Cover of the Mixx edition of volume 4 featuring Shinichi Izumi and Migi.
|Genre||Body horror, Psychological thriller, Science fiction|
|Written by||Hitoshi Iwaaki|
|Magazine||Morning Open Zōkan (1988-1989) → Afternoon (1990-1995)|
|Original run||1988 – 1995|
|Anime television series|
|Parasyte -the maxim-|
|Directed by||Kenichi Shimizu|
|Written by||Shōji Yonemura|
|Music by||Ken Arai|
|Original network||NTV (and other NNS stations)|
|Original run||October 9, 2014 – March 26, 2015|
|Live action films|
Parasyte (Japanese: 寄生獣 Hepburn: Kiseijū?, lit. "Parasitic Beasts") is a science fiction horror manga series written and illustrated by Hitoshi Iwaaki, and published in Kodansha's Afternoon magazine from 1988 to 1995. The manga was published in North America by first Tokyopop, then Del Rey, and finally Kodansha Comics USA. The manga has been adapted into two live-action films in Japan in 2014 and 2015. An anime television series adaptation by Madhouse, titled Parasyte -the maxim- (寄生獣 セイの格率 Kiseijū Sei no Kakuritsu?), aired in Japan between October 2014 and March 2015. The English-language dub aired on Adult Swim's Toonami block in America between October 2015 and April 2016.
Parasyte centers on a 17-year-old high school student named Shinichi Izumi, who lives with his mother and father in a quiet neighborhood in Tokyo. One night, worm-like creatures called Parasites appear on Earth, taking over the brains of human hosts by entering through their ears or noses. One Parasite attempts to crawl into Shinichi's ear while he sleeps, but fails as Shinichi is wearing headphones, and enters his body by burrowing into his arm instead. In the Japanese version, it takes over his right hand and is named Migi (ミギー?), after the Japanese word for 'right'; Tokyopop's version, in which the images are flipped horizontally, has the Parasite take over Shinichi's left hand and it is named Lefty.
Because Shinichi was able to prevent Migi from travelling further up into his brain, both beings retain their separate intellect and personality. As the duo encounter other Parasites, they capitalize on their strange situation and gradually form a strong bond, working together to survive. This gives them an edge in battling other Parasites who frequently attack the pair upon realization that Shinichi's human brain is still intact. Shinichi feels compelled to fight other Parasites, who devour humans as food, while enlisting Migi's help.
- Shinichi Izumi (泉 新一 Izumi Shin'ichi)
- Voiced by: Nobunaga Shimazaki (Japanese); Adam Gibbs (English)
- Shinichi is the protagonist of the manga, a thoughtful, compassionate high-school boy whose hand is infected with a Parasite and is repeatedly put into difficult positions. He must find a way to peacefully coexist with Migi, the Parasite which has taken over his hand, and reconcile his desire to protect humanity from the Parasites with his desire to keep his own Parasite a secret in order to avoid being killed or used as a laboratory specimen. Like a superhero with a secret identity, he must also find a way to explain away his Parasite-fighting activities, as well as the stress and grief they cause him, to his friends and family. While originally forced to have Migi fight for him, later gaining heightened abilities when trace cells of the Parasite later course through his body, Shinichi later fights his own battles with the two having an advantage in both being able to act independently and work as a team. Shinichi's retention of his humanity, despite gradually becoming emotionally distant as a side-effect of Migi's cells, makes most of the other Parasites deem him a threat. After defeating Gotou, with Migi deciding to "go to sleep" indefinitely afterward, Shinichi attempts to live a normal life again while having an understanding of natural order from his experience.
- Masanori Harada, a 20-year-old student, wrote to the editor of the Monthly Afternoon noted that Shinichi acts calm when he is threatened and that he is "not human anymore!" Iwaaki responded, stating that Shinichi is accustomed to "close calls" partly because Migi calms Shinichi down during battle. The statement and response were printed in the April 1993 Afternoon.
- Shinichi is portrayed by Shota Sometani in the film.
