Parasyte Ep. 8: What does it take to be human?

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I couldn’t help but laugh when Ryoko’s face suddenly twisted into this. C’mon, what are you guys doing to me!

But anyway, here’s the post on the eighth episode that I failed to notice earlier. There’s no going back in time and erasing the ninth episode from my memory, so this post will come from the perspective of someone who knows what will happen later. As for why I had failed to notice the eighth episode, what can I say? Chalk it up to the holiday rush, I guess.

— It’s odd how these guys only have one place to fight in the entire city, and it’s that same dingy yard over and over.

— Mitsuo comes right out and asks Shinichi if he’s had sex with Kana. I find this interesting because most anime leads are… well, to put it simply, sexually inert. And yet, for Mitsuo to jump to this conclusion, it must mean that sex is normal for everyone else. So in these stories, we have sex-deprived main characters and sex-having nobodies. Makes you almost want to be a nobody.

— I suppose Satomi could worry that Shinichi may have become one of those man-eating parasytes, but to me, he still seems pretty human. There’s a stark difference between humans and parasytes-in-disguise. So I don’t think this is the case. I think she simply likes the older him more — the nerdy, wimpish, but more sensitive Shinichi.

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— I can’t say Kana really likes Shinichi. Rather, I think she’s attracted to his Otherness. There’s an exotic quality to him that intrigues her, but they can never really be a healthy couple. There’s just too much fetishization going on here.

— Shinichi comes home to see his haggardly-looking father drown his sorrows in alcohol. By comparison, Shinichi is cool, collected, and rather nonplussed. He’s concerned about his father, but he’s not… emotional about it. But does that mean he’s emotionally-detached? Afterwards, he retires to his room and wonders if there’s something wrong with his heart. Well, I’m not sure. I’m inclined to say there isn’t anything wrong with him. Again, he still cares for his father’s well-being. And it’s not as though he wasn’t sad to see his mother die. He was. He was sad enough that he couldn’t even bear to kill the parasyte that had taken her form! Shinichi just isn’t so emotional that he would partake in any sort of self-destructive activity.

— And let’s face it, that’s what we’re seeing here. Sitting around and drinking alcohol all day — on an empty stomach, no less — is self-destructive. You go to a therapist for this sort of thing. You don’t go to a therapist if you’re perfectly okay. Nevertheless, when we see this sort of behavior, we tolerate it. We sympathize with Shinichi’s father. He had just lost the love of his life, after all. But make no mistake about it, he’s hurting himself. While it’s natural to mourn — and it’s certainly expected for a lot of people to turn to alcohol during tough times — I don’t think you’re emotionally detached simply because you don’t choose to sit around and look glum. Again, that sort of behavior usually entails a visit to a therapist, so let’s not mistake it as healthy. It’s human, but not healthy. And on the flip side of the coin, I just don’t think there’s anything wrong with how Shinichi’s acting. He still cares for his father’s well-being, and that’s enough for me. We don’t all have to cry buckets of tears and get smashed in order to be emotionally attached.

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— In fact,  I dare say we only think Shinichi’s lack of emotional response is unnatural, because, again, we’ve accustomed ourselves to excusing and accepting self-destructive tendencies. In fifty years or perhaps a hundred years, the stigma surrounding mental healthcare might not be as bad. Hell, it might even go away completely. And at that point, it might become natural and instinctive to immediately see a therapist immediately after the death of one’s spouse. People in the future may look back on our time and wonder how we could be so blase with our mental well-being.

— This is anime, so it’s often intended for us to take everything we see at face value. If Shinichi says he feels as though something is missing, then perhaps something is missing. But I still disagree. I think the show is just throwing a red herring at us, and this is why I don’t agree when people claim that Parasyte is heavy-handed. If you take the story at face value, you’re inclined to think that our hero has lost something undeniably human. I don’t think there’s anything with Shinichi, though. In fact, he’s achieved some form of synthesis (as in thesis, antithesis, synthesis). He hasn’t perfected it, but he’s trying to borrow the best from both worlds. He’s human enough to care for his father, his friends, and even his classmates… but like Migi, he doesn’t allow himself to shut down completely over his mom’s death. Plus, he’s been through it before. He was in such denial over his mother’s death that it led to his death. Again, shutting down after the death of a loved one happens so often that we accept it… but it doesn’t mean it has to be the right way to go about it.

