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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Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 18

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So Tamiya Ryouko bid her farewell this week and, for all Kiseijuu Sei no Kakuritsu’s efforts to make her passing meaningful, all I could muster in response was a long, defeated sigh.

Then the plot lurched forward to introduce a psychic serial killer in police custody who, probably, has identified Shinichi as not entirely human.

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Why didn’t Ryouko’s death work? For starters, she’s been on the Police / Parasytes / Shinichi’s to-kill-list for several episodes — so we knew this was coming.

But what really bled the drama out of her death was how long it took to get there, how little has happened in the show leading up to it, and how little her legitimately interesting character actually accomplished during that time.

Simply, Ryouko’s story was dead and lifeless long before she was needlessly gunned down by the police.

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Sure, I get that having a child became her reason to be, and that reason no longer was now that she could sway Shinichi to believe her and care for her child in her stead… or convince child protective services and/or government scientists to chop it into little pieces.

Yeah that’s where her logic makes no sense at all. Shinichi has no agency nor influence over what happens to the child and she’s left him holding the baby, surrounded by armed government people. Brilliant.

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So Shinichi learns to cry again and Murano, who happens to be in the park still even after hearing endless gunshots and witnessing a woman being shot to death brutally, accepts him for ‘coming back.’ Also because Kana’s ghost told her. Probably.

Then, later, Shinichi goes to a hospital but is unknowingly part of a screening the police are doing with the help of serial killer who is either psychic or just kana-tuned to parasytes.

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What worked: Sarcasm aside, if I wasn’t completely drained of empathy for Ryouko and shruggy about her suicide, her monologue to Shinichi about Parasytes being the children of humans and feeling bullied by humans could have been interesting.

Similarly, if it had a little more build up and/or he wasn’t so gross, I could see chuckling about the serial killer. I mean, masturbating in front of a fake psychic could be a funny thing. Right?

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Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 17

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Parasyte continues its liesurely Winter stroll, in an episode that even to me, Princess Patience, felt sluggish and uneventful. Sure, there’s an interesting multi-vector battle between parasytes in the beginning, but it takes its time. And then the storyline shifts to the detective and things slow down even more.

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Nothing more unnerving than having a woman with half a face and a mouth that’s way too big for your body to ruin a lovely night out! But Tamiya Ryouko doesn’t have much of a choice; her former allies have turned on her, something she could probably have predicted based on her kind’s unswerving logic.

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But Ryouko is different. Not only does she have the kid, but a lot more knowledge of the parasyte body, which she uses to her advantage against her foes, making pretty quick work of them…but not until she thoroughly explains how she beat them. Franklin mentioned how while battling the parasytes are very static, and that was more evident to me here, especially when compounded with their emotionless-by-nature dialogue.

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Also, as macabre as it may sound, the fact no humans were harmed in this battle, even collaterally, lowered the stakes somewhat. Ryouko hasn’t quite earned the right to be someone I’d route for. I’d sooner they all destroyed each other and leave Shinichi with a couple fewer problems to worry about.

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Ryouko returns home to find her baby gone; kidnapped by Kuranomi, so she breaks into Shinichi’s house, goes through his baby pictures, and asks him to meet her at the same park where Kuranomi told her to meet him.

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Ryouko then exits Shinichi’s house just when Satomi happens to be outside, hoping for him to be home. It’s very understandable for Satomi to get the wrong idea here (especially when Ryouko says she’s not his mother), but Ryouko also screams “answers.”

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Then just as Satomi is wishing and hoping for Shinichi to come back soon, he passes right by her in a bus, and she just happens to see him, and then chases after the bus. Satomi’s luck continues when she arrives at the bus station to find Ryouko and then chases her down. Uhh, what? That’s a lot of timely coincidences to get Satomi involved in one day!

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Kuranomi and Ryouko meet at the park, though I’m not sure what Kuranomi wants, but he seems to think no matter what he does, Ryouko will simply shrug it off, because she’s an unfeeling monster. Despite this, he feels the need to have her experience an iota of the grief he has, so he prepares to toss the kid over a balcony, when Ryouko’s maternal instinct kicks in, kills him, and snatches the babe up, surprising not only him, but herself as well.

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So yeah, at this point Satomi is simply sitting around in the park. Unaware how much of the episode had progressed, I assumed one of two things would happen: she’d finally witness Shinichi in action (shocking truth!), or she’d get herself killed (far less likely). Surprise: Neither happens. Nothing happens, which was kind of deflating.

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Kuranomi is killed, but our time with him was so brief, and his choices often so idiotic (do not kidnap crazy monster’s infant or face he alone, ever), I can’t say I’ll miss him. Truth be told, we only saw his family for one brief scene. In terms of emotional impact, Kana he is not (Kana’s death still gets to me).

