Manga Reviews

Friday, February 10, 2006


Kiseijuu (Aka Parasyte)
Licensed by Tokyopop

Topic: Horror, Supernatural, Fighting

Warning: Gore, Death

Small wormlike creatures have floated down from space to invade the brains of those they encounter. Having done so, they take complete control of the human. The humans who are being invaded lose all sense of themselves, becoming mindless puppets for the aliens. Unfortunately for humanity, these parasites eat other humans as their food source, meaning those humans who have been take over become nothing but weapons for the parasite to go harvest food with.

Shinji is a middle school student who's lying on his bed listening to music when a parasite decides to infect him. Luckily, Shinji manages to grab the parasite, preventing it from entering his head. The parasite burrows into Shinji's right arm instead to survive. Initially Shinji thinks it was just a dream, but he quickly realizes that his hand is no longer his own. His right hand has been taken over by the parasite but because the parasite was unable to take over Shinji's mind, they have two seperate conciousnesses. Being a parasite, it will die if Shinji dies so it grudgingly accepts its role as Shinji's protector.

Meanwhile in the world, a rash of "monsters" has burst out killing millions of humans and consuming them. Humans everywhere are panicing because they have no idea what's going on. While this is going on, Shinji is slowly getting acquainted with "Migi" (right hand in japanese), which is what he names the parasite. Migi has no emotions, only pure rationality and the fact that it's so willing to destroy life scares Shinji. Shinji just wants to live a normal life, even though the attacks in the world are increasing.

The tipping point happens one day when Shinji's mother is killed by a parasite, who then takes over her body and stabs Shinji in the heart. Migi is able to stem the flow of blood and save Shinji's life but in the process the two have mixed DNA even more thoroughly. Now Shinji is capable of superhuman movement and strength, and his right hand can turn into whatever weapon he desires. He has become the last line of defense between the parasites and the rest of humanity. But can he actually hunt down his own mother? How does one fight against opponents who can shape shift at will and possess superhuman abilities? And as the world slowly begins to realize the truth will they see him as a friend or foe?

Kiseijuu has one of the most original plots I've seen in a while. The plot is very well developed, balancing between fighting other parasites and dealing with the world coming to grips with the new reality. Shinji has to conceal his reality from his friends and family, bearing the burden himself. He must defend those he holds dear while keeping them from learning the truth, lest they turn him in for research or become a target for the other parasites.

The characters are very well developed, in a surprisingly small number of chapters. Shinji starts as a stereotypical student, very afraid of the events going on around him. But as he fights more and more parasites he begins to harden himself, even throwing a dead dog out in a trash can. His girlfriend becomes afraid of him, saying that he's changed into something other than what he used to be, hinting that maybe Migi's and his psyches are beginning to merge. This forces Shinji to walk a tightrope between remaining human (too weak to fight parasites and protect those he loves) and becoming a full blown parasite (loses all emotion and becomes a ruthless hunter). That constant tug-of-war keeps you on the edge of your seat in every chapter.

The character art is very innovating, with very odd shapes and forms for the parasites, especially when they're attacking. Their facial expressions are perfect for the situation, with the parasites often taking on expressionless faces except when feeling extreme emotion. The fight scenes are also very skillfully drawn, with plenty of detail. The background art is almost non-existant, which actually is alright for this series given the sheer amount of text. Your average pannel will have a couple bubbles of text and a single large image in the foreground with almost nothing in the background.

I found this series to be very refreshing. The characters and plot are able to maintain tension without having to resort to superpowered opponents or odd plot twists. I do want to warn readers that there is a large amount of death and gore in this manga so if you're averse to that you'll probably want to avoid this series. For everyone else, this is a very interesting divergence from the norm.

Rating: 8.5/10.0


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