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Manga: Parasyte

"Parasyte: Because Invasion of the Body Snatchers was for pussies."

Parasyte is a seinen manga written by Hitoshi Iwaaki, and is particularly famous for its usage of Body Horror.

One night, strange spores fall from the sky onto the earth. They spawn out weird little worms that quickly infiltrate human infrastructure, looking for host bodies. The worms crawl or burrow their way into the head of a human host, transforming it and the brain inside. This effectively kills the victim, replacing the host's personality and intellect with that of the Parasite. The Parasites have a ravenous appetite for the flesh of the species they take over - in this case, human flesh.

But one specific worm goofs it up - because its intended target, an Ordinary High-School Student named Shinichi, was wearing headphones, the parasite can't get to his brain, and instead ends up living in Shinichi's right arm. The little guy is called Migi (Japanese for right), and because of this unique situation, Shinichi and Migi are sharing the same body, but still possess their own individual intellects. This gives them an edge in battling the other Parasites, who see Shinichi's ability to think independently as a threat. Shinichi also feels compelled to fight other Parasites, who kill and eat humans as a source of food, whereas Migi, like other Parasites, is incapable of emotion and only fights to preserve his own life. And so, Shinichi is forced to deal with all kinds of teenage issues while keeping a horrifying secret and having to battle against hordes of other Parasites who want to use him (like Reiko Tamura, a scientist and Shinichi's teacher), kill him (just about everyone else) or worse.

Parasyte was first published in North America by Mixx (now better known as Tokyo Pop) where every character was Americanized by changing their names (for example: Reiko Tamura was renamed Tamara Rockford, while Migi was "Lefty" because the pages were reversed); mild censorship of sexual elements (though the gratuitous violence was left untouched); and many cultural differences being waved away. Later, Del Rey got publishing rights to the series and re-released it, reverting the changes Mixx made and using a more accurate translation. The manga will be adapted into two live-action films in Japan in 2014 and 2015. An anime television series adaptation has also been scheduled to air as a part of the Fall 2014 Anime season.