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Well, here we are: Shinichi and Ryouko facing off once again. Will this be another calm chat that turns more heated when Ryouko pushes Shinichi’s buttons? Will Ryouko tell him her buddies tried to kill her and now she’s alone with her baby and her philosophy? Will the blades come out and they’ll just start hacking at each other, when all of a sudden Satomi strays into their attack radius? I wasn’t able to say this before, but at this point, I’ll take anything, as long as it’s…something.

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Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 16

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Parasyte presents a ratings-challenge this week. Perhaps you’re finding this a typical response for me on this show now but, honestly, I could rate it anywhere between a 6 and an 8 it was so all over the place in quality.

Let me clarify: the drawing, style and tone were consistent but it felt like two different episodes. Like it was split in the wrong place and half way through a totally different show emerged.

Gah… this is going to take a little Oigakkosan Brand Rambling™ to explain. So hold your horses and lets get at it!

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Shinichi and Migi pick up where last week left off: a showdown with a stronger, even more robust Parasyte. The entire first half of the episode is dedicated to the fight, more or less, and even though it ends without a conclusion, it’s satisfying in its own way.

That said, there’s something about the fighting that’s becoming unsatisfying to watch. Maybe it’s how the players stand still and flail at each other with bladey tentacle-arms or that the character design is very plain or that the action is often narrated by Migi or Shinichi or both and our only surprises are minor things like the bad guy not dying when they thought he would.

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That’s putting aside how goofy the action can be too. Seen above: Migi grabs a truck and pulls Shinichi through the air. This kind of thing is funny, and to be sure some of Migi has always been adorably weird, as much as creepy. Still, it had a certain Warner Bros vibe to it which…felt out of place?

Combined with the static nature of the fight, and the start/stop nature of running away to re-position in another background that looks very similar to the last one, the battle didn’t feel dramatic to me.

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Then the second half happens and maybe three or four times the normal number of events seen in a single episode are thrown at us all at once.

The P.I. goes to the cops and is ready to spill the beans on the Parasytes, then he freaks out and goes to take Ryoko down on his own, Ryoko posits humans are individuals that share a single mega brain of sorts, which confuses the other Parasytes and they then decide to go and kill her, but first she nurses her human baby and muses how weird it is and the P.I. is also going to kill her and it’s a cliffhanger with all of them coming together for a show down.

Also, Shinichi tells his dad to get out of the house and Murano is nudged into bringing his abandoned backpack to his house by her friends and AHHHHHH it’s just a lot of stuff and, especially in the case of Murano, I Just. Don’t. Care.

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I guess this has been my problem with the past few episodes. Shinichi is interesting, Migi is interesting AND adorable, and Ryoko makes for an introspective story forwarding villain…but no one else provides substance.

Maybe the Evil Council of Parasytes could, but they are ultimately focused on killing Ryoko (and probably her baby) so they aren’t even in Shinichi’s theatre of villains. So seeing them just distracts us from the unraveling mystery or risks over-exposing them to the point of feeling dull. No secrets to tell.

I guess I’ll give it a 7—a top-notch 7—but I don’t feel it being higher. It just isn’t emotionally gripping enough as an episode without relying on my long-term emotional investment in the series.

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Prestons take:

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I enjoyed the scenic forest setting of the battle with Miki, as well as all the new challenges of having to fight a parasyte far different from anything they’ve gone up against previously. I was also glad it ended in a rare stalemate, because Miki shouldn’t be that easy to kill (and Shinichi is just hella fast).

The remainder of the episode, as Franklin describes it, indeed sounds like a bit of a jumble, with incremental developments on many fronts and no distinct climaxes. But I guess I just didn’t mind that as much, and certainly was never overwhelmed or bored with any of it. I’m fine with a select few characters providing the substance while the others add flavor and texture, and variety. It helps that I still care about Murano.

Shinichi/Migi’s challenges are growing in number and complexity by the day, and soon it will be all he can do to keep his father and Murano from ending up like Kana or the P.I.’s family, to say nothing of his goals for saving humanity. The building of tension is unhurried and multi-directional, but also steady and robust.

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Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 15

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This week’s Parasyte starts off as many previous ones have—one of the titular monsters snatches up some lunch—with two key distinctions. First of all, he’s being watched and followed by an associate of the Kuranomi (the P.I.). Secondly, before that associate meets his untimely but inevitable demise, the parasyte has a lot more personality than we’re used to. With a wry grin and taunting self-scolding for letting himself be followed, he seems far less animalistic and far more like, an evil human villain.

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When Kuronomi recruits Shinichi to accompany him to the garage, they find another parasyte about to feed. Ryouko’s outwardly “civilized” crew have made the garage a discreet dining area. The activities may be different, but such a location is as suitable for humans to misbehave as parasytes.

