Parasyte Ep. 7: Symbolic love

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I didn’t really find anything in particular that I wanted to expand on in great detail in this week’s episode, so no essay for mat.Instead, I just have some loose observations:

— Instead of finding his mom, Shinichi discovers a kindred soul — another poor, parasyte-inflicted sap whose brain is still intact. The first thing that strikes me about Mamoru, the new character, is that he seems incredibly non-threatening. He has that “Aw, shucks!” look about him. He’s also got rounded, somewhat chubby cheeks to Shinichi’s more gaunt and angular look. Now, Shinichi started out as a bit of a nerd, but he was a movie nerd. What do I mean by this? It meant all he had to do was take off his glasses and voila! Instant attractiveness! So of course, all the girls are into him. It thus seems as though Mamoru is destined to be Shinichi’s first male friend, because again, he’s no threat to our protagonist on any level.

— Mamoru tells us that his wife left him because he was too easygoing and indecisive. And for a while, Shinichi was also wimpish and indecisive as well. He needed Migi to often guild him through their trials. There is thus another similarity between Shinichi and Mamoru. Even though the new guy is much older than Shinichi — after all, he’s already been married — people mature at different rates. And for Mamoru, losing his wife could’ve been the catalyst that would push him towards maturing. Maturing doesn’t necessarily mean manning up, of course. It can simply mean knowing what you want from life, and pursuing it with passion. Still, that doesn’t mean Mamoru has matured at all. The key word in a previous sentence is “could.” Even though he now has a parasyte of his own, Mamoru may be avoiding his problems. He might not be confronting his issues head on. Since I don’t know anything else about him yet, I can’t really say. I just get the feeling that he’s not as mature as Shinichi even though he’s technically older than our hero.

— If you’ll notice, the new parasyte’s (for now, he’s just called Parasite) speech pattern changes between the present and the past. He is much more natural-sounding in the present. During the flashback, he has that same monotone cadence that all the other parasytes have. Like Migi, Parasyte has a symbiotic relationship with its host, and as a result, it becomes more human. The other parasytes don’t have a human brain to work with, so they simply become human simulacra.

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— Speaking of non-threatening, Mamoru cries easily. He sobs after hearing Shinichi’s story.

— Thanks to Migi’s environment, it has a proper manner of speech. On the other hand, Mamoru loves to watch TV, so Parasite’s speech patterns reflect that. This situation is unique. Ultimately, this is a story about growing up, but these two guys are also parents in a way. Then again, having a kid is a quick way to sober up.

— Mamoru might be a crybaby, but he’s decisive here: he wants to help Shinichi with his mother-killing problem. So maybe the former has made some progress in fixing his flaws.

— Migi confesses that he’s now only 70% of its former self. The other 30% are distributed as fragments throughout Shinichi’s bloodstream. This is why Shinichi now has superpowers. Upon learning this, our hero is afraid that he may lose his sense of himself, but Migi assures his host that its fragments are too small to exhibit any sort of consciousness or intelligence. Shinichi nevertheless wonders why he hasn’t cried recently despite everything that he’s been through. Is this the result of Migi’s fragments? I would only suggest that, symbolically, Shinichi has matured, and Migi’s fragments are a physical way to explain this phenomenon. As for why Shinichi’s personality has technically changed according to the rules within the Parasyte universe, I wouldn’t know. I don’t think those details are terribly important, though. After all, Shinichi doesn’t know whether or not he can never cry again. He just knows he hasn’t cried recently. Maybe Shinichi just didn’t feel like crying when his father is currently so lost and out-of-sorts. Maybe deep down, he really believes there’s no point in crying when he still has to protect his father from his mother. I just think there are too many variables to consider, so it is unwise to jump to the conclusion that Shinichi now has a hole in his heart. Perhaps if Shinichi’s true love dies, he’ll cry again. Who knows?

— Kind of weird for Maki to go say, “You don’t tell me anything.” They don’t know each other all that well, so why would Shinichi tell her anything?

— It’s odd how Migi must instantly fall asleep if he’s tired. Even if I’m sleepy or tired, I can keep myself awake for a bit longer if I force myself to stay awake. The parasytes must be different in this respect. They obey their biological imperatives much more than humans do.

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— But on a symbolic level, this is Shinichi’s fight. It’s not Migi’s fight. If Migi is awake, he’d certainly do his best to maximize their survival, and as a result, Shinichi would be solely responsible for whatever happens. But for our hero to properly confront his mother, his actions must be authentically his. No matter what he decides to do with his mother, he has to take responsibility. He can’t mature if he always has Migi to fall back on. As such, he can’t use Migi’s survival instincts as a crutch, and the best way to ensure this is to have Migi fall asleep. Our alien friend literally objectifies himself into a sharp weapon for Shinichi’s use. Shinichi now has a powerful tool for the upcoming battle, but only a tool. Everything else — his actions, his motivations, his feelings, etc. — should be his and his alone.

