Parasyte Ep. 9: The impassable gulf between us

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Teenage romances are so dramatic.

Edit: Whoops! It seems I didn’t notice there were two episodes today, and to make things worse, I watched them out of order. I won’t change anything in this post, so if you read it, keep in mind that I wrote it before watching the eighth episode. I’ll have the eighth episode write-up posted later today.

— It looks like we have a new character by the name of Shimada. Kana warns an acquaintance not to pick a fight with Shimada, so that must mean the guy is a parasyte. In the end, he only beats up the bully and nothing more, but then again, it would be unwise to just murder someone in such a populated area. So the jury’s still out on whether or not Shimada’s a bad guy. I’m inclined to think that he’s not a good person, however, if his introduction is anything to go by. Character introductions in anime are rarely subtle. Anyway, it seems that the girl with glasses has a crush on Shimada. I can’t seem to recall her name, though.

— Hm, we see a short flashback that involves younger versions of Shinichi and Satomi, but it doesn’t seem to reveal much other than that our hero was super nerdy back then. By that, I mean that Satomi is still a pretty blank slate. Even in this flashback, she hardly revealed any sort of personality. And of course, even now, we don’t know much about her. We know that she’s nice… but every main love interest is nice. And we know that…. uh… we know nothing about her. Well, if it’s time to finally develop the relationship between these two characters, I certainly hope Satomi comes into her own.

— In any case, Satomi seems quite put off by the new Shinichi. Is it just how he looks and talks, or has his recent disappearance made things too awkward for them to talk to each other? Perhaps it is a combination of all of these things, but personally, I don’t know how anyone can prefer the old Shinichi, looks or otherwise.

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— We quickly learn, however, that Shimada has been studying Shinichi and Migi for quite some time now. I wonder why Migi has not detected Shimada yet.

— How do you radiate hostility? Is that similar to the killing intent nonsense that fighting anime series always have? Then again, these parasytes seem to have some sort of psychic connection with each other, so at least the existence of a killing intent would actually make sense in this universe. In practice, it looks pretty silly, though.

— According to a classmate, Shimada’s supposed to be super hot. I wish this had somehow managed to come across in the animation, though. But anyway, despite his hotness, these girls can’t help but also wonder if his face is perhaps fake. This just plays into the idea that there’s something undeniably missing in the copy. That something is probably a human quality that these parasytes simply cannot replicate because they are not human. As such, they are simulacra. Of course, these girls can’t quite put their finger on what essentially bothers them about Shimada’s face… there’s just this subconscious feeling that something is off.

— Elsewhere, Shinichi’s father learns that he can’t go public about his wife’s death. The authorities are probably right. We basically have The Thing but on a far larger scale. The sad part is, parasytes could help humanity detect other parasytes, but could you imagine what would happen if these officials were aware of Migi’s existence? They’d probably want to dissect and experiment on our alien buddy. After all, they already act as though the parasytes are nothing more than “savage beasts.” In actuality, the parasytes are smarter than most humans. They just don’t bother with human morality, naturally.

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— But that’s an interesting distinction. Humans hold themselves to a higher standard, because we feel that we are unique. And certainly, on this planet, we are. There are some bright species out there, but none that comes even close to matching our intelligence. So of course, we attribute morality to humanity. It makes no sense to say that a pig, as smart as it can be, should have morals. But if and when we make contact with another intelligent species — aliens, if you will — then does it even make sense to call it human morality anymore? Should we even bother to make that distinction? If both species have the capacity to reason, then perhaps we should arrive at the same moral conclusions. Of course, if you think moral imperatives are subjective, however, then discussion is a complete non-starter. Still, this isn’t Ethics 101, so I’m not going to get into why moral relativism is bullshit.

