Parasyte – the Maxim is a unique series about strange non-human parasite creatures that just appear one day and begin killing and/or taking over humans. They are kind of slimy-bug-worm looking in their natural form. They burrow into humans, if possible through the ear or nose, and try to take over the brain. If they succeed, the human is dead and the parasite has a human appearance and begins killing and eating other humans indiscriminately. Some of the parasites mistakenly take over animals instead of humans and don’t do well. And a few manage to burrow into humans but don’t succeed in taking over the brain. They can then only control that part of the body they take over.
The story plot line follows a middle school boy named Izumi Shinichi who has a parasite take over his right hand. He calls the parasite Migi (right), and a lot of the plot involves the two of them coming to terms with each other. Early on they discover they must work together to survive, as other parasites who have taken over humans completely try to kill them. So they learn and discover each other’s strengths and weaknesses. In addition, Migi learns a lot about human values, and Shinichi learns that human values may not apply to all creatures.
Early in the series the parasites simply take over humans and then kill and eat other humans. But as the story progresses, they begin to try to fit into human society. Early on Shinichi’s Mom is taken over by a parasite, and she kills Shinichi by a thrust through the heart. Shinichi lives because Migi enters his bloodstream and repairs his heart using some of Migi’s flesh. This causes Migi and Shinichi to integrate together, with Shinichi gaining extra-human abilities in the form of speed, agility and strength, and no longer needing glasses.
Shinichi and Migi spend a lot of time avoiding the parasites that come after them trying to kill them. They also learn to work together and they fight a number of parasites, defeating them when by rights the fully integrated parasites should be stronger. Shinichi and Migi befriend another parasite-human mix who helps them kill Shinichi’s Mom.
They also interact repeatedly with a parasite named Tamura Reiko. Reiko is a logical and somewhat scientific parasite who has been trying to figure out what the parasites are, why they exist and how they can co-exist with humans. She and a parasite who has taken over a male have sex and Reiko gives birth to a baby, who is completely human. So she determines the parasites are fragile beings with no apparent ability to reproduce. She deplores the parasites killing humans for food, as they draw attention by doing that and they are vulnerable. The authorities already know of the parasite’s existence and they target and kill Reiko, who chooses to protect her human baby over her own life.
After Reiko’s death at the hands of the authorities, a parasite extermination is planned and carried out, but the exterminating military forces are wiped out by an insanely strong parasite named Gotou. Gotou was created by Reiko and is actually many parasites controlling different body parts, and all controlled by one parasite in the brain. Gotou has almost no vulnerabilities. He decides he must kill Shinichi in order to move on. Shinichi and Migi run from him, but are forced to face and fight him eventually. Part of their strategy is to separate (which Migi can do for brief periods of time) and tackle him separately since he cannot sense Shinichi when Migi is not part of Shinichi’s body.
Their plot almost succeeds, but Migi is killed and Shinichi runs. He then realizes he must face the Gotou and try to prevent it from killing more people. So he returns and manages to stab the monster with a toxic piece of metal he grabbed from a toxic waste dump. At the height of the conflict, Migi, who was absorbed into Gotou’s monster body, returns to Shinichi as the parasite in Gotou's brain loses control of the parasites in his body. Migi and Shinichi finally kill him and return to Shinichi’s everyday school life.
Throughout the series there is also a budding love story between Shinichi and his childhood friend Murano Satomi, which has its ups and downs. The love between them is hampered by Shinichi dealing with the parasite in his body and Satomi not liking him being so weird and secretive. The relationship does go forward though. At the end of the series Migi gives Shinichi back his right hand fully and disappears into Shinichi’s body and subconscious. Shinichi struggles to deal with the loss of his “friend” but discovers Migi isn’t permanently gone, as he shows up to help rescue Satomi at the last.
This is a really unique series, and despite it being fairly bloody, I liked it a lot. It got a little preachy at times about human hubris and being top of the food chain at the expense of everything else on earth, but overall it was very much worth watching.