- Migi (ミギー Migī, also called "Righty")
- Voiced by: Aya Hirano (voice), Rinka (sound effect) (Japanese); Brittney Karbowski (English)
- Migi is the Parasite which lives in Shinichi's right hand, named after the Japanese word for "right" (右 migi?). Unlike "successful" Parasites, Migi has no desire to kill humans for sustenance, and is nourished by the food Shinichi eats. Migi is, like other Parasites, completely without emotion. His primary consideration is survival, and he has threatened (and in some cases attempted) to kill other humans who pose a threat to his and Shinichi's secrecy. When he and Shinichi were first coming to terms, he even threatened to remove Shinichi's other limbs in order to render him unable to place the two of them in danger. Migi can be reasoned with, however, and has just as much reason to be mistrustful of other Parasites as does Shinichi. On the other hand, unlike Shinichi, Migi has no inclination to place himself at risk in order to protect other humans from Parasites. But Migi gradually evolves over the course of the series, he becomes more human while able to temporarily separate from Shinichi's body. After the final battle with Gotou, having been absorbed by the Parasite prior to his defeat, Migi's composition is greatly altered to the point that enters a deep sleep though he briefly woke up to save Satomi without Shinichi's realization.
- Iwaaki explained that while Migi appears to be Shinichi's weapon, in fact Migi is in control of the battle and orders around Shinichi. Iwaaki explained that Migi is easily able to order Shinichi since Shinichi is young and "needs guidance", while Migi would find difficulty if he became a part of a politician or a president of a company since in that scenario Migi and his host would argue a lot.
- An 18-year-old from Saitama Prefecture named "Midari" asked in the letters to the editor that if Migi took Shinichi's left hand, if he would have been named "Hidari". Iwaaki answered that it would be Hidari, but Iwaaki felt that the name would be similar to those of Bokuzen Hidari or Tenpei Hidari and the name would "bring to mind a doddering old man, so that wouldn't have been a good idea". Iwaaki then said that the first man to climb Mount Everest "had a name an awful lot like that..."
- Migi is voiced by Sadao Abe in the film.
- Satomi Murano (村野 里美 Murano Satomi)
- Voiced by: Kana Hanazawa (Japanese); Luci Christian (English)
- Shinichi's best friend and sometime companion. Shinichi and Satomi develop a romantic relationship over the course of the series, but their mutual attraction was hampered by Shinichi's personal troubles and the fear Satomi had over Shinichi's secretive behavior and mood swings. While Satomi has no idea about Migi's existence for most of the story, the final chapter has her saved by the Parasite from a near death experience with Shinichi left to wonder if she saw Migi or not.
- Satomi is played by Ai Hashimoto in the film.
- Kana Kimishima (君嶋 加奈 Kimishima Kana)
- Voiced by: Miyuki Sawashiro (Japanese); Maggie Flecknoe (English)
- Kana is a disobedient "bad girl" who develops a crush on Shinichi. She is attracted to him because of his sensitive personality, and because she can sense something "different" about him. In reality, Kana has an unexplained psychic ability to sense Parasites. However, her senses are not as fine tuned as those of the Parasites themselves. Kana mistakes this sense as a psychic connection to Shinichi; foolishly believing it was fate leading her to her true love. This ability is eventually what leads to her death when she is told about the Parasites, and a total breakdown of Shinichi for a good volume or so, until he recovers from it; the after effects of this led to estranging him from his friends and get police to keep an eye on him, all of which last until near the final volume.
- Yuko Tachikawa (立川 裕子 Tachikawa Yūko)
- Voiced by: Kiyono Yasuno (Japanese); Terri Doty (English)
- One of Satomi's two best friends. Her brother works as a criminal profiling illustrator for the police department. Due to her seeing her brother's sketches of Parasites and her crush on Hideo Shimada, she ended up at the center of a highly dangerous situation.
- Akiho Suzuki (鈴木 アキホ Suzuki Akiho)
- Voiced by: Rena Maeda (Japanese); Hilary Haag (English)
- The other of Satomi's two best friends, who has a minor crush on Shinichi.
