Parasyte Ep. 4: Loneliness

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Let’s try this format since the reception for the other format hasn’t been too hot.

— The “action” at the start of the episode is rather disappointing. Everything’s a blur because they’re supposedly moving super fast, but the end result is neither enjoyable nor interesting to watch.

— For a short moment, Shinichi and Migi become one, especially when the former says, “It’s either him or us.” He’s adopted Migi’s outlook on life.

— Basically, Migi will go full-out on defense, and this will allow Shinichi to “sneak up” on A and stab him with the sharp end of a pipe. Underestimating humans is one thing, but not paying any attention to Shinichi’s movements is just plain foolish. Yeah, he’s dumb, but stupidity doesn’t preclude you from having instincts. What if they lack instincts? Well, that’s not the case either, because they have the instinctual desire to eat people. Perhaps they just lack this sort of self-defense mechanism. In the end, however, this is a bit unsatisfying as an answer.

— A’s body isn’t long for this world, but the pipe doesn’t outright kill him either. Shinichi goes no further because he doesn’t want to become a murderer. Migi counters that A is not a human. It really depends on how you use the word “murder.” It has a particular meaning in the eyes of the law, so in that case, Migi would be right. But if Shinichi simply refuses to take a life and he’s using the word ‘murder’ in a hyperbolic way to convey his feelings, then he’s not wrong either. At the end of the day, however, I’ll have to give this to Migi, because if A is allowed to live, he would certainly be a danger to not just Shinichi but others as well.

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— A seeks out Ryoko in an attempt to find a new host; he intends to share hers. Needless to say, she puts him out of his misery. But if she had been more foolish, I wonder if A would’ve succeeded in changing hosts.

— I wonder why Ryoko opted to blow A up instead of just killing him the same way that all parasytes seemingly use to kill their prey.

— As expected, Ryoko gets flak for being pregnant and unmarried. Blah blah, Japan is still conservative, but truth be told, she’d get flak anywhere. People wouldn’t insult you to your face here, but they’d definitely gossip about you behind your back.

— Shinichi feels strongly compelled to stop Ryoko before she kills more people. After all, she has to be sustaining herself somehow. But then again, Migi is right: that baby inside her is human. Shinichi’s brand of justice is thus a bit murky.

— Our hero confronts Ryoko and demands to know why her kind has to eat people. Shouldn’t it be possible for the parasytes to sustain themselves by eating human food? After all, they still have human bodies and thus human digestive systems. Ryoko’s only theory is that they have a “directive” to eat people. You could easily say, “But if you don’t have to take a life, why take a life?” First, the parasytes don’t really care about human lives, so this appeal wouldn’t really work on them. Second, saying this would make most of us hypocrites, wouldn’t it? A lot of people can afford to not eat meat. We can make up for the the loss of nutrition through various dietary supplements. Nevertheless, we choose to eat meat anyway, and one of our many explanations is that animal lives just don’t matter enough that we’d stop slaughtering them for food. After that, it’s just the whole “Why eat meat?” debate again. As you can see, we’re back to square one.

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— Ryoko makes things easier for Shinichi, though: she will either experiment on her own child or eat it. This gives the protagonist less reasons to spare her life… though it’s doubtful that he could ever take it in the first place. Still, Ryoko is speaking as someone who isn’t a mother. What if nurturing instincts somehow kick in when she finally does give birth to her child? Plus, the parasytes are starting from scratch. They’re having to learn everything at such an accelerated pace. They’ve never had parents, they’ve never had traditions, they don’t even have their own culture. They don’t know how or if they can even reproduce. They simply adapt to the world around them and start eating. Nevertheless, even if Ryoko won’t be giving birth to a parasyte baby, she will still give birth to her baby. If Ryoko knew what being a mother was like, would she perhaps change her mind?

— Ryoko thought about taking Shinichi’s life for a second, but she suddenly backs off when she observes that he’s no longer pure. Okay then.

— Later that night, Ryoko’s mother comes to see her, but she immediately realizes that her daughter is gone. As a result, Ryoko feels as though she has to kill the old woman to protect herself. Nevertheless, I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if this visit had unfolded in a different way. If Ryoko’s mother had tried to care for her, would this have had a profound effect on a lifeform that has never known what a parent’s unconditional love is like? Sure, you can read about it in books, but you can never really know what a parent’s love feels like until you experience it for yourself. But in the end, this isn’t the path that the story took, so we’ll never know how Ryoko would’ve reacted.

— Ryoko is astonished that the old woman could see right through her act. This simply speaks to the fact that a simulacrum can never measure up to the real thing. There’s something undeniably missing from the copy — something that a loved one would immediately notice.

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— Damn, Migi can now detach himself completely from Shinichi. Since he sustains himself from the nutrients in Shinichi’s blood, however, he can only run around on his own for three minutes. Still, I suppose this trick would be rather useful if they ever need to split up. And of course, it’d be a killer icebreaker for parties.

