Manga: Parasyte

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

Parasyte (Japanese: Kiseijuu) is a science fiction seinen manga by Hitoshi Iwaaki. It ran from 1988 to 1995 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 Izumi, 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. Thus, 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 Tokyopop) 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.

An anime adaptation by Madhouse, scheduled for 24 episodes, started airing on October 8, 2014 as part of the Fall 2014 Anime season. The anime modernizes the manga, using the same premise and main cast, but also integrating things that were not commonplace during the manga's original run like smartphones and the internet.

The manga will also be adapted into two live-action films in Japan in 2014 and 2015.

Tropes in this manga include:

  • 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: Uragami. 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.
  • 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 Uragami 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. Once again without a "natural predator", it's left unclear if humanity will indeed render Earth completely uninhabitable one day.
    • Shinichi and Murano are happily living together. However, because of all the school he missed fighting the Parasites, Shinichi can't get into college, leaving his future uncertain.
    • Migi allows himself to be absorbed into Shinichi, having apparently come to finally understand and admire the human empathy and curiosity he once disdained.
    • Jaw and Mamoru Uda continue to coexist peacefully, to the point Jaw is going a bit senile.
  • 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 soldiers.
  • Character Development: The series looks into how a human can establish a mind of a monster (Shinichi), while a monster can become more humane (Migi).
  • Chekhov's Gunman: So, you remember Uragami, 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.
  • Chick Magnet: The Protagonist is depicted as one. Murano, his girlfriend(-to-be), obviously likes him. Various friends of hers also utter their being attracted to him. On a trip, he meets a girl on a boat who, later on, keeps following him around. Kana is also continuously stalking him with help of her special powers and has some sort of white-knight wet dream about him. TWICE.
  • Cool Old Lady: Mitsuyo
  • Contrived Coincidence: Shinichi's parents just so happen to be finishing a holiday in the immediate vicinity of a parasite who, thanks to a series of accidents, needs a new body. The result is that Shinichi's mother is beheaded so her body can be taken over.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: The parasite who killed Shinichi's mother always goes for a One-Hit Kill by stabbing its enemies in the heart. When Uda's parasite realizes this, he's quick to protect Uda's heart in prevision and behead the enemy parasite from behind after being left for dead.
  • Death Glare: Being host to Migi gives Shinichi the ability to unleash awesomely powerful glares, representative of people being able to sense how deadly the pair of them are (the series supposes that animals are able to instinctively tell when another animal is more powerful than them and Shinichi and Migi are FAR deadlier than an human).
  • 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.
  • Faking the Dead: That's how Jaw/Parasite manages to survive the attack from Sinichi's mother parasite. After realizing that its opponent was going for a One-Hit Kill, by trying solely to pierce its host's heart, it changed the locations of the organs and let itself be hit. Afterwards, it just needed to wait for the perfect occasion to do a sneak attack, and its plan worked without a hitch.
  • Fan Disservice: Panty Shot on a woman chopped in half. Later there's a necrophiliac and a humanitarian moment. At the same time. And then there's also the scene of Uragami polishing his rocket when seeing a pretty girl.
  • Five-Finger Fillet: Invoked when Shinichi tries to expose Migi, who reacts with a Bare-Handed Blade Block.
  • 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. She doesn't notice.
  • 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 Miki, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: At first Kuramori refuses to help Shinichi fight the Parasites out of fear for his family. However, the Parasites associated with Tamura decide to eliminate him because of his knowledge. The attempt fails, with Kuramori's wife and daughter ending up murdered, turning Kuramori into a grieving, vengeful father and widower with nothing left to lose. Tamura chews out the Parasites responsible because of this.
  • Nigh Invulnerable: Gotoh.
  • 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.
  • Oh, Crap: The parasyte who took over Sinichi's mother's body has several during his fight against Sinichi, who is able to follow its movements, something that should not be possible.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Normally averted by the Parasites, but Mamoru'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 Mamoru Uda, part of a second human-Parasite pair much like themselves, only this one inhabits the lower half of Mamoru's face. Mamoru is depicted as going from The Woobie to the Parasite's personal Butt Monkey from the get-go.
  • Playing Possum: Jaw/Parasite made Sinichi's mother parasite think it was dead, and bid its time before finishing it off when it was distracted by Sinichi.
  • 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.
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: Subverted - taking the head clean off should kill a Parasite, but they can regenerate from most partial injury. Going for the vital organs tends to work better.
  • Revival: In 2014, as both an anime and Live-Action Adaptation after over 20 years!
  • 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 soldiers 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" (Japanese for right) and "Jaw" are named for the parts they're inhabiting in their respective hosts - the right hand and jaw.
  • 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.
  • Title Drop: When Hirokawa gives his final speech, calling humans "worms - or Parasytes. "In the original Japanese he calls them parasitic insects (kiseichuu) and corrects himself to parasitic beasts (kiseijuu AKA the Japanese kanji). Unfortunately it's not present in the well-known free scanlation.
  • 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.
  • Truth in Television: Whenever the Parasites attempt to do something like punch a hole in a wall, they will sustain serious injuries. Migi is the only exception because he's the hand itself.
  • 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.
  • Visual Pun: Since Parasytes only feed on the same species they take over, the first Parasyte-dog is seen eating another dog. Which would make it literally a dog-eat-dog world out there.
  • 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 Kiseijuu; 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 referring to the creatures, but the common one is used only once - when Tamura refers to Humans themselves as the parasites of planet Earth.
    • And then there's the last one when Hirokawa gives his final speech, calling humans "worms - or Parasytes." Unfortunately it's not present in the well-known free scanlation.
  • X Meets Y: Midori no Hibi with a grim version of Junji Ito.

Further tropes in the anime include:

  • Ascended Extra: One of Shinichi's classmates, a girl with glasses named Yuko who briefly appears in the manga, appears as a friend of his in the first episode where she even has more lines than Satomi. The producers have said they are going to expand her role somewhat.
  • Conspicuous CGI: The office workers when talked to in the lobby in episode 19 and 20.
  • Dubstep: Sometimes used for action scenes.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The first episode of the anime shows Uragami the Serial Killer at the end, long before said character's first appearance in the manga.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: There is still blood and gore, but the anime uses these far more than in the almost completely unreserved manga.
  • Nerd Glasses: Shinichi gets them.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Used for upcoming episode previews and sometimes in dramatic scenes.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The anime is taking some liberties with the story since the original manga took place in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but the overall premise, story, and tone remain unchanged so far.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: How did the flatfoots finally bring in Serial Killer Uragami? They caught him fiddling around with the Gorn left by actual parasites.
  • Setting Update: The anime is set in 2014 or at least the 2010s. The manga was written before cellphones and the internet became commonplace, which naturally affects the plot. It remains to be seen how the anime will adjust. The update also extends to adjusting the character design from Iwaaki's 1980s style to a more contemporary one, as seen in elements like Satomi's new hairstyle and a completely different design for Kana's jerk boyfriend who no longer looks like a classic Japanese Delinquent in a military-style uniform.
  • Spoiler Opening: The opening theme sequence shows most important characters in the story like Reiko, Kana and Gotoh, most of whom didn't appear in the first episode. It also shows that Shinichi will lose the glasses and change his hairstyle, and hints at the death of Shinichi's mother.
  • Take That: As if nodding to Worst News Judgement Ever, the newspapers go from reporting sex scandals to the "Mincemeat Murders" once the Parasyte invasion is underway.