Kuronomi films everything as Shinichi lunges out of the shadows and dispatches the parasyte (who isn’t quite as emotional as the cold open’s), but not before the monster kills the woman, with grim efficiency, in the blink of an eye. In case you’d forgotten: Yes, humans are very very weak.

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After witnessing that murder, and the monsters dueling, Kuranomi is OUT. Forget his high-minded talk of helping to save humanity, he has a wife and kid, and neither the strength nor courage he credits Shinichi with having. While I can’t blame him, at the end of the day he’s exhibiting It’s the typical “I’m just one guy, what can I do” attitude common to normal humans.

Shinichi knows he’s not a normal human anymore. Keeping Satomi at a distance and reaching an impasse with Ryouko; all of it has been to prepare for a war he has only a vague idea how to fight, against a foe he doesn’t know as well as he thinks.

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Shinichi believes himself well-informed on the evolution of parasytes—just because his right hand is one of them—at his peril. Ryouko’s crew initially has varying opinions (more human behavior), but they eventually come to the consensus, Ryouko included, that Shinichi is a threat that must be eliminated. Her only proviso is that they bring him back intact enough for her to dissect him; it would be a waste to destroy such an enlightening subject.

As one parasyte plays Chopin beautifully on the piano (in nothing but boxer briefs) a chilling spectacle, he and another discuss sending someone named “Miki” after Shinichi. Their demeanor suggests he’s a tough one.

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Speaking of chilling spectacles…Good GOD that was a creepy nightmare, where a pale, demonic parasite with Migi’s voice shows Shinichi his reflection, and he sees his face rotting away. I’m not going to read too much into this, but could that skeletal wight be Shinichi’s final form, once all of his humanity is sheared away? I shudder to think.

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Like I said last week, just because Shinichi is trying his hardest to make Satomi hate him doesn’t mean she’s going to cooperate. This is because she isn’t an idiot; she can connect the dots and arrive at the possibility that everything Shinichi is doing, including keeping her in the dark, is to protect her.

If she’s ever going to re-enter what’s left of Shinichi’s life, she’s going to have to force her way in. But she’s neither strong enough to break through the bars of that gate, forged by Shinichi to keep her safe, with the unfortunate but unavoidable side-effect of keeping them apart. If Satomi is with Shinichi, she is the very definition of unsafe.

But weak as she is, I’m inclined to believe it should be her choice. Calling Shinichi a paternalistic bastard is oversimplifying, but he is dictating how Satomi should live her life. She has every right to fight and die by his side rather live without him. It’s not logical or self-preserving, but love seldom is.

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I’m not saying having Satomi around is a good idea, of course. But the Ryouko crew’s carefully-implemented plan is executed just as Migi has to go to sleep, resulting in a four-hour period that’s both thrilling and oddly casual, as even without Migi Shinichi can still get away with the best of them.

When Migi does wake up in the nick of time, Shinichi learns that all three of the parasytes after him are really contained within the body of the single guy chasing him, a very expressive guy named “Miki” who is confident the battle is over and he’s won before it begins, but I doubt that’s the case.

With thrice the cutlery, Shinichi and Migi are suddenly up against their toughest opponent yet. I don’t doubt they’ll find someway to survive and possibly even defeat Miki, but there’s sure to be a cost.

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Franklin’s Take:

I remain a fan of parasyte’s world, characters, and disturbing emotional dilemmas. I especially enjoy Migi and his ongoing evolution towards a more human human than Shinichi (in current hybrid form) That said…

Meh? The animation has become a bit ho-hum, we’re retreading Shinichi’s emotional ground and nothing is really moving forward that hasn’t been put into place for weeks. It’s also a bit average, by Parasyte standards, we didn’t get a good fight or gore/terror injection this week. So, despite enjoying the show and the occasional bit of dark-black-humor, my verdict is much lower than Preston’s.

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Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 14

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This week’s Parasyte was all about moving on. SatomixShinichi is no more; The private eye plot seems to be wrapped up, and Migi and Tamiya Ryouko both show signs of emotional growth, albeit in the opposite directions.

The last of these elements was most interesting, and possibly most horrifying as things with ramifications go, but everything that needed to happen did. SatomixShinichi especially needed to go. While entertaining, the distraction was holding the plot back and, until Murano is ready, there was no point in dragging it out longer.

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To quickly run down the events: Migi concedes killing every threat isn’t going to work, at least not work for MigixShinichi’s relationship, so they agree to trap and kidnap the P.I. and explain the situation.

Uda and “Joe,” his newly named parasyte, come and help. Ultimately, aside from driving a car and staying in the loop, they don’t really do much. Though I suppose Joe is there to show what a ‘pure’ parasyte is like, and how much Migi has evolved.