  • Absurdly Sharp Blade:
  • Asteroids Monster: The Shapeshifting Blob Monsteresque parasites can separate into fairly small fragments.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: The manga is filled with these. The moral and ethical standards we humans built for ourselves are put to question when a 3rd party enters our paradigm as a mirror to our inhumanity and savagery.
    Migi: "Parasites can change their appearance easily. Humans won't be able to catch them."
    Shinichi: "That's why we will chase them down-"
    Migi: "And kill them?"
    Migi: "Shinichi! I don't have human feelings. I don't feel anything when I kill my own species. But what about you? Will you be able to kill them?"
  • An Arm and a Leg: Shinichi loses his right arm when Migi seemingly sacrifices himself to stop Gotoh from killing them both, he gets better though.
  • Ax-Crazy: Kabuto. Crosses into Moral Event Horizon and Nausea Fuel territory when he is shown remembering how he got captured, which includes visuals of some of his victims, one of whom he had sex with after he decapitated her.
  • Badass: Shinichi and Migi
    • Bio-Augmentation: Shinichi gains superhuman powers after Migi heals his heart using his own blood.
    • Handicapped Badass: While separated from Migi and thus having a stump for his right arm, Shinichi manages to catch six mosquitoes in less than a second.
  • Badass Bookworm:
    • Migi spends a lot of time reading and studying when Shinichi is relaxing in his bedroom.
    • Shinichi averts this due to having to spend so much time fighting or fleeing from the Parasites and it comes back to bite him big time; see Bittersweet Ending.
  • Bad Powers, Good People: Shinichi is one of the kindest people in the entire series, but he has a Lovecraftian Superpower.
  • Betty and Veronica: Shinichi gets into something of a Love Triangle with his current girlfriend, Satomi Murano (Betty), and the rebellious girl Kana (Veronica). Kana unfortunately dies, and because of the missed schooling, his future with Satomi is uncertain at best.
  • Big "NO!": Shinichi has one when Kabuto is about to cut Satomi's throat, and again when she's falling from a building.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Parasites' organization is broken, Goto is dead and the Parasite race is apparently on the decline, but it's come at a heavy price. Because of all the school he missed fighting the Parasites, Shinichi can't get into college, tantamount to a death sentence in modern Japan and thus his future with Satomi is uncertain at best. Migi has put himself into an induced coma for reasons known only to him, Shaba is going senile and it's implied that with the Parasites fading away, humanity will eventually render Earth completely uninhabitable.
    • Granted, it all depends on the way you view the ending. It can be construed as an Earn Your Happy Ending. Migi decides to absorb himself into Shinichi, apparently because of his implied understanding and curiosity of human life. Though Migi seems like he will be there when Shinichi needs his powers to return, thankfully. Shinichi doesn't pass any college exams, but he and Murano, after saving her life no less than 3 times, are very happy just to be together. Shaba and Uda Mori still coexist peacefully. For a reason never elaborated on, possibly senility as the troper above stated, Shaba's communication seems a little off. Nevertheless, the two remain good friends with Shinichi. The earth seems to carry on like it does, and as of two decades in the future, we haven't reached our carrying capacity yet. Lastly, Shinichi is never shown that he lost his superhuman abilities, especially now that more of Migi has regressed inside of him. We can safely assume that Shinichi won't be academically special, but will proceed along daily life with a girlfriend, some small superhuman abilities and a bright future for them both. Finally, he and Migi can always meet up in their dreams.
  • Blade on a Stick/Combat Tentacles: Parasites fight by twisting into long whiplike stalks with razor-sharp blades on the end.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Migi has no qualms about pickpocketing in order to remain undetected.
  • Body Horror: To put it mildly, it's the page image on the trope page for a reason.
  • But Now I Must Go
  • Cannibal Larder: Horribly mangled body parts are found all over the world. Unusual in that the culprits are not cannibalistic humans, but alien bodysnatchers who eat people as a source for food.
  • Car Fu: Migi tries it on Gotoh.
  • Catch and Return: Gotoh to the militaries.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: So, you remember Kabuto, the Serial Killer the police brought in to help identify parasites? The one who disappeared during the big police raid? He comes back in the last chapter.
  • Cool Old Lady: Mitsuyo
  • Deliver Us from Evil: Reiko is revealed to be pregnant after sleeping with Mr. A, another Parasite-infested human. She originally plans to bear the completely normal human child out of dispassionate scientific curiosity, but soon enough, devotes herself to protect her baby once it's born.