— On a more light-hearted note, Migi spends so much time on the internet, I wonder if he’s come across some of the internet’s darker more just plain more irreverent side.

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— Having acute senses must be maddening. How do you turn it off? How do you filter out the white noise? Hell, forget the white noise. What about smells of all sorts? That must be terrible.

— How can Shinichi not be human when he goes out of his way to help a dying puppy? He isn’t less human. He’s just going about it in a different way. Perhaps even a better way.

— Ominous music plays during this scene, but this is just the show playing with our perceptions. The mood makes it seem as though something is off, but if I really think about it, I don’t see anything wrong about Shinichi’s actions. The puppy’s dead, and yet, Satomi is hugely offended that Shinichi dropped its body into a garbage bin. It’s odd, that’s for sure. But oddities aside, so what? Should he have instead buried it? Should we bury every dead thing that we come across?

— We bury the dead because it’s customary. It’s tradition. We do it to honor the dead… if we believe in such things. But to do otherwise doesn’t necessarily mean that one is cold. Satomi is losing sight of the forest for the trees. She takes exception to Shinichi’s final actions, simply because he goes against tradition. As a result, she completely loses sight of what he had actually accomplished in the first place. He allowed the poor animal to die in a quiet, peaceful area. He allowed a frightened animal to relax in its final moments. Why is that not important or more important than dropping a dead carcass in a bin? Would I feel insulted if my mother’s body was dropped in a bin? Maybe. But how much of that is simply due to tradition?

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— Instead of perhaps digging deeper into Shinichi’s change of personality, however — and perhaps coming to a better understanding of his new self — Satomi simply rejects him: “You are different!” Okay, but what should friends do? I still think she reacts immaturely. She’s thinking more for herself and what she has lost, i.e. the boy she loved. But people inevitably change, and if she really cared about him, she’d try to understand the new him. And if she can’t, then so be it. But I don’t see an honest, genuine attempt to reach out to a friend who may have gone through something potentially traumatic. And of course, she doesn’t know what he’s gone through… but if they were as close as she thought they once were, then she should’ve dug deeper. But maybe that is asking too much of a high school kid.

— But that’s why it’s frustrating to see all these promising anime series revolve around people so young. They are not as smart, not as mature, and not as insightful. If they misstep, it’s all too easy to write it off as “Oh, well, they’re just kids being kids.” It becomes an excuse to not push the envelope.

— So this is when she starts giving him the silent treatment. I don’t think any use of the silent treatment is justified, to be quite honest with you. It’s what little kids do when they’re too afraid or petulant to confront their actual problems.

— Hah, even Migi thinks Shimada can be reasoned with. Shinichi, however, refuses to even entertain the idea. If there’s one thing about Shinichi that hasn’t changed, it’s his close-mindedness. Our hero assumes that every Parasyte is an enemy until proven otherwise. He even treated Mamoru the same way, but we excuse it because he was deadset on avenging/killing his mother.

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— Oh, glasses girl is Tachikawa… Tachikawa something. But would you look at that… the girls all think Shinichi’s hot.

— Shimada claims that he can eat other things besides human. Also, he hasn’t hurt anyone nor does he intend to hurt anyone… but we see later that he isn’t very honest about either of these two claims. Even so, Shinichi continues to reject Shimada. Our hero doesn’t operate with a deft hand. You don’t have to believe the guy, but you could at least be a little more diplomatic. Perhaps things could’ve been different if Shinichi had been more receptive of Shimada. Perhaps he could’ve prevented Shimada from losing his cool at school. Like Migi said, this is a parasyte that you can reason with. Shinichi just doesn’t want to do any reasoning. He later compares the parasyte’s emotional capacity to that of an insect.

— And to an extent, you can understand how he feels. After all, he just lost his mother to a parasyte. Nevertheless, a superhero should hold him or herself to a higher standard. I thus don’t really see Shinichi as a superhero. He goes through a lot of the same trials. And hell, his story even reminds people of Spiderman’s story. But there’s a keen difference: a superhero should go above and beyond what is typically required of us. Shinichi is very human, right down to his morality. He saves people, so that makes him a hero. But a superhero is mythological. A superhero embodies a a concept that transcends our human trappings. A superhero would try to save everyone, including the parasytes. I’m not seeing that from Shinichi. He’s just human, and humans are fearful creatures.

