Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 10

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Forget Jon Lester – that’s the kid the Cubs should be trying to sign.  What a kaibutsu!

I would say that, on the whole, this episode of Kiseijuu made a pretty big impact.  But I think it’s worth pointing out that when the story was originally published, the world was a very different place.  Specifically, the Columbine tragedy would not happen for several years – and while there had been other school-based violent incidents before (most famously Charles Joseph Whitman, just recently in the news almost 50 years after he killed 16 people at the University of Texas) it was Columbine that began the process of desensitizing the world to shocking violence at high schools.  As horrifying as the events in this episode were, I would think they were all the more so when they appeared in the manga.

That came to mind because in watching the way this event played out, apart from the parasite-related details it struck me very much as if I was watching reports of a school shooting on the news.  There’s a ton of irony in this episode, starting with the fact that it was Yuuko’s decision to confront Hideo rather than trust her own eyes that led to this tragedy and she got off basically scot-free.  Her bottle of paint thinner certainly did its job – apparently parasites are weak against solvents, which was an extraordinarily lucky guess by Yuuko.  But in compromising his ability to morph back into human form, it pushed the cornered monster into a killing spree that ended up claiming 17 lives (I don’t know if that includes the police or not).  Meanwhile Yuuko leapt out a window and broke her fall (and apparently nothing else) with a tree.  Talk about the devil’s luck.

In this sense, the ep certainly didn’t go as I expected.  Yuuko’s role was over in the first moments, and the attention turned to what was basically a massacre, with the wounded Hideo striking out against everyone who saw his true form.  Murano’s class, naturally, was the one that was cornered and unable to evacuate the building, leaving it up to Shinichi to be the hero.  In doing so he certainly seems to have repaired his relationship with her to some extent, though she was obviously taken aback by his superhuman leaping ability.  I figured he’d use the “mother lifts car off child” adrenaline excuse, and that’s what Shinichi did (no word yet on how he explains himself in the showers after gym) – whether Murano believed him or not I don’t know, but even if she knows something has changed about him she at least seems to believe he’s still the same person underneath.

It’s the ever-shifting relationship between Shinichi and Migi, however, that continues to be the spine of Parasyte.  Migi continues to display more and more human behaviors as time passes, calming the panicked Shinichi in the midst of crisis and seeming the express shock as his classmates were cut down.  But Migi also seems to be growing to accept that Shinichi is every bit as alien to him as Migi is to Shinichi – he’s a creature of emotions.  He makes decisions that don’t appear to be logical, based on his feelings at the moment.

It’s this peculiarly human side of Shinichi that prods him to take responsibility for taking Hideo out, on the grounds that by not doing so earlier, he and Migi have allowed this bloodbath to occur.  All through this ep I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, that shoe being Shinichi exposed as what he is – but it never happened.  It’s Shinichi, in fact, who comes up with the strategy to take out Hideo from a distance safe from discovery by either the alien or the police – a hit-by-pitch that even Herb Score or Giancarlo Stanton would blanch at.

It’s interesting that in the moment of crisis, Shinichi doesn’t seem to be angry so much at Hideo as at himself, and the circumstances – in fact, he speaks as if he sees Hideo as almost a victim himself.  But what’s undeniable is that Hideo’s speech about finding ways to coexist was a ploy, and in the aftermath the limits of the bond between Shinichi and Migi are made clear when the latter (while reading Dostoyevsky) refuses to be part of any cooperation with the authorities in wiping out his species.  The most revealing moment, I think, comes as Migi denies that emotions influence him but in the same breath, asks Shinichi how he’d feel if their situations were reversed.  To me, that doesn’t sound like the sort of question a creature without emotions would ask.

We’re obviously edging closer to a moment of confrontation for Shinichi.  The authorities haven’t yet caved on warning the public of the danger they know is out there, but one of their scientists, Dr. Yui (Umezu Hideyuki) has basically figured out how the parasites work – he describes them as “sentient muscle”.  And due to their peculiar nature (which Migi’s repairs on Shinichi have hinted at) Yui has a foolproof test to determine if someone is a parasite – if you yank one of their hairs out, it will writhe and struggle for a few seconds before dying.  Therefore if you want to test someone, just pull out one of their hairs (the horror on the face of this poor chap is hilarious, if a bit mean-spirited), which leads to a new “fad” way of greeting (I’d be curious to know what the authorities said to cause that to happen).  All this leads to the inescapable conclusion that the double-life Shinichi (though in theory, this test won’t work on him) is leading is on borrowed time, and the story is certainly going to be transformed when that time runs out.

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  1. s

    I find it interesting how as intelligent as these parasites can be, at the end of the day, their really just animalistic creatures. When hideo couldnt transform his face back to normal after the paint thinner, it wasnt apprehension of being discovered that drove his slaughter, but pure animalistic instinct as demonstrated when he instinctively killed the fly: he felt that he was in such danger that everything around him seemed like a threat. At that point he was really just swating at anything that moved rather than killing for the sake of killing. When it comes down to it, Hideo may have been bullshitting about not eating humans, but he really was trying to blend in. He just happened to want to have his cake and eat it too, and that doesnt sit to well with humanity.

