers from. A positive that leads to many more negatives for Parasyte is its unwavering devotion to the manga. The show adapts the manga event for event, making only a handful of changes along the way, mostly efforts to modernize events or tighten things up just a tad. Perhaps the biggest change Parasyte made, which I believe makes the show as great as it is, is a much needed tightening of the manga’s original script. I can’t be sure it isn’t simply a difference in translation, but the manga’s translated script feels far more rough and amateur than the anime. It’s this improved dialogue that helps to keep the show gripping and suspenseful episode to episode. But the renewed script doesn’t stop Parasyte from suffering a number of the same shortcomings as the manga.
Linny: One such major shortcoming is the neglect and abandonment of several side plots that started off like they were going to lead to some crucial and long term effecting events but peter out completely with no satisfying developments. Not only plot lines, but certain side characters themselves end up abandoned or forgotten, crafting a sense of frustration and disappointment. Even if you manage to overlook those flaws, there’s still the fact that Parasyte was written with a heavy handed environmental agenda/message. The message itself is fine but Parasyte never manages to present that theme in a convincing and organic manner. The final two episodes become heavy handed and preachy, pulling audiences out of the story and ending things with an awkward thud. It’s a noble motive but due to poor execution, it comes off feeling boring, preachy and most importantly, out of place.
Tom: Parasyte’s final episode only further irritates with its in your face preaching. So much energy is spent harping on the need for us to stop polluting the planet that the show forgets to wrap things up properly. The battle with the Parasytes fizzles out, with a rushed and half-hearted explanation for why things are ending here. It’s disappointing when you’re coming off a high from the penultimate episode that contained so much of the ultra-violent action the series is so good at. It doesn’t help that in order to provide emotional catharsis the final episode does a rehash of certain concepts from the penultimate episode, feeling like a lazy retread.
Linny: It’s hard to deny that for all that Parasyte gets wrong, it still gets its action oh-so-right. While the fights can be bloody and violent, they rarely, if ever, feel exploitative or excessive. It’s likely still off limits for the extremely queasy viewer but for anyone who prefers their horror thrilling and tasteful, Parasyte is a must watch.
Tom: For everything the show gets right, I still feel it’s all undermined by that final episode. The ending feels subdued, almost as if the creator wasn’t sure where or how to give his story a proper ending. Things just sort of fizzle out. If anything the penultimate episode acts as a much better stopping point and I might even urge viewers to end things there. Anyone hoping for a satisfying explanation as to the origin of the parasytes best temper their expectations as the series leaves their origins forever a mystery.
Linny: Parasyte starts off strong, with each episode likely to have viewers on the edge of their seat with action, drama, suspense and interesting characters to boot. Unfortunately its conclusion is so thoroughly misaligned with the vibe of the rest of the series that it makes for a jarring end. One could maybe forgive the lack of answers to questions and mysteries that popped up along the way but that abrupt shift in tone and the ham-fisted environmental message is prone to leave a sour taste. It’s an ending that necessitates warning anyone who is considering diving into what is an otherwise immersive and action packed sci-fi story. So long as you’re braced for a disappointing and off brand feeling ending, Parasyte still remains a decent pick for anyone seeking a violent but tasteful sci-fi tale.
Tom: With a stronger conclusion, Parasyte -the maxim- might’ve ended up one of my favorite anime of all time. But the devotion with which the anime faithfully follows the manga leads to content that damages an otherwise strong tale. It keeps everything that made it the cult hit it is today and adds some much improved, yet faithful, art alongside tighter dialogue. But for everything it adds Parasyte can’t overcome the major shortcomings of the manga’s original ending. As I’ve distanced myself from this title, the tinge of the ending is less disappointing, less pervasive in my memory. Parasyte remains a good series, and well worth a watch for anyone who enjoys darker, violent anime, but lacks a proper, final punch, to leave it as something truly special.