Parasyte Ep. 5: Can’t be a momma’s boy forever

Parasyte - 0505

I feel like passing out, but the show must go on.

— At the start of the episode, a parasyte gets into a car accident, and as a result, it needs to swap bodies with the man next to it. I suspect that the parasytes have no concept of sex or gender at the moment, especially when “she” says, “Male or female, controlling his body shouldn’t be that different.” Oh ho ho, we’ll see about that. But this is something interesting to think about. Are the parasytes unisex? Will they always be unisex? By observing and studying human behavior, can they learn and adapt to our sex- and gender-based customs? Coming from a relatively neutral standpoint, what do they even think of said gender-based customs? Unfortunately, these questions will likely remain unanswered. Instead, enjoy this small bit of body horror.

— After all, isn’t this a latent fear for some guys? The idea that their girlfriends will assume complete control of their minds, bodies, and thus lives? We’re just watching this same nightmare play out in the most literal way possible.

— On the surface level, Shinichi’s brain will continue to undergo changes as long as he and Migi are linked. If this keeps up, Shinichi will — as we’ve predicted — become less human, but we’ve already seen signs of this. Migi understands Shinichi’s thought process a bit more, and vice versa. Remember Shinichi’s “It’s us or him?” line from last week’s episode? At the start of the story, I doubt Shinichi could even hurt a fly.

— On a metaphorical level, however, our brains continue to develop well into our twenties, so this is nothing new. And of course, puberty plays a significant role in how our brains develop. So the fact that Shinichi’s brain is undergoing changes is nothing too astonishing. There’s an emphasis on the idea of purity in the conversation between Migi and Shinichi on the matter. Again, on the surface, they’re referring to the idea that Shinichi’s no longer a pure human. But of course, we can also read the subtext.

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— Why would Ryoko take any interest in a sexually maturing young man? C’mon, is this a serious question? Subtext, man, subtext. Look at Shinichi’s flashbacks. The people who have commented on his metamorphosis are all women: Ryoko, his mother, and Satomi. This isn’t a coincidence.

— Shinichi comes across a classmate being beaten up by some bullies. He helps the classmate out because he feels that this is his only way to hold onto his humanity. After all, Migi and the rest of the parasytes can’t currently comprehend the idea of altruism. Shinichi thus reasons that if he can act altruistically, he also acts like a human.

— The subtext here, of course, is that Shinichi doesn’t want to abandon his sensitivity. He doesn’t want to just be a badass alpha who looks out for only himself. Happiness for him is striking a delicate balance between the changes he’s been undergoing and retaining the strengths of his former personality. The old Shinichi would’ve wanted to help this classmate. The old Shinichi just didn’t have to strength to do so. The new Shinichi has the strength, but at the same time, he could also just walk away. The good Shinichi, however, bridges the two positions — thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Migi is asleep, so Shinichi doesn’t fight back against the bullies. But at the same time, he stood for something, and he stood for it with confidence. That’s a sort of strength — a character strength, if you will.

— Kana, the new girl, seems to be able to sense something strange about Shinichi. Perhaps she can detect parasytes for some reason or other. Well, the parasytes can detect each other, so it isn’t farfetched to imagine that someone out there also has the same ability. As for subtext, again, it is a girl who notices that there is something different about Shinichi. To reinforce this idea, she might even start to like him. After all, the guys she typically hangs out with aren’t really mature. They’re just bigger kids.

— These characters like to throw the word ‘poser’ around a lot.

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— That’s not to say Shinichi’s synthesis is complete or perfect by any means. Even though the bullies have now targeted both him and Satomi, Shinichi fears that if he relies upon Migi, he will stray too far to one side. Our hero has to admit he can’t just be strong in character all the time. Sometimes, you need physical strength too.

— Then again, Migi’s idea of help is to flat out kill the bullies. Luckily, Shinichi’s saved by a bigger gang.

