This review will contain spoilers of a salient kind! Do not read any further if you do not wish to know them!
It feels really good to be coming back, after some time, to review the fourth volume of ‘Parasyte’. The ambivalence I feel towards ‘Starship Operators’ is certainly not shared with this fourth volume but my desire to see both ‘Parasyte’ and ‘Starship Operators’ go from strength to strength is something I feel both need to do.
The only difference is that ‘Parasyte’ is actually going from strength to strength whereas ‘Starship Operators’ is a series that is not. At the helm of ‘Parasyte’ Hitoshi Iwaaki continues to craft a series that is both chilling yet comedic, dramatic yet philosophical. In the previous review I wanted Iwaaki to “fashion a better version”: he certainly has.
The contrast to the previous volume cannot be more clear: Murano and Kana are not just plot devices they are actually characters I care about in this volume and their relationship with Shinichi is something I want to explore and see played out whereas previously I seemed unimpressed by the way in which Iwaaki was merely a puppet master; in contrast now he feels like a masterful director cleverly making a film that really sucks you into his world.
Also this volume is not just building up to a big battle which formed the only exciting part of the story but is consistently delivering “sustained drama” and the relationship between Shinichi, Murano and Kana is a sparkling example of how to write a really good love triangle plot without it descending into the realms of Mills and Boon. This volume’s centre piece is perhaps this relationship and how badly Shinichi actually handles it.
Essentially this volume is about growing. The relationship between our protagonists and the two who want his heart is growing in spite of Murano’s constant trouble with Shinichi and the way he is growing and developing as a person now he is linked to Migi mentally as well as physically. (This is implied but I would forward this as one of the reasons why Shinichi’s psychology has changed so much!) Also Kana’s innate ability to sense parasites is growing and in fact she is sending out a signal like that of the Parasytes which leads to climax of the story. Combine this growth with the cultivation of the Parasyte population and their maturing understanding of human psychology is making a story that is getting more and more exciting!
Consequently with all this growth there needs to be something that gives: Kana. The thing which makes this volume really good is Kana. She is a character that is both funny yet makes the reader feel something deeper. Of course a dramatic device required by Iwaaki to showcase Shinichi brimming, or not brimming, with humanity. Her love for Shinichi is what eventually kills her unfortunately and although the volume has been building up for this it comes as a climax to a really superb pieces of drama that makes the reader laugh, she is very funny, yet also feel sorry for her because she is only being human and needing love. It is a shame to see such a great character go yet the device may provide a springboard for Iwaaki to make ‘Parasyte’ even better than in this volume.
There are big things happening in this volume including the death of Kana, the growth of Shinichi’s relationships and his insecurities, the development of the Parasyte population. This volume should act as a catalyst for greater things to come. I hope Iwaaki can allow his baby to grow better than Tamiya Ryoko is raising her’s! I can sense even better things to come and I am intrigued to see what will become of Ryoko’s child.