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How has Migi evolved? Certainly compromising his kill streak could be seen as same-old practical Migi. Likewise, when Migi berates the P.I. for being a lowly idiot of no worth compared to Shinichi, we could assume he’s just playing the typical ‘Migi Feels Superior’ card.

However, the plumb is in the details. Migi’s tone can read as exasperation, or even empathy for Shinichi’s struggle, which is definitely new.

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Later, Ryouko dismisses the P.I. and actually laughs about it, which is a change in her as well. Then she calls a stand-off with Shinichi on the roof of a university and they exchange barbs but have to break off before coming to blows.

Ultimately, there can be no peace between them. Shinichi’s rage over his mother and how terrible a mother Ryouko appears to be (human shield baby? Really??) not even his parasite can contain the rage.

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What was good: All of the developments were interesting, even the less spelled-out ones like the baby showing some signs of parasyte-like emotional control and response to a parasyte’s strong emotions.

It was also nice to see Uda and Joe again, if not because they are funny to watch.

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What could have worked better: Depends on what you want from Parasyte. This feels very mid-season as episodes go. A lot happened, but there wasn’t a strong overall arc and the developments were personal, character points, not plot developments.

Certainly this is understandable, and it didn’t feel like stalling (unlike some of the previous weeks). Even still, Parasyte faces the age-old challenge of filling two seasons’ worth of episodes without feeling plodding or bloated and this is creeping towards the plodding side of the spectrum.

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Over all, I enjoyed this episode more than the last two. Parasyte emotional development is more interesting than Shinichi’s devolution, after all.

I could use a car chase or a flashy love-interest offing tragic murder rampage though. Couldn’t you?

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Preston’s Take:

Ah, just when Migi has finally come around to Shinichi’s way of thinking—at least in terms of not killing everything in sight—Shinichi is provoked into a rage and wants to kill everything in sight. And just as Ryouko seemed to be trying to find a civilized solution to coexisting with humans and meets calmly with Shinichi on that roof, she kind of burns any potential bridges by mocking the murder of Shinichi’s mom with her newfound laugh.

As Franklin said, the parasytes are going in opposite directions, but I’d argue they’re both becoming more human as Shinichi becomes less. 

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I fully admit to being ShinichixSatomi shipper (even during the Kana Inkursion), even I agree the awkwardness reached critical mass. I do appreciate that his cold behavior was qualified this week by his desire to keep her safe, which wasn’t going to happen as long as she stayed close to him. Here’s the thing, though: when a guy tries to make a girl hate him, the girl doesn’t always cooperate.

I’ll also admit to liking the little scene of the P.I.’s home life. He’s not the best father or husband, but there’s love there, and it instantly made the previously annoying side character more sympathetic. But that the episode had the time to show us this speaks to the fact this show could be straining to fill 24 episodes.

“OUT OF THE WAY, HUMANS!!”

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Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 13

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Tamiya Ryouko is getting things done. She’s assembled a group of like-minded full-body parasytes willing to temper their primal urges and help her find more efficient ways to coexist with humans. Her baby is also coming along nicely, though the nanny she hired is freaked out when she touches the crying babe’s head and says “quiet”, and the baby just…shuts up. Just like that. Like flipping a switch.

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That ability to flip a switch on one’s emotions, both internally and externally and indeed without even knowing it, is what primarily troubles our unfortunate protagonist in this first episode of Parasyte’s second half (well, that and he’s almost discovered). I’ll be honest: I’m still pretty torn up about Kana dying, even if her death made perfect sense to the story, I had grown fond of her. So had Shinichi, but after that initial burst of fury that destroyed the parasyte that killed her, he’s been emotionally fit as a fiddle.

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His inability to remain pissed off is pissing him off, as contradictory as that sounds, so he heads to the scene of Kana’s death to try to muster up more…grief, or anger, or something. He desperately wants to, not just because it’s what normal humans do, but because he owes it to Kana.

But the private investigator Ryouko hired follows him, and Migi acts on his own on behalf of both him and Shinichi in attempting to kill the witness. Shinichi manages to hold Migi back until he falls asleep, but we learn two things: one, when push comes to shove, Migi can still act alone; and two: Shinichi has had it awfully easy thus far, as far as the risk of exposure.

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Kana aside (look at me, flipping a switch…I’m terrible), if you’re a SatomixShinichi shipper like me, this…was not a great episode in terms of progress. Satomi knows from rumors that Shinichi was with Kana and was the first person to find the body of the high school girl murdered nearby. But she still trusts Shinichi, and is hoping he’ll eventually tell her everything.

But after the incident with the P.I., Shinichi’s so on-edge about being followed or watched, he blows right by a making-an-effort Satomi. God, they’re so frikkin’ doomed.

