Imagine losing control of a part of you. Not losing a part of you, like an arm or a leg, but having one appendage think for itself.
The prospect can be terrifying as the anime/Manga Paryste: The Maxim proves. This series was first published in the 80’s and its wasn’t up until last year that anyone though animating the manga was possible. Its easy to see why they would want to revive the series. Paryste is a very original, very disturbing commentary on the human race and ecological balance.
This gory anime begins with a species of worms that descend from the sky [they may or may not be aliens] and burrow into ,preferably, human hosts. Once inside they eat/destroy the brain and then pray on other human. This means a lot of blood and carnage but also interesting takes on what the human species does when its knocked down the food chain. The show follows 17 year old Shinichi Izumi and a “parasite” that after failing to take over his brain becomes his arm.
Predictably the 17 years old starts to lose it while his sentient arm ,that threats to tear his parents eyes out if he tells them about it, becomes an inescapable part of his life. His right arm which names itself Migi [Japanese for right]. It is a smart creature who reaches human level intelligence in a day [He does not surpass it though]. Izumi spends most of his time stumbling about as Migi curiously gropes women, picks fights etc.
After Migi and Izumi realize they need to cooperate in order to survive they meet more of Migis kind. Migi having failed to take over Izumis head realizes that he does not have to eat other humans to survive. Izumi and Migi often have to fight other parasites in order to survive. Migi becomes very interesting in the purpose and origin of his species. Izumi while growing more and more insane, decides that they must fight parasites and stop the series of horrific murder occurring through out the country.
Heroic shenanigans come to an end when another parasite eats his mother head and stabs Izumis heart. Metaphors in Paryste are rather bloody. Migi who needs Izumi alive in order to live, splits himself into two and saves him. This has three side effects. Izumi develops superior strength and agility, but he also seems to have lost to ability to panic and feel empathy. Migi now needs to go to sleep for four hours every day.
Migi also begins to develop empathy. It may or may not be because he merged more with Izumi. Reiko Tamura a parasite that retains her human identity comes across Izumi and Migi. She like Migi is obsessed with uncovering the meaning of their existence. She mates with another parasite and becomes pregnant. Pregnant with a Human baby.
This where the show really holds its own. Migi and Reiko find themselves struggling to come to terms with their existence. Are they parasites? Or are they human? Were they created to destroy the human race? Why do parasites that take over human heads have an irrational hatred for the human species?
Both Migi and Reiko eventually develop something close to empathy. Izumi is able to become somewhat sane and human again. It almost becomes a coming of age story for him, which is quite impressive considering he has a sentient hand that kills people and may be slowly invading his mind.
Its hard to talk about everything Paryste does without ruining the plot. As the series progresses everything raises more questions. The ending is a happy one… for Migi and Izumi. But not for either species. There are many questions left unanswered and the characters have no idea how they should go about answering them. The only satisfaction they have is that they can choose to look for answers if they want to.
Many issues about the nature of humans,the need for predators,equality of species, are raised in a very compelling fashion. The series may be brutal and ruthless in its approach but it does make arguments effectively. It takes genius to make a malformed had with three eyes and a mouth a relateable character.
An entertaining,intelligent and disturbing work of science fiction, Paryste is worth the watch.