- Uragami (浦上)
- Voiced by: Hiroyuki Yoshino (Japanese); Andrew Love (English)
- A cannibalistic serial killer who has the ability to distinguish between humans and Parasites, believing himself to be the definition of human nature and able to point out a killer. He is brought in by the military to help them in their operation to exterminate the Parasites in East Fukuyama City, but escapes when the military unit is slaughtered by Gotou. He returns at the end of the series, taking Satomi hostage to confront Shinichi to see if he has the same world views as he does.
- Uragami is played by Hirofumi Arai in the film.
- Kazuyuki Izumi (泉 一之 Izumi Kazuyuki)
- Voiced by: Masaki Aizawa (Japanese); Rob Mungle (English)
- Kazuyuki is Shinichi's father. Shortly after his wife was killed by a Parasite, he had some suspicions as to whether or not Shinichi was infected (although he never said so outright).
- Nobuko Izumi (泉 信子 Izumi Nobuko)
- Voiced by: Chieko Sasai (Japanese); Allison Sumrall (English)
- Nobuko is Shinichi's mother, expressing concern over her son's strange behavior. She dies early on when she is decapitated by a Parasite that needed a compatible body to transfer to when her male replacement body started to reject her. As the Parasite assumed Nobuko's appearance, Shinichi let himself open and got himself nearly killed in the initial encounter. But Shinichi later manages to avenge his mother's death and kills the Parasite with Uda's help.
- Nobuko is played by Kimiko Yo in the film.
- Kazuki Nagai (長井 和輝 Nagai Kazuki)
- Voiced by: Shinya Hamazoe (Japanese); Houston Hayes (English)
- One of Shinichi's classmates at high school. He had a crush on Murano and therefore was jealous of Shinichi, beating him up outside the gym in the anime. After Shinichi intervened while he was being jumped by Mitsuo's gang, he's changed his demeanor. Nagai is quick to jump into situations as seen when he got in Shimada's face for confronting Shinichi. The scene where Nagai assaults Shinichi after gym class, originally involved a character called Kotani. Due to Kotani being omitted from the Parasyte -the maxim- anime series, the scene was transferred to Nagai.
- Mitsuo (光夫)
- Voiced by: KENN (Japanese); Scott Gibbs (English)
- A student from Kana's school and possibly her ex-boyfriend, he is jealous of her crush on Shinichi.
- Makiko Hayase (早瀬 真樹子 Hayase Makiko)
- Voiced by: Yū Serizawa (Japanese); Margaret McDonald (English)
- Makiko is a young schoolgirl who lives with her parents, grandfather, and younger brother in the small town where Shinichi's father is hospitalized. Her family owns a hotel in the town where Shinichi stays for a few days, in order to be near his father. It is shown that she develops a crush on Shinichi during his stay.
- Mamoru Uda (宇田 守 Uda Mamoru)
- Voiced by: Takuma Suzuki (Japanese); Mark X. Laskowski (English)
- Uda is, like Shinichi, a human who had a Parasite merged with a part of his body other than his brain. In Uda's case, the Parasite took over the lower part of his head and face, most notably his jaw. Uda's Parasite originally does not have a name, but is later renamed Joe (ジョー Jō, after the english word "jaw") (Voiced by: Ayumu Murase (Japanese); Greg Ayres (English)). It is brash and crude, seemingly having a sense of humor, and often assumes control of Uda's mouth, distorting it into odd shapes and forcing Uda to say strange or inappropriate things. The pair befriend Shinichi and Migi, but preferring to simply avoid Parasites. Because Uda is slightly overweight and his Parasite is located in the jaw area, fights with other Parasites tend to leave him out of breath. However, because it is located in the lower part of the head, his Parasite can extend itself downward into his chest, protecting his heart (a primary target for hostile Parasites). Uda is a peaceful, easygoing man, but is shown to be nervous under pressure and highly emotional, often crying easily. He works as a hotel employee.
