Merry Christmas from everyone at Madhouse!
There’s a kind of leapfrog going on this season between Kiseijuu and Akatsuki no Yona for the top spot in my non-Mushishi list. One of them will tend to sit there for a week or two, but my tendency is to favour whichever one is freshest in my mind (I think the “Paskin-Blobbins” sign this week alone might have nudged Kiseijuu ahead). Both of them are certainly contenders for the 2015 end-of-year discussions, though a lot can go wrong in a cour. Still – with both series based on manga, and this one a completed manga, there’s no reason to feel too pessimistic.
This episode was textbook, really – a letter-perfect example of how tragedy can be such an effective genre. I’ve spoken often of the difference between tragedy (think Shiki), where you know what’s coming and the drama comes in seeing how it comes to pass, and suspense. This episode of Parasyte (and this is a trend) was certainly a tragedy in every sense, as the ending was no surprise and there was a feeling of impending doom from the opening moments. But it managed to be suspenseful too, which is pretty remarkable. Good writing in every sense, the surest recipe for success there is.
Sci-fi, horror, whatever you want to call this series – it’s often in the realms of so-called “speculative fiction” that we see the most real emotional truth. It’s as if the far-fetched circumstances are liberating for the writer somehow. What’s really remarkable about Parasyte, as I’ve said before, is the way it merges the truth of it’s science fiction storyline with the spot-on realism of its school character drama. They’re woven together seamlessly, and that makes each of them stronger than it would be on its own (kind of like Shinichi and Migi, maybe?).
Speaking of Migi, I think he actually crossed into the realm of moe this week – or kawaii at the very least. Seeing him all genki over the emerging reality of just how diverse his species was becoming was pretty cute, but that doesn’t mask what it means for humanity. Hirokawa Takeshi has been elected mayor, for starters – and I’m not sold on Migi’s suggestion that he might simply have taken an interest in good governance. Migi’s other idea sounds a lot closer to the truth – using inside information to make sure the local parasite population has a steady and safe food source. To be honest, it would explain a lot of my suspicions about Abe Shinzou.
Really, though, this episode was all about Kana. She’s been dancing with the devil for a while now – it was only a matter of time before what happened this week came to pass. This is a perfect example of how Iwaaki-sensei uses his premise as a way to illuminate the human condition, especially as it comes to adolescence. If Shinichi’s merger with Migi is a kind of metaphor for the transition out of childhood, I think in Kana we’re seeing just how poor is the judgement of a teenaged girl in love – and what kind of trouble that can them into. Kana is a classic case, right down to love-love dreams with her hero riding in (naked) on a white horse to save her. The elaborate fiction she created around Shinichi was always going to be her doom – it was just a question of how it was going to find her.
Does Kana’s death mean we’re never going to find out why she was able to sense parasites – and why she even eventually started to emit a signal herself? I can’t imagine the subject won’t be resolved sooner or later. And as terrible as it was to see her killed, I’m glad at least it didn’t come via Migi making good on the threat he made against her (as if to remind Shinichi that genki or not, he was still a danger to be respected). Even after Shinichi spilled the beans about Migi to Kana – and then to Migi about doing so – I don’t think Migi would have followed through on his threat. But not knowing is part of the thrill of Kiseijuu, isn’t it?
The truth was terrible enough – a random parasite in an abandoned building, caught mid-meal. Of course the end comes because Kana’s fantasy about being able to tell Shinichi’s signal apart was just that, a fantasy – life isn’t a storybook. It’s clear that Shinichi shouldn’t blame himself, because he did everything he realistically could to warn her off, up to and including putting himself at risk by telling her the truth (which she professes not to believe). But it’s just as clear that blame himself he will. The Shinichi we saw end the parasite who killed Kana was so frightening that even Migi could only gasp “Impressive!”. But this is the same Shinichi who was unable to shed a tear for her, even as he held her in his arms as she died.
Increasingly, this is the core of Parasyte’s story – Shinichi’s humanity, or lack of it. Even among the freaks in this story he’s unique, and no one – not he, not Migi – can really answer the question of just what he now is. Yes, he’s the cold fish who dumped a dead puppy in a trash bin – but he’s also the kid who collected it so that it wouldn’t die alone. And even if he didn’t cry at Kana’s death, it didn’t seem to me as if the absence of tears reflected an absence of grief. “My blood is still red… for now” is an ominous but fittingly ambiguous way to end the first cour, a reflection of just how uncharted the waters into which Shinichi is sailing are. The second cour should be a hell of a ride – and right now, it looks more like a mystery than a tragedy.