— So the parasyte from earlier — the one that had stolen its boyfriend’s body — finally comes to the realization that it can’t control a male body very well, It thus appears that a parasyte will somewhat take on the sex of the first person it attaches itself to. As a result, it needs to find a female victim. I say somewhat because I still don’t think of the parasytes as really having a sex or gender.

— Really? You think I’m cool? So my mother was right! I am cool!


— See, if this had been an American teen movie, he’d be throwing the biggest party his school had ever seen. Then the girl would show up late — always fashionably late — then they’d have a heart-to-heart in the backyard or something while “Kiss Me” plays in the background.

— I still think he should’ve walked her home, though.

— Oh Migi…

Migi: “How disappointing… I thought I would get to see human intercourse.”

Just make Shinichi buy you some pornos. Actually, forget that. You don’t need to spend money. When Shinichi’s sleeping at night, just go on the internet and visit some choice sites.

Parasyte - 0506

— Kana seems to be stalking our protagonist. When she shakes his hand — his right hand, of course — she quickly notices that there’s something off about it. Yeah, it’s bigger than his left, right?

— But according to Migi, Kana is somehow attuned to the parasytes’ wavelengths, thus allowing her to somewhat detect their presence.

— Damn, Shinichi’s poor mother… they should’ve listened to Shinichi and stayed home after all. Still, I thought there was something odd about her before. I guess she was just a bit quirky.

— Everything changes as we get older. Even our relationships with our parents. That isn’t to say you should literally kill your mom, but you do have to separate yourself from your parents in one way or another. You have to become independent. Everything in this anime plays out in the most literal way possible, but the subtext here is relatively benign. Shinichi’s becoming a young man. He thus has to “kill” the idea in his head that his mom will always be around to baby him forever.

— Right on cue, Shinichi’s “mother” shows up to their home. Again, Shinichi must grow up and symbolically sever himself from his mother. Unfortunately, because this is somewhat of a horror anime, this means he has to literally kill his mother’s body. Naturally, Shinichi places the blame on Migi. If he had been more childish — if he had been clingy with his own mother — he might have convinced them to stay home for his sake. In asserting his independence, he inadvertently sent his mother to her death. We all have fears of growing up. We also fear what growing up entails. Losing our mothers is just one of those fears.

— Shinichi is thus in denial. He thinks he’s the monster, and that’s why his mother is now different to him. Our hero even thinks that if he confesses his sins to her, i.e. everything he’s been hiding from her recently, she’d come back to him. But he’s impure now, so no confession will change that fact.

— If our hero’s not going to do anything, his “mother” will do it for him: she stabs him right through the chest, likely aiming for his heart. Maybe she even hit his heart, but of course, wouldn’t that kill him? Well, we’ll find out next week.


29 Replies to “Parasyte Ep. 5: Can’t be a momma’s boy forever”

  1. Putting aside the subtext, did you enjoy the rest of the episode? Especially with regard to the final scene, which I found especially cringeworthy…

    Oh, and get well soon!

  2. I was surprised that Shinichi had a male friend, but in the end was just a guy from his school lol, maybe they will develop some kind of friendship.
    Shinichi is strangely surrounded by the opposite sex.

  3. I think they slightly overdid the bullying part, but the second half of the episode was fantastic. A puberty metaphor has never been so gory.

  4. I hope this doesn’t come off as an attack or anything, but I honestly don’t get why you’re not a whole lot harsher on this show, especially since you seem to love tearing apart other shows that are really just mediocre at worst. I’m not saying I think Parasyte is TERRIBLE, but it’s just… so fucking heavy-handed. Or maybe it’s just seeing you analyze it like this that makes me feel like it is?? I don’t know. But point is, being a metaphor for puberty or whatever does not in fact make something deep or original in any way, especially when it’s crammed down the audience’s throat like this. Hell, this isn’t the kind of story that should HAVE to be a metaphor for anything. This seems like a premise that could be enjoyable for its own plot and characters and themes, and not whatever tired Freudian bullshit it’s supposed to represent.

