June 29, 2009

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Parasyte Volume 2

Written by Hitoshi Iwaaki
Illustrated by Hitoshi Iwaaki
Del Rey

Man, sometimes I take so long to get back to a series I thought was really good, it's almost criminal. Parasyte being a perfect example of this. I really should have been reading more of this by now, but for whatever reason it fell off my radar.

Not anymore.

This second volume continues the adventures of Shin, a human who was affected by the alien invasion, but not in the way it was supposed to go. Trapped in a dual life with the alien, he must fight between the instinct to save the world (or at least his parents) and the desire to survive.

As things progress, it's obvious that's not going to be anywhere near as easy as it seemed. First of all, any aliens in the area gravitate to him and try to kill him as a flawed example of the species. Secondly, how to keep your parents in sight at all times? And if you fail, what to do when your ultimate fear takes form...

While the first trade was mostly about Shin learning about the parasytes and their plans for earth, this volume sees us focus on Shin and his changing body. While he may deny that he is any different (beyond the obvious), it's clear that he and the alien are merging into a hybrid being---the alien is less alien and Shin is less human as time goes on. Regardless of who they meet, be it another alien, a resident bully, or even a hybrid like themselves, Shins reactions will no longer be totally human. It adds a tragic element to the horror, one even greater than the loss Shin suffers in the book's main story this time out. By the time we get to the last chapter--which is more of an epilogue, really--it's clear that Shin will never be the same.

There's a lot of phychological horror going on around the book. Shin continues to look inward, his father tries to deal with the incident that drives the book, and everyone around Shin, including the alien, are very reflective. But we also get some nice gore, with chopped off heads, car accidents, and quite a few impalings.

From a geeky perspective, I think the insights we get in to how the aliens attach to the humans and morph themselves is probably a highlight of this volume. While they're still terrifying, this does place the a bit more squarely in the realm of the real.

This time around, Iwaaki deals more with localized problems, and I wonder how things will shift (or not) in volume three, which I hope to read sooner than 2 years from now. This is a great horror manga (I've been reading a lot of good horror manga lately) and it definitely comes highly recommended.