  • Diagonal Cut: The Parasites' preferred killing method.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: How did Shinichi prevent Migi from reaching his brain? By tying his earphones' wires into a tourniquet around his own arm. Lampshaded—his parents walk in soon after and ask if he's abusing drugs.
  • The Dragon: Gotoh to Takeshi Hirokawa. Played straight, as Gotoh is a lot more dangerous than Hirokawa, and eventually, Dragon Their Feet.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending
  • Enemy Civil War: How Gotoh is defeated.
  • Evil Laugh / Laughing Mad: Tamura, upon discovering she's starting to take on human traits.
  • Evil Hand: Subverted; Migi can do a lot of nasty things, but isn't really evil.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Shinichi has one after he kills the Parasite responsible for his mother's death. He goes back to his first in the end.
  • Fan Disservice: Panty Shot on a woman chopped in half. Later there's a necrophiliac and a humanitarian moment. At the same time.
  • Five Rounds Rapid: Played straight, as most Parasites can ignore bullets. Subverted when it actually works on Reiko, and after the humans start using high-powered shotgun ammunition. Double Subverted when THIS doesn't work on Gotoh.
  • Gag Penis: After discussing with Shinichi regarding his attraction to Satomi, Migi shapeshifts into a giant erection while the two are at a restaurant.
    Shinichi: OH, JESUS!
  • Gaia's Vengeance: Reiko Tamura and the totally human Takeshi Hirokawa believes the Parasites were created to cull the human population to preserve the earth.
  • Good Eyes, Evil Eyes: A good way to tell who's a Parasite (see Uncanny Valley on the YMMV page).
    • Subverted a few times - some humans have the same look in their eyes as the parasites do. There's also Sanji, a parasite who learned how to look and act genuinely human.
  • Gorn: Dear GOD the Gorn.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Used exactly once: Shinichi's mother's death.
  • Green Aesop: Actually subverted towards the end. Shinichi comes to the realization that no matter how much humans want to empathize with other creatures and understand nature, at the end of the day they're just humans and can only live as humans, for better or worse.
    • You can't care about the planet without caring about mankind as well. First panel.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Shinichi becomes one when Migi uses some of his body mass to repair the stab wound caused by the Parasite that took over Shinichi's mother. This results in advanced strength and reflexes, and also in Shinichi seemingly becoming more emotionless for a time.
  • Heroic Host: When the Parasites don't kill you by absorbing your head.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Migi,in a very touching scene
  • Horseback Heroism: Shinichi, in Kana's dream.
  • Humanity Is Infectious: Ultimately the case with the surviving Parasites. After enough time passing as humans, they stop thinking of themselves as nonhuman.
  • Humans Are Flawed: Going hand-in-hand with the subverted Green Aesop, this is Shinichi's view at the end.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Sort of touched on. The Parasites at least believe this is the case.
  • Impostor Exposing Test: The military figures out a way to use an x-ray machine to separate a group of mixed humans and Parasites.
  • It's Personal: After a Parasite took over Shinichi's mother and came very close to killing him, Shinichi becomes a bit more ruthless in his pursuit.
    • Averted when he's beaten Gotoh, and the pieces are trying desperately to reunite, probably in vain. He's about to leave him like that, but instead makes it clear that it's Nothing Personal before dispatching him, thereby also nicely averting Once is Not Enough, because he makes sure that he's dead.
  • Kill It with Fire: Strangely averted here, as practically everything else gets used - dismemberment, impaling, gunfire from bullets to shotguns, and on one occasion, a rock. Flamethrowers are briefly considered, but rejected. The one time it's used (Shinichi's plan to hit Gotoh with a flaming spear while Migi takes off his head) fails.
  • Kill the Cutie: Poor Kana.
  • Lack of Empathy: All of the Parasytes. Shinichi goes through this for a while after he's partially merged with Migi. Migi and Tamura eventually get a little better about this as well.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall : When a report on the parasites is given as "In a way that everyone will be able to understand", and a page later when some "Obvious" information is delivered; one character negates by thinking "I did not know that"
  • Life or Limb Decision: Invoked. Shinichi is just Genre Savvy enough to tourniquet his own arm and prevent Migi from reaching his brain — and it's just the first chapter.
  • Losing Your Head: Shinichi to Gotoh's head in their first fight. Of course, he doesn't really care.
  • Lovecraftian Superpower: Guess who?
  • Mama Bear: Tamura of all people managed to pull this one on the detective when he threatened her child.
  • More Dakka: About ten men shooting Gotoh with assault rifles, shotguns and a grenade launcher at the same time. Even more after, up to 53 people. He doesn't care. See also Catch and Return.
