Sadao AbeTadanobu AsanoParasyteKazuki Kitamura
Parasyte: Part 2
Also known as: Kiseijuu: Part 2
Medium: film
Year: 2015
Director: Takashi Yamazaki
Original creator: Hitoshi Iwaaki
Writer: Ryota Kosawa, Takashi Yamazaki
Keywords: Parasyte, SF
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Actor: Shota Sometani, Eri Fukatsu, Ai Hashimoto, Sadao Abe, Satoshi Araki, Tadanobu Asano, Kazuki Kitamura, Jun Kunimura, Nao Ohmori, Pierre Taki
Format: 118 minutes
Website category: Japanese SF
Review date: 17 February 2017
I still like it. It's still good.
Parasyte (the original) is a manga classic from 1988-1995. The word "classic" is overused, but in this case this really is one of the acknowledged greats of its era. Well, assuming you like reading about brain-eating parasites that turn the people they infect into emotionless cannibalistic killing machines that can cut stone blocks in half with their bare hands while they bite off your head.
This film, on the other hand, is the second part of a two-part live-action movie adaptation, which together add up to 228 minutes. That's close to half the running time of the anime TV series, if you ignore opening and closing credits. I thought it felt faithful. It hits all the key story points without feeling rushed. (Yes, I realise that people like Kana Kimishima, Makiko Hayase and most surprisingly Mamoru Uda have all been cut out from the story, but it works just fine without them and you could always go back to the anime or manga.) Shinichi Izumi (Shota Sometani) is a seventeen-year-old boy who's been getting less and less human since a parasite ate his right hand. (Its name is Migi. They had their problems in the early days, as with all relationships, but now they couldn't live without each other. In Migi's case, that's literally true.)
Other important characters include Reiko Tamura (Eri Fukatsu), a parasite who deliberately got her human body pregnant and likes thinking original thoughts about the relationship between humans and parasites. (She even unnerves her fellow parasites.) There's Gotou (Tadanobu Asano), an experimental creation of Tamura's. He's bad news. He eats SWAT teams.
And then, of course, there's Satomi (Ai Hashimoto), a girl who likes Shinichi. The film's stripped out almost all human interaction from the original, but they didn't dare get rid of Satomi. She doesn't get that much to do, but she's still important.
Question: why should you watch this film? What makes a live-action adaptation worthwhile, when it can't help but be an abbreviated version of the real thing? Offhand, I can think of three reasons.
1. Actors. I love anime, but a good actor can create something special. Here, I'd pick out Eri Fukatsu as Tamura. Where she takes her emotionless character is very much worth watching, especially at its end. I enjoyed seeing her learn about smiling from her baby, for instance, even though she's less funny in live-action because her idiosyncratic parenting methods are getting less attention. I liked Fukatsu a lot. I'd also praise the casting of Tadanobu Asano, who's not normally my favourite actor but was the perfect choice for Gotou. Once he gets going, this is a being from whom all sane people should be fleeing, very very fast. Asano can do that.
2. Broader audience appeal. More people will watch a live-action movie than will seek out and watch 24 anime episodes. If they enjoy it, great. (In this case, I'd expect them to.) If it prompts a few of them to seek out the story in its other forms, even better.
3. Nudity! No, just joking. You don't see anything here.
One thing that struck me here was how dark the story's discussion is of mankind. When watching the anime, I hadn't paid much attention to the theory about parasites being nature's evolved self-defence against the holocaust of humanity. We're a plague. We're the real monsters. All that had seemed fairly silly. On this viewing, though, I saw how consistently the story's pushing this and other similarly dark readings, e.g. Shinichi's odd-looking arguments about how he might not have the right to kill Gotou. (Yes, he most certainly has the right. You'd have to be mental to deny it. Letting him live would be like feeding your children to a shark.) I'm not sure these nihilistic arguments are always convincing, but they're certainly going all the way in comparing people and parasites. Tamura has a surprising angle on this, which is mirrored by the cannibalistic-but-human serial killer, Uragami.
Mind you, the bleak arguments aren't going unchallenged. On the contrary, the finale's all about our heroes defying them. Positive viewpoints get expressed too.
It's worth noting, by the way, that the parasites' CGI is still excellent. To my amazement, the director used motion-capture of Migi's voice actor to create him visually. You'd never guess that since Migi looks exactly like the goofy (and utterly non-human) flexi-killer of the manga, but it also makes sense since he really has been realised extraordinarily well. The little chap comes alive completely as a character.
It's a good film. It's less blackly funny than the original, but it has its moments, e.g. Migi's moment of vanity on seeing itself in photos. The humans don't get much attention, but that's fine. I liked the focus on the parasites. I've seen reviews calling this film talky and slow, but personally I don't care about the (relative) lack of action and I'd call it a category error to compare this with Terminator 2 or The Thing. It's abandoned the usual formula of good vs. evil and evolved into something more thoughtful. The parasites are almost the protagonists. They're the ones we see growing emotionally and mentally. They're the doomed ones, as Tamura realises. What should theoretically be a horrific final realisation is in fact a happy ending. I admire that. I'm now thinking of buying the manga.