- Shiro Kuramori (倉森 志郎 Kuramori Shirō)
- Voiced by: Issei Futamata (Japanese); Jay Hickman (English)
- A private investigator hired by Reiko to spy on Shinichi and caught by Migi when he takes picture of them. When his assistant Taro goes missing, Shiro asks Shinichi to find him, and ends up recording a fight between Shinichi and a Parasite. Later his family is killed by Parasites, and in a frenzy of grief he kidnaps Reiko's infant son, leading to a critical confrontation at a park.
- Takeshi Hirokawa (広川 剛志 Hirokawa Takeshi)
- Voiced by: Yū Mizushima (Japanese); John Gremillion (English)
- Hirokawa is the leader of a cabal of Parasites which has Reiko and Gotou among its members, a radical environmentalist who believes that the Parasites' purpose is to cull the human population. Hirokawa uses his resources to accrue political power in order to set up safehouses where the Parasites can safely kill and eat their victims in secret. Hirokawa gains election to the office of mayor in East Fukuyama City, a small town (by Japanese standards) of 500,000 people close to Shinichi's hometown. Hirokawa wins by running on a campaign centered on locally based environmentalism. Eventually, assumed to have been a Parasite himself by the authorities, Hirokawa is killed by the police.
- Hirama (平間)
- Voiced by: Takuma Suzuki (Japanese); George Manley (English)
- A veteran detective who first suspected Shinichi for Kana's death.
- Yamagishi (山岸)
- Voiced by: Rikiya Koyama (Japanese); Josh Morrison (English)
- A police officer assigned to the Parasyte Extermination Squad, who is eventually beheaded by Gotou.
- Mitsuyo (美津代)
- Voiced by: Seiko Fujiki (Japanese); Vicki Barosh (English)
- An old woman who gave shelter to Shinichi after his fight with Gotou.
The principle antagonists, the Parasites are creatures of unknown origin which start off as worm-like creatures that instinctively enter the body of the nearest life form and travel to the brain to completely assimilate it while destroying the host's identity in the process. From there, using the vital organs of the host bodies to survive, the Parasites would be driven with a need to kill humans and Parasites with failed host bodies. After assimilating their host, Parasites exhibit a variety of abilities that make them dangerous adversaries: the immediate area around their entry site (typically the head) is morphed into a versatile "parasite tissue" which can take a variety of offensive and defensive forms, and a parasite that successfully takes over a host's brain can then maximize the physical potential of that host. In general, Parasite intelligence is comparable to humans, though their thought process is strictly rational and cold, with very little emotion. They are also capable of learning extremely quickly depending on their environment - Migi, for example, mastered Japanese after one night of reading books on the subject. While most Parasites initially acted alone, causing a chain of multiple grisly deaths coined the "mincemeat murders", they eventually form groups for safety in numbers. By the time of the final chapter, Shinichi speculating that they might have been created as an evolutionary countermeasure to humans, the surviving Parasites are assumed to have gone into hiding and adopt themselves further into human society to keep their activities to a minimum.
- Reiko Tamura (田村 玲子 Tamura Reiko)
- Voiced by: Atsuko Tanaka (Japanese); Joanne Bonasso (English)
- A Parasite who infected and took on the identity of a woman named Ryōko Tamiya (田宮 良子 Tamiya Ryōko), one of Shinichi's high school teachers while suggesting a beneficial ceasefire. Unlike her kind, she is motivated by scientific inclinations with a drive to understand her kind's biology, origin, and purpose. She learned that she is pregnant with a normal human infant as a consequence of being impregnated by Mr. A, deeming it interesting while forced to quit to avoid unwanted attention resulting from it. Though she intended to kill Shinichi soon after, she lets him and Migi live unmolested largely because she finds them an interesting anomaly worthy of study. After killing off Ryōko's parents when they saw though her, the Parasite alters her face and creates the identity of "Reiko Tamura" while aligning herself with Takeshi Hirokawa. She eventually gives birth to Mr. A's baby and later kill three of her fellow Parasites when they deemed her actions with a hired detective a threat to their plans. It was after Reiko killed the maddened detective to save her child that she allows the police to brutally gun her down in a park instead of trying to resist or escape. The baby survives because of her protection and decision not to fight back against or run away from the police.