— There’s something hilarious about a bunch of stern-looking men passing this sketch back and forth, grimacing at the “monstrosity” before their very eyes. In reality, the parasytes look goofy as fuck. I know people are disappointed that Parasyte isn’t more body horror, but I just don’t think anime can embrace horror wholesale. Anime’s just too pretty. As such, any attempts at horror in anime must be somewhat tongue-in-cheek. I have never seen an anime that has disturbed me visually. It’s not just that you can’t animate horror; I believe you can. I just think the mindset is a large part of the problem. Anime is too afraid to look ugly. Take Shirobako, for instance. It’s supposed to be a realistic show about an anime studio, but every single female character in that series is simultaneously hot, young, and cute. Meanwhile, the guys come in all ages, shapes, and sizes. It’s ridiculous. It’s a slice-of-life anime, and yet, it can’t even stomach having one or two of its female characters look less than a 10 out of 10. So how can horror anime possibly manage? That’s why we have so many vampire horror series, because vampires actually have an excuse to be hot and sexy.

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— We cut to Reiko (Ryoko), and she’s talking to a parasyte in the guise of a gentlemen. They’re slowly realizing that they as parasytes can’t just feed on humans without eventually running themselves into trouble. Like the ghouls in Tokyo Ghoul, these parasytes will likely need to come up with an alternative food source if they want to live in relative peace along with the humans. Will this compel these parasytes to form some sort of loose community with each other, though? Can this be a precursor to perhaps even a parasyte community? Or are parasytes perhaps too independent to really work together to such an extent?

— Somehow, the other parasyte comes to the conclusion that humans are toxic to this planet, and as such, parasytes have been put on Earth to neutralize humanity. I mean, what? Now, this sort of thinking is nothing new — especially from those religious people who often think the apocalypse is nigh — but I can’t see it coming from a parasyte. Why would they have such a belief? What reason do they have to think that nature would be guided to such an extent, especially when they’ve spent such a short time on this planet? Reiko even goes so far as to say that she’s nurturing a toxin within her.

— Is it really, though? Is it?

— Glasses girl (I still don’t know her name) asks her brother if he can notice anything odd about Shimada’s face. From just a sketch alone, though? That seems like a stretch. He pretty much tells her the same thing.

— Well then… there’s definitely something missing here. It’s also odd how the parasytes haven’t felt the need to make their heads seem more solid. They fashion sharp blades out of themselves all the time, so I don’t think it’d be very difficult to give yourself a makeshift skull.

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— I just don’t get Satomi’s treatment of Shinichi. What has he done wrong? And why would friends just not say anything to each other? Not even a hello? C’mon. That strikes me as… incredibly immature. I realize she’s still in high school, but still, I think it’s bizarre behavior.

— Unfortunately, his attempt at reconciliation is interrupted by Shimada’s killing intent. Love or saving his fellow classmates from certain death? Shinichi picks the latter; superheroes just don’t have time for romance.

— Shinichi yells at Shimada as if the latter was an animal: “Go. Just go!” Shimada has no qualms about killing people, but only if he’s provoked. In other words, I think he’s actually trying to fit in. I’m not saying that Shinichi doesn’t have his reasons to be suspicious or perhaps even fearful of what Shimada is capable of. But at the same time, he’s not doing much to reason with Shimada and perhaps convince the latter to never kill anyone. I mean, you can’t say he can’t be reasoned with if you haven’t even tried. Shinichi, however, is hostile to the guy right from the get-go. I’m just saying, Migi wasn’t very different at the beginning of the story.

— Satomi finally confesses that Shinichi hasn’t been himself. She’s also disturbed by the way he talks. I agree; he’s definitely changed. But here’s the thing that bugs me about her: if something’s different about a friend, why wouldn’t you say something about it until now? Don’t friends owe each other that much to each other? She, however, gave him the silent treatment until now. I mean, obviously, Shinichi didn’t just decide to change overnight. Something must have happened to him to make him undergo such a drastic shift in personality. And if I was a good friend — nevermind a love interest — I’d want to sit him down and ask him if he needs someone to talk to or confide in. Satomi, however, has just been avoiding him until now. If she wanted the old Shinichi to return, I don’t think pushing him away was the way to do it. She then thinks he’s trying too hard to be something that he’s not, i.e. he’s being pretentious to a degree. I don’t think that’s being a very good friend. It just goes to show that she’s more immature than I thought she was.