    Also, I found your “if this had been an American teen movie” comment interesting, because so far that’s EXACTLY what it feels like to me. And IMO that’s really not much better than the typical anime tropes. I’d actually even say it’s worse, because I go into anime braced for the usual Anime Bullshit, so having to deal American Teen Movie Bullshit instead is just kind of jarring.

    I was impressed with the first episode of this show, but so far everything since has honestly just struck me as kind of lame. I guess this is based on a manga from the 90s though, so maybe it just hasn’t aged all that well?

    1. Can you explain in more detail how is it heavy handed and lame?

      E Minor’s interpretation is kind of interesting; but I myself am the type who watch anime for pure entertainment. It’s why I watch show such as Akame ga Kill because it’s kind of amusing. Dropped SAO it has nothing but silly kids wasting their time to get a weapon in MMO. Where they are no longer involved in life or death situation.
      And I have to say that I don’t see what’s lame about parasyte. It’s been an entertaining ride so far, and I don’t really mind the drums either.

      1. I mean there’s not really all that much to say. I’m not going to write a fucking essay here for you. E Minor’s analysis posts actually do a much better job of explaining what I dislike about it than I could – they’re just surprisingly not negative about it.
        It’s mostly just the whole “HEY LOOK, GET IT, IT’S A METAPHOR FOR PUBERTY” thing that I think is dumb. It’s not original. It’s not clever. There’s definitely nothing profound about it – because, at least so far, it has nothing to actually SAY beyond “lol puberty”. I don’t think it’s a particularly worthwhile subject in the first place, either, but maybe that’s just me. It’s an awkwardly literal take on the tired “coming of age” formula, but that doesn’t really make it any more interesting. And I don’t know, maybe some of this stuff wasn’t actually intended, but it’s not all that subtle. I often think E Minor kind of reads too much into things, but with this show I feel like his observations are pretty much spot-on.
        And of course, what is the show without that whole layer? Just an anime that feels too much like a stereotypical American high school movie, with some body horror thrown in that’s a bit too cartoony to actually be disturbing, and some action scenes that mostly just consist of parasyte appendages flailing all over the place at light speed.
        Once again, I don’t think it’s truly BAD. I certainly wouldn’t compare to stuff like SAO or AgK. I just think it seems pretty mediocre, and seeing E Minor treat it like it’s actually much more intelligent than the average anime gets kind of tiring.

        1. It’s internet people who love to read too far into it. I have read the manga in entirety and I don’t think the author have such intention.
          This is a shounen. Does Bleach, Naruto, Beelzebub, or.. Tokyo Ghoul have some philosophy and serious moral lessons behind them? No.

        2. @eternia just a quick reply to your last comment. Kiseijuu is NOT a shounen manga, and neither is Tokyo Ghoul: both were published in seinen magazines.

          Also, simply because it’s “shounen” doesn’t prevent a show from having “deep” moral lessons or whatever. Just take Naruto for eg. : regardless of one’s opinion of the work might be, the concept of family, friendship and trust are ever present and the author heavily insists on their importance and how having them can make you stronger (and alternatively how the absence of those can break you). There’s no subtext or metaphorical approach of those themes: it’s often said out loud. But it’s there.
          And I could go on an essay about Hunter x Hunter but I already made my point.

          Also, I agree with E Minor about the fact that the author’s original intention is irrelevant (even though I disagree with your idea that Kiseijuu’s author had no intention of making his work a big fat metaphor for puberty) : if your work ends up riddled with subtext, regardless of how little you thought about it when you wrote/composed/painted/whatever it, people are gonna read a lot into it. Which is good, cause it makes our brains work.

    2. I don’t feel like the metaphor of puberty has been crammed down the audience’s throat at all. As someone who enjoys Psycho Pass a lot, the fourth episode of the second season is probably a better example of “cramming stuff down the audience’s throat”.

