In Parasyte: The Maxim, main character Shinichi Izumi finds that he has become the host for a mysterious parasite with incredible shapeshifting abilities. The parasite is part of a species of beings who infect their host’s brain in order to take control of their bodies. Luckily for Shinichi, the parasite who infected him was only able to take control of his arm and so Shinichi retains most control over his body. As the series progresses, Shinichi comes across more people who have been infected and decides to fight back against the parasites to stop them hurting more innocent people.
Based on the description above, it would be understandable for someone to think that this is an action series, but that couldn't be further from the truth. There is some action in Parasyte: The Maxim but it would be more accurate to refer to Parasyte as a suspense thriller. A lot of time is focused on trying to figure out who is a parasite and what it is that they want. Parasyte only really has two main characters (Shinichi and Migi) and this adds to the suspense. For a lot of the anime, Shinichi is shown to be isolated and this isolation makes him more vulnerable. This element of isolation also helps keep the romantic elements from feeling stale as Parasyte is yet another story of someone who finds himself pushing his loved ones away with a secret that he cannot tell them. Far from be cliché, the first twelve episodes manage to use this element to great effect, particularly when it comes to Shinichi's parents.
Readers may be wondering why this review refers to the number of episodes rather than the name or number of the series. That is because this set of twelve episodes does not make up the complete first series. The downside of this is that the collection comes to end just as it feels like the series was starting to come together and show its main plots.
There are some great moments in the anime that come from the government's reaction to the parasites once it is established that they have some idea of what is going on, but it isn't until relatively late in the collection that such moments start to unfold. This is a problem that stems purely from the nature of this collection and something that might not be true if the first series is ever assembled into a complete collection.
Parasyte: The Maxim is a tense series. The biggest shortcomings come from it being only part of a complete series, but even then these episodes serve as a good introduction to the story.
PARASYTE: THE MAXIM COLLECTION 1 / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: KENICHI SHIMIZU / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: AYA HIRANO, KANA HANAZAWA, NOBUNAGA SHIMAZAKI, AKIRA ISHIDA, ATSUKO TANAKA / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW