‘Parasyte’ is a reasonably well realised synthesis of drama, action and philosophy. Hitoshi Iwaaki’s story follows the journey of protagonist Shinichi as he deals with the problem that will change his life forever: The Parasyte Migi. The two protagonists are brought together by chance when Migi, trying to invade Shinichi’s mind and take it over fails, resorts to taking over Shinichi’s hand. The two then merge creating the a dual protagonist: two persons in one body. Shinichi and Migi get involved many predicaments precipitated by the two’s agglomeration as Migi’s alien race is the very antithesis of humanity; very mechanical, logical beings, governed by their instincts and needs rather than by any duty to others or morality.
The great thing about this manga is Iwaaki’s ability to balance both drama, and all the suspense and characterisation needed in order to deploy it, with action. The drama in this manga involves a lot about how Shinichi’s personality changes with the addition of Migi and how his relationships change with his personality. For example Shinichi’s relationship with Murano, a fellow student in his class, of which his relationship with fluctuates with his addition of Migi. This is because Migi is an alien and his own morality is colliding with Shinichi’s human morality. This produces the very interesting philosophical undertones of the series. Iwaaki is asking just what exactly humanity is using Shinichi as puppet to explore the topic.
It is not explicitly explored within this first volume but it is implied through Shinichi’s altruism, for example saving a cat from being seriously injured when he, himself could be injured. Iwaaki will contrast this sort of constant altruism in the next volume. It seems as if Iwaaki is trying to work it out throughout the course of the manga exactly what humanity is. Or perhaps he is being deliberately irresolute in regards to an answer; after all Iwaaki is writing a manga that is certain very good and this added layer of the philosophy of human definition adds to texture to what could be an aimless story.
However what Iwaaki crafts is a story that allows for great character development. Indeed Migi and Shinichi are a great double act, and are especially funny at the beginning of the manga where Migi is adjusting to Japanese society’s cultural ‘norms’ and roles. Migi is also made very sinister when the roles within the relationship are defined and he becomes a Parasyte, at least in this volume, while it is Shinichi who is losing. He has to fight off various threats to his life in the form of other Parasytes and simultaneously deal with new found abilities that make him the locus of bullying etc. In this volume there is this balance between Shinichi and Migi however. Both are reasonably well characterised and compliment each other.
Conversely the story’s weakness is found in its inability to portray action appropiatly. This is not to say that the action scenes are particularly precariously poor and could destroy the story. Rather it is a problem with their longevity: they are either exceptionally short, e.g. Migi kills the antagonist in one pane, or they are exceptionally long, e.g. the battle between Shinichi and Migi and A-san.
The manga is exceptionally well presented. Del Rey have really excelled themselves with this release including translator’s notes and not be flipped make this release a really good manga to choose from for both the Puritan to the novice of the genre.
In conclusion the first volume of ‘Parasyte’ is a showcase of Iwaaki’s ability to forge a manga full of drama, including a brilliant plot twist involving Tamiya Ryoko, action and a philosophical undertone. Iwaaki’s creation can only get better with time as the drama for which Iwaaki has such a penchant for writing, continues in parallel with the action and the philosophy inherent in this first issue.