You know: in a foolish, undiscriminating way, I've been happy these last few months. I don't know why. I just am. I love my friends; I love my pupils; I love what I read; I -- dammit -- love my thoughts. I love the taste of oranges.
Thornton Wilder in a letter to Gertrude Stein, Aug 14, 1936

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Parasyte, Volume 1Parasyte, Volume 1 by Hitoshi Iwaaki
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Puffballs from outer space drift to earth, parasitic worms emerge, they crawl into human orifices, they take over human brains. Teenager Sinichi luckily wakes up as one tries to enter his nose. He fights it off but it burrows into  his arm. A tourniquet keeps it from traveling further, but now Sinichi has an alien for a right hand.

Unlike the murky atmosphere that pervades much horror manga, Iwaaki's story has the clean,, crisp lines appropriate to its contemporary setting, and the situations he sets up are as much about teenage anxiety as world domination by alien life forms. Sinichi's resident alien can create embarrassing situations -- in a pubic toilet it asks in a loud, clear voice, "Make you genitals erect. I wan to see them."--but it also makes Sinichi a basketball star and very able to take care of himself in a fight. It can change shape at will, and many of Iwaaki's best panels are single images of Migi, the name Sinichi gives his hand, simply pondering the peculiar world of humans.

Migi is charming but ruthless, completely amoral in its desire to for self-preservation. Meanwhile across the globe other alien-infersted humans are chowing down on family and strangers at  an alarming rate. The story becomes repetitive, but since it will run for 11 volumes there is no telling where Iwaaki will take it.

Are deeper meanings implied to this story of adolescent possession. Let's see, what organ does a fifteen-year-old boy have the least control over? His brain is probably the correct answer, but I think you get the idea.

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