GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: Del Rey Manga Round-Up, Part Two

Welcome to the second week of Manga Round-Up! This time, we have four more books from [[[Del Rey Manga]]] – all first volumes in series, as new-reader-friendly as it’s possible to be – which are aimed at a slightly older audience (sixteen and up) than the books I looked at last week.

And you know what “older audience means,” don’t you? That’s right – gore! (Did you think I was going to say “sex?” That’s the 18+ manga, which none of the publishers have sent me yet.)

Leading off the parade of blood-spattered stories is Hitohi Iwaaki’s Parasyte, in which alien spores drift down to Earth and creep into people’s ears to eat their brains. The parasites, who have no name for themselves – no culture or language of any kind, actually – then eat other humans, in very violent ways. It’s hinted that this is possibly a reaction by someone or something to save the Earth from us horrible humans. (But only hinted, at the beginning, and not brought up again.)

Our viewpoint character is a teenage boy named Shin, saved from having his brain eaten because he had his earbuds in while he was sleeping. (Possible life lesson #1: never, ever stop listening to music. Possible life lesson #2: don’t sleep on the floor, as the Japanese do.) Unfortunately, the parasite still got into his body – it just took over his hand instead. Shin names the parasite Migi (since it is his right hand, and that’s the Japanese word for “right”), and tries to live with it. But the parasites are utterly amoral and protective of their secrecy, so the mere fact that Shin knows they exist means that other parasites (the ones that ate brains, and so control whole bodies) want to kill him as soon as they learn about him. And getting along with an amoral, alien right hand that can transform instantly into whirring engines of death is not easy.