      “I honestly don’t get why you’re not a whole lot harsher on this show” – this sounds kind of silly to me

      1. I still haven’t gotten around to watching the latest episode of Psycho-Pass 2, but I do honestly think that show is kind of heavy-handed in general too (although it’s themes are at least more interesting than just fucking puberty). I’m not even strictly AGAINST that, though. I don’t really watch anime expecting a lot of subtlety. It just confuses me to see something like this regarded positively by someone usually as critical as E Minor, I guess. But I don’t know, maybe I’m being dumb here. Maybe I should just stop reading these posts and try to enjoy Parasyte solely for what’s on the surface.

    3. I agree with you that E minor’s not as critical of the show as he should be. I couldn’t believe that the mangaka introduced power levels into this work (If you’re a 10, he’s an 18). Even if it was just for that one scene, it was so inappropriate and they had already gotten across that Shinichi could not win fighting alone in that situation.

      The first episode got me excited because I thought this was going to be a horror anime. When it became clear that it would be more of a drama I said fine, that could work too. The pacing is so glacial though, and Shinichi’s internal conflict, which should be carrying the show, is so weak and trivial that it’s just uninteresting. He actually doesn’t seem to be having any real internal conflict, he’s just paranoid that he’s changing into something darker but he’s pretty much the same person so far.

      I found it especially baffling that the bullies and Kana were surprised that Shinichi wasn’t cool with them raping his friend. “Why don’t you just leave, I don’t get it, you’re so weak. You’re a weirdo.” No, that’s like how most people would react.

      It didn’t have to be so contrived either, here’s what you could have done with that scene. Instead of everyone thinking it strange that Shinichi wouldn’t leave his friends to get hurt, maybe the change that was mentioned by Ryoko could manifest itself in that Shinichi would display more sociopathic tendencies. In this case, maybe he does decide that he’ll leave his friend to get raped and this callousness shocks him, his friend, and himself. The internal struggle of “I should leave because I can’t win” and “I need to get us out of here safely” could have been more balanced and Shinichi losing his humanity and empathy would increase the drama and drive the story along better.

      I really wanted to like this show and I stuck around for five episodes but I think I’m done. I was initially excited for bodysnatchers: the horror anime, but the more I see of the story the more disappointment I feel. Cheers to those of you that stick with it.

      1. I usually don’t reply to comments where I think the commenter has misunderstood something, but there’s a lot wrong with this surface reading of Parasyte.

        The “power levels” thing is just a result of Migi’s analytical thinking. He sees things in this calculative way and expresses it in cold, factual terms. It wasn’t supposed to make it clear that Shinichi couldn’t win on his own, it was abundantly clear to everyone but Migi. He thinks Shinichi just doesn’t understand his disadvantage, so obviously he’d try to inform and convince him otherwise.

        “he’s just paranoid that he’s changing into something darker but he’s pretty much the same person so far.” That’s internal conflict right there. He’s doubting his own identity.

        The guy who was getting beat up wasn’t really his friend. He literally tried to beat Shinichi up a few episodes ago. Also, that gang is surprised because they’re under the assumption that anybody who acts altruistically is, in their words, a “poser.” They’re cynical people who think people are motivated by selfishness, so they base their decisions on such principles. When they encounter someone who doesn’t meet up to this expectation of theirs, it’s understandable that they’d be at least puzzled as to how a single guy would stand up to all of them for the sake of one person. What was even more surprising was the fact that he didn’t give up or run away after the display of strength i.e. him getting the shit beat out of him.

        It’s easy to say “this isn’t my problem” and slip away like you didn’t see anything. You have a really warped perception of reality, man. Altruism isn’t the norm. I’m not a pessimist, but I do know that walking away is what a number of people would do. Shinichi is acting on behalf of another, not just himself. Do you really think seeing altruism in action WOULDN’T surprise a group of cynical teens? He doesn’t live in some shounen fantasy world where little kids with spiky golden hair beat up a group of bigger men. I’m not saying Parasyte is realistic, but it’s definitely not your typical power fantasy fulfillment shounen anime.