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When a teacher snaps him out of his somewhat silly ‘what if his class discovered what he truly is’ daydream, Shinichi books it out of there and returns home, where he turns on his super-hearing and eventually senses the P.I., who is in a sling and on a crutch but still doing the job he was paid for. Shinichi wants to explain, but the dude, understandably petrified, flees on sight.

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Yet even this bout of paranoia recedes, far faster than it should. Shinichi is starting to get it: the human being he was is gone, and he’s something else now; something better in some ways and far worse than others. And one of the worse things is being almost utterly emotionally unavailable. To his credit, he meets with Satomi to do what he probably should have done a while ago: cut her loose.

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Satomi takes control of their meeting, however, by saying whatever he’s holding back, or trying to maintain, he can tell her; he can trust her. In his head, Shinichi is a storm, itching to tell her, show her evrything. But then the switch flips, and he won’t tell her anything. He smiles his fake smile and softens his empty gaze, and tells her “Really, it’s nothing.”

He knows she doesn’t believe him. He knows she has no reason to. But in pushing her away, he reveals an emotion he still has in spades, whatever his outward demeanor: fear. He’s afraid of what Migi might do without his leave; of being caught and becoming a lab rat; of being responsible for another friend’s death…and he’s especailly afraid of how Satomi might react if she knew the truth.

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Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 12

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In this heart-crushing powerhouse of an episode that marks the halfway point of the show, it felt like Parasyte had finally put all its visceral and emotional pieces together.

Like Migi, it’s been an often cold and calculating show that more often than not punishes anyone who takes actions based on emotion alone, and takes things to their logical conclusion. But with both Shinichi’s occasional romantic interactions with Satomi and the tragic events of this week, the show proves its blood is still red…’for now’.

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Kana is still having dreams in which Shinichi is rescuing her from a monster than sweeping her off her feet. Considering he’s with Satomi, you’d think she wouldn’t want them, or the feelings that go with them, but a.) she can’t help how she feels and b.) all of this stuff going on supports her belief that she is the only one for Shinichi.

Meanwhile, Migi is all worked up (and playfully complex in his forms) about the prospect of his own kind running for and even winning elections, as farfetched as it seems. He even takes a cynical but not inaccurate dig at politics, stating that anyone with a grasp of psychology can succeed in that arena.

One great thing is that as stuck together as they are, Migi still can’t read Shinichi’s mind. That’s good, because Shinichi is far more concerned with Kana than the mayoral election. To Migi, that kind of ‘concern’ could get them both killed.

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Not willing to give up, Kana ‘bumps into’ Shinichi again, whereupon he takes her aside and reiterates the danger of approaching signals she thinks are him. Mitsuo spots the two and assumes Shinichi is trying to steal Kana from him. Shinichi telling him “it isn’t like that” is hardly convincing argument after Mitsuo hears things like “you make me feel like no one else can.” Somebody’s jelly.

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Migi doesn’t like this persistent interaction with the unpredictable (or perhaps all-too-predictable) Kana, and warns Shinichi that her welfare is not more important than his, and if Shinichi goes and does something that threatens his safety, Migi won’t hesitate to act on his own. It sounds like a threat, because it is. Because Migi has no sympathy.

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Well do, so it hurts to see Kana get so obsessed with Kana through no fault of her own; she’s only following the ‘power’ she’s suddenly gained. She has a very close call when she runs out into the night and comes across a parasyte, but isn’t attacked. I’m going to chalk that incredibly lucky result to the parasyte having already eaten its fill that night.

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Shinichi meets Kana somewhere private for a ‘serious conversation’, and her infatuation makes her get her hopes up that he’s going to confess to her. When he instead tells her about everything – the parasytes, his right hand, all of it – she’s not shocked; she’s disappointed! More to the point, she doesn’t quite believe his story, either, especially since he can’t morph his hand, as Migi is asleep.

She then tells Shinichi that she can now discern his signal from the signals of the other monsters, furthering her self-imposed narrative that they are meant to be together. In exchange for this secret, she makes Shinichi promise to show her his squiggly right hand sometime, even making a cute little Migi-like hand gesture.

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Migi and Shinichi are both surprised to find the mayoral candidate won, meaning the parasytes now have a safe haven and food source, but there’s nothing to be done about that at the moment, so Shinichi and Satomi arrange a movie date.

Again, Kana is not far from them, and even tries to will Shinichi to look back at her. She can’t believe Satomi, who doesn’t have the power she does, could possibly be right for him. But only Migi looks back at her (which she doesn’t notice).

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Mitsuo shows up again, apparently stalking the stalker, and Kana’s frustration boils over. However, as much as a loathe Mitsuo, I like how Kana walks back her harsh words, since she and Mitsuo have clearly been friends long enough that he’s not someone she’d dispose of so easily, even if she can’t return his feelings.