- Tamura is portrayed by Eri Fukatsu in the film.
- Mr. B (B)
- Voiced by: Tōru Nara (Japanese); Mike Yager (English)
- A Parasite who attacks Shinichi and tries to coerce Migi into relocating to his arm in order to extend his own lifespan. To his surprise, Migi kills him on the pretense that relocation is too risky to try.
- Mr. A (A Ē)
- Voiced by: Makoto Yasumura (Japanese); David Wald (English)
- Mr. A is a Parasite who considers Shinichi a threat. Reiko calls him a fool while Migi describes him as "not one of our smart ones". Mr. A has no capacity for subtlety or deception, and no qualms about using his shapeshifting abilities in view of the public, reasoning that he can always get out of trouble by fighting, running away, and changing into a different face. Mr. A (or rather, his host body) is the father of Reiko's child. Shinichi is forced to battle Mr. A when he attempts to hunt Shinichi down and kill him at school. Though Shinichi and Migi mortally wound him, they are forced to flee before they could kill him. Mr. A attempts to find Reiko to transfer himself to her body and survive, but she rigs the room to explode to completely destroy him to preserve her human cover.
- Hideo Shimada (島田 秀雄 Shimada Hideo)
- Voiced by: Akira Ishida (Japanese); Blake Shepard (English)
- Hideo is a Parasite with a teenager's body who decides to integrate with human society. Hideo enrolls in Shinichi's high school on Reiko's suggestion and expresses a desire to become friends with Shinichi, who does not trust him. Although Hideo is a relatively peaceful Parasite, he has no qualms about brutalizing or even killing bullies who try to start fights with him, and he continues to hunt humans despite claiming to be learning to eat like a person. But when Yuko uncovered his secret and confronts him about it, Hideo ends up being exposed to paint-thinner during the confrontation as Yuko manages to escape. The paint-thinner's chemical make-up disrupts Hideo's Parasite cells, causing him to go on an involuntary killing spree across the school. He is killed after he escapes to the roof, when Shinichi, using Migi to enhance his right arm's strength, throws a well-aimed stone through his chest, destroying his heart.
- Shimada is played by Masahiro Higashide in the film.
- Kusano (草野)
- Voiced by: Takaya Aoyagi (Japanese); Kalob Martinez (English)
- A Parasite that allied himself with Reiko Tamura along with two others named "Hikawa" and "Maesawa." He later grows distrustful of Reiko Tamura when she argues against the notion of killing Shinichi despite the threat he poses to them. As Kusano's doubts about Reiko increase, he attempts to assassinate her with help from Maesawa and Hikawa. But his underestimation of Reiko's abilities results in the death of himself and his conspirators.
- Gotou (後藤 Gotō)
- Voiced by: Kazuhiko Inoue (Japanese); Jason Douglas (English)
- Gotou is an 'experimental' Parasite created by Reiko by adding four additional Parasites to his host body. Because most of his body mass is parasite tissue, his physical capabilities are far beyond a typical hosted parasite: he can produce many more bladed tendrils, can modify his musculature to enable incredible feats of strength and agility, and an armor-like layer of hardened tissue protects most of his body surface, rendering him nearly impervious to damage. As he is normally the head and de facto leader of the composite body, Gotou lives for the sake of bloodlust. It was only after the death of Hirokawa that Gotou was allowed to act on his impulses as he starts a personal war with Shinichi and Migi that results with the latter absorbed into his being. But Shinichi later targets an area of Gotou's body that is not composed of Parasite cells with a rusty metal pipe, unknowingly poisoning him to the point that he loses control of the other Parasites as Migi returns to Shinichi and defeats him. After his body exploded, the poison purged from his system as a result, Gotou attempts to slowly reform his body before Shinichi reluctantly kills him in mid regeneration. The name "Gotō" is a pun as one of the kanji is synonymous with the kanji for five (五 go), referencing his composition and ability to the other 4 Parasites that form his body.
