As any environmentalist will tell you, humans aren’t exactly the best a protecting the world on which they live. That being said, I don’t think those same people would welcome an extra-terrestial race of parasites, who just so happen to find humans tasty. But, as is so often the case with an invading alien force, choice is a luxury most are not given.
So your day has been pretty normal so far. You’ve gone to school, or work, or wherever it is you go, and everything is routine. Suddenly, a weird little snake/leech thing makes a B-line for your brain and…that’s it. Goodbye, lights out, you’re gone. Pretty bad right? Yes, but it gets worse. Now that weird little creature is controlling your body in the universes most morbid marionette performance, sating their appetite for human flesh. It’s creepy as hell and a fate that many nameless characters in the world of Parasyte have succumbed too. But let’s focus on our protagonist for a minute. You know, the guy who we are supposed to care about the most, as per audience etiquette (or something like that).
Shinichi is your typical, less-than-perfect highschooler. Not super popular, not super awkward, just another face in the crowd. Until the aforementioned parasitic invasion that is, after which he’s just another face in the crowd, with a second face on his right hand. Long story short, our protagonist managed fo fight off the creature’s initial strike, resulting in said creature consuming and replacing his right hand. Thus with the strength of a parasite, the mind of a human and a tentative allegiance between them, Shinichi and The self-named Migi are the only thing standing between humanity’s gradual destruction.
Ok, now that we all know the story, let’s jump right into what everyone who has ever read the Parasyte manga or watched the anime has on their mind; comparison. Logically speaking, a two and a half hour movie cannot possibly play out the same as a twenty four episode series, time prevents it. However, that doesn’t necessarily add credibility to either format. It’s all about what they do with the alotted time. For that reason I give this film adaptation credit. Sure it’s Part I (with a second and final part to follow), bu it manages to tell half of Parasyte’s story in a coherent manner that doesn’t seemed too rushed, or like it’s glossing over facts. That being said, there are some pretty noticeable alterations to the original story. These namely relate to character interactions, altering the roles of some, or how early others are introduced. Some characters are even written out entirely, though the alterations in story flow maintain the integrity of the overall story.
One of the more specific complaints that I had heard before seeing this film, was that Migi had received a poor personification, namely in voice. I’ll admit, this made me rather hesitant to watch it, given the positive elements of the anime series. However, I was pleasantly surprised once Migi began speaking. Though the voice is quite different from the one in the anime series, it is by no means bad. If anything, it suited this interpretation of the character well because he too is unlike his anime counterpart. This time around, Migi cuts a more amiable character almost immediately, possessing a more innocent curiosity in the ways of humans. The unabashed manner in which he states personal secrets and scientific facts also adds an element of humour to what is, by definition, a clinical character. If anything, Migi came off as more likeable than Shinichi, whose story driven shift in personality occurred rather jarringly in comparison to Migi’s slow acceptance of his situation.
The second comment I had heard in regards to the film, was that the CGI was noticeably lacking. Again, my hesitation was alleviated once I watched the film. Sure, they’re not the greatest special effects I’ve ever seen, but they’re far from bad. The parasites are soundly frightening when fully extended and their less-than-savoury eating practices are bolstered by a number of crunching, squelching sound effects. It’s gross. Fans of the series may also be happy to know that the first instance of a parasite attack (the tone setter of the series) is handled very well. I also rather enjoyed the bone smacking sound effect that of the parasite’s tentacles clashed with each other. It continued the overall theme of gross meets cool.
As the first half of the Parasyte tale, this film holds up well. Though certain elements were altered for the sake of the format, the story was still presented in a coherent manner that retained all of the key moments from the source material. To all those who immediately deride the film, my core argument would be that different isn’t always bad. That being said, it does show weakness in its sudden alteration of Shinichi’s personality, the availability of certain facts to those within the film and a general lack of focus on characters who weren’t named Shinichi or Migi. On the positive side, the film did a nice job of condensing the story into this shorter form. Granted, most of the action is yet to come and thus this part was devoted to a lot of setup…ok, so the negatives kinda outweigh the positives. I’ll admit that. But, at the end of the day, I don’t believe Parasyte: Part I to be a bad film, just not the best representation of the story that has been released.