A funny story about this week’s episode of Kiseijuu… I love classical music, and that love often manifests itself in fixating on a particular composition and listening to dozens of versions (usually on Youtube) in one short burst, searching for the definitive one. Over the last few days that’s been one of my personal favorites, Chopin’s “Nocturne Op.9 No.2” – without exaggeration I would say I’ve listened to that piece at least 30 times in the last three days (Arthur Rubinstein’s version is probably my current fave) after not listening to it for a few years. That’s why stuff like what happened with this episode of Parasyte makes me wonder about the nature of coincidence (obviously, I had no idea it was coming). I actually thought for a moment I’d accidentally left the video open on a browser tab and it’d started playing in the middle of the episode.
That mind-blowing happy happenstance is the gravy, because there was plenty of meat in this excellent ep. Akatsuki no Yona and Kiseijuu have been in lockstep since they premiered a day apart in October, each clearly better than anything else premiering in the Fall season. Akatsuki has been on a serious tear lately, but every time I think it’s pulled into a clear lead (it has the advantage of a 24-hour head start every week) Kiseijuu seems to come up with a compelling reminder not to sell it remotely short.
As if adding Chopin doesn’t bring enough awesomeness, we also get the always superb Namikawa Daisuke joining the cast as Miki (we briefly met Miki a few weeks ago, but this is really his coming-out party). The cast of parasites is getting more and more interesting as we go along, not least becaue they’re standing out more and more as individuals (though that’s a complicated statement in Miki’s case). We rejoin him as he’s taking out one of Kuromori’s subordinates (I assume), who’s followed him into an underground parking garage, where Miki has taken a woman. It turns out that this is a “dining area” for Hirokawa’s parasites, a point that’s going to be a major factor for the rest of the episode.
Whether Shinichi wants to be involved in this or not, Kuromori’s plea for help drags him in unequivocally – because it leads to his being drawn into a fight with another of Hirokwa’s group as they’re preparing for dinner in the garage. There’s some funny stuff here – most especially Migi’s comment that he should win because he “has the better mount” – and the very important moment when Migi declares that he and Shinichi should be able to take out any normal parasite one-on-one. But the upshot of the incident is that while Shinichi kills the parasite, it isn’t before the girl he’s brought with to dine on has died – another victim Shinichi’s been unable to help.
This is a seminal moment for the series in many ways, the most immediate being that Kuromori bails on the grounds that he’s in over his head (and who could argue?). But before he does, he declares what he’s seen was a “fight between monsters”, and that Shinichi is “no longer a normal human” (and again, who could argue?). Kuromori couldn’t possibly have said anything that would more play on Shinichi’s worst fears, and deepen the growing wedge between he and Migi. It’s becoming harder and harder for Shinichi to justify his inaction even if action means sacrificing himself, and his resentment towards Migi is more and more burning a hole in his guts. His resolve now seems to be to take down the enemy one by one – a Quixotic effort to begin with, but one for which he sees no possibility of persuading Migi to offer his support.
The other direct result of this incident is that it means Shinichi has in effect “declared war” on Hirokawa’s group. This means they’re going to make a point of taking him down ASAP, and it’s Miki who gets chosen for the job. But before we see that play out, there’s that Chopin – a truly marvelous and very creepy scene in which we hear the aforementioned nocturne (one of the most beautiful piano compositions ever written) being played by Gotou while dressed only in briefs. As this happening we see Shinichi’s relationship with Satomi continue to deteriorate, and the Hirokawa parasites deciding how they’re going to kill Shinichi – which ends with Ryouko declaring her desire to dissect him. The net impact is both chilling and fascinating, because we’re seeing these parasites exhibit more and more recongizably human emotions like curiosity and engaged in behavior (such as playing Chopin) that seems to offer them no practical value.
The final bombshell dropped here comes when Miki makes his move against Shinichi – at the school, naturally – and Migi tells Shinichi that there are three of his kind approaching. As fate would have it Migi’s narcolepsy kicks in just as Shinichi is gearing up for the battle, forcing him to flee and try to buy time. It’s a fascinating cat-and-mouse, but the headline comes at the end of it – when it’s revealed that Miki (“three trees”) is actually three parasites in one body. The implications here are game-changing – not only are we seeing a parasite smiling and laughing like a normal human, but he’s an amalgam of three parasites in one host, which will surely send Migi to thinking about possibilities beyond his current uneasy situation with his fate intertwined with Shinichi’s. But before any of that matters, Shinichi needs to survive – and he’s never faced an opponent like Miki before. It’s great stuff – tense and thought-provoking all at once, and continues a very strong run for a very strong series.