Parasyte Volume 5

Hitoshi Iwaaki continues to impress in this next volume of ‘parasyte’ by continuing to plunge his protagonist into a series of devilishly drawn out duels with human and Parasyte alike. This volume sees Shinichi have to tackle the problem of an overly curious detective, his relationship with Murano, a new parasyte called Miki who’s body, at first glance, seems to contain two other Parasytes but also the puppeteer behind it all: Reiko Tamiya and her continuing study into what makes defines humanity and her cruel and heartless raising of her child.

The interesting thing about this volume is that Shinichi is not driven by his angst as he was in previous volumes. Indeed Shinichi seems positively clear about what it is to be human, perhaps because Migi is a constantly demonstrates how inhuman he is. Migi appears, in this volume, like the Parasytes’ survival is the top priority and can be fairly manipulative when needs be to ensure this especially in regards to both Kana and Murano and the way in which Shinichi wishes to speak to them about his problem yet Migi prevents this. To me the loss of this angst has made this volume a better one than the third because instead of a stream of irritation for the reader Shinichi grows up and realises that he now lives with a Parasyte and actually can use Migi to achieve what he wants to achieve: the protection of humanity by killing as many Parasytes as possible.

One could argue that this is a desire that is not human but this volume affirms to Shinichi that he is no longer a true human being; he is now an outsider and he realises the advantages of this. This volume sees him taking the positive about his humanity he has left but also about what he can achieve as this ‘new person’. The fact that he loses all the baggage of previous volumes also makes the story that much better. The fact that he can pick it all back up again makes it all the more intriguing to see how he goes about the business of killing as many Parasytes as possible.

Also this volume demonstrates how the characters of the Parasytes are developing and, again, Iwaaki is begging an answer to the question of whether humans are Parasytes in terms being the top of the food chain. Migi and other Parasytes utilise the argument of needing to eat to survive and defend their eating habits and in this volume the reader sees this come to fruition when one Parasyte takes a woman to one of the designated “dining rooms” and Shinichi tries to save the woman is a clear example of Iwaaki trying to engage the reader in the philosophical debate that he wants to convey. I think it is interesting to speculate that many readers would argue that they need to eat to survive also and would argue that this human need is part of a need to actually eat meat, rather than one of the socialisation into a wider culture of eating meat because it is nice.

Again if you want a manga that is trying to make you think then this is a good choice to buy because Iwaaki is trying to engage the reader in making decisions about the morality of eating meat but also asking the question of makes a human a human. Of course it could be argued that the Parasytes seem somewhat human and there are various answers why this appears to be the case. One Iwaaki is human and if something is not human then it is hard to write for; emotions are after all a human cognitive function. Second, The Parasytes need to mask themselves in order to eat. So I defend Iwaaki’s motivation for writing in this philosophical background into the structure of his piece. Although I think it sometimes hampers Iwaaki’s story telling I also think it is a great asset to have because manga should challenge the reader and I think Iwaaki is brave for doing this.

One example of his philosophical background interfering in the story itself is the detective. If Parasytes can shape shift into any thing they want to look like then why could Tamiya have actually have just been doing the ‘private eye’ business herself. There is no need for this character who is merely a device to represent a curious, yet cowardly, part of the human psyche. In fact the only good thing he does is actually send a young man to be eaten! I think the detective is meant to signify the illogical, emotional part of human nature but throughout this volume Shinichi has been suitably illogical and emotional enough for the reader to juxtapose a Parasyte with a human.

It is not a bad part of the story at all though and I enjoyed the bad result of the detective’s clearly inane decision to tail Shinichi and I enjoyed all the blood, guts and gore that resulted from that storyline. Yet the best storyline is actually Shinichi fighting Miki (a pun because Migi is right and the Kanji for Miki is three trees representing his control of only three Parasytes) who is a parasyte trying to embrace the wider side of human emotion. He is sent to kill Shinichi and only manages to have himself replaced by Goto (Go is five in Japanese) who is the Parasyte to control all five parasyte contained in Miki’s body. Making him a far better opponent than Miki. This storyline is a bit ‘Dragon Ball Z’ in that the fighting is unsophisticated and the fact that Miki is like Cell and Goto turns into a caricature of Android Sixteen makes this fight a little juvenile yet entertaining.

In conclusion this volume is certainly not ‘Parasyte’ at its best but is certainly entertaining and contributes to a sustained build up to when things really become exciting. I think when Tamiya truly returns to her practical studies of Shinichi, rather than the observational, is when the story will return to the potential I know it has. The detective was unnecessary but not unwelcome and the fight was slightly filler but was certainly a thrill to read. In essence average and I know it can do better.

7 / 10