*Warning*- This post contains some spoilers, so read at your own risk!
Have you ever sat around and thought, what would it be like to completely lose my humanity?
By definition, humanity is to be humane and to be humane means to have compassion and sympathy for people or animals, especially when in distress or suffering. What if, one day, you stopped seeing the people you love as people? What if someone you loved died right in front of you and you felt absolutely nothing? The things that make you human, the memories you hold dear, vanish and you become a monster…that is the reality for Shinichi Izumi in Parasyte the Maxim.
To give a quick rundown of the anime, it’s a 24 episode anime series (or a 10 volume manga series) about a 17 year old boy named Shinichi Izumi who gets infected by a parasite sent to Earth to takeover a host’s brain and live by eating humans. The parasite that targeted Izumi got stuck in Izumi’s arm instead of his brain, so it devoured and became his new right arm.
The parasite Izumi names Migi (the Japanese word for “right”) is all about self-preservation. If what is attacking Izumi is seen as a threat, it will attack because Izumi is its host – its only mode of survival. Migi has no emotional ties to anything, which is a huge issue for Izumi who is very aware of and in touch with his emotions. Before Migi, he was a shy and bashful young man who could barely talk to his crush. How could he go from that to someone who is going to see his right hand kill someone? Even if they are a horrible human being or another parasite using a human body, they still had a human face and a human life at one point. With Migi in his life, Izumi starts to see the world in a new light. He gains a sense of where he stands as a human in this new expanded reality.
As a human he probably thought what most of us think: we’re at the top of the food chain. Yes, there are vicious animals or horrible diseases, but somehow we still see ourselves as being top dog. All of that changed for Izumi, however, when Migi came into his life. He learned that there are others who will hunt him down. With or without Migi, Izumi has become prey and now the game has changed: fight for your right to live or die with no resistance.
As Izumi is slowly coming to grips with his new life, something even more drastic happens. Izumi is hurt pretty badly after being attacked by another parasite, prompting Migi to use its own cells to repair Izumi’s injuries. This changes Izumi completely by altering his humanity. Migi’s cells are no longer isolated to just one limb, but are now scattered throughout Izumi’s body. Migi’s influence has reached part of Izumi’s brain, merging with his mind, and fundamentally changing Izumi. The merger has made him physically stronger (almost superhuman), but has rendered him cold, emotionless, and matter-of-fact. He’s become so heartless that he tosses a dead puppy in the trash in front of the girl he likes!
Before and after Migi, Izumi is the kind of character we all can relate to on some level. Forget the awkward boob grab he gave his crush, but look at what he goes through and what he learns. He doesn’t just learn that humans are not top dog anymore; he learns that things that essentially make us human are taken for granted. Crying over loved ones, sharing a meal with friends or family, laughing at a joke, physical intimacy in the form of platonic hugs, or the need to be closer to the one you love. We take those things for granted. The series as a whole digs deep into the mind and makes us question what it actually means to be human – both spiritually and in the hierarchy of life – and how much our humanity is essential to the way in which we navigate through the world. Toying with the idea that at any point we could come face to face with the reality that we’re not as strong as we like to think we are, or that one day we could be cold and heartless people who throw away those who were important to us like trash is crushing in a sense. This series may have some gore and shock value scenes, but that’s not what makes it. What makes it is the fact it can get deep inside our minds and hearts, making us question the what-ifs, and causing us to think about where we stand as individuals and as the human race.
If you have seen or read Parasyte, what do you think? What scared you or was though provoking for you? Let us know in the comments below! If you haven’t seen or read it yet, WATCH IT! It’s a goodie, I promise.