Parasyte Ep. 3: Prejudice

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Migi asks, “Shinichi, what do you think separates us from A?” At the moment, not much. More specifically, they’re not very different on an emotional level. At the moment, Shinichi is deathly afraid of every single parasyte he encounters. After all, he’s seen the news; he’s heard and read about the Mincemeat Murders. It doesn’t help either that the body count continues to rise. As a result, he regards Reiko Tamura, a parasyte disguised as his math teacher, with much disdain: “[You guys are m]an-eating monsters. What else should I think?” Of course, half of Shinichi is just a scared, little boy, so you can somewhat understand his apprehension. But let’s look at this problem from a different angle. Why are the Mincemeat Murders so shocking? Well, they’re gruesome. They’re absolutely grotesque. But ask yourself this… how else would you ever hear about the parasytes in the news? You won’t. Those like Reiko aren’t going to do anything that alerts others to their true identity. As a result, you only ever hear about the bad stuff, i.e. the murders. At the start of the episode, Reiko actually told a train molester off, but again, Shinichi can’t exactly read about that in the news, now can he? And like I’ve said, it’s understandable for Shinichi to be cautious; it’s understandable for him to be scared. But he is being irrational, because he’s judging every single parasyte he comes across with the limited amount of information that he’s been given. He has to admit that he doesn’t know all that much about the parasytes.

I mean, let’s turn the tables on the human race. Let’s say an alien species wants to know more about us, so they read our newspapers and watch our news. What do you suppose they would see? Nothing but conflicts between the various nations. Constant partisan bickering in governments around the world. Corporate corruption preying upon the poor and the weak. Racial strife everywhere. Slavery and sex trafficking. Yeah, you get my point. Sure, sometimes, the news will report about the happy, heart-warming stuff like the time a bunch of firefighters saved a cat from a drainage ditch. But bad news dominate the headlines, because bad news are the things we want to hear and read about. And from a certain vantage point, this makes sense. You want to know immediately what will or will not threaten your livelihood. If there’s a serial killer on the prowl, I sure as hell would like to know about it. But at the same time, if an alien species was trying to study us from just our news alone, and they were prone to irrationality like Shinichi, they might think that the human race was a lost cause! But that’s wrong, isn’t it? Humanity isn’t a lost cause (depending on who you ask), and if all you do is read our news, you wouldn’t get the whole picture. The stuff that actually makes life worth living? They’re just not very newsworthy, and that’s my point. It’s okay to be wary; it’s okay to be scared. But we can’t let our admittedly limited amount of information shape our entire perception of the world around us. I’m not saying that Shinichi should ever let his guard down around other parasytes. But at the same time, he shouldn’t assume that all parasytes are the same, i.e. “man-eating monsters.”

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So how are Shinichi and A-san emotionally similar? A-san is just a reflection of Shinichi’s same fears and concerns. He’s just as wary of Shinichi as Shinichi is wary of him. He automatically assumes that Shinichi is a threat because the latter is different; Shinichi is not “one of them,” i.e. the parasytes. My point is, Shinichi’s current mentality is not all that different. Of course, he trusts Migi now, but it was a struggle at first. Our little alien buddy had to threaten Shinichi’s life at one point to get our hero to calm down and not make any rash decision. If you’ll recall, Shinichi wanted to tell the authorities straight away about Migi’s existence. And now, Shinichi meets Reiko, who doesn’t seem like she’ll be a threat to the humans around her. Sure, he shouldn’t trust her completely and pour his heart out to her. But at the same time, he has to keep his hate in check or else he could end up like A-san. Let’s put it this way: what separates Shinichi and A-san? A few things, of course. Both Migi and Ryoko come to the same conclusion that A-san is a little dumb. Shinichi, however, has the highly intelligent Migi to help keep Shinichi’s emotions in check. But more importantly, Shinichi isn’t uninhibited. His strength depends entirely on Migi. Why do you suppose A-san would so brazenly attack the school? Again, he’s dumb, but crucially, he’s also confident that he can kill Shinichi and get away with it. After all, parasytes have the ability to change their faces and thus elude capture. What if Shinichi had those same advantages? Don’t you think he’d have run off and kill parasytes left and right by now, trying to be some sort of morally upright superhero?