— Migi is always rather shiny, though.

— Yep, it’s a masturbation joke in case you’ve forgotten what this story is all about (see: puberty).

— Shinichi’s parents are going on a trip, which makes the kid worry. After all, you never know if you’ll run into a parasyte. Still, his mother reaction to Shinichi’s objection is a bit… off. As an aside, her voice has always kind of bothered me. Meanwhile, his dad looks like an anime J. Jonah Jameson.

— As our protagonist walks to school, he thinks, “Migi is not capable of affection.” I don’t know if I’d rule it out just yet. Like I’ve said, the parasytes are starting from scratch. Who’s to say they can’t learn how to love in the future?

— There’s something funny about Migi brandishing a handgun.

Another masturbation joke.

— When Shinichi finally tells his parents that he’s okay with their trip, his mother thinks his wild mood swings are peculiar. Are they? I don’t think so. It’s like she’s never spent time with a teenager before. Teenagers are known for being hot and cold like this.

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— Listening to Shinichi’s made up excuse, it occurs to me that I don’t think he has a true male friend at school. That’s a little strange for a guy in the twelfth grade.

— To cap the episode off, we see Ryoko looking all menacing for a second, but when the baby in her stomach starts kicking, her expression changes completely. As the birth of the child nears, I suspect our mother-to-be will have a bit of a change of heart. I wonder, however, if it’ll be too late by then.

— Over and over, this episode demonstrates that there’s a certain level of loneliness to one’s existence as a parasyte. As Shinichi bonds with Migi, he necessarily distances himself from his parents. After all, this makes sense. As we undergo puberty, we become more independent. We no longer look to our parents as much for approval and protection. Even if Shinichi’s story about being lonely is largely a lie on the surface, it is perhaps not a lie on a more symbolic level. He no longer needs them around as much. He can replace his parents with friends. He feels like an alien around them. He wants his mom to knock before she enters his room. Anyway, you get the picture.

— And despite her best efforts, Ryoko fails to integrate herself properly into society. By having a baby out of wedlock, she is ostracized by her peers. And of course, her own mother rejects her. In the end, however, she still has her baby. The baby’s kick is, in one way, an attention-grabbing mechanism that assures the mother that it’s alive. And certainly, the baby has drawn Ryoko’s attention, The problem is, will she ever feel a connection to it? Or to put it even better, will she have time to connect with it? It’s possible that Ryoko’s curiosity might get the better of her before she can form a proper attachment to the child.

— Last but not least, A finally reaches out to Ryoko for help, but not only did she reject him, she killed him. Being a parasyte is lonely.

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— Certainly, Shinichi and Migi are an anomaly; they’re never truly lonely since they have each other. I suspect, however, that their relationship will become superfluous in the long run. After all, Migi represents Shinichi’s path to adulthood. Once the latter reaches adulthood, the former will no longer be needed. Will this be an E.T. situation where Migi leaves Shinichi and goes off on his own? Or will we have a more tragic ending?

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20 thoughts on “Parasyte Ep. 4: Loneliness”

  1. I liked your format up till now, personally. I’ve never gotten the occasion to comment on that, but your coverage has been really neat… Parasyte is a show that intrigued me from the start: I don’t have time to watch anything anymore at the moment, but I’ve been feeling that I’d have to make time out of my schedule specifically to catch up with it – an impression only reinforced by your reviews. The way you’ve been writing and expanding on the themes and dynamics displayed by the show, made for some pretty interesting trains of thought.
    But heh- I perfectly understand your having to adapt it. So thanks! I thouroughly enjoyed it for the time it lasted.
    (and I’ll keep reading those, of course, whether or not I manage to get around to see the episode you’re covering by the time you have them published.)

    1. Well, it’s interesting how everyone says they prefer the old format, but this post has more views than the previous ones. Not making any judgment. Just making an observation.

  2. “There’s something funny about Migi brandishing a handgun” – I agree, I think Migi is hilarious in an adorable way. Even though it (he?) has no qualms about killing, Migi strikes me as kind of an innocent presence. It’s like a naughty curious child learning about the world around him

    Idk, I still find Shinichi’s ideals on justice and morals to be contradicting and cheesy. I was frustrated with him early on in the episode for not wanting to kill A, even though 1) he had already just committed premeditated deadly assault and 2)his and the lives of other people he cares about were in immediate danger. Then later on he’s like “Let’s kill Ryoko because she [might be] hurting other people [that I don’t even know]”.

