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Parasyte: The Maxim (Episodes 13-24)

[Some spoilers for part one] The parasites are continuing to infiltrate human society, with a shadowy group of them gaining access to power. The cabal has even managed to successfully put forward a candidate for Mayor. As a police task force investigating the Mincemeat Murders is narrowing in, can Shinichi manage to keep his secret hidden and protect the ones he loves?

After the tragic event at the close of the previous collection, the second half of the series has a distinctly downbeat beginning. It doesn't get bogged down for long though, as it continues to take the basic premise in new and interesting directions. What could have so easily have become a 'monster of the week' show instead becomes a fascinating mix.

On the one hand, this half of the series ramps up the 'bodysnatcher paranoid thriller' elements, as the parasite cell and the task force come ever closer to finding each other. At the same time, lead character Shinichi must try to keep his true symbiotic status from both the authorities and the other parasites. Easier said than done, especially when a private detective has been hired to tail him.

This is mixed in with the show's most unique elements, the spectacular body-horror sequences and one-of-a-kind action scenes. While it feels like there may be fewer than earlier in the series, when they do come, they are no less impactful. This volume sees Shinichi and Migi face off against their toughest opponent yet- a colony of multiple parasites all inhabiting a single human body named Goto. The plotline surrounding the mayor meanwhile, results in a tense and action-packed assault on City Hall.

Visually, this is consistent with the first half. This is not a pretty show- deliberately so, featuring as it does some of the most spectacularly gross sights this side of an early Cronenberg flick. Outside the horror elements though. in animation terms this is nothing special, but it serves the show just fine.

In these later episodes in particular though, the show really begins to use the premise to explore some interesting territory. The plotline of the female parasite who gave birth to a human baby comes to a head. Interesting questions are asked about the parasites' true origins. Are they alien, or something else? And do they have the right to life, just as humans do? This set of episodes definitely fleshes out some of the parasite characters and gives them more depth, more understandable motivations.

One slightly less successful element, is in how the series comes to an end. The assault on city hall might have been an ideal climax, but instead, the series comes to a head with Shinichi facing off against Goto. It's understandable why this decision was made (and maybe it came straight out of the manga) as it makes the stakes more personal. Yet at the same time, after the intensity of the city hall sequence it does feel like a step-down.

With the main storyline wrapped up in the penultimate episode, the actual final episode is therefore little more than a epilogue. It ties up the odd loose end, and adds some extra drama, but ultimately feels rather perfunctionary and unnecessary.

We're strong believers that "it's the journey, not the destination" so a slightly disappointing ending doesn't change the fact that this has been an excellent series, with much to recommend it. The horror/sci-fi genre is not one that is particularly well served in anime these days, so if you're a fan (and you enjoyed the first half) don't hesitate to pick this up. Great, grizzly fun.

PARASYTE THE MAXIM is available on Collectors Edition Blu-Ray, Blu-Ray and DVD from ANIMATSU in the UK and Blu-Ray and DVD from SENTAI in the US. Also Streaming on Crunchyroll and Hulu (US only)