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— Shinichi’s outburst at the end of the scene is… too much, but I’d be frustrated too with Satomi. It can be scary or uncomfortable if a close friend changes overnight, but she isn’t making any attempts to understand him. She’s just throwing accusations at him, so I can sympathize with Shinichi’s anger.

— Afterwards, Migi tries to cheer Shinichi up the only way he knows how, i.e. playing up the logical advantages of Shinichi’s current state. Still, Migi trying to cheer Shinichi up to begin with… well, I dare say that makes Migi more of a buddy than Satomi at the moment. But on a more important level, Migi is becoming more human while Shinichi is becoming less human, blah blah blah. It’s the long-running theme of the season, after all.

— Knowing how dangerous Shimada might be, she nevertheless wants to talk to him first. So we have Satomi who won’t even try to talk to an old friend, and now, we have glasses girl who wants to have a one-on-one talk with someone she hardly even knows… But I actually sympathize with her. I’ll explain my thinking in a bit. Anyway, I wonder if she’ll die as a result of her actions, and this will thus give Shinichi a strong reason to kill Shimada.

— There is an impassable gulf between the two sides. From humanity’s viewpoint, it’s just logical and pragmatic to not trust the parasytes. At the same time, however, because we are fearful for our lives, we will also never come to any sort of understanding with the parasytes. And without that understanding, we won’t arrive at a mutually beneficial solution either. Perhaps it is possible for humans and parasytes to coexist. Perhaps parasytes can find an alternative food source. But both sides immediately see each other as enemies. Parasytes think of humans as toxin, and humans think of parasytes as savage beasts. Then when glasses girl tries to actually talk to one, she will likely die as a result of it. It’s a hateful, paranoid world. Even close friends like Shinichi and Satomi find it difficult to speak to one another.

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— The thing is, we essentially want to make an omelette without breaking any eggs. We want peace without the struggle. I just don’t think this is possible. Sometimes, you just have to put yourself in harm’s way and not retaliate even if you suffer for it. That seems like an unreasonable request — it even seems unfair — but the current course of action is simply unsustainable. Both sides will just continue to live in fear and hatred until one side kill the other one off. As such, someone’s going to have to make a sacrifice if they want to actually achieve any sort of peace between parasytes and humans. That’s why I sympathize with glasses girl. She may seem foolish in even wanting to talk to Shimada first, but you have to treat people with kindness and love if you want them to change. I disagree with how Shinichi treated Shimada earlier in the episode. I know he hates the fact that Shimada would’ve killed his bullies, but our hero doesn’t even try to reason or understand Shimada. And as we’ve seen throughout history, this sort of reaction — as pramatic as it might seem — will only breed hatred and resentment in the Other.

19 thoughts on “Parasyte Ep. 9: The impassable gulf between us

    1. 8)

      On the site I use, both episodes were posted about the same time for some reason. Might have something to do with it, idk.

  1. sonicsenryaku

    I think the parasites coming to the conclusion that humans are toxins has to do with the current state of the world. We have yet to get any information as to the origins of the parasites. but if we think of them as a force of nature, then we can surmise that their assessment that humans are toxins have to do with the waste we produce on this earth, the mistreatment of nature that is akin to our advancement as an industrial and technological power, and the war and violence that comes with our nature throws the earth out of balance. Now as of why they would come to such a conclusion in a short amount of time, i think it once again goes back to idea that the parasites are the embodiment of nature. Nature has been aware for centuries that it has been suffering at the hands of humans and therefore its answer was the parasites. It is this quote narrated at the end of the first ep that leads me to believe this is so; i think it went something like “One day, somebody made a wish…’I want to save the planet'” or something like that. Maybe the wish was made by the earth itself, if you can suspend your disbelief far enough or perhaps by someone who really wanted to make a difference and nature answered the call.

