I’m not sure why that one particular moment was so important to so many Kiseijuu manga readers, but it seems like way too much of the post-premiere discussion for this series ran along the lines of “What happened to the penis hand??” Well, you got your cock everyone – rejoice! It is a pretty funny image I have to admit, especially when you consider all the double entendres attached to the whole out-of-control right-hand scenario anyway.
The thing with the Parasyte adaptation so far is that there’s no one thing that you can point to – or need to point to – to explain its quality. It’s just there, that quality, plain and simple. This is a compelling story with a razor-sharp wit and a wealth of intelligence underlying the writing. Madhouse has the luxury of a great source material here, meaning they don’t need to do anything exceptional to make the adaptation work – and one might argue that so far they haven’t. But it isn’t so easy not to screw up a good thing, and it certainly wasn’t immediately apparent in the first few episodes of the Hunter X Hunter adaptation that Madhouse was going to over-perform as much as they did (though it was with Chihayafuru, it must be said).
This really is a delicious premise (no pun intended) and it’s a joy to watch the pieces slowly slotting into place. At the heart of everything is the relationship between Shinichi and Migi, of course, and it would be wrong to try and slot it into any conventional trope. Migi is a fascinating puzzle, and I think Hirano Aya is turning out to be a good choice. You could have taken any number of completely different directions with this role and made it work – there’s nothing in the manga specifying that the voice has to be female, for starters, and it would have been a fascinating dynamic to have a Migi voiced by, say, Suwabe Junichi or Inoue Kazuhiko. But this one is just fine for me – Migi comes off almost as a robotic presence with that voice, but one that occasionally lets both irritation and whimsy creep in.
The first fascinating encounter is with Murano, of course – Migi picks up on Shinichi’s hormone rush and gives us the fated moment. We see Shinichi start to warm to the possibilities that Migi offers him. He can stand up to bullies and impress the girl he likes. He can save defenseless cats from sicko hooligans. He can, in short, be a hero – but he also has to live with the reality that “Mincemeat Murders” are happening all over the world, and he could be the key to stopping them. That would mean putting himself at-risk of course, but of more immediate concern is the fact that Migi makes it clear it won’t sit idly by and allow Shinichi to take actions that jeopardize it. Migi needs Shinichi alive, but it doesn’t need him whole.
The key scene in the episode is undoubtedly the encounter with the human under the control of one of Migi’s cohorts – an encounter that Shinichi actively seeks out despite Migi’s protestations. Curiosity killed the cat, and this encounter has the potential to kill the boy – especially when the opponent seizes on the strange situation and offers Migi the chance to take over its arm and cohabit inside its host, forming an unbeatable head-hand team. Why does Migi kill the enemy rather than accept? Is it truly a simple matter of self-preservation – being unsure if it could truly move from one host to the other? Or is there, perhaps, just an ounce of sentiment beginning to creep into the relationship with Shinichi? He certainly seems to think so, with the obvious implied peril such trains of thought could spell for him. The question of course is whether these two have truly formed the unlikeliest of symbiotic relationships, or whether this is a matter of pure practicality for Migi.
Then there’s the matter of Murano, and how Shinichi will finesse that budding relationship and Migi will react to it. After the cat rescue comes a quick progression to hand-holding, with the interesting caveat that Murano inexplicably releases Shinichi’s right hand before switching to his left – and then asks (for the second time) if Shinichi is really Shinichi. If it wasn’t clear already it certainly is at this point that nothing is going to be simple for Shinichi, with the repercussions of what’s happened to him only beginning to be felt (as well as the implications about the nature of humanity and who the real monsters are here). The mind practically boggles at the possibilities for disquiet and discomfort – which is where the real genius in Kiseijuu lies.