— The action is funnier than it is cool. I couldn’t help but laugh at Mamoru’s swaying body because Parasite is busy battling Shinichi’s mother. I think this is part of the charm, though. I think the battles should be somewhat ridiculous, or else they’d overshadow the larger, more important story. Parasyte isn’t a shounen action series. It’s a coming-of-age tale, and having slick, shounen-esque battles would be even more ridiculous than what we have now.

— Shinichi notes that his mother’s voice is still the same. Is it any coincidence that his voice also deepened as he announces his intention to kill her quickly? She hasn’t changed enough. On the other hand, he wants to show that he’s changed more than she thinks.

— Shinichi’s mother then says, “…what can one lone human possibly accomplish?” On the surface, the parasytes underestimate humans. They see us as nothing more than livestock to be slaughtered. We’re just food. On a symbolic level, Shinichi’s mother argues that he’s useless alone. He should’ve never pushed her away. Humans can’t be as independent as they want themselves to be. If he had never encouraged his parents to go on their vacation, she would’ve never turned into a monster. Shinichi wants to prove her wrong by attempting to kill her. He truly doesn’t need his mother as much anymore. He just needs the memories of the good times they shared. In other words, he only needs her symbolically. Her alien self, i.e. his mother as a monster, is her true self now. He thus denies her true self and holds up her symbolic self. That’s why he can try to kill his mother without killing her completely. This draws a sharp contrast from when he couldn’t initially accept that his mother had become a monster who had hurt his father. As a result, she was able to stab him through the heart.

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— Shinichi: “Mom… Mom…! I’m going to hack that monster out of you!” Visions of his kind mother then flashes through his mind. This causes Shinichi to briefly hesitate and thus lower his defenses. Ultimately, Mamoru and Parasite are the ones to chop off Nobuko’s head.

— So did our hero accomplish what he had set out to do? I don’t know. He fought her with conviction, I suppose. But in the end, he wasn’t the one who finished her off. He isn’t truly responsible for his actions. Thematically, it would’ve made more sense to have Shinichi be the one to put his mother out of her misery. In being saved, he’s neither truly asserts his independence, nor does he ascend to become a true superhero. I guess the story feels sorry for our hero, and as a result, it spares him from having to kill his mother with his own hands. Still, it feels like a cop-out.

— What was the point of Maki’s character? He’s completely oblivious to her feelings. Or if he even realizes that she likes him, he certainly refuses to react to any of it other than this vague assurance that he might return to the island one day. She seems like such a throwaway.

— Shinichi’s father tells him that his mother always loved him. Sure. And symbolically, she will always love him.

— In the end, Shinichi returns to school, but as a different person. I still feel as though this transformation would’ve been more poignant if he had been the one to kill his mother. But oh well… it now remains to be seen how Satomi will react to the new Shinichi.

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28 thoughts on “Parasyte Ep. 7: Symbolic love”

  1. Do you think people create one guy who woman view as attractive in their stories by mistake sometimes.Here I do not think it was done on purpose. Then when there is more than one person a woman might find attractive in the stories universe the former 2nd protagonist becomes evil. Harry Osbourne in Spiderman,the 3rd Guyver in Guyver etc. I think when people write fictional works the lead character is vaguely a representation of themselves or a person they want to be and it is hard for some one not to accidentally write themselves as perfect which is something even a good writer can not 100% avoid. There are writers who do this on purpose like the shitty anime about majic and sao where it is nothing but a writers power fantasy but I think most times it is a slip up by the writer.

    1. I think the Accidental Gary Stu happens naturally when you write a character who is too similar to yourself, and so by extension represents the majority of your ideals. Almost all stories deal in some kind of ideological conflict, and authors frame them after their own opinions consciously or unconsciously, so what they think becomes true in their work of fiction.

      What happens when you have one character that represents most of the author’s ideals in this world? Well, they’re always right. Even when they lose – if they ever lose – they still win. It takes conscious effort and planning to avoid this, so it’s really no surprise when it slips into stories unintended. You need to build cast- and setting- first to stand any chance at distancing yourself from the protagonist, and some authors just don’t write that way.

      Now, I’m way less sympathetic to the “non-threatening guys” phenomenon, because I can see no reason for it but some real insecurities on the part of the author. It takes some incredible sleaze to write a cast of female characters who without fail are attracted to a single guy for his charm and bravery and wit, then somehow also feel justified making every other male in the setting either a hopeless dork, dead, or overtly evil just in case the fictional harem might be romantically interested in anyone but the star of the show.

