“The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?” — Bentham
Shinichi doesn’t want to stand idly by and watch people get murdered by these alien parasites, but Migi brings up a good point: why is it okay for humans to eat all sorts of animals, but it’s wrong for his kind to simply eat humans? At the end of the day, we’re all just feeding ourselves, aren’t we? Honestly, I think this is a difficult question to answer. If we simply argue that it’s natural to eat meat, then we can’t help but agree with Migi. It’s only natural that his kind eat humans. They survive on cannibalism. What else can they do? If you really want to justify saving other people from the alien parasites, ethics must get involved somehow. To put it another way, it must somehow be immoral to hunt and kill humans. The only problem is, of course, those same arguments would apply to animals as well, i.e. the same animals that we raise and kill for meat. Simply asserting that animals are animals and humans are humans is circular.
For some people, then, intelligence matters. For instance, we wouldn’t eat a dolphin. Still, that’s a dangerous line of reasoning. Where do we draw the line? And would it be okay to eat a human who has lost his or mental capacities? In saying all of this, I am, of course, a hypocrite. I understand the ethical reasons against eating meat, but I eat meat anyway. Of course, should technology ever advance to a point where we can create artificial meat cheaply — and don’t you worry, this will happen — there will be no good moral reason to go back to eating natural meat. Of course, I’m not saying that some poor farmer in some impoverished country should start giving up meat. Hell, if I’m not doing it, why should he? My point is, as much as I understand Shinichi’s feelings for wanting to save humanity, he won’t win any ethical debate against Migi unless he’s a staunch vegan or something.
In any case, Migi tries to keep it simple. It doesn’t try to worry about the morals or the ethics behind any of his actions. It simply looks out for itself… that’s the theory, anyway. When given the opportunity to join up with another parasite, however, Migi makes the quick decision to defend Shinichi. Migi claims that it just wasn’t sure if switching over to the other body was possible, and to an extent, Migi has been a straightforward character. There isn’t much evidence to suggest that our parasitic friend is a deceiver. At the same time, however, it quickly went to sleep shortly after the fight as if it needed to think things over. This seems to suggest that while Migi does primarily look out for itself, it is very much interested in Shinichi’s point of view. Our parasitic friend basically has an intellectual curiosity. It wants to stick around Shinichi and observe his mindset some more.
And if we’ve already seen signs of Shinichi’s personality undergoing a change, then we’re seeing the same with Migi. This intellectual curiosity doesn’t really help Migi survive. If ensuring its own well-being was the only thing it cared about, Migi would’ve done everything its power to assume as much control of Shinichi as possible. And sure, it has threaten to take Shinichi’s eyes out from time to time, but that’s only because Shinichi suggested that he tell the authorities all about Migi. Otherwise, Migi lets Shinichi does his own thing. Migi even lets Shinichi involve himself in fights that could endanger the both of them. My point is, even if Migi might never agree with Shinichi’s brand of selflessness and justice, it’s at least curious about it. And that sort of curiosity already sets Migi apart from the other alien parasites. One can argue that the alien parasites are all intelligent, but Migi’s the only one that seems to want to understand.
But at the end of the day, Parasyte‘s story hasn’t changed. It’s still a tale about a kid undergoing puberty and the bizarre out-of-body feelings that comes with this rather turbulent period in any kid’s life. It’s even quite blatant about it. All of a sudden, Shinichi isn’t a pushover anymore. A rival for Satomi’s affections tries to beat our hero up, but he doesn’t hold back, because he’s too scared to fight. He’s only scared that he might kill the guy. But when the guy pushed Shinichi too far, our hero’s anger overwhelms him. Yes, Migi was the one who sent the asshole flying, but was it also Migi and Migi alone who made Shinichi look this mad? Probably not, huh? This aggression is mostly — if not all — Shinichi’s. Not only that, this aggression is what one might find in a typical adolescent suddenly getting a huge influx of hormones into his bloodstream everyday.
It’s not a coincidence either that Shinichi is now good at sports. Yes, yes, it’s Migi, but again, our alien buddy is just a metaphor. From another point of view, our hero’s simply growing into his body. Plus, you can’t tell me that this isn’t a boner joke. Yes, he’s trying to hid Migi, but does he really need to stand like that? Shinichi had just successfully smoothed things over with Satomi, and she’s even indirectly asked him on a date. Who’s to say that alone isn’t enough for a young, excited adolescent to get a hard-on? Then what do we see later? Migi suddenly wants to give Shinichi an erection. And of course, the biggest change comes in his attitude. Would the old Shinichi have saved the cat at the playground from the three bullies? Probably not. Satomi knows him… or at least she thinks she does. And she initially suggested that they just leave the scene. Would she have made the same suggestion if she knew that Shinichi could be this brave?
Still, Satomi can’t help but wonder if Shinichi’s still Shinichi. Simply put, Migi isn’t as good a simulacrum of Shinichi’s hand as it might think. For whatever reason, Satomi can just tell that Shinichi’s right hand doesn’t feel right, so she awkwardly shuffles to his left to hold the other hand. I would’ve liked this scene to be a little more subtle. I find it odd that Shinichi wouldn’t at least ask her why she felt the need to switch hands. But in any case, let’s look at this in another way. Basically, she’s known him all her life as the simpler, more child-like Shinichi. It’s only natural that as he’s going through puberty, his personality also undergoes a few changes. And as such, she finds it hard to recognize the old Shinichi in the new one. The old Shinichi probably wouldn’t have saved that kitten. This new Shinichi is more confident, but also a little scarier. The question is whether or not our hero can find the delicate balance between the two.