- Gotou is played by Tadanobu Asano in the film.
- Miki (三木, lit. Three trees)
- Voiced by: Daisuke Namikawa (Japanese); Xero Reynolds (English)
- One of the Parasites that composes Gotou's body. Similar to "Migi", Miki's default position in the body is the right arm. His name has an additional meaning, which means "Three trees", referencing how he is only able to manipulate 3 Parasites in the body (including himself) when he takes the head position. Unlike other Parasites, Miki has learned to show emotions just like humans. His body is composed of five Parasites, one in each of his arms and legs and another in his head, they can apparently swap their places in the body but only two of them are able to unify the five and make them fight as a single being.
Names in Tokyopop publication
In the Tokyopop publication the main character's name was Shin and his hand was called "Lefty", as the image had been flipped to read left to right. Satomi Murano is Sara. Jaw, Uda's Parasite, is referred to as Jaws, in reference to the film Jaws by Steven Spielberg. Tamura is known as Tamara Rockford in the Tokyopop version. Gotō's name was written without a macron.
Iwaaki chose a high school setting due to a scene he had thought of. When considering a scene where Migi turns his shape into a penis in front of Satomi Murano, Iwaaki believed that the scene would work best in a high school setting, so Iwaaki gave Parasyte a high school setting.
Parasyte was originally serialized in Japan in the Morning Open Zōkan from 1988 and switched to Afternoon after a few issues in 1990. It was collected into ten tankōbon volumes by Kodansha, and was later republished in eight kanzenban volumes. It was originally licensed for English translation and North American distribution by Tokyopop, which published the series over 12 volumes. The Tokyopop version ran in Mixxzine. Daily pages from the Tokyopop version ran in the Japanimation Station, a service accessible to users of America Online. The Tokyopop English-language manga went out of print on May 2, 2005. Del Rey Manga later acquired the rights to the series, and published eight volumes following the kanzenban release. Kodansha Comics USA later republished the volumes in North America between 2011 and 2012.
Hollywood's New Line Cinema had acquired the film rights to Parasyte in 2005, and a film adaptation was reported to be in the works, with Jim Henson Studios and Don Murphy allegedly in charge of production. New Line Cinema's option expired in 2013, prompting a bidding war in Japan. Film studio and distributor Toho won the rights, and decided to adapt the manga into a two-part live-action film series directed by Takashi Yamazaki. The first part, Parasyte: Part 1, was released in November 2014 and the second part, Parasyte: Part 2, was released in April 2015.
An anime television series adaptation by Madhouse titled Parasyte -the maxim- (寄生獣 セイの格率 Kiseijū Sei no Kakuritsu?) aired in Japan on NTV between October 9, 2014 and March 26, 2015. The series follows Shinichi Izumi, a high school boy whose right hand becomes possessed by an alien Parasite named Migi, finding himself in a battle against other Parasites who feast on other humans. The series was simulcast by Crunchyroll outside of Asia and by Animax Asia in Southeast Asia and South Asia. Sentai Filmworks has licensed the anime for North America, South America, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand release. UK Distributor Animatsu Entertainment will release the series in the UK. In Australia and New Zealand, Hanabee has acquired the series and will release it within the region. The opening theme song is "Let Me Hear" performed by Fear, and loathing in Las Vegas. The ending theme is "It's the Right Time" performed by Daichi Miura. At Anime Expo 2015, Sentai Filmworks announced that the anime would run on Adult Swim's Toonami block on October 3, 2015. The English dub, provided and distributed by Sentai Filmworks, has been released on DVD and Blu-ray in two parts, with Part 1 (Episodes 1-12) on April 5, 2016 and Part 2 (Episodes 13-24) on July 5, 2016.
The series won the Kodansha Manga Award for general manga in 1993. It also won the Seiun Award for being the best manga of the year in 1996. The live action film Parasyte: Part 1 had grossed around ¥800 million at the Japanese box office after two weeks.
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