  • Mugging the Monster: A bully and rival for Murano's affections tries to beat up Shinichi. Shinichi tries to avoid the fight at first, but the bully is having none of that. It doesn't end well.
  • Mundane Utility: Shinichi using Migi to deliver the ultimate Fastball Special in chapter 24 counts as this.
  • My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap That: Migi. He even shapeshifts into a gargantuan penis, in public, because of this.
  • Off with His Head!: Parasites tend to go for the head, whether they're infecting (X-rays of the host bodies reveal they have no skulls) or just feeding.
  • Nigh Invulnerable: Gotoh
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Normally averted by the Parasites, but Mori's Parasite attempts this by giving him a ridiculous jawline when he and Shinichi have to kidnap somebody.
  • Paranoia Fuel: invoked The police's efforts to keep a full-scale public panic from happening should the Parasites' existence become known are a minor but recurring plot point.
  • Played for Laughs: Shinichi and Migi's interactions.
    • Crosses the Line Twice: Shinichi and Migi meet Mori Uda, part of a second human-Parasite pair much like themselves, only this one inhabits the lower half of Mori's face. Mori is depicted as going from The Woobie to the Parasite's personal Butt Monkey from the get-go.
  • Power Perversion Potential: Averted, Migi's ability to turn Shinichi's hand into a giant penis or mass of writhing tentacles never comes up (as by the time our hero's in a relationship, Migi's asleep for good).
  • Primal Fear: Shinichi can unconsciously cause people to experience this, especially when he's being threatened.
  • Product Placement: Unintentional, but the appearance of an undisguised McDonald's in chapter 2 is a fairly rare sighting in manga.
  • The Quisling: The mayor was a human all along.
  • Radiograph Of Doom: A large x-ray is used to spot the parasites near the end.
  • Rule of Cool: The Parasites' ability to distort bodies is pretty damn awesome.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Reiko holding her baby and shielding it from bullets while the cops are shooting her to death starts to resemble a certain Virgin....
  • Scars Are Forever: Shinichi picks up large scars on his chest and back as a result of Migi saving his life, and a scar through his right eyebrow thanks to Gotoh.
  • Shapeshifter Weapon: Parasites can transform the parts of their hosts' bodies that they've taken over (usually just the head) into...things that can shred human flesh faster than the eye can see.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: The militaries don't wait to the end of Takeshi Hirokawa's speech to shoot.
  • Surprise Jump: A nervous Shinichi is tugged at from behind by a young girl. Because of his newfound powers, he jumps a good 20 feet or so.
  • Theme Naming: Migi. Shaba. (Right hand and chin.)
  • They Look Like Us Now: As time goes on, the Parasytes become more and more human, until finally there's no difference between them and ordinary people.
  • Tin Man: The Parasites all claim to have no emotions; in truth it's actually more complicated. They seem to lack empathy and are generally cold and expressionless, but seem to have something like bloodlust. As for human emotions, they seem to have some that they may feel in different degrees, but they apparently can (with time) develop complex personalities and emotions, like Tamura protecting her son and Migi valuing Shinichi's friendship and sacrificing selflessly for him. See They Look Like Us Now for the final results.
  • Took a Level in Badass: After recovering from the stab wound that pierced his heart, Shinichi can run at what looks like more than thirty miles per hour, jump more than twelve feet high without a running start, and has reflexes that allow him to actually dodge and turn aside Parasite attacks, which are faster than the human eye can see. He definitely leveled up.
  • Unable to Cry: Shinichi finds himself unable to shed any tears after he is turned partly parasite by Migi, even when he is forced to kill his own mother, or when Kana is killed by a parasite. He is finally able to cry again when Tamura's sacrifice for her child reminds him of his own mother.
  • Vomiting Cop: "Don't puke in the crime scene."
  • Wham Chapter: Chapter 11 contains horrifying amounts of wham.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Shinichi and Murano. They will.
  • The Worm That Walks: Gotoh is made of several Parasites, with each controlling a limb.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: Parasyte, Mixx's Market-Based Title for Kiseiju; Mixx used it to refer to the Parasites; Del Rey used the normal spelling to refer to the creatures, but kept Mixx's title.
    • The interesting thing in the original version is that there are two japanese words for "parasite" that are used in the series. The less common one is used when refering to the creatures, but the common one is used only once - when Tamura refers to Humans themselves as the parasites of planet Earth.

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alternative title(s): Kiseiju
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