        And what’s best is that Shinichi doesn’t beat their asses up by himself in a stunning display of his power. Because that’s what a shounen anime would do. Instead, he reaffirms his humanity and his beliefs by relying on himself alone. This is much more intelligent than your typical shounen. I’m not saying it’s “intelligent” in general, it’s kind of ham-fisted in it’s allegory for adolescence. But it’s definitely intelligent compared to most shounen anime.

        It’s fine if you wanted “Bodysnatchers: the anime” and you’re dropping this because you didn’t get what you want. Hell, I project my expectations on entertainment too. But you’re understanding of Parasyte is sorely lacking.

        If you wanted to take another interpretation of this, you could also say that the Parasytes, in and of themselves with no relation to Shinichi’s character arc, are a metaphor for the Red Scare, though this is pretty far fetched considering that it’s a Japanese cartoon. A case can be made for it though. How can you tell if someone’s a Red (parasyte, in this case), if there are no surface indicators and they are able to mimic the behavior of Capitalists (humans, in this case) to an extent where they can fool people into believing they are what they’re not? Shinichi can be seen as a sleeper agent who’s begun to doubt his own identity, i.e. is he secretly a Red and he doesn’t even know it? This is just an example of how even works that I don’t really think are “intelligent” can have more than just one interpretation/meaning to them.

        TL;DR (for the Peanut Gallery): You’re projecting your expectations on a work in way that influences your interpretation of its story negatively, thus limiting your understanding of (and therefore limiting your capability of enjoying) it.

        And, yeah, like E-Minor says, intention is worth nothing. Read: The Death of the Author, Roland Barthes, 1967. All you need to have is a theory that holds under analytical scrutiny.

        1. Agree with everything this person said.
          I do think if you expect bodysnatcher: the horror show, then to stop watching it would be a favor for you as well as the show.
          Or just learn to accept the show like what it is, instead of comparing it nonstop with whatever (rather superficial) expectation you had.

        2. I also was disappointed by lack of horror since it gave me first impression as being one. But drama & characterization is done well enough to keep me hooked.

    4. You said its not original but its source material is from 1990 not sure how many coming of age stories they had back then. Also you are forgetting the coming of age is just 1 theme of this series. Its the theme Eminor touches on most because its the only theme with a solid awnser. There still are the themes of what exactly makes a human human. Are the parsytes wrong. Human morality etc. You are missing out on the othe themes of this series because of what one mans blog highlights about the series. You sir are way to impressionable.

      1. “You said its not original but its source material is from 1990 not sure how many coming of age stories they had back then. ”

        Lots of them. Don’t doubt that for a moment .

  5. “How disappointing… I thought I would get to see human intercourse.” You said it, Migi. If the show ends with nothing of this sort happening between Shinichi and Satomi then I’ll be super disappointed.

    I also think he should have walked her home. They literally just got attacked by some dudes who got the drop on them. Wouldn’t the girl be especially weary and actually want to be walked home? I guess she’s just brave. I bet she could’ve beat those guys up by herself but didn’t want Shinichi to see such an unfeminine side of her. Alternatively, her head was full of thoughts about Shinichi’s badassery so she forgot to ask. Mid-way home she’s like “Oh, fuck, I just remembered that I could’ve been assaulted a few hours ago and I’m supposed to be understandably fearful. Fufu I’m such a dunce.”

    The metaphor for adolescence thing is pretty straightforward and there isn’t much subtlety to how it’s conveyed. I think I prefer it when a story has some degree of ambiguity to it. When it’s open to interpretation like that the discussions to be had about the story are much more interesting.

    They should totally end up having a threesome with that Kana chick. This is the only acceptable ending.

    If Shinichi loses his dad next, then he’s totally gonna become a superhero. Just look at Spider-Man and Batman. Also, if he gets the house all to himself maybe Satomi will move in with him!

    Also: Migi you FOOL, sparsely populated areas are where 99% of horror movies take place! Your research is FUCK.

    1. Migi is not genre-savvy. But then again, from his point of view, this is not an horror story. He gets to slack off all day and being literally fed by someone else’s body, what’s horrifying about that?

