Monday, January 18, 2010
Parasyte, vol. 5
The story: Shinichi used to have a carefree high school life -- until parasitic aliens stealthily attacked the Earth, possessing and eating people as they pleased. But, when Shinichi's parasite doesn't infect him properly, he and Migi (literally "right hand" in Japanese) must learn to live together in order to save mankind. In this volume, Shinichi and Migi team up again with Oda and the renamed "Jaw" to find out who has sent a private detective after them. Unfortunately, once they find out who is investigating them, Shinichi and Migi find themselves in even more trouble as they become the ones hunted. Will the symbiotic pair survive the attack so they can save mankind, or are they already doomed?
Reaction: Admittedly, I did miss the previous volume in this series and it did make a difference in the story. However, I was able to figure out the gist of what I'd missed in the first couple of chapters. Regardless, Hitoshi Iwaaka does it again -- he finds a new twist that makes for a bone-chilling result and another philosophical discussion between the main pair. By blending action, horror and ethics, Parasyte elevates itself from escapist fare to compelling allegory.
Deep thoughts: In Parasyte, Migi and Shinichi have an ongoing discussion of human behavior from the viewpoint of the alien lifeforms. From showing emotion to creating names, humans possess characteristics that make them unique in comparison to other animals. And, not only are we allotted higher-order thought that allows us to do such things, but we also develop ego-centric worldviews. Some would attribute that survival instinct to evolution and Darwin's theory of natural selection. However, there's also evidence that humans are happiest in large groups, where they're able to help one another, which often serves as Shinichi's counterargument more often than not.
Artwork: The art here is once again both surreal and disgusting -- from metamorphosing limbs to piles of dead bodies, there's plenty of jarring images. But, Iwaaka is just as good at the obvious as he is the subtle, capturing Shinichi's intense face perfectly in several panels, especially to illustrate the ebbing loss of his humanity. Lastly, considering the shape-shifting skill the aliens possess, characters are remarkably easy to decipher even in quick fight scenes.
The verdict: Highly recommended. This was another fast-paced volume that gives Shinichi additional emotional depth and reveals the aliens' horrifying plan for the human race. This thriller has pulled me in hook, line and sinker -- and I can't wait to see what comes next! Parasyte is available in the U.S. from Del Rey.