  2. BoyTitan

    This is the bad thing witht he parasytes they do not need to eat humans. The ghouls completely have to either eat live or dead humans but parasytes can simply live like normal human beings.

  3. BoyTitan

    I would say making animated body horror is impossible. But the flood terrified me in halo. Well not terrified but I am legitly uncomfortable doing the library mission from halo 2 and the gravemind mission in halo 3. It gets to the point where you think everything that moves is something to shoot. That is also due to the immersion that I don’t think visual medium can accomplish.

    1. Naota

      It’s all down to the aesthetics, though. The flood are scary because they inhabit a fairly realistic world that’s not afraid to be ugly or twisted. Anime’s core aesthetics are usually bright, clean, and shiny to a degree that almost borders on parody – just look at the backgrounds and characters of any half-hearted boilerplate harem series to see the incredible plastic fakeness come out in full force.

      What I’m really saying is, if you want body horror in anime, you need to have more faces like these going on. Or perhaps these. Maybe turn the familiar into something creepy. What doesn’t work is horror anime that looks like this.

      1. E Minor Post author

        None of what you linked strikes me as particularly scary, and although I’ll admit that this is a subjective topic, I think fear has to subvert reality in an uncomfortable way. The Grimms’ Fairy Tales subverted children’s ideas of what parents should be. Alien makes sex disgusting. The Thing makes it so that we can’t trust our own friends. The Shining turns domestic violence into supernatural horror. My point is that anime is inherently unreal. Its lack of realism is built right into its very existence. Hell, it’s 2-D! So to me, these pictures just look cartoony. They’re not typical anime pretty, but they’re not disgusting either.

        1. Naota

          Fair enough – obviously movies like Alien are a step that much closer to the genuine article, so they have a more realistic basis to actually subvert. The thing is, if it wasn’t largely an issue of aesthetics, anime with the right themes could work as psychological horror.

          You’re right though – I don’t think I can really point to an anime series that’s actually scared me in any significant way, but at the same time I can count on one hand the number of horror anythings that have this effect. It’s just that seeing the deformed faces, smeared blood, and gaping, fanged jaws in something like the Blood OVA those images are from, I can at least get into the mindset that these things could be frightening.

          When a guy gets dragged into a tree and all you can see is see is the squirming lower half of his body suddenly go limp as his neck breaks, in this art style, with this direction it’s at the very least not goofy. Meanwhile, “horror” anime like Another and Blood-C elicit laughter and incredulity whenever they try anything of the sort. What they think is scary comes off as ridiculous. The closest I’ve seen in years is maybe a few episodes of Shin Sekai Yori, where they accomplished a sense of dread by not showing the monster (the Fiend), having built up its story through indistinct folktales.

          Video games are an interesting point of comparison, though. I can say that Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Shalebridge Cradle from Thief 3 gave me some genuine scares. It speaks a lot to the personal attachment of having agency (but not power) in a scary situation versus watching it unfold as it happens to someone else. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that both games are first person with minimal UI elements and disempowered player avatars, either.

          1. E Minor Post author

            I can’t say any movie has ever scared me so much that I wanted to stop watching it. Nevertheless, I can respect a few of them for genuinely unsettling me. And the first time around, a movie like The Thing certainly kept me on edge. I have never watched an anime that managed to achieve the same effect. It all just looks so goofy. Even the deformed faces and whatnot. I guess my mind just can’t get past the idea that I’m witnessing something in 2-D.

            It speaks a lot to the personal attachment of having agency

            It can also go against you. Amnesia didn’t work for me because it became all too easy to avoid death. I knew how the Gatherers worked, and that exposed their fakeness more than anything. It became quite apparent that I was playing a game. I think there’s a lot of potential for horror in video games, but it has a long way to go. I also think it can’t be a long experience. I think the longer you play a game, the less scary it becomes. You figure it out, so to speak. Perhaps it would be novel for a horror game to switch up its style every couple of hours, but what developer would have the gall to do that?

