Poignant, contemplative, affecting and emotionally rewarding, Parasyte – The Maxim, officially concluded with its 24th episode this week. While many were left wondering how Parasyte would wrap things up after a very climactic penulimate episode it did so by solidifying itself as a modern masterpiece of the anime medium.
After following this story over 24 episodes spread across six months, Parasyte has carved an emotional journey of a young boy into adulthood as he finds his way in a world so cruel. It is a transition all of us take as we ultimately lose our innocence and become adults and Parasyte conveys the angst and frustrations that come with that time in life with the deftest touch and a heaping helping of symbolism. While Parasyte obviously has bigger things on its mind, it is the underlying coming of age tale that makes Parasyte such a timeless story in spite of its source material being decades old.
The bond formed between Shinichi and Migi is truly the crux of this coming of age story as Migi’s alien nature represents the oncoming responsibilities and dangers of adult life that are literally taking hold of him. Over the series we see Shinichi faced with loss, pain, suffering and conflicts of the heart ultimately forcing him to become a man and leave the boy he once was behind. He has a responsibility to protect those that he holds dear and it isn’t until he loses those close to him that he comes to realize how important that truly is. He has to become stronger in order to live on through the pain, not only for himself but also for those who he cares for.
What makes Parasyte so special is its intricate character detail and organic development. We see Shinichi grow and become the man he becomes as the series reaches its end point. Each step of the way is carefully written and always rings true on an emotional level. Whether it is his friendship with Migi or his love for Satomi, Shinichi is a character with a great amount of depth an the emotional roller coaster we join him on is real.
An interesting through point of the series is Satomi’s insistence that Shinichi is changing and that he is not the Shinichi that she knows and fell for. It makes it all the more rewarding when in the series final moments she concludes that he truly is Shinichi. It is a powerful moment that bares the weight of Shinichi’s entire identity crisis and his love for Satomi which so often put them both in danger.
Speaking a little more on Satomi, while many perceived her to be a problematic character who seemed painfully oblivious to the situation she was embroiled in. It is becomes abundantly clear by series end that she was well aware of the circumstances and in her own way remained strong for Shinichi just a he did for her. Their relationship is easily one of the most genuine in the entire anime medium, being completely free of any over the top confessional scenes and plays the romance straight, with it developing organically and making sense why these people feel for one another. This show is also noteworthy for featuring a sex scene between the protagonist and love interest. A scene which I must say was played off with true grace and was beautifully composed. It wasn’t a scene about sex, it was a scene about love and Madhouse captured that with an honest heart and soul.
Now while at it core Parasyte is a coming of age story following a boy into adulthood, the series has much more on its mind. With a message that can only be said to be in line with the concept of Gaia theory, Parasyte explores at length the idea that the world itself and everything that live upon it are living beings. Rather interesting is the notion that the parasites were born (their true origin is rightfully left unexplained) to help save the planet from what is the true parasites on its back – humans. Now there is definitely enough evidence for this as the truth is in the pudding. Humans have destroyed a lot of this green Earth in order to benefit themselves and the theme of environmentalism is greatly detailed here.
While most average series would fall in the line of choosing sides, painting things in black and white, Parasyte decides to paint its picture with the entire colour spectrum. There is no real right or wrong and there is no way humans will ever be able to justly answer that. In the end the parasites were never inherently bad, just as humans aren’t inherent bad, the same way a lion feeding on a zebra or a spider capturing a fly in its web aren’t bad. We are all just trying to find some kind of purpose in our life, even if that purpose is to simply stay alive. Ultimately we are all born into this world alone and are just looking for someone or something to share this life with until we eventually breathe our last breath. It’s a poignant reality that Parasyte conveys earnestly.
Good anime will make you think, great anime will make you feel. Parasyte – The Maxim does both and I cannot express this enough, this anime is an absolute credit to all involved. From the animation to the voice work to the direction to the unforgettable soundtrack to the legendary source material, this entire production has been one of the best in the mediums history. Although there are times where the anime industry seems to have lost its way, the fact that masterpieces like this can still be made is a testament that there is still a place for high quality thoughtful anime productions in this modern environment that at times seems to have a goldfish’s attention span. Parasyte – The Maxim is one of the best anime this decade and much like we look back on series like Cowboy Bebop and Fullmetal Alchemist as anime classics, so too will we look back on Parasyte as one of the best this medium has to offer. It is the right time to be an anime fan when anime like this can still be produced.
You can check out Parasyte – The Maxim in its entirety over at Crunchyroll.