October 5, 2009

, , ,   |  

Parasyte Volume 3

Written by Hitoshi Iwaaki
Illustrated by Hitoshi Iwaaki
Del Rey

I really should just start buying Parasyte and stop waiting for it at the library. Oh, the old dichotomy of purchasing versus just "renting" it, you bedevil me once again.

As we open this volume, the parasytes are starting to realize they can't win this battle without better knowledge of the enemy. They send a minion to the high school of our very own Shin, with the hopes of a truce. But Shin doesn't trust this sudden change in focus, and soon trouble brews between Shin and his new "friend," Shimada.

Meanwhile, the Japanese government is starting to notice that something is amiss and looks to make plans of their own, while not panicking the general populace. But how to fight an enemy that can be anyone, and will other governments even want to?

As the various players start to move ever-closer together due to a confidence with Shin's father, the conflict simmering between Shin and Shimada blows up in a fashion that it may not be possible to cover up. What happens when a mass murderer attacks--with witnesses? Can Shin talk his way out of this one? Should he even try? And that's to say nothing of the police...

One of the things I've liked best about Parasyte so far is that it balances telling the story of Shin with giving us just enough about the parasytes without going so far into infodumping as to be boring the reader. This volume continues that trend nicely. While Shin tries to come to grips with the changes in himself (and maintain a pretense of normality), we also see the two sides that Shin represents prepare to go to war with each other as the ability to hide the coming conflict from the Japanese people gets harder and harder.

The best part of this is that, even within a horror context, it all feels perfectly natural. The villains quietly plot strategy, and get more creepy with every appearance. (One panel particularly chilled me, but I'll leave it for you to find on your own.) The government is slow to react and wants to prevent a panic, something that sure matches with past history of governments everywhere. Sensational TV shows are the first to get the truth, even if they're only doing it for the ratings. Shin's friends and classmates notice a change, but only a select few really examine him closely. Shin himself sometimes worries more about himself than the big picture.

They're all very human reactions, and in this volume, they're all on display with a mix of calm and horrific violence that it seems only horror manga can manage. (That's part of why I like it so much.) Iwaaki's artwork ranges from the perfectly domestic school and office scenes to bloody figures being rended from top to bottom by a disfigured creature with an ease that seems to mix Dan Clowes with Bill Sienkiewicz at times. It's a wonderful juxstoposition that fits the conflicts within Shin himself perfectly. His layouts this time also seem more impressive this time out, but maybe that's just because I was thinking about page layout recently. Either way, they work to move the story along rather than just hold the artwork together.

I really like Parasyte and it makes for great Halloween reading. If you can find a copy and don't have to send to Lima to get one, give it a try today.