    Maybe he’s going through this conflicted phase because he’s still maturing and working out his beliefs. I just hope he’ll become more settled and clear on what he believes later on

    1. Well, the examples you’ve given are in two different situations. He refuses to attack A again because he had just done it. He had just done something he never thought he had to do. He was probably still shaking in that moment, somewhat traumatized by the blood and violence. As for taking Ryoko down, he voiced this desire later when everything is calm. It’s always easier to make a decision when you’re not in the heat of the moment. If he saw Ryoko’s bloodied body or her baby bump, would he change his mind? Maybe. I think this makes him human, though.

  3. Certainly preferred the previous format. Maybe because this is something new you’re trying, but this format also feels rather rigid. With the constant short sentences coupled with the notes-style, it felt as if you were either feeling rather uncomfortable writing this style or were just checking points off the list. Still insightful content-wise anyways.

    1. With the constant short sentences coupled with the notes-style, it felt as if you were either feeling rather uncomfortable writing this style or were just checking points off the list.

      I don’t really see it.

  4. FWIW, I prefer the previous format for shows that actually have something interesting to say.

    But hey, I ain’t gonna complain

    1. I agree!
      But I don’t mind if this is how it will be written from now on. It’s still interesting and fun to read.

      This note style I would like better used for Amagi Brilliant Park or Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji since they are more simple minded shows.

  5. I’m hoping that the baby really does gets Ryoko’s attention and she starts to care for it.

    I’m also hoping Migi starts to care for Shinichi and saves him because it wants to and not just because it has to.

    But I’m the type that likes seeing characters starting to have humanity/affection build in them. Also the opposite, where the humanity leaves a character little by little. Maybe something will happen where Shinichi will start to think like them?
    That’s interesting to me.

    1. I’m also hoping Migi starts to care for Shinichi and saves him because it wants to and not just because it has to.

      The season’s still young. I’m almost expecting it at this point.

    1. I think it’s more a mentality change in Shinichi. Compare his reaction here to his reaction during their first meeting. Shinichi is more outraged than scared this time around.

      No longer pure = no longer a 100% innocent kid, if you want to tie it in with the whole puberty angle, so more liable to stain his hands

      Or at least that’s what I’m seeing

      1. What I’m seeing is this:

        No longer 100 % pure = no longer 100 % human. I thought what she noticed in his eyes was something biological; traces from Migi. This isn’t anything that hasn’t been implied before (re-watch the kitten-rescuing scene). Shinichi and Migi inhabit the same body; they’re not as separate as they like to think. (I also suspect that the parasytes take on some sort of aspect from their host: I don’t think it’s a co-incidence, for example, that Ryoko used to be a math teacher: there’s some sort of compatibility between the Parasyte’s need to learn and the intellectual curiosity represented by maths.) Wait and see.

        ***
        (I’m fine with either format. )

        1. That makes a lot of sense too. I actually think both readings are compatible with each other, they just play out on different levels

  6. Here’s what I hope will happen, but I doubt it actually will. The baby’s born and because of a lack of nutrients, it dies shortly after birth. She only ate human flesh, so the fetus couldn’t really get what it needed in order to properly develop. The death of this infant causes the parasyte in Ryoko to feel a strange emotion. A feeling of emptiness. Unfamiliar with such experiences, the parasyte cannot cope with the strange, painful sensation and decides to commit suicide, something only humans are thought to do because of their level of sentience. Like how Shinichi might somehow be getting contaminated by Migi, the parasyte in Ryoko is contaminated with humanity.

    It’s the old myth that women are naturally better caretakers when it’s actually nurtured through socialization just by living within a society. Sure, we men don’t get milk-tanks of our own, so it may seem natural, but being a good caretaker is really just a skill that is acquired and not something you’re born with. The female hormones of Ryoko won’t help the parasyte take care of the baby. So it would really have a hard time even if it was born healthy and normal. It’s kind of funny when you think about it, like the set-up for a sitcom. Isn’t feeling inept towards being a parent something everybody worries about? Let’s make jokes about it!

    I really hope that Shinichi has some sex at some point in the series. It only makes sense if you want a story about adolescence and growing into a functional adult and human being. Plus, how often do you get to have a main character that actually goes all the way in an anime? Usually it’s just a fucking tease.

  7. Considering your take on this being a story of adolescence and what you’ve just written about the theme of loneliness in this story, I wonder what you’ll conclude from the next episode.

    Anyway, I can’t help but imagine what a contented ending would be like for this story. It certainly won’t be “happy” in the traditional sense. Nothing about the story’s themes or tone would suggest that. However, there’s a good possibility of a peaceful, likely reflective end, and I wonder what it would be like.

    Oh! And I’m pretty sure the lack of “purity” in Shinichi is because he’s been sharing his blood with Migi for quite a while. He’s probably got a bit of genetic tainting going on.

  8. Parasites simply can’t control their body movement while using their head , only powerful ones can do that , and by a … this show only have like 2 others besides that teacher and some other end game boss. So no it’s not a matter of instinct

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