And she definitely can’t…she’s in full Shinichi Fixation Mode, writing their names on the pillar of her hideout. Then Shinichi learns from Migi that Kana herself was putting out a signal, making her and even more vulnerable and conspicous target for parasytes, should she run into the wrong one.

Shinichi decides to cancel his date and meet with Kana again, a move Kana again interprets in a way that supports her fate theory. Confident she’ll be able to find Shinichi with her power alone, she wraps his plucked hair around her finger and sets out…without her phone.

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As much as she wants to sense Shinichi and only Shinichi, and even though she told Shinichi she had that power, it turns out she doesn’t, and even though I knew this situation was a long time coming, my heart still sank down below the foundation of the house as she ran into the hideout to find another parasyte feeding.

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And that…was just it for Kana. In this case, the show took her obsession and her increasing vulnerability to its logical conclusion. She may be able to sense parasytes, but she can’t fight them, or even run away. Her knight Shinichi does arrive, just as she hoped, but not soon enough to save her. [Bangs fist on desk] DAMN IT!

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Shinichi’s retribution is swift and chilling in its grim efficiency. He tells Migi to “handle the defense”, rushes the parasyte, dodges his attack, and rips his heart out, impressing the hard-to-impress Migi.

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But while I’m sure the gesture felt good for a moment to his still-human psyche, it is far too late to save Kana. He holds her as she bleeds out, and she tells him this is just how it went in her dreams, before quietly passing away. Then Shinichi looks up to find she died right in front of the pillar she wrote on, making it a gravepost.

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With her sensing power, Kana was special, no doubt. But did that power go further into a kind of precognition? Did she dream of things that then came to pass, with just the detail of her surviving being different? It’s neat to think about, even if its hard to connect those more ‘magical’ concepts with the more scientific reality of the parasytes. But maybe that was the point. In any case, losing Kana was very upsetting. I didn’t realize how much I liked her until she was taken from us. She deserved a much longer life.

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Detectives with knowledge of the parasytes questioned him thoroughly but let him go, (he’s mostly above suspicion because they plucked his hair), though they’re faced with the mystery of who killed the parasyte who killed Kana. Mitsuo, who has seen (and been on the wrong end of) Shinichi’s strength, gets in face and starts pummeling him anyway for failing to protect Kana, who from his perspective had strayed into Shinichi’s arms so willingly.

Mitsuo is even more upset that Shinichi takes the beating so calmly, and didn’t even shed a tear for Kana, as if he weren’t human. All Shinichi can to to respond is drop Mitsuo with one blow, say “that’s right!” to the non-human claim, and curse Mitsuo for ‘going down so easily.’

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He’s not just talking about Mitsuo, though. He’s talking about Kana, who went down so easily, and his mom, who went down so easily, and those cops at the school who went down so easily, and those yakuza who went down so easily. Humans are so goddamn frail and weak, they can’t protect themselves or anyone else from the parasytes.

Only Shinichi, who is no longer fully human, seems capable of protecting them. And yet, he couldn’t protect Kana. For once, I agree with Migi that Kana was probably a hopeless case anyway, but that doesn’t change the fact that none of his awesome powers were worth a damn when it mattered most.

There’s simply too much on Shinichi’s plate; too many people to protect and no good way to do it. And it’s tearing him up inside.

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P.S. Kudos to Sawashiro Miyuki for some fantastic work voicing Kana.

Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 11

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This week Kana has a Very Special Dream about being saved from a parasyte orgy/buffet by the gallant, dashing Ser Shinichi. It’s pretty over-the-top, but it gets the point across quickly: Kana is a girl enthralled, and she won’t go gentle into that good night; whether Shinichi already has a girl or not.

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She tries greeting him in the popular style, by plucking a hair, but he stops her, telling her it’s dangeorus. It is dangerous, as the cold open showed: plucking the hair of a parasyte just means that parasyte now has a reason to kill you! Shinichi isn’t interested in Kana, and Migi seems repelled by her, but nor can Shinichi feel he can leave her totally alone, as her parasyte-sensing power could get her in serious trouble.

The High School Love Wars are fully on this week, as Satomi, after seeing Kana with Shinichi again, asks her if she thinks anything’s changed about him. Kana has only really known the ‘intermittently ferocious’ version, so she can’t say. What Kana does discern from Satomi is that there’s trouble in paradise, and she still has a chance with her valiant knight.

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Parallel to the land of young love, the parasytes aren’t standing still. In the wake of the school incident, a few of them have started ‘experimenting’, intentionally picking fights with big groups of armed tough guys (yakuza) and seeing how much damage they do before they’re all wiped out. This smiling fitness buff-parasyte never even transforms, such is the latent strength of his host — nor does he stop smiling, which is a change of pace from their usual vacant expressions.

