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.
— 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.
— 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.
— 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.