      That’s is just… multiple dimensions of awful. It assumes the only purpose of the protagonist is to be a hopeless self insert, and the only way for the viewer to be happy as him is to have all of the girls.

      1. I forgot to mention: the total nonexistence of “competition” for the protagonist also implies that either the author is intimidated by any other men who might be seen as superior to him, or he thinks you are and is specifically trying to pander to that insecurity. Perhaps a bit of both.

        Alternately, the writer’s just creatively lazy and parrots more popular works with these terrible tropes because “that’s how it’s done”. Not really any better.

  2. “He’s neither truly asserts his independence, nor does he ascend to become a true superhero.” Because it is not his time for either yet. Before he can become a hero he has to properly mature into a adult.Then he has to have the proper reasoning to be a hero something to fight for than just himself and kill all Parasyte attitude he has. It is the same as the topic in toyko ghoul you have to balance aggressiveness and kindness. Or in the stories sense find a balance between his human and Parasyte side. Once he does this then he can move on to saving the world and stuff, before he can save others he has to well save himself from himself. Him passing out by his dad was just the authors way of exerting its not time for him to be on his own yet.

  3. Also while funny at times the fights are enjoyable since they have a psychology to them. The parasytes since they are smarter than humans always have this mental chess going on in their fights. Plus they should improve since Shinichi is super human now.

  4. The music that played during the fight between Shinichi and his mom-parasyte was stupid. It was showing these images of his dead mom and it was set to this techno music crap. Totally didn’t fit.

    Since Shinichi and Migi’s relationship isn’t so much as parasitic now as it is symbiotic, it reminds me even more of Spider-Man. It’s like the Venom Symbiote, enhancing the host’s physical abilities while also living off of him. Even the attitude shift is like the one Peter Parker undergoes in the comics and the movie Spider-Man 3. This ultimately turns out to be destructive, as the Symbiote proved to induce absolute dickery. The Symbiote’s like the dark side that comes with power and Peter is temporarily seduced by it before realizing he’s acting like a jackass. But I think Migi’s more of a nice guy/gal/thingy and Shinichi will now act more like the white knight character. Then again, maybe this was actually intended to be Japanese Spider-Man from the very start?!?!? Haha.

    And now that he’s more of a confident fellow, hopefully Shinichi will make a move on Satomi… Hell, maybe he’ll go full Peter Parker on us and start actively flirting with girls on a regular basis. That’d be kinda funny. But if he does go the white knight route we might just get an episode dedicated to fleshing out not just their relationship but Satomi’s character as well. Arguably the more interesting route.

    1. Hell, maybe he’ll go full Peter Parker on us and start actively flirting with girls on a regular basis.

      I want him to dress in all black and act all badass only for Uda to steal his pie.

    2. The music that played during the fight between Shinichi and his mom-parasyte was stupid. It was showing these images of his dead mom and it was set to this techno music crap. Totally didn’t fit.

      As someone who quite enjoys drum and bass, I also found it pretty absurd to see this fight going down to what could only be described as a halfhearted Pendulum song. I was watching with two friends and all three of us made different jokes to the same effect at exactly the same time.

      You are about to bear witness to the sonic recreation of the end of Shinichi’s character arc… Fuck it. I lied. It’s drum and bass. What you gonna do?

      1. Seriously though, even Bloog Sugar would’ve been better than what we got: cause unlike the composer for Parasyte’s music, Pendulum at the very least KNOW how to produce.
        I do agree that in any case, the soundtrack felt very out of place. Sounds to much like something you’d hear in some lowbrow fighting video game.

  5. This was about the time I stopped reading the manga. Like I said, it wasn’t bad at all but it just didn’t appeal to me for some reason. I think maybe it was the aspect of the “cop-out” you mentioned. It’s strange to have such a build-up to a climax in the protagonist’s development only to then end it with someone else claiming the victory.

    I understand that maybe the author felt it would be more realistic if he couldn’t kill her. After all, it normally take some absolute extremes to push us into doing so. However I don’t agree that was the right action to take as the extremes were met here. His slaying of the monster she became while keeping the mother he knew in his memories would have been an amazing moment.

    Either way, I have no idea how the story will play out from here, so I’m as interested as you are, mate.

    1. Yeah, I think this particular arc in his life should have wrapped up, and in doing so, he would be able to move onto a new story. I mean, it already looks as though he has matured some. So why not make it thematically significant? By killing his mother, he’s actually preserving her memories. He won’t allow the monster to continue tainting her legacy. But oh well, we’ll see how it all plays out from here.