I’d also point out while I didn’t really shed any tears for the gangsters, any more than I would if a parasyte ripped those cat-abusing kids a new one, it’s still disturbing to see they’ve moved on from using humans as mere food, but are employing them in their ‘exercise’ routines. Fighting the most aggressive humans will make them that much more effective against humans who would rather not resort to violence but have no choice.

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But Never mind that shitShinichi asks Satomi out on a date. A DATE! SQUEEEEEEE! XDDD

Seriously, these two are too adorable for words. It’s so good to see them doing normal things like going to the movies (not The Ring 2), having coffee, hanging out with dogs, or relaxing at the park and trying to ignore child abuse. That last thing sets something off in Shinichi, however, and only highlights to Satomi that something is still wrong; something he still won’t tell her.

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Kana happens to sense Shinichi and run to his side only to find him locking lips with Ms. Murano, but what neither she nor Shinichi do see is Satomi’s expression after they leave, or her tears. She weeps for the same reason I do: because just such a dreadful bummer that this pure, wonderful, natural, otherwise normal romance is so very very doomed in the midst of all this parasyte crap.

Satomi still doesn’t know much about it or Shinichi’s role, but a part of her she can’t ignore or dismiss fundamentally doubts Shinichi is really Shinichi, and that’s no way for a relationship to grow.

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Despite having just seen the happy couple on cloud nine, Kana doesn’t give up the fight, asking Shinichi to meet her in town for ‘one last favor’. That town just happens to be the site of a political rally…in which all of the politicians — including the mayoral candidate — are parasytes! Even worse, one of them spots Shinichi just as Kana is showing up.

Could an…ahem…less stylized version of Kana’s dream about to unfold in real life? Another question: how long will Kana survive her precarious position, being drawn to forces that could kill her? We’ll find out next week!

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Weekly Music: Parasyte: The Maxim

It took twenty-six years for the Kodansha manga Parasyte to get an anime, and its theme has a defiant “FINALLY” sound about it. I’m not talking about its opening theme (by Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas) but its orchestral theme, composed by Sato Naoki. He also composed the music to Blood-C, and has a good ear for epic horror. The video above is an abridged version much like the one used for next episode previews, which give me goosebumps every time I see them.

The four-note leitmotif is generally associated with scenes of the parasytes doing parasyte shit, but also when things start getting intense for Shinichi, such as when he has to fight his former mother and Shimada, and when this music starts to rise, my adrenaline rises with it.

I want to say the chorus is singing something in Latin, but I haven’t been able to find anything about what they’re saying, in truth. Nevertheless, its music that lends the show a lot of its gravitas, and along with the D&B and dubstep pieces, make Parasyte’s one of the better soundtracks of the Fall.

Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 10

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Tachikawa was a combination of stupid and heroic when she confronted Shimada Hideo alone last week, but the universe isn’t ready to snuff out her candle yet, as she trip-dodges his first blow and tosses the nearest thing at hand — a bottle of paint thinner — that just so happens to give the monster nasty burns and render him unable to morph. Hey, who said fine art is useless!

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That same universe must have determined that it had tortured Shinichi and Satomi enough for the time being, as Shimada’s rampage proves the perfect opportunity for Shinichi to not only play the hero, but mend fences with his sweetheart. Shinichi’s desire to get rid of Shimada himself is another case of his human desire for revenge — combined with the knowledge he has the ability to Do Something — overpowering Migi’s cold logic.

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The ep gives Shinichi and me one last shock when we see a corpse with hair similar to Satomi’s in the hall, but it’s not her. In a vicious beat of dark humor, Shinichi repeats Satomi’s line of “I mistook you for someone else.” The other two students wig out and run right into their deaths, but Shinichi goes into full Get Hitomi To Safety Mode, and damn the consequences of the abilities he exposes.

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Things really escalated fast for Shimada, who was probably going to try to keep the experiment going as long as he could, but the universe wasn’t having it, and in the end he resorted to his killer instincts. A firing squad of pea-shooting cops riddle him with holes before he kills them all. Migi wants Shinichi to leave it to the cops, who will eventually bring something of a larger caliber to bear, but feeling responsible for the Shimada mess to begin with, Shinichi insists on ending him personally.

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He does so…with BASEBALL. The most violent and deadly sport in human history — if a few rules were tweaked a bit, that is. Conceding to Shinichi’s wishes, Migi makes sure this is done right, giving him an awesome muscle monster arm to nail Shimada mortally through the heart from over 300m away.

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The final butcher’s bill? 17 deaths, including students, faculty, and police. But because everyone who saw Shimada in Battle Formation is either among those 17 or scarred from the trauma of the situation, the police and media keep the incident under wraps.

