I’ve previously noted that Kiseijuu has increasingly taken on the air of a tragedy, where the question isn’t whether heartbreaking events would crown the series, but rather how they would come about. As we enter the final run of episodes that feeling has never been stronger, despite the fact that Shinichi himself has unquestionably found an inner peace as a result of the denouement with Ryouko that he didn’t have earlier. Perhaps what’s changed is the sort of tragedy we’re expecting to occur.
The dynamic between humans and parasites has been building slowly, like a leak filling a room with explosive gas, just waiting for someone to strike a match. Well, that someone (or perhaps he’s the metaphorical match himself) is Yamagishi (Madhouse and Enzo favorite Koyama Rikiya). All we needed was a hotheaded and trigger-happy human to make the situation really dire, and Yamagishi fits the bill. He’s been put in charge of the anti-parasite operation, he’s dismissive of Hirama, and clearly believes the only solution is extreme and deadly force, dished out with excess. And it seems there’s no one in a position to matter who disagrees with him. Perhaps the ugly scar on his forehead bespeaks a prior encounter that’s fostered a grudge, or perhaps he’s simply full of bloodlust – either way, this guy is big trouble.
Iwaaki-sensei has been laying the groundwork for this moral obfuscation since the beginning, but it really kicks in hard with the events of the last few episodes. Ryouko – a woman who by her own admission killed 38 humans she didn’t need to kill (at least not all of them) – has “healed the hole in Shinichi’s heart”. She’s sacrificed herself for her human baby and trusted another human to care for him (as to that, Hirama says the baby will go into foster care if it’s deemed “normal”. I don’t think this is over yet). She’s even sold out her own species by giving Shinichi valuable information to fight back. And now we have the leader of the human counter-insurgency speaking in clearly genocidal terms, and a human mass murderer who has “final boss” written all over him – especially after he mysteriously covers for Shinichi by telling Hirama he was only imagining the boy was unusual. This story was always going to get this grey, but it’s progressed with remarkable speed of late.
We know Goutou – the five-parasite sporting, underpants Chopin-playing renaissance killing machine – is one key to the parasites’ organization. And we know Hirokawa, the mayor, is another – but because Hirama and his squad didn’t show up 30 seconds later than they did we don’t know why. Yamagishi’s plan is apparently to hit the parasites where they live – or a least work. It’s a military strike at City Hall disguised as a police operation, with the goal of identifying the parasites as they’re escorted out of the building – with Uragami and Shinichi’s help. But my sense is certainly that Yamagishi isn’t remotely concerned about any collateral damage that may occur.
It should be easy to root for the human side here, but it’s not. If there’s mystery in what Ryouko never got to say last week, there’s mystery is what she did say too. We don’t know exactly what she meant when she made her remarks about the familial relationship between the two species, but she seemed to be speaking as if she were stating facts, not hunches or opinions. And we have strong evidence (I would re-watch the first episode if you haven’t already) that the parasites somehow came into existence as either a response to or a result of the evil that exists in humans. And in Uragami we have a perfect representation of that evil.
This, then, is the crux of where the story is now. Shinichi seemed more frightened of Uragami than he was even of parasites, and I don’t think there can be any question that as awful as some of what we’ve seen the parasites do is, Uragami is worse. He doesn’t even have the thin veneer of hunger or survival to hide behind – he’s simply a sadistic bastard who gets a thrill out of the terror and despair of his fellow humans. Perhaps another reason Shinichi was so frightened, though, is that he once again has something to lose. He’s back in touch with himself and his humanity (that Murano senses this is more than obvious), and his attachment to life is stronger than it’s been at any time since the death of his mother.
In many ways, Parasyte is the story I hoped Tokyo Ghoul was going to become and hasn’t – that of a decent young man caught in he middle of a tragic conflict between two species that co-exist inside him. Can Shinichi somehow navigate something less than tragic out of this growing conflagration? It’s a terrifically tense and difficult situation, not least because Migi too is trapped in a bind. Does he help (he already is, in fact) Shinichi help Hirama (and Yamagishi) destroy the rest of his kind? Where does Migi and Shinichi’s relationship stand, both in moral and practical terms, if Yamagishi is successful? Whatever happens from here out is not going to be pretty, and it’s not going to come easily – of that I think we can be pretty certain.