  6. Too bad Shinichi doesn’t killed his “mom”, talking about wasting potential, anyway this episode was great and I can’t complain too much, at some point my connection trolled me during the fight between Shinichi and his mother, and I was like: jeez come on!! even if their battle wasn’t exceptional.

  7. While I enjoy the theme and story of parasyte, everytime a girl shows interest in Shinichi it pulls me out of the moment and reminds me of how harem-ish this show is. I barely tolerated how the show hinted that the black long haired girl was interested in Shinichi romantically, and now they completely ruined it with Maki randomly falling in love with him.
    I’m curious about how the show would turn out and will keep watching but with his gf and long haired girl having larger roles again now that he’s back, I can only see my opinion of the show going down steadily.
    (I’m bad with character names and couldnt bother to check with this show)

    1. Honestly, I don’t see any of them giving Satomi a run for her money. I’ll be surprised if we see Maki again. And Kana’s troubled origins pretty much sets her up for a tragic ending.

  8. I know, mc x satomi is basically this show’s otp, even the op screamed that out. Doesn’t make it less annoying to see every girl throw themselves at him. Yes maki is a throw-away character who we will never see again but who can guarantee that there won’t be other girls taking her place later? With mc becoming a “handsome badass” I can only see the trend continue, it’d be good if I’m wrong but I’m not holding my breath.

    1. I think it’s just a pity that the story doesn’t strike a balance. This problem wouldn’t be so glaring if our hero had some male friends or acquaintances, but he oddly had none until he met Mamoru. It’s strange.

      1. Agreed. It’d also help if Satomi’s character is more developed which is what I hope they’d do in the new arc since Shinichi is back to school now. Currently she’s just meek and love mc a lot; Maki even has more personality than her despite being a throw away character. I’m always mildly bored and annoyed when she’s on screen because she’s so goddamn boring.

        1. Yeah, that’ one of the main problems I had with her character when I read the manga: considering how much screen time (or pages) she was given, the fact that she was entirely defined by her relationship with Shin’ichi made for an overall very hollow and uninteresting character, and thus made it very hard for me to get invested in their romance.
          In comparison, I found Kana’s interactions with Shin’ichi to be much more engaging than whatever moments he and Murano ever shared (with the expection of one, very poignant scene).

  9. He not killing his mother (and thus not maturing completely) was intentional. Shinichi was not ready to mature yet. He is more powerful now (more grown-up, we could say), but he didn’t matured enough to bear this yet. He is showing less empathy and is less emotionally invested than he was before, and being less emotional is a common misconception associated with being a male adult. Shinichi’s going down this road and Maki was there for the sole purpose of emphasizing this new aspect of Shinichi’s personality.

    …I think =)

    1. I don’t see how not crying automatically means you’re not emotionally invested. You don’t have to cry to feel sad. And I know him not killing his mother means he’s not ready. That has never been a mystery. It’s not about what it means. It’s that the story is not ready to move on, and I personally think that’s a misstep.

      1. It’s not just not crying. It’s this, it’s how he treats Mika (yeah, I know they are pratically strangers to each other, but to me sounded as if the anime wanted us to see them as good friends or something like that – call it contrived and I will agree), and it’s the way he was at the end of the episode. Well, that was how I interpreted. I don’t know if this development is better or worse than the one you wanted. The story did move on, but in another direction. A roundabout way to his actual maturing, maybe. And I’m cool with it.

        1. He barely knows Mika. He also had to deal with protecting his father, avenging his mother, and dealing with her death. He had enough on his plate than to worry about some girl he barely knew. To me, that’s not emotionally detached. It means he had too much on his emotional plate to deal with more.

          The story did move on, but in another direction.

          This is a given. I’m talking about how it didn’t move on from what it had been building up to.

        2. I know and I said that the anime wanting Mika closer of Shinichi is contrived, but by all means I think the anime really wanted this, and wanted this just to make Shinichi less emotional. That’s one key point of my hypothesis. I don’t see any other explanation for her character anyway.

          About the direction the anime went to… well, this is a 2-cour show, having roundabouts is almost expected.

          But I understand your point and think you understood mine, and so it’s all ok. It’s always good read and argue to you =)

        3. I don’t see any other explanation for her character anyway.

          Would the old Shinichi have been any more receptive to her feelings? I don’t think so. But agree to disagree, I guess.

          this is a 2-cour show, having roundabouts is almost expected.

          Expected, but not ideal in my opinion. To me, having this many episodes should mean you have more story to tell, not that you want to examine the same story in greater detail. But again, we can just agree to disagree.

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