        2. Naota

          I knew how the Gatherers worked, and that exposed their fakeness more than anything. It became quite apparent that I was playing a game. I think there’s a lot of potential for horror in video games, but it has a long way to go.

          It’s a tricky prospect though, isn’t it? As a developer you find yourself tasked with systemizing unpredictability – something humans are biologically very adept at unraveling. At the end of the day you need to build a logical framework, be it with AI programming, level design, or both, that will outfox the player without them ever noticing. The player can’t know for sure how things work or they’ll find security in that absolute knowledge and break the illusion. They’ll know without a doubt when they’re safe.

          I also think it can’t be a long experience. I think the longer you play a game, the less scary it becomes. You figure it out, so to speak. Perhaps it would be novel for a horror game to switch up its style every couple of hours, but what developer would have the gall to do that?

          I definitely agree that minimizing the player’s exposure to the systems is the way to go, but that does trend towards a very short game or one that mixes up its rules to keep them from ever working out the nuts and bolts of the design. It’s an excellent idea, though. I’ve got some gall, but also light pockets. I would love to experiment with this… maybe I’ll get the chance some time in the future.

  4. Jovian Dreamer

    Body horror (or any type of horror) doesn’t work in animation because it’s already so far away from reality. Horror movies are scary when they depict unrealistic things realistically. This kind of gets old as the strange becomes familiar with repeated exposure and knowledge of the effect’s creation. Old horror movies are no longer considered viscerally horrific because it’s so apparent that you’re watching a dated film with dated techniques. It’s apparent you’re watching something unreal with animation that the threat/horror just doesn’t work, as there is no inspiration for that sense of urgency from which fear is borne. And anime character designs (and a lot of art) are uncanny to begin with, so you’re pretty much watching body horror all the time. Inhuman, surreally proportioned things. Perversions of humans, they are.

    This probably isn’t the literal translation, but Shinichi calls Hideo a “shit-faced asshole” in the subs that came with my file. A shit-faced asshole? You mean he never wipes?

    I think this cold, calculating Shinichi is a better way to go than that Spider-Man 3 thing I was half-seriously guessing at before. It makes sense after the symbiosis that Shinichi and Migi have developed. He’s becoming more of a survivalist machine. He isn’t there, he has emotions, but could the continued symbiotic relationship lead to a complete erasure of Shinichi’s original personality? Maybe he realizes this and has to sever Migi before his last shreds of humanity are lost.

    I hope Murano’s character develops some depth. Right now she’s pretty shallow, so her actions do seem like their sole purpose is create drama for Shinichi. I don’t object to this per se, but I do think her character could be more than just that. But I will be disappointed if Kana ends up feeling like she was more necessary to the story than Murano.

    1. Pia

      “I hope Murano’s character develops some depth. Right now she’s pretty shallow, so her actions do seem like their sole purpose is create drama for Shinichi. I don’t object to this per se, but I do think her character could be more than just that. But I will be disappointed if Kana ends up feeling like she was more necessary to the story than Murano.”

      Yeah I hope so too because at this point, I’m more comfortable with Kana, since unlike Murano, she isn’t accusing Shinichi every scene she’s involved, it’s getting very annoying.

  5. Pia

    I couldn’t help but laugh at the interrogation scene when Shinichi’s dad said something like: “Yes, that monster looked like this” *disgusted expression* , and then they revealed us the drawing and hmmmph hahaha! fucking hilarious.
    I don’t think glasses girl is gonna die just yet, she did a very moronic thing to do in confronting Shimada, but we saw her taking some precautions if things went bad, she grabbed a bottle of acid I believe? IDK, but it surely will bought her some time until Shinichi arrives, but that’s mere speculation.

    1. E Minor Post author

      I was always under the impression that the parasytes are super fast, so they shouldn’t be bothered by a schoolgirl throwing a bottle of acid. I doubt you could get really industrial strength acid in a high school anyway. That stuff is likely diluted.


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