Parasyte is a science fiction horror manga series written and illustrated by Hitoshi Iwaaki, and published in Kodansha’s Afternoon magazine from 1988 to 1995. The manga was published in North America by first Tokyopop, then Del Rey, and finally Kodansha Comics.
Parasyte was originally serialized in Japan in the Morning Open Zōkan from 1988 and switched to Afternoon after a few issues in 1990. It was collected into ten tankōbon volumes by Kodansha, and was later republished in eight kanzenban volumes. It was originally licensed for English translation and North American distribution by Tokyopop, which published the series over 12 volumes. The Tokyopop version ran in Mixxzine. Daily pages from the Tokyopop version ran in the Japanimation Station, a service accessible to users of America Online. The Tokyopop English-language manga went out of print on May 2, 2005. Del Rey Manga later acquired the rights to the series, and published eight volumes following the kanzenban release. Kodansha Comics later republished the volumes in North America between 2011 and 2012.
- Shinichi Izumi
- Shinichi is the protagonist of the manga, a thoughtful, compassionate high-school boy whose hand is infected with a Parasite and is repeatedly put into difficult positions. He must find a way to peacefully coexist with Migi, the Parasite which has taken over his hand, and reconcile his desire to protect humanity from the Parasites with his desire to keep his own Parasite a secret in order to avoid being killed or used as a laboratory specimen. Like a superhero with a secret identity, he must also find a way to explain away his Parasite-fighting activities, as well as the stress and grief they cause him, to his friends and family. While originally forced to have Migi fight for him, Shinichi later gains heightened abilities when trace cells of the Parasite course through his body, and fights his own battles, with the two having an advantage in both being able to act independently and work as a team. Shinichi’s retention of his humanity, despite gradually becoming emotionally distant as a side-effect of Migi’s cells, makes most of the other Parasites deem him a threat. After defeating Gotou, with Migi deciding to “go to sleep” indefinitely afterward, Shinichi attempts to live a normal life again while having an understanding of natural order from his experience.
- Masanori Harada, a 20-year-old student, wrote to the editor of the Monthly Afternoon noted that Shinichi acts calm when he is threatened and that he is “not human anymore!” Iwaaki responded, stating that Shinichi is accustomed to “close calls” partly because Migi calms Shinichi down during battle. The statement and response were printed in the April 1993 Afternoon.
- Shinichi is portrayed by Shota Sometani in the film.
- Migi is the Parasite which lives in Shinichi’s right hand, named after the Japanese word for “right” (右 migi). Unlike “successful” Parasites, Migi has no desire to kill humans for sustenance, and is nourished by the food Shinichi eats. Migi is, like other Parasites, completely without emotion. His primary consideration is survival, and he has threatened (and in some cases attempted) to kill other humans who pose a threat to his and Shinichi’s secrecy. When he and Shinichi were first coming to terms, he even threatened to remove Shinichi’s other limbs in order to render him unable to place the two of them in danger. Migi can be reasoned with, however, and has just as much reason to be mistrustful of other Parasites as does Shinichi. On the other hand, unlike Shinichi, Migi has no inclination to place himself at risk in order to protect other humans from Parasites. But Migi gradually evolves over the course of the series, he becomes more human while able to temporarily separate from Shinichi’s body. After the final battle with Gotou, having been absorbed by the Parasite prior to his defeat, Migi’s composition is greatly altered to the point that enters a deep sleep though he briefly woke up to save Satomi without Shinichi’s realization.
- Iwaaki explained that while Migi appears to be Shinichi’s weapon, in fact Migi is in control of the battle and orders around Shinichi. Iwaaki explained that Migi is easily able to order Shinichi since Shinichi is young and “needs guidance”, while Migi would find difficulty if he became a part of a politician or a president of a company since in that scenario Migi and his host would argue a lot.
- An 18-year-old from Saitama Prefecture named “Midari” asked in the letters to the editor that if Migi took Shinichi’s left hand, if he would have been named “Hidari”. Iwaaki answered that it would be Hidari, but Iwaaki felt that the name would be similar to those of Bokuzen Hidari or Tenpei Hidari and the name would “bring to mind a doddering old man, so that wouldn’t have been a good idea”. Iwaaki then said that the first man to climb Mount Everest “had a name an awful lot like that…”
- Migi is voiced by Sadao Abe in the film.
- Satomi Murano
- Shinichi’s best friend and love interest. She is a thoughtful, tender-hearted young girl who cares deeply for her friends. While Satomi and Shinichi are mutually attracted towards one another, their relationship is strained to the breaking point when Shinichi’s life is thrown in turmoil by the Parasites.
- From the moment she is introduced, Satomi is depicted as being romantically attracted towards Shinichi due to his kind and sensitive nature. Consequently, she is utterly grief-stricken as she watches him grow ever more cold and withdrawn over the course of the story. Despite her best efforts to find out the reason behind Shinichi’s behavior , Satomi becomes increasingly estranged from him as he desperately strives to keep her in the dark about Migi and the Parasite threat. As a result, she begins to question whether any trace of the gentle, caring boy she originally fell in love with remains. After losing nearly all hope, Satomi’s faith in Shinichi is restored upon witnessing him cry freely while protectively cradling Reiko’s orphaned baby in his arms. Upon learning that Shinichi is part Parasite at the end of the series, Satomi firmly proclaims this does nothing to diminish his humanity because he still regards all life as precious.
- Satomi is played by Ai Hashimoto in the film.