Luckily, Shinichi has Migi to hold him in check, but that’s not to say that their relationship is one-sided. Migi, for the most part, still lacks emotions, and that’s where Shinichi comes in. He serves as Migi’s emotional center. For instance, our alien buddy doesn’t understand why he should care about the lives of other living creatures. He was more than willing to use Shinichi’s classmates as a “wall of meat” to shield both him and Shinichi from A-san. Obviously, Shinichi would have none of this, so he forces them to fight A-san one-on-one… or two-on-one, however you want to look at it. At the same time, however, Migi’s rationality is what keeps Shinichi from becoming A-san. Look at the way Shinichi thinks of himself: “What separates us? He’s a killer, and I’m a morally upright high school student.” Of course, it’s easy to be morally upright if you think of your victims as nothing more than “man-eating monsters.” But if they’re not monsters, then what are they? Reiko confesses that she had used her body to mate with A-san’s body; she wanted to see what the results would be. Interestingly enough — but perhaps somewhat expected —  the baby currently inside her is a 100% human. If the parasytes can reproduce at all, this certainly isn’t the way to go about it. But on more a symbolic level, what separates Reiko from any other pregnant mother-to-be? She holds a respectable job. She fits in with the rest of society. She fakes it well enough that it almost seems like she cares for her students. And oh yeah, she’s about to give birth to a human child. It would seem, of course, that unlike Migi, Reiko still has to sustain herself by eating other humans. But other than this rather gruesome biological necessity, Reiko isn’t all that different from other humans on a symbolic level.

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In the end, the parasytes as a species are still in their infancy. They know nothing about themselves or the world around them. They hardly know how they’re supposed to live and function. Some will act on their animalistic impulses and indiscriminately murder humans for food. Others, like Migi and Reiko, will seek to understand who they are and what they can be. Perhaps in the future, parasytes like Reiko can assimilate even further into human society by realizing that they don’t need to hunt and eat live prey. Much like the ghouls in Tokyo Ghoul, perhaps scavenging for dead bodies is an ethical possibility for parasytes to sustain themselves. Should this ever come to pass, again, parasytes wouldn’t be all that different from humans on a symbolic level. Yes, because of their unique abilities, parasytes are always a potential threat. If they can blend in that well with the rest of us, you can never really know if a parasyte won’t just turn around and eat you. But then again, every single living person out there is a potential threat. When I meet someone for the first time, I can never be too sure either that they won’t try to rob, hurt, or kill me. Nevertheless, that’s no way to live. I can’t distrust every single new person that I meet. Society can’t function like that. Reiko proves that not all parasytes are the same. Some aren’t a threat to Shinichi and his loved ones whatsoever. I’m hardly suggesting that our protagonist should embrace the rest of the parasytes with gusto, but he has to pull himself back a bit. ‘Cause if Migi had been a pushover, Shinichi would just be another A-san.

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9 thoughts on “Parasyte Ep. 3: Prejudice”

  1. So, they can’t give birth a parasyte baby but a human baby instead, that’s a shame for them or maybe is good since they’ll not have to compete for food and risk themself to be discovered, well at least the baby will be okay with a parasyte mother like Reiko I guess, since she want to fit in society.
    Shinichi need to keep his emotions in check, he’s attracting to much attention lately with his rage uproars, now that I think about it, every parasyte seems to have that problem in certain degree.

    1. I guess we can’t help but wonder where they came from in the first place. Thematically, however, the answer to this mystery is perhaps irrelevant.

  2. “Man-eating monsters” may not be the entire and exact truth, but it’s close enough. Pretty much every parasite he’s met has either assaulted him or threatened violence verbally.

    At this point, it’s rather pedantic to say we’re not *exactly* sure that Ryoko eats humans. I mean philosophically speaking, I can’t prove that there isn’t a teacup orbiting Jupiter either. But they’re both fair inferences, especially given how young and gawky the parasites are.

    1. He can count the number of dangerous parasytes he’s met on one hand. Not a good sample size.

      At this point, it’s rather pedantic

      Okay then.

      1. I think she does eat human, just not in her close promixity, in order to keep her cover. The bit of her dialogue gives me that impression.

  3. You make some really good points here, especially about Shinichi being Migi’s “emotional center” to keep his behavior in check. I disagree, however, with your assertion that Shinichi and A-san are almost the same–that without Migi, Shinichi would “be another A-san.” It seems more related to what you were saying about Shinichi’s ability to change his face than about Migi balancing out Shinichi’s rash decisions. Shinichi can never become A-san because he has his own face and name (and by extension, reputation) to maintain. A-san doesn’t even have a name, so he isn’t tied to maintaining anything. Identity is more of a controlling factor than Migi’s commands (which Shinichi ignores when he finds them morally unsatisfactory).
    You are right about parasites not being different than humans on a symbolic level. You put into words what I’d been struggling to articulate about this show. Great read!

    1. Shinichi can never become A-san because he has his own face and name

      My point isn’t that literal. I’m saying Shinichi is similar to A because they both don’t trust the other side. If not for Migi, Shinichi would stay the same.

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