Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 20

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Disappointingly, Parasyte takes a turn for the worse this week, completely sidelining Shinichi and Migi and instead focusing the entirety of its running time to a dull, repetitive, interminable, and at many points downright moronic SWAT operation.

Random humans I don’t particularly care about, ineptly battling a cadre of random parasytes I barely know and also don’t care about, is not a formula for an episode of television I’m going to, well, care about. It is, in fact, a recipe for a pedestrian slog; one I couldn’t wait to be over.

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Yamagishi, leader of the Parasyte Extermination Squad, seems to have a shrewd head on his shoulders, but quickly lets us down by employing scorched-earth tactics in hunting down the parasytes infesting the city hall, with absolutely no regard for either his troops or the scores of civilian bystanders, which he ends up treating like hostages. The scar on his scalp should have been a hint that this guy has a screw loose.

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It’s a plan that mostly succeeds because the parasytes assumed their enemy would be hampered by the presence of those bystanders. In other words, they assumed the humans would act like humans, instead of acting just like them: cold and efficient. In concept this is an apt commentary on the lengths humanity will go to in order to survive, including abandoning the precepts and conducts of civilization they typically abide by. But the execution is clunky, and as I said, I’m invested in neither party.

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The only member of the extermination squad I give a rat’s ass about is the psychic killer Urugami, and if I’m honest, that’s only because he’s voiced by Yoshino Hiroyuki. But Urugami is missing the exuberance of Yoshino’s other comedic and semi-comedic roles, and his too-on-the-nose snide comments about who’s calling whom a killer quickly grow tiresome.

He redeems himself, somewhat, by purporting to be bored and tired of this whole enterprise, telling the dudes with the guns to just shoot whoever, because it’s too much of a hassle determining who’s a parasyte and who isn’t.

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Whoa, dude, watch where you’re pointing that thing!

Yamagishi adopts a similar attitude when the parasytes scatter and we find ourselves in a seemingly never-ending sequence of him deploying, splitting, merging, and re-directing the various units under his command. “Screw it, just shoot anything that moves” becomes the standing order.

This isn’t particularly reassuring considering they seem to have recruited all these riot cops from high school. That there are all a bunch of unskilled, undisciplined, idiotic teenagers behind those masks is the only explanation for their gross incompetence.

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Aww, look how neatly they laid their clothes on the chair before gettin’ it on

They have endless opportunities to demonstrate that incompetence since this is The Raid That Never Ends. They do, however, bust in on a couple of stragglers in flagrante delicto, which is pretty funny. Nothing like gunfire and the persistent fear of death to excite the libido, eh?

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I’m sad because I’m not in this episode and I have nothing to do…

Meanwhile, the one character whose fate we still care about literally sits on the sidelines, doing nothing and saying almost nothing. He remarks about how there’s surely something he can do…but the writers don’t accomodate him. I think all Migi says is “No,” either unwilling to participate in the utter extermination of his own kind, or worried the threat of so many parasytes in one place is too great to involve themselves.

It’s Migi’s usual prudent pragmatism, but it just doesn’t make for good TV.

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But here’s the worst part: while this episode ends, the raid doesn’t, as there’s still a boss and overboss-level parasytes still standing, along with a handful of riot police. My last straw for the idiot police is when they listen to Gotou and willingly follow him into a larger room so he can more impressively kill them all.

It’s a blatantly staged action set piece with no purpose other than to demonstrate what has already been well-established at this point—that Gotou is a tough cookie—and it elicits little more than a shrug and a sigh. Franklin has abandoned ship, but I must admit after this plodding dawdle, even my patience is starting to fray.

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Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 19

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Because Franklin had the call last week, I actually never even got around to watching Kiseijuu 18 (or reading his review of it) until tonight, just before episode 19. Watching the two back-to-back revealed something to me: we’re in full serialization mode here.  18 kind of just ended, as does 19. In both cases, I was eager to watch more. But this also makes it harder to review the show on an episode-by-episode basis, since we’re dealing with pieces of a puzzle slowly coming together.

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What also struck me by watching these two episodes back-to-back, without regard to their running time, was how little seemed to have happened in roughly 44 minutes’ time. Don’t get me wrong; Ryouko dying last week and the cops finally cornering the parasite mayor this week are all big events, but I still got a “where did the time go?” vibe to both episodes, as if it was holding back, which it is, of course, because there are still five episodes to go.

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I’ll be blunt: I don’t much care about the serial killer convict, besides the fact that he developed the Kana-like ability to detect non-humans out of his own predatory nature. He’s a sociopath; wolf in a world of sheep, so it stands to reason he’d be able to detect other wolves.

But his little monologue feels like little more than padding, and it can’t distract me from the oddness of the Ryouko standoff, or the fact that in the situation where Satomi should have figured out a lot about Shinichi, she didn’t, but rather decided quite arbitrarily that he was “back” because she saw him crying while holding a baby. Tears and babies? Those are politicians’ tricks.

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Even if it’s only the latest piece of the puzzle lined with unnecessary padding and dare I say stalling; the fact of the matter is, the remaining organized parasites are starting to feel the walls closing in. They surmise that their associates tried to off Ryouko of their own accord and failed, and then Ryouko herself was killed by police.

We haven’t seen much police action until these last two episodes, but it’s clear they’ve been working diligently behind the scenes to develop not only a defense against the parasites, but a plan of attack, or rather extermination. The death of Ryouko was a blow to them, because it meant the death of someone who could be a conduit between the two peoples.

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And then there’s Satomi. Despite her not finding out about Migi or most of the other horrors Shinichi’s been through, she is content with the knowledge Shinichi is in the midst of a struggle not entirely of his own making, which is actually the truth: he didn’t ask to be infiltrated by Migi. The details don’t matter to her; all she cares about is remaining close to and supporting her man, because she knows he’s doing everything he can to protect her.

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Still, Satomi is brimming with denial. It’s one thing to be blissfully unaware of the details, but to try to keep Shinichi out of something he’s already waist-deep in is a fool’s errand. At this point it will be a miracle if she doesn’t end up another collateral victim. But standing with Shinichi, even in harm’s way, is her choice, and I appreciated and respected the loyalty and resolve she exhibited this week, despite her ignorance.

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Despite Satomi’s protestations, the police convince Shinichi to assist them (along with the convict) to help them identify parasites in an office building they storm with SWAT forces and then evacuate seven people at a time, all of whom pass through special sensors that can detect “non-human material.” Among the occupants of the building are the mayor and his aides, all parasites, whom Migi can generally sense but not yet pinpoint.

The police get their first catch of the day, and the episode ends there, just as abruptly as last week. We must be content with what we got and await the events that follow. Since some of the larger parasite personalities are in play here, it should be good. And therein lies the problem: these past three weeks this show has been merely good, despite having proven in the past it can be so much more than that.

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