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— So Satomi tries to make amends, but sees his (goofy) angry face and runs away? Again, c’mon… should friends ask each other what’s wrong? Shouldn’t friends try to help each other? If that was me, I’d be like, “Bro, are you okay? Do you need someone to talk to?” Satomi just runs.

— Ryoko wants Shimada to keep an eye on Shinichi, because he poses a threat to them. And judging by Shinichi’s actions, she’s not necessarily wrong. Is Shimada also a threat? Of course. But of course, there haven’t been any attempts from Shinichi’s end to correct Shimada’s behavior. You can argue, of course, that it isn’t Shinichi’s responsibility to tell Shimada what to do. And certainly, it isn’t. But that’s why he isn’t a superhero in my eyes. A superhero saves everyone. Shinichi’s threats certainly attempt to keep Shimada in line, but in the end, we know that they don’t really help.

— Then Satomi sees him and Kana together and runs off again. She doesn’t have much of a personality. She’s just a plot device to create drama for our hero to deal with.

— Well, the episode is over and done with. Does it change how I view the ninth episode? I see how Shinichi scared Satomi off, but I still find her behavior questionable. I still think she’s being a poor friend. I also find it a bit strange that Shinichi’s father went from sitting in one place and drowning his sorrows in booze for all of the eighth episode, to suddenly perking right up in the following episode. Things kind of jumped a bit there.

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14 thoughts on “Parasyte Ep. 8: What does it take to be human?”

  1. It was quite shocking the way Shinichi dumped that puppy in the trash can: so nonchalantly, but I agree that Satomi overreacted, it wasn’t even his dog, everyone ignored that puppy dying by the road but Shinichi didn’t, that’s praiseworthy because most of us would’ve ignored the issue.
    Satomi’s being too childish, if she can’t have “good” old Shinichi then nothing will do, she need to embrace “both” Shinichi because if this keeps up, she’s not being too different from Kana who only likes “bad” Shinichi, and in her case it’s even comprensible, since they don’t know each other, she just think that he’s an absolute dream.

  2. Man, Shinichi’s not-really-love-rival-turned-not-really-buddy has a hard life. It’s like he’s there just to get beat up. That’s the whole point of his character. It’s pretty funny. I also found it amusing when Shinchi made his weird rage face and scared off Murano. Then that “spotting her man with another girl” thing happened. This isn’t laugh out loud funny, but it made me smile.

    And the friend with the glasses was actually sketching Hideo. I was kinda hoping the sketch would be of him and Shinichi making out in the nude, which would push her from “weird girl who sketches guys she has a crush on” to true blue fujoshi.

    Maybe Migi can morph into other forms of genitalia. And I just realized but, man, if he wants to masturbate he can literally fuck himself. But, then again, Migi might stare right into his eyes while he’s doing it. Wait, that whole part of his body is Migi. I guess the only times he can comfortably take care of himself is when Migi’s asleep. If he uses his right hand, is that rape?

  3. I do think she overrated by running away but I don’t think she overrated by getting upset about him putting the puppy in the trash.
    If my husband did that I would complain about it too… I would walk or walk away. But the walk home or where ever together would be silent until I calmed down. (Which she did calm down when she thought about it but way later.)

    I think it would be different if he had found the puppy already dead and then just put it in the trash so it wouldn’t be out in the open. But him saving the puppy from dying in the street just made it seem like he would have treated the dead body better.

    And about him and others questioning if he is still human, I think it’s because he changed too fast. There wasn’t him changing over time. And the people around him noticed that.
    If we meets someone new, they shouldn’t think anything is wrong with him.
    But the people that do are the ones that knew how he was a short time ago.

    Like the mother who could tell something was wrong with her daughter. She wasn’t just different but something was wrong with her.
    While everyone else didn’t see anything wrong with her because they didn’t know her.

    1. You would be upset, but like I’ve said, we’d naturally be upset. But is what he did really that wrong? Wrong on any moral level?

      1. No, there wasn’t anything wrong with what he did. But on a moral level it would depend how the person was. For him, I guess it was wrong to see him do that when she didn’t think he would.