    2. That Kana seems to me like a gang leader of sorts, she was like controlling those guys for some reason, and they were listening to her, maybe she´s her alpha or they know her secret identity, misterious.
      Also, the way the parasyte clashed with the parents was unexpected, I really couldn´t see that coming until they were in that cliff watching the sun, then everything fell into place. I like that in this show, is not like you could predict what is about to happen, maybe it can be transparent in othe regards, but in its characters’ interactions is were it shines.
      Also, the dialogues are well thoughout and doesn´t seem out of place, i.e. they seem like real people and I like how a lot of the explaining and exposition just happens in the actions and events, just scarcely given by infodumps, which are not even that bad, well, they are not heavy-handed nor boring to listen to.
      But the thing that always draw me to watch this is Migi! He´s so awesome as a pet/friend sort of thing, well, I supposed they tried to be body horrorish, but I find him cute and even funny! And yeah, maybe I´m a lot desensibilized because I don´t mind all those grimdark scenes of gore.
      But the real question here, is that Shinichi and Migi can´t deal with the parasytic invasion, they can kill their enemies, and protect some people, yeah, but this is a real threat to humanity! Surely they don´t even know how to prevent humanity from becoming all victims to the parasytes, so this is not a story that seems to have a happy ending, but we don´t know if they will take action, and how, or if someone else is going to.
      Whatever happens, is part of the charm to watching this show, and it is going to be welcome!

  6. The adolescent thing is mostly E Minor’s interpretation. You could enjoy it in whatever way you want. A show having a strong theme does not make it automatically smart, but does not make it dumb, heavy-handed either. Personally I prefer shows when the writer clearly knew what kind of message he wants to send. But in the end, it’s on the viewer to decide. I feel the theme of environment is stronger than adolescence metaphor in Parasyte. And even if you don’t agree with E Minor’s interpretation of the mother killing things (I don’t), you still can enjoy it for being a scene with strong emotional impact.

    Personally I feel that it’s more similar to a superheroes show than teenager drama: the hero gains his power, considering his responsibility, getting his relatives involved in his secret life, fighting with himself etc, etc, etc…It does not make it bad, like superheroes are not bad on their own. It’s all about the execution. And the execution of Parasyte is just rock solid.

    And the whole “I honestly don’t get why you’re not a whole lot harsher on this show than other shows” is just pure silly, sorry.

    By the way, E Minor, if you really go into the “growing up metaphor”, do you think the isolation of Shinichi is also an aspect of it? He gained his secret life, he had something he cannot share to anybody. That created a sense of alienation, an acknowledgement of the individuality and loneliness of his own self, and in some works with the same theme, it’s also a step in the transition into adulthood.

  7. I just realized again how this show vaguely tickles the themes of a harem show. Young adult male protag, rather bland but well-meaning, suddenly coming into a power that oddly affects/attracts the girls around him…
    _Of course neither the plot, characters or tone of the story are anything like a harem show. Still, it’s an interesting thought.

    Anyway, about an episode or two from now is where I dropped the manga so it’ll be a fresh viewing for me too. I wonder how the resolution to this small arc involving his mom will fit into the maturation allegory.

  8. “E minor’s not as critical of the show as he SHOULD be”. This is the silliest thing I’ve ever read in the comment section of this blog. Come on. You can’t be serious.

    In other things, I’m enjoying Parasyte but not as much as I thought. Now that things will become more complex to the main character maybe the show will make me more interested on it. I’ll cross my fingers, because I’m watching just a few shows this season.

    Also, it’s funny how people always have something to say about E minor’s essays. “You’re reading too much into it”, “you are excessively critical” or “you’re just pointing the obvious”, “you’re not critical enough”. It’s really weird and silly that you project your expectations to a person. Leave that for the show, not the blogger!

  9. I love this anime so far and I really enjoy reading your posts on it.

    I actually cried a little when he tried talking to his mom…

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