Spoilers for episodes 1-2 of Parasyte -the maxim-, but no manga spoilers!
I haven’t had the luxury of time to do episodic blogging now that school has started, but I have a few posts I’ve been planning for awhile, and they’ll slowly be coming your way once I find the time to get down and put my thoughts into words.
Anyways, if you read the blog’s The Team page, you’ll notice that I listed Parasyte as one of my favourite manga. Seeing it animated with a fresh and modern coat of paint makes me really, really happy, and I wanted to just write about some of my thoughts based off episode 1 and 2 that have just aired, and the questions that have been explored back in the manga as well.
A Man’s Best Friend Is His Right Hand
Ever heard of that phrase? There are obvious sexual connotations behind why Migi is on his right and not his left hand. I see Migi’s possession of Shinichi’s right hand as a metaphor for adolescence/puberty, or perhaps a repressed sexuality coming to surface.
Before Migi came into the picture, Shinichi was reserved, quiet, ignored. You could argue that he was still ‘like a child’ – he was pure, like a child that has not yet experienced puberty. Right after Migi enters the fray, we see Shinichi ‘struggling’ to keep Migi in control. Migi was grabbing breasts, trying to get him to masturbate. Migi is ‘curious’.
Alternatively, I think Migi is Shinichi’s existing repressed sexuality coming to surface; and Shinichi can no longer deny the desires that existed within him. Shinichi was never a ‘child’, Shinichi was keeping it all under wraps, but Migi’s arrival, its ability to look deep into Shinichi’s deepest desires, makes it all impossible for Shinichi to keep any secrets from Migi.
Migi is, as I said, ‘curious’. I think that also leads to another question Parasyte poses to us – what exactly is sex? What are its implications?
Migi is an amoral, ‘neutral’ existence here – Migi represents a middle-ground between the creatures that supposedly lack a ‘conscience’ (animals?) and humans. Its position allows us to think about why we see sex the way we do – whether it is just a physical act that is a consequences of natural hormonal needs, or whether it is something more. Is sex just an amoral method for reproduction? If not, then what is it, and why do we perceive it to be something more?
Eating Minced Meat
The ‘violent incidents’ caused by the parasites are smartly called ‘Mincemeat Murders’. What does that term imply? It is quite obvious that Parasyte is drawing a parallel between humans eating animals and the parasites act of eating humans. What exactly is the difference between the two situations here?
Why do we label the parasites’ actions as ‘murders’, when we do not use this term for humans eating meat? Are the parasites’ eating of humans really morally different in any relevant way from humans eating meat? What exactly gives humankind the right to reign superior over other living organisms?
This issue is also explored in episode 2 when Shinichi saves the animal from being abused by the teenagers. Why are we so against animal CRUELTY but are okay with eating them? Is there some kind of hypocrisy in our actions? Why do we feel so differently about animal cruelty and eating animals when they’re not very different situations?
This speaks to me on a personal level. I eat meat, I am aware of animal cruelty, of factory farming and other inhumane methods of breeding animals ultimately being sent to the slaughterhouses. I am uncomfortable about eating meat, but I am against animal cruelty. Obviously there is something that doesn’t add up, and I believe it to be a self-centered reason – eating meat has tolerable effects on MY conscience, but animal cruelty crosses this line and makes ME feel uncomfortable; and that is why I think the way I do. It’s this sad understanding of my own selfishness that makes Parasyte’s message hard for me to swallow, yet it is also a necessary, and thought-provoking message for myself.
Demons Within Us
Migi’s position is an easy one to figure out – it, like other parasites, are for moral nihilism – the belief that there is nothing ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, that moral responsibility does not exist. That is why Migi does not understand Shinichi’s need to suppress his sexual desires, or why it does not understand why Shinichi thinks the parasites ought to be stopped.
Migi also makes this very interesting comment that ‘humans are closest to demons’ – and I think this applies to many of us, uncomfortable as it may seem. Humankind often claims to have a clear grasp of moral responsibility and tries to uphold this standard, yet there have been so many acts that have been committed out of reasons outside of justifiable ‘self-preservation’. Unnecessary evils, as we call it. Is Migi’s claim that there is nothing wrong with what its kind is doing really that unreasonable, considering the relative lack of morality of human beings in the first place? (This presence of an unnecessary evil also bleeds in to the parasites possible reason for existence – God bringing down judgement on humans at last? This one is just me rambling on senselessly though, but this is actually an argument many people hold for atheism?)
The anime has already established the central conflict of the story – amoral parasites versus the immoral humans. Which one is better/worse? Which will create the better worldview, and allow for greater welfare for all living creatures? All this is represented through Shinichi and Migi’s relationship – they are learning to coexist. Can there be a balance between the 2 worldviews?