Another foray into the world of manga led me to the first installment of Iwaaki Hitoshi's eight part series Parasyte/ Kiseiju which won the Kodansha Manga Award way back in 1993, recently I have also read Lychee Light Club by Usamura Furuya whose art work was stunning but over all left me feeling a little non plussed, the same could be said of Parasyte to a certain degree, perhaps it's the case that nowadays maybe I'm just a little too old to enjoy these kinds of story lines the way I might have done in the past, although I'm still interested in discovering and reading more manga series/titles. Although I've used the Japanese Kodansha cover above I read the Del Rey edition translated and adapted by Andrew Cunningham, who includes some translation notes, (check out Eastern Standard blog). I've seen Kiseiju referred to as a science fiction/horror manga and it does include violent and gory scenes, the story is seen mainly through the character Shinichi, a high school student, starting with a meteor like invasion of earth by aliens who are worm like in shape, they use humans as hosts, (wriggling in through the ear), and also we discover for food. In Shinichi's case though something goes wrong and the alien doesn't take possession of his brain but of his right hand, the alien has the ability to shapeshift and open it's eyes, as his relationship with the alien develops Shinichi gives it the pet name of 'Migi', (Right in Japanese), at first Shinichi is about to severe his arm but after Migi begs him that he doesn't they come to the agreement to stay together. As the story develops the news reports on a spate of killings which become known as The Mincemeat Murders, (due to the state of the bodies after the aliens have fed), which makes Shinichi come to the realization that perhaps he alone is the only person who knows what is occurring. Migi is hungry for information about human behaviour and stays awake whilst Shinichi sleeps to study human history, and in turn asks Shinichi questions about his feelings, it becomes apparent that Migi has extra sensory powers and con-nections with Shinichi, he begins to feel Shinichi's feelings, as when he meets up with Murano, (the girl Shinichi has a crush on), Migi takes on the form of an erect member much to the embarrassment of Shinichi. Another amusing aspect to the relationship is that Shinichi is constantly talking to Migi, he becomes so involved in their conversations that he forgets where he is, another embarrassing episode is when they are overheard talking at an urinal stand.
The plot begins to develop when a supply teacher, (Tamiya Ryoko), arrives at the school, Migi, through it's extra sensory powers comes to the realization that she is host to an alien, they arrange to meet outside of school. At the meeting Tamiya reveals that she is pregnant by a man who is also host to an alien, and it's left in the balance as to whether it will be born a human baby or an alien baby...Although Tamiya Ryoko manages to keep her killing instincts in check her partner turns hostile towards Shinichi and Migi and hunts them down at the school. There are a few twists and turns to the story that I'll leave out from mentioning, I'm not too sure if I'll be hunting out Parasyte 2 in the near future, it's impossible to judge the series from this first installment, this edition comes with Q & A pages from readers to Iwaaki which is a really great touch, I think I like my manga with a tendency towards tackling social issues or perhaps more character driven story lines, although Parasyte had some entertaining and original ideas, I'm glad to have sampled it. Maybe next I'll give Usamura Furuya's take on No Longer Human a try.