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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Nippon Reviews: Kiseiju Kanketsu Hen (Parasyte, Part 2)

Parasyte, Part 2 (Kiseiju Kanketsu Hen): Written by Ryota Kosawa and Takashi Yamazaki, directed by Takashi Yamazaki.  Starring: Shota Sometani, Eri Fukatsu, Ai Hashimoto, and Tadanobu Asano.  Running Time: 117 minutes.  Based on the manga of the same name by Hitoshi Iwaaki. 

Rating: 3/4


            **Spoiler alert if you have not seen Part 1- for my thoughts on that movie, click here**

            Part 2 of our story about a parasite invasion of earth picks up right where Part 1 left off.  After defeating Ryoko’s associates from the first film, saving his childhood crush in the process, Shinichi takes it upon himself to seek out and kill as many of the remaining parasites as he can, with Migi guiding him to each of their hideouts.  In the meantime, much larger events are beginning to take shape.  We learn that Ryoko’s operations extend far beyond merely experimenting at a high school- it turns she has also been training a group of the parasites to enter politics, with the goal to take over the local government and ensure an environment more hospitable to her kind.  Simultaneously, a secret police-and-commando task force has been tracking the mysterious and gruesome murders springing up in the parasite’s wake, and are themselves closing in on their base of operations. 

            This movie wastes no time diving right back into the action, showing us in sequence the many moving parts that all come together to create an impressively broad finale, including parasite fights, gun battles, and a final smackdown in a nuclear facility (possible social message?).  In addition to the main characters returning from the last movie, we also get a few new ones, including a human photographer hired by Ryoko to keep tabs on Shinichi, the leading politician of the parasite’s political wing, a convicted human serial killer who may have discovered the secret of picking the parasite-humans out of crowd, and a combination parasite (meaning a person that consists of multiple parasites forming the head and all four limbs, giving it enhanced physical powers) bent on complete genocide of the human race. 

            This second part of the story has an even heavier focus on action than the first, but also tries to balance it out by offering a philosophical exploration of the parallels to and metaphors for our own world that the story tries to draw out.  It is an admirable effort, but is also the reason Part 2 loses a bit of its edge by the end.  The inclusion of a broad “message” in the end, while not a bad thing, feels a bit clunky in the execution.  If it had been worked in more gradually throughout both parts, the final product would have been much stronger as a result.  

            That’s not to say there aren’t some areas in which Part 2 aptly exceeds its predecessor.  While Shinichi’s arc is well-written (and well-acted), in yet another standard fashion of this realm of manga he’s easily the least-interesting character we see.  Ryoko’s transformation from a heartless villain to a surprisingly sympathetic mother figure by the end of Part 2 is much more interesting, as is the side story involving the widower human photographer and his young daughter.  Migi works well as a character despite the bizarreness of his design, and this is mostly due to the fact that the writing gives him most of the best jokes in either film. 

            In addition to liking most of the characters, I found myself surprisingly charmed by the lower-budget nature of the special effects.  Perhaps I have simply become jaded to the aggressive shininess of recent American fare, but it was something of a relief to see things I didn’t need to bother convincing myself were really there.  If you are not or never have been a fan of this type of storytelling, neither part of Parasyte will convince you, and there is a good chance the movie has no relevant future beyond being an object of interest (or maybe even derision) to fans of the original manga.  For my money though, if you are any sort of Shonen fan you will find plenty in each movie to keep you entertained ‘til the end.  Just don’t blame me if you never want to remove your earbuds again afterwards. 


-Noah Franc 

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