  4. “Would I feel insulted if my mother’s body was dropped in a bin? Maybe. But how much of that is simply due to tradition?”
    Haha Dude, what?
    That’s less “tradition” and more “humanity” and common decency. I was following you before the mom analogy (which made me crack up). But going back to the puppy: it still follows that, yeah, it was kind of messed up. And sure you could say “what is “common decency” but currently socially promoted and accepted tradition?’ but no, no we all know what the trash symbolizes to all mankind. It’s garbage, a waste bin, a place where you put useless things that will only rot and be troublesome if left untended to.
    _In this regard it’s very unnatural for him to have dumped the pup in there. It showed a lack of common understanding for every-day symbology and a complete disconnect from the person next to you (who you should know would react this way) and the social norm. It’s not inhumane to dump the pup in the bin, and it’s true that it shouldn’t overshadow the good he did, however taking a dead puppy (an animal widely considered innocent and cute, thus placing it on a higher symbolic level than garbage) and putting it in the bin (a place created, maintained, and utilized for the sole purpose of getting rid of trash) does have negative implications and it would make sense for her to react similar to how she did.

    I mean really, next time you’re with a girl on a date or otherwise and you help a dying kitten or puppy have a peaceful final moment, just throw the body out. See how she reacts.
    –Not to mention that there’s always the possibility it’s not a stray and some poor owner is looking for the thing.

    ALL that being said:
    “I still find her behavior questionable. I still think she’s being a poor friend.”
    While her other reactions (silent treatment idiocy) can be explained by immaturity it doesn’t make this statement any less correct. All-in-all she’s not just a love interest or some bystander. She’s his *friend*. Yeah, some reactions are warranted, but she really should be going further to understand what’s going on. To that I’ll add that I personally wouldn’t explain the immaturity away on age as even at that age we still want to understand and help our friends. She’s just acting like a child.

    1. And sure you could say “what is “common decency” but currently socially promoted and accepted tradition?’ but no, no we all know what the trash symbolizes to all mankind. It’s garbage, a waste bin, a place where you put useless things that will only rot and be troublesome if left untended to.

      We can get mad all we want. We can interpret things in all sorts of ways. No one’s saying that Satomi shouldn’t be mad. I’m saying, however, that it doesn’t make Shinichi a morally bad person. That is my point. She’s acting as if he’s a monster. I disagree. But just because I argue this position, it does not entail that I would suddenly dump my own dead mother in the garbage bin.

      I mean really, next time you’re with a girl on a date or otherwise and you help a dying kitten or puppy have a peaceful final moment, just throw the body out. See how she reacts.

      I think you’re missing my point. I’m not disagreeing that people would react adversely. I’m saying, however, that it is not strictly immoral. Just because something offends you does not mean it is immoral. And because I don’t find it immoral, I would never reject a friend for doing what Shinichi had done. It can anger me, and we have the right to feel what we feel, but at the end of the day, we have to honestly ask ourselves if he did anything –wrong–. Wrong as in he committed an immoral act, not simply because he offends our customs and practices.

      1. “I think you’re missing my point. I’m not disagreeing that people would react adversely. I’m saying, however, that it is not strictly immoral. Just because something offends you does not mean it is immoral.”
        Ah I’m sorry, then I did misinterpret. I can dig that, and like I said, either way she really is being a shit friend.

  5. I don’t think asking for some emotional maturity from the characters is asking too much of a high school kid. For one, they are twelfth-graders, which means they’re less than a year away from turning into adults (in a way, it’s also what makes the puberty metaphor work less for me. Puberty’s generally already mostly happened by that time). For two, I feel that main characters should at least possess some level of maturity. Then again, Satomi will likely grow eventually, so maybe it’ll be fine. I just hope it doesn’t take too much time.

    And I think there’s a large difference between dropping a puppy’s body in the bin and dropping the body of someone’s mother in the bin. Funerals are a tradition for a reason: they’re a ritual to help people move on from the death of a loved one. Really, they’re not so much supposed to be for the dead person as they are for the still living. Morality’s not necessarily an important component of them, since they just show care for the person that died.

    1. For one, they are twelfth-graders, which means they’re less than a year away from turning into adults

      Most adults well into their twenties are still not mature, so I’m just working off of that assumption.

      And I think there’s a large difference between dropping a puppy’s body in the bin and dropping the body of someone’s mother in the bin.

      It would depend on the person you asked. But at the end of the day, my only point is that Shinichi hasn’t done anything wrong. He’s offended us, but that’s it.

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