Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 21

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Parasyte has been listing badly for the better part of a month, starting with a overly tidy, unsatisfying end to Tamiya Ryouko’s arc, followed by a tiresome, by-the-numbers numbers SWAT battle in the dark that seemed like it would never end. Even the majority of this episode’s A-part is devoted to wrapping up that story.

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Hirokawa turning out to be an ordinary human who just happens to espouse the parasyte philosophy is an interesting little twist, but as he’s killed in the process, it feels a bit like a dead end, especially when his faceless audience all ends up dead by Gotou’s hands (or rather claws). Even Yamagichi’s last stand on the building’s roof ends in his beheading, in a decidedly shrug-worthy end to a long slog of a battle.

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The episode only starts to show signs of righting the Parasyte ship when Shinichi is again involved. Then Gotou (whose muscle mass seems to vary greatly in every shot), has plans on killing him for “closure”, but there are a few more cops still alive, so he retreats, and…Wait….what? Why doesn’t he simply waste those cops like he wasted all the others and Shinichi with them? “Too much interference,” he says. Seems like a thin reason, after how powerful and efficient a killing machine the show just made him up to be.

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However, both the battle and Gotou’s promise of another meeting in the near future have a profound effect on Shinichi that we really weren’t able to see until now, when the cameras finally turn on him in the aftermath. He’s scared shitless, and very aware that all of the dozens of men who fell that day did so because they were between him and Gotou.

They all died tiring Gotou out just enough that he decided not to kill him today. As inept as they might have been tactically, they saved Shinichi’s life. And now that Shinichi realizes the life they died to protect, Gotou’s face appears everywhere he looks, poised to pluck that life away.

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Faced with this crippling fear of being watched and hunted, Shinichi goes to the only place where he feels he can be comforted; Satomi’s. She allows him to embrace her and feels him trembling, but when he squeezes too hard it frightens her, and her reaction causes him to run away again. But Satomi knows what she felt, and she’s not willing to leave things there.

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That night, in a park, Shinichi contemplates running away from it all, hoping Gotou won’t bother chasing him across Japan. Satomi finds him, knowing he likes parks as she does, and seeing that he’s calmed down, invites him to come to her house so they can “talk”. This leads to their having sex for the first time, in another significant milestone in a relationship that hasn’t gotten a lot of screen time, but in hindsight explains a lot about the trouble Shinichi’s been having.

Whatever horrors Shinichi has gone through, or subjected Satomi to (possibly including his foreplay…but I digress), she’s going to stay by his side, because she loves him. She wants to know everything, so he doesn’t have to suffer alone anymore…even if it means she’ll suffer too, at least they’ll suffer together.

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She may still not have a very good idea and the full scope of the shit Shinichi’s in, but scale and scope don’t matter: this is a matter of absolutes for her. The shit they’ve pulled through thus far, and the fact the Shinichi she loves is still in that mangled body Migi repaired and souped up, are all the proof she needs to have faith they’ll pull through whatever’s to come.

Getting Shinichi and Satomi back together and having them take the next step was a vast improvement over the tedium of the last few episodes, but also makes clear how lost and rudderless Shinichi was without Satomi by his side. She instills, comfort, confidence, hope, and above all, a desire to live. And whether living is running or fighting, he’d be wise to keep Satomi close from here on out. She knows what she’s doing.

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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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