  2. j

    And thinking back, it ties back to that one scene in an earlier episode where, now I'm paraphrasing here, "somebody once had the thought that 'human life is precious.'"

    This is an ideal, not a fact of nature. Animals eat and kill each other all the time and they don't "judge" each other for it. Hideo's parasyte cells being unable to communicate with the rest of his human cells represented an inability to curb his primal instincts using man-made reasoning. There are many questions that one can raise in this situation, like does this make the lives these creatures less worthy (That scene with Migi reading crime and punishment was great)?

  3. That's certainly an interesting take. But can there be any doubt that he planned quite deliberately to kill Yuuko once she revealed what she knew? And is this instinctive swatting and killing anything in our path when trapped really so different than what humans do? I'm not so sure.

    In any event, in my mind there's no question that line he told Shinichi was complete BS. He may have been trying to blend in, but the long-term goal certainly wasn't co-existence – he was there to observe Shinichi and to look for exploitable weaknesses in he and the human species.

  4. s

    Hey, it's like they say, humans are animal-like creatures as well; that's sort of the underlying subtext behind parasyte along with adolescent growth, identity, humanity/animality, and even the aspect of "foreign danger" (note the underlying subtext regarding paranoia within japanese society).

    Without a doubt Hideo only planned on killing yuko and he certainly wanted nothing but to secretly dine on humans whenever he could. But unlike other parasites, he seemed determined to integrate himself with human society; he was genuinely interested in school life and the such, and would have probably continued to live his life secretly dining on strangers while keeping his social relationships in tact.

  5. m

    Given how he so easily resorted to violence (hitting the guy back in the toilet_, I don't think he was that determined or sincere on co-existence. Rather, blending in was just a way for him to survive and that school life facade was probably just to observe Shinichi

  6. M

    Once again, great episode. The hair pulling though seems laughable. That shit is no joke. I'm trying to imagine how it would play out if it happened in the real world.

    "Hey Mark how's it going?" **pulls hair out of my head**

  7. A

    Pulling hairs off each other… brilliant!

    If only they'd thought of that in John Carpenter's The Thing. Conversely, I can't imagine people greeting every morning by drawing blood off each other's fingers and pulling a blowtorch at it– though it'd be pretty funny to watch.

  8. I

    I did not like the school scene much at all. Mainly cause it felt avoidable. The first time a parasite attack the school, no one really died. Yet this time people did. During the part, Shinichi just felt like he was walking all the time when he was trying to find the parasite this episode, and I know they try and throw in a half ass excuse that he is hard to track down. but it felt like Shinichi was not even trying. And then I felt like once he rescue Murano, he could of gone straight back in. I understand him killing the parasite the way he did at that time, but i think he could of kill him a long time ago. I know we can say that, yes he is a teen and noone would act the best way in this situation, but this has happen before and Shinichi has been on tilt pretty much since the beginning of the anime. I dont mind students/people dieing, but i do mind when it feels unnecessarily, which makes it feels like it was done for the dramas and not for good story or character developments.
    Also one of the old dudes at the end sounds like Keith Davids

  9. K

    I think the difference is Hideo lost complete control of any rational he had because of whatever Yuuko threw on him

  10. Y

    You make a good observation and there's a good reason. You're right that it was avoidable but it just goes to show that Shinichi is becoming less human and more like Migi. Remember in the first episodes how he'd be so eager to meet or hunt down parasytes? Now he is slowly and cautiously moving around the school trying to find Shimada, instead of rushing in to save as many people he can even if it means risking his own life.

    It isn't wrong to dislike the scene, but if it's because you felt the situation was avoidable, then it's for the wrong reason. Watching Shinichi move around so slowly like that and let so many people die is supposed to make us feel disheartened and even disgusted at how he's changing. It's not that Shimada is hard to track down, or that it was done for just drama. it's that Shinichi wasn't putting the students before himself, and they are showing his character develop, though in a tragic and concerning way.

  11. K

    The school scenes also made me think of the many school massacres. Although I wonder if Japan would look at it differently since for them those school massacres are happening across the world. Not that it makes it any less real but it's like us hearing about wars in other countries.

    Of course other countries have had school massacres but nothing like the US (it's crazy although I have my opinion on the reason I won't go into it not wanting to get into a political discussion here).

    But anyways back to Parasyte. I wondered if the "pulling out hair" thing would affect Shinichi and Migi too or not because Migi is not in the brain. That was unclear to me. Still either way I am sure Shinichi being discovered has to happen sooner than later.

  12. m

    Yeah I was also thinking of that. While Migi has not taken over the brain, he has some of his cells dispersed throughout Shinichi's body, so there is a chance of some cells in his hair. Devil's luck on plucking the right strand of hair?

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