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This is a past article published in Hiragana Times. Each Japanese paragraph is followed by its English translation or vise versa, and furigana are placed above each kanji to make Japanese study even easier. [Magazine Sample] [Subscription Page]

The Meaning of Life Explored Through Conflict with Parasytes

[From Decemberber Issue 2014]

201412-9-1

Parasyte, New edition, Cover of issue 1.
Written by IWAAKI Hitoshi. Published by Kodansha Inc.

Parasyte

This manga depicts a fight against mysterious creatures that have infiltrated human society. After being serialized in 1989 in special editions of Morning Open, it was then run in Monthly Afternoon from 1990 to 1995. Translations have been published in other countries, making Parasyte well regarded both within and outside Japan. An animated TV series went on air in October 2014 and the first live action film adaptation will be released in November.

The story begins with a voiceover narrated by an unknown person: “This thought popped into the head of someone on Earth: ‘If the human population shrank to half its size, how many forests would be left unscathed?’”

They came from the sky one night. Eggs rained down all over the world, hatched, and leech-shaped creatures entered human bodies through their noses and earholes. By latching onto the brain, they control the whole body, and acting on instinct, feed on other human bodies through their host. By utilizing their heightened learning abilities, they learn to speak and infiltrate human society.

IZUMI Shinichi is attacked by a parasyte, but, because it entered his body through his right hand, he manages to keep it from reaching his brain. It does, however, manage to take over Shinichi’s right arm. So Shinichi has no other choice but to live with the parasyte. That right hand calls itself Migi “because it’s a migite” (right hand in Japanese).

Meanwhile, murders carried out by parasytes begin to occur. Confronted by reports of cruel crimes involving devoured bodies, Shinichi wonders whether he should reveal the truth. But Migi won’t allow it, insisting that its safety and Shinichi’s must come first. The parasytes continue to catch and devour more and more humans until one day, Shinichi is stabbed in the heart when his own mother becomes host to a parasyte. Migi saves him, but his mother dies and this takes a huge toll on him both mentally and physically.

Eventually humans discover that the parasytes are behind these incidents and the battle between parasytes and humans begins. People sometimes suspect that Shinichi has been taken over by a parasyte, and, after encountering different kinds of parasytes and humans, he himself is unsure where his loyalties lie. Uncertain whether they are mankind’s enemies, he becomes reluctant to kill parasytes.

Is it a crime for the parasytes to prey on humans? If so, isn’t it also a crime for humans to kill and eat other creatures? Isn’t there any way for parasytes and humans to coexist? Asked these questions, time and again by parasytes and humans, Shinichi naturally ponders this dilemma himself. Shinichi witnesses the suffering of both humans and parasytes, until the true enemy finally appears; the conclusion Shinichi finally comes to is a massive shock. The Japanese title “Kiseiju,” which means parasitic beast, contains a message that crosses generations.

Text: HATTA Emiko


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