Parasyte is a science fiction/horror/action manga series written and illustrated by Hitoshi Iwaaki, published from 1988 to 1995 in only 10 volumes. This is a lot less than all the popular manga these days that go over 20 or 30 volumes. The Japanese movie industries enjoy making successful manga/anime/novel into live adaptations and so in October 2014, Part 1 of Parasyte the movie was released in Japanese cinemas.
Parasyte is a story about the invasion of tiny alien life-form in earth, which resembles a silverfish to me, and they aim to enter the human body in the same way as an earwig with the sole purpose of taking over human brains. Shinichi Izumi, a high school boy, is meant to be a victim of this deadly invasion but he saved himself just in time but not without a scratch. Somehow this creature gains entry through Shinichi’s arm and takes over his whole right arm instead. Things starts going weird the next day as he realises his right hand had a mind of its own when it suddenly starting groping Shinichi’s girl crush, extending supernaturally and finally revealing itself to Shinichi in a pear shape with an eyeball stalk.
We learn these creatures are highly intelligent beings as they are capable of learning just about anything from anything – from language and fitting in with society to reading huge textbooks and watching television. However, one thing they all lack is emotion, which is evident throughout the movie. This parasyte introduces itself as Migi, meaning right hand, who realises that it has failed to invade its human host completely and instead has to coexist with Shinichi. Migi explains that Parasytes do not come peacefully and will devour any unlucky humans they come in contact with. Their intentions are still unclear at this stage.
An attribute that all Parasytes share is the ability to detect each other if they are within a certain range. However, this is not always a good thing because not all Parasytes are as docile as Migi. We eventually see a fight between Migi and another Parasyte, which is quite intense and unique. They transform into a blade looking weapon and slash at each other until someone wins, but the only part of the body that transforms is the part the Parasytes infest and in most cases is the head. One parasyte can only infest one body part. Parasytes generally take over the head to take complete control over the body, which allows them to act like normal human beings, albeit zombie like.
Another Parastyte that we meet later on is Shinichi’s female chemistry teacher Tamiya Ryoko, who was discovered through the Migi’s detection ability. However, she is more interested in the human life and would rather adapt than to kill mindlessly. She introduces Shinichi to her comrades and since then Shinichi’s life changes dramatically. We also meet a pair of detectives investigating the murders around town and they somehow turn up on Shinichi’s doorsteps for a quick interrogation. Without giving too much away, Shinichi and Migi become a force to be reckon with as they try to avoid harm from other parasytes and also from the detectives we are introduced to briefly. I suppose the detectives will play a bigger part in Part 2 because their air time in Part 1 is quite minimal.
There isn’t much of a character development of Shinichi in this movie compared to the manga, where the full impact of his body changes from being connected to Migi is better explained. Most of the time, certain events have to be changed for live adaptations to fit into the 1 hour and 40 minutes or so timeframe, which is why a lot of important events from the manga have been altered. Some big changes you might notice include the death of Shinichi’s dad (which wasn’t shown) and the omission of the other human in similar shoes as Shinichi with a Parasyte infested mouth. One more bad point was the inconsistency of the Parasytes detection of each other. It came to a point where I wasn’t sure if the Parasytes are able to switch their detection on and off or go in stealth mode to hide from each other. I did find that there wasn’t enough gore or graphical images when compared to western movies. Maybe I don’t watch enough gory/horror Japanese movies to understand that this is considered very gory in Japan or maybe I am just too used to western movies with very graphical gory images.
For movies like these, CGI is important and I think they have done a wonderful job in creating all the visual effects, which is pretty much the saving grace for this movie. Migi was made marvelously and each fight scenes have great visual effects. We are left with a glimpse of what Shinichi and Migi have to overcome in Part 2 of this movie with the introduction of a greater alliance of Parasytes at the end of the movie. Overall, this is an entertaining movie with enough gore to get some people cringing and action to keep you on your seats along with a bit of comedy as well. Despite the bad points I mentioned, if you have not read the manga or watched the anime adaptation of Parasyte prior to watching this movie, you will definitely love it and anticipate for Part 2.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.