Parasyte -the maxim-
by Nick Creamer,
Shinichi's losing it, people. This episode was one long, slow breakdown, as Shinichi's sources of support began to fade and the fragility of his position became ever more apparent. Between the fallout of Kana's death, his fraying relationship with Murano, the “experiments” of Tamiya Ryouko, and his continuous anxiety about his own human nature, there's not much left for Shinichi to hold onto at this point. Something's going to give.
We started off this week with a brief but extremely compelling look into a meeting of the local parasites in Shinichi's area. The topic of the day was the parasite that Shinichi killed last week, and how it was essentially his own fault for failing to feed in a “designated eating area.” It's interesting seeing the parasites continue to evolve to master their environment, but the followup line was even more intriguing - “he gave into the immediacy of hunger, and then squabbled with his own kind. How self-centered… just like animals.”
Considering the parasites have been framed as pure animal instinct for virtually the entire show, seeing their surviving members look with disdain at animal-like behavior is a fascinating twist. And to frame something that's “self-centered” as negative? Migi certainly wouldn't agree with that. Given that these parasites all seem to acting at near a Tamiya Ryouko level of long-term planning, it seems likely that we're seeing a shift in what fundamentally defines parasites, and their position relative to humans. They still don't understand empathy or grief ("Friends? Snapped?"), but they can perceive of survival as a group instinct, and might even have their own kind of “values.” The relationship between rationality, humanity, and animal instinct continues to be complicated in interesting ways as the narrative and parasites themselves continue to evolve.
Tamiya's entrance put a capstone on this idea with her “I am making an effort to secure a better future for all of us.” And her followup scene offered one of Parasyte's rare moments of absurd, super-dark humor, as Tamiya successfully shushed her own baby and then carried it around by the scruff of its shirt. I don't think we'll be getting any more Shinichi schoolyard slapstick any time soon, so it's nice to see Tamiya picking up the humor torch in her own extremely creepy way.
From there, the rest of the episode honed in on Shinichi as he dealt with both Tamiya's private investigator and Murano's growing suspicions. It's interesting seeing both Shinichi and those around him constantly questioning his humanity, as even in his panic, his humanity is clear in every action he takes. He may no longer feel the overwhelming emotions he once did, but his panic is a very human thing, and his worry that he's not grieving for Kana in “the right way” is probably an instinct familiar to anyone who's suffered such a loss. His desire to return to the scene of Kana's death wasn't rational, but it was very human - likewise his actions towards both the private investigator and Murano, even as those actions ultimately put him in a more frantic and isolated position. Shinichi may be losing sight of himself and those around him, but his humanity couldn't be less in question. Hopefully he comes to realize that before he does something he can't take back.
Nick writes about anime, storytelling, and the meaning of life at Wrong Every Time.
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