In a big room with a big desk (and a Big Board!), Professor Yui cheerfully briefs the assembled authorities on the nature of the parasites, which he calls “sentient muscle”, and how to detect them: By plucking a hair from the one you suspect. Of course, that assumes it will let you live long enough to pluck the hair and do something about it, which is assuming a lot.

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Still, I guess it’s better than nothing. After a few days, school starts back up (presumably after all the blood was mopped up) and Shinichi runs into a cautious but cordial Murano, who apologizes for not responding to his texts, but thanks him profusely for saving her.

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Shinichi suggests they not dwell on the horrors of the past, and when he does, he doesn’t just mean forgetting about the harrowing bloody experience Satomi just went through, nor the fact he bounded around around like a superhero while she was in his arms. No, he also wants her to forget about all the awful exchanges they had prior to Shimada going postal.

Satomi seems receptive to that arrangement, and just like that, they’re incredibly back on good terms. Just because things went pretty well for Shinichi this week doesn’t mean the trend will continue. But at this point in the show’s 24-episode run, it was nice to see a glimmer of hope that things will turn out okay return, even if that turns out not to be the case at all.

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Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 09

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Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu 9 has a rather full plate by the series’ standards. Or maybe I’m just responding to all the little plot elements, which seem less focused than usual?

It’s not like other Parasytes haven’t stolen the spotlight from Shinichi before — both Not-Mom and Ryoko got plenty of camera time, narration, and agenda building — but, for some reason, Shimada Hideo comes off as more significant character. Like we’re going to see a lot of him for a while, because he interacts with many characters, and not just Shinichi?

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Or maybe it felt fragmented and unfocused because Shinichi himself doesn’t really have an agenda? He knows what he is, he knows who his enemies are and what they are capable of, he has a strong understanding with Migi now, and he isn’t even particularly driven to fix his relationship with Maruno or grow another one with Kana.

Basically, he spends the episode running from place to place, exerting his influence and growing physical presence… while every other character we’ve met gets on with more specific, plot advancing activities.

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For example, Shinichi’s dad gets interviewed by FBI types, who explain that the government knows what’s going on, but has no way of identifying the intruders yet. He even agrees not to go public because doing so would accomplish nothing but panic.

Really, by the end of the episode, Shinichi’s dad has come to terms with his wife’s death, alien invaders, and given up drinking (maybe?) to seriously address his son. This is all character growth for him, mind you, as Shinichi is basically locked in Vulcan Mode after his heart-bonding, which isn’t new or news to us at this point.

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If Parasyte 9 is about Shinichi at all it, it’s about how he’s basically good at everything except not acting like a crazy person around Murano. No seriously! He can identify complex social orders with a casual glance, shut down fights without causing damage to his opponents, and generally keep his cool…

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…Except if he’s within earshot of his would-be-girlfriend.

I have to say that, if this show were cut differently, it would make a hilarious comedy about a bat-shit-insane guy who’s finally hit puberty late in high school and the poor girl who used to love him for his innocence!

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Back to the serious stuff at hand, Mitsuo and Hideo keep coming into conflict. Luckily for Mitsuo, Hideo wants to avoid a bloodbath and then, when that’s no longer avoidable, Shinichi intercedes before anything can happen.

Badass super-jumps and punch-stopping aside, Parasyte really sells these scenes through everyone’s reaction to Shinichi. Hideo is totally blown away by Shinichi’s prowess (way beyond what he should even be able to do as a full parasyte) and Yano-san, Mitsuo’s boss, is emotionally shaken more by Shinichi’s gaze and presence than the effectiveness of his blocks.

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On the lesser side of the bad-ass spectrum, we get sanity-deficient Glasses Girl stalking Hideo. She goes from lusting after him to questioning his reality to identifying him as an alien to confirming that with her brother (who draws alien pictures for the government) to…

deciding not to tell anyone about this and confronting Hideo alone in the art room the following morning. What. The. Heck. Is. Wrong. With. Your. Brain??

Of all the plot threads, this was the most ham-fisted.

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However, judging by Parasyte’s pacing, I’m pretty sure Shinichi will save the day quickly next episode, probably without revealing that he too is partially an alien and, with glasses girl’s help, win Murano’s heart and trust back.

Hideo is nice and terrifying though. So…kudos? I guess.

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For some reason, Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu episodes 8 & 9 went live at the same time and I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I didn’t realize this for several minutes. No, really! 9 starts in a bus station with Kana looking through the crowd…just how episode 7 ends!

Ignoring that weirdness, what did I think of the episode? Well… too ambitious and unfocused I think. For goodness sakes! Kana could have used the screen time that was given over to Ryoko’s evil parasyte secret society meeting or Glasses Girl talking to her brother about faces or any of the instances where Shinichi scares the piss out of Murano.

Still good looking, creepy, and original though. So I’m only taking it down a point from last week.

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