This volume of ‘Parasyte’ is an extremely harrowing read. It is a territory not explored by myself in the medium of manga or anime because of its extremely, not only dramatic but, chilling story arc where the story was taken up a notch by Hitoshi Iwaaki. This volume is not the usual fair in terms of the usual ‘run of the mill’ action-drama manga. Iwaaki has crafted a manga that is the essence of dramatic.
So much praise! Why? In the last review I gave the previous volume an eight for Iwaaki’s clear demonstration for his penchant for writing dramatic and, reasonably, action-packed adventures. This volume takes that foundation and throws a spanner in the works: Iwaaki kills Shinichi’s Mother and makes her a Parasyte.
This may seem inane of me to highlight this point and make it the crux of this review but Iwaaki does make the death of Shinichi’s mother a very traumatic thing and it never ceases to be the focus of the volume. This volume introduces us to the trauma and its effects on Shinichi, then has the Parasyte who has taken his mother over attempt to kill Shinichi, progresses to allow Shinichi fight his mother and then the effect of her death, right in front of his eyes, and the effects of her death have on Shinichi.
This sustained level of drama throughout funnels into one big question: what defines humanity? The fact that this volume is much like the end of an eon, one cycle of birth and death in the infinite number of cycles of birth and death that occurs within Buddhism, for the first volume and a new eon for the third volume. Indeed this is literally the case that the death of Nobuko, Shinichi’s mother, also causes her son to be reborn as a completely different character. It is as if Shinichi comes of age!
Iwaaki continually poses the question, and brings it back to our focus throughout the manga, of the question he is attempting to get you to answer. The fact that Uda, a fellow Human Parasyte combination much like Shinichi but has his Parasyte located on his head instead of his hand, is very much human and cries when he discovers Shinichi because Uda’s predicament has placed him a very isolated position is directly contrasted to Shinichi’s reaction of nothing. The fact that Shinichi admits to wanting to cry at the death of his mother but cannot get the tears flowing also makes him question his humanity. Iwaaki nicely contrasts this with Shinichi’s willingness to come to the aid of Uda in the course of the story is also important and serves to press home this paradox by Iwaaki.
This is not to make Uda into only a device by which Iwaaki hangs his philosophical thinking hat, but rather to allow us to explore the reasons why Uda is the complete opposite to Shinichi. Shinichi is a thin, shy and is driven, at least in this volume, whilst Uda is fat, talkative and is very lazy. The two complement each other very well because they create more problems for the reader with the polarisation of human characteristics. Uda is also important because it is clear that he is just going to appear once. He will resurface, and he will bring trouble with him.
The story is dramatic and, as said earlier, is very harrowing especially when Shinichi’s mother turns up to Shinichi’s house. Add to this continuing philosophical undertone inherent in the inner-workings of ‘Parasyte’ makes this story a very engaging. The action is much like the previous and, although not dropping any standards, Iwaaki does well to make it a minor part of his manga rather emphasising the dramatic elements. The artwork is, again, good and although not spectacular is exceptionally succulent when deployed to demonstrate how Shinichi’s perceives how slow humans are compared to Parasytes.
In conclusion, not a bad second volume interweaving a great deal of drama encapsulated within a story involving action and adventure. Iwaaki has created a great follow up to his first issue, this series can only get better.