Neo Parasyte f  Review

Neo Parasyte f  (female?) is a collection of fifteen stories by mangaka who specialize in shojo/josei/BL and is inspired by the original seinen horror/sci-fi manga by Hitoshi Iwaaki (also published by Kodansha Comics). The companion collection Neo Parasyte m (male?) is due out November 2017 and contains thirteen one shots by shonen/seinen mangaka, including Moto Hagio.

This collection is presented in an attractive trade paperback with two colour plates and a page after each story containing information about each mangaka and relevant translation notes. The fifteen mangaka include well-known names such as Kaori Yuki (Angel Sanctuary) and Ema Toyama (Manga Dogs) alongside less familiar artists (in English translation) such as Kashio and Hajkime Shinjo, whose contributions make one eager to read more of their other work.

So what to make of such a collection? Each shojo mangaka’s take on the source material is – of course – unique and some are more successful than others at constructing a short story set in Iwaaki’s warped world. Many rely on shojo or BL tropes, frequently focusing on high school student life and teenage relationships. Most revolve around the premise that the most normal and banal everyday situations can suddenly turn into a horrific splatter-fest as the titular parasites hide within their human hosts until hunger, fear of being discovered or sheer alien ‘otherness’ makes them reveal themselves and their true intents. Some stories are so short that they’re mere diversions, like Banko Kuze’s amusing ‘Parasite Food’ or Lalako Kojima’s wistful ‘Always With You’. Some, like the latter tale, feature Shinichi and his parasite Migi, the main protagonists of the original series.

I found the most engaging stories to be those that look at the human world from the aliens’ point of view – and I applaud all the mangaka that didn’t resort to the rather predictable horror trope of ending their story with an alien chomp-fest.

For me, the main stand-out story was always going to be the first which is by the wonderfully different Asumiko Nakamura (we need more of her work to be made available in English, US publishers, please!) whose distinctive graphic style lends itself very well to the horror genre. A versatile story-teller, best known for her sensitive BL series Dokyusei, Nakamura-sensei offers a typically understated tale ‘Macabre Goods’ about a rather different kind of shop and its elderly owner; it’s beautifully paced and elegantly drawn. However, other contributions are also seductively twisted and amusing, such as Ema Toyama’s confused fujoshi in ‘After School * Danger’ (Toyama even emulates Iwaaki’s style of drawing in the original series.) The other stand-out story for me is Asia Watanabe’s ‘First Contact’ which delivers the parasite’s point of view as its human teenaged female host encounters an attractive human male and…

The translation, by Kumar Sivasubramanian, reads well, reflecting the very different styles of each mangaka and their personal comments about Parasyte are printed at the end of each contribution.

Even if some of the stories are, frankly, duds, the best contributions in Neo Parasyte f  are strange and compelling, making this unusual collection well worth reading, especially if you’re a fan – as are all of the mangaka – of Hitoshi Iwaaki’s original work. Now I’m keen to read Neo Parasyte m!

8 / 10