When young student, Izumi’s hand is bonded with an alien parasite it becomes a shape-shifting sentient, capable of high-speed learning and transformation into magnificent edged weapons. He subsequently finds that keeping his deformity a secret isn’t such an easy task, especially when he stumbles across a heinous conspiracy by people totally controlled by alien parasites.
With Japanese multimedia sensations such as Death Note, Attack on Titan and Dragon Ball Z, more often than not the live action feature swing at the property is the duffer of the output. Where the manga and anime have the time and space to explore a wealth of ideas and characters, the live action films tend to try to cram too much content in and often don’t have the requisite budget to pull-off the kind of visuals needed to impress, which, if not equating to lacklustre adaptations certainly make for so-so or even bad films.
This is not an accusation that can be thrown at Parasyte: Part 1, the first of a two film series adapting the manga of the same name. Already adapted into an anime series, Parasyte the manga only extended to eight volumes, making it a much more manageable prospect for adaptation than the usual manga that goes on for volume after volume ad-nauseam.
Not having read the manga or watched the anime, I came at this story completely fresh, so not being able to speak as to the film making for a good adaptation or not, I can hand on heart say that it is a vastly entertaining movie in its own right.
Taking the oft-used conceit of the basic Body Snatchers set-up, Parasyte adds numerous visual and thematic twists to have itself seem remarkably original despite its additional propensity for using already overused manga/anime tropes. Whinny high school boy with a penchant for introspection and lack of luck with the ladies as the protagonist; check. Sharp things cutting stuff that doesn’t fall apart for a second; check. Teachers as nefarious villains; check.
But along with that we have controlled humans who’s heads dismantle and turn into whirling scythes of death, a sardonic hand that is more rational than most characters in pop culture, a well thought out basis for über action badassery as well as a general feel of uniqueness.
All this might have been for naught though if the CG was the type that is noticeably dodgy and ages the film very quickly, as tends to be the case with many Japanese blockbuster style films; but in this case the special FX are quite excellent, contributing to the note worthy goriness and action.
The story, which one assumes is a condensed version of the manga, flicks along a great pace, rushing through the whinny section of the hero’s life with enough speed and humour so as to render it much less annoying than a typically similar protagonist, so that he hits the stride of being a true and awesome hero by the end of the second act.
This is truly a Part 1 though, with the second instalment being necessary to complete the story that has been set up. Fear not however, it ends with such grandiose brilliance that you’ll genuinely look forward to the release of that sequel.
Acting as a fantastic origin story that may in fact be a simple preamble to an even greater film, Parasyte: Part 1 is funny, furious, gory and badass. I don’t think it would be an overstatement to say it’s one of the better films to come from Asia in the last decade, so most definitely worth tracking down.