NUMBER ONE: THE SOUNDTRACK
So here’s an anime that starts out simply enough. Episode 1 cold open: Some dude’s head splits into razor-toothed slivers and bites off a woman’s head. Body horror, parasites taking over human hosts, threat to the human race, yeah makes sense.
RIGHTEOUS VEGAN RANT OUT OF FUCKING NOWHERE
YOU GUYS DONOT NOTICE THAT WE
ARE GIFTED JUST BY BE-ING HU-MANSWEARE, ABSOLUTE, PREDATORS, WE DO NOT EVEN
HAVE ANY (BOOM) ENEMIES (BOOM)
MAYBE THERE LIES ANIMALS WATCHINGUSAND, THINKING THAT,
SOMEDAY WE WILL BEAT THEM
WHAT A GLORIOUS INCOHERENT ON-THE-NOSE ENGRISHY HOT MESS OF A BEAUTIFUL FUCKING RAGE
This is it
This is the entire show
A heavy-handed moral piece on human superiority that wears its heart on its sleeve and screams its emotion so raw and open that there’s hardly any room for sophisticated thought
OH WE HAVE THE BRAI-AINS TO THINK HARD
WEAR-R OUR FAV-OR-ITE CLOTHES/WE
-E ARE, AT NO DOUBT, HUMAN BEINGS MANY SMALL LIVES
GOD I LOVE THIS FUCKING ENGRISH
There’s English fan dubs that make the lyrics more grammatical, and zero it in on one specific interpretation? Anime fans please don’t do this. The brilliance of the song is in its earnest, ungrammatical stupidity.
I wish we’d bury our fingers
With our arms right through our sleeves
Which makes sense! BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT THE DAMN SONG AND THE SHOW IS ABOUT. We are human beings, we have brains, we think hard. We wear clothes. Not fancy clothes, not arrogant clothes, but just the fact of clothes, at all. You think I’m kidding about the “vegan rant”. I am not kidding. This show is very explicitly goddamn PETA propaganda, if only indirectly and unintentionally. The song is calling out the fact that we *make and wear clothes at all*, that we tear up even plants out of the earth and leave scars and lasting damage just to shield ourselves from rain and wind.
Similarly, the “Someday we will beat them down” from before the first break in lyrics. It’s kind of ambiguous whether it’s singing about the animals beating us down in a day of vengeance and justice, or us beating those animals down as soon as we get to them? That’s something we want to keep. The meaning of the song and the imagery evolves as the show progresses. And like I don’t even care if it’s on purpose or not (my money’s on “not” with the way this opening theme physically feels) it’s part of the mantic brilliance of the show that it can even happen.
I’ve watched this damn intro all the way through 24 times in a row and then some, I know the screamo is repeating the lyrics, but the following still sounds like
THEY WERE BORN (THEY WILL BURN) WITH THE FATE (WITH THE PAIN) OF DY-(for someone)-ING FOR SOME-(A human baby)-ONE
A HUMAN *BAY*BEE
WHEN WILL (WHEN WILL THEY FIND OUT THE TRUE FACT YEAH) THEY FI-IND OUT
Animals born for no other purpose than to die and be disposable Barnes and Noble journals, or wool socks, or belts or jello or whatever for a human baby. So many “small lives.”
THAT AT THE POINT THEY WERE BORN WE ARE WINNERS OF THE EARTH?
This is what I mean about the ambiguity. Is it singing about the animals realizing they’re born for no other purpose than to become consumer products for us? Is it singing about the human being realizing we’re the winners of the earth? Is it both? WHY NOT BOTH? I love how much the melody of the whole song just hammers in (very heavy-handed, very obviously) that it’s about animal and human struggling together with the weight of this terrible knowledge.
Then we get the Japanese lyrics breaking like the light of dawn and
Ah, I cried alone
Next to me, you asked a question
And so we nestle close together and live
Until we sparkle
Such touchy-feely romance-y lyrics after all that bloody stuff about carnism! This too is on purpose, notice how the sound of the song changes to more of a life-affirming tune. Not happy, but the sadness of two human beings clinging together rather than the sound of a human being raging against the injustice we commit against the natural world. Spoiler alert: This is the ultimate theme of the series. Love conquers all, saves us in our murder and sin, gives our lives meaning in a meaningless world.
FOR WHAT HAVE I BEEN LIVING FOR
WHEN WILL I FIND OUT THE ANSWER
AN ANSWER THAT IS ONLY FOR YOU
WHAT WILL MYSELF AND THE … ?
My favorite part is that the opening cuts off the last lyric mid-sentence. If you look at the full version of the song you’ll see that there’s a proper full sentence for that last one:
What will myself and (the) first scenery I saw
It’s my face, my face
And then some lyrics about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Like I said, this entire damn anime is so completely on the nose about everything and I fucking love every moment of it.
But yeah, of course the opening theme cuts off mid-sentence. It was never about the words and the intellectual content, was it? Not entirely. I have the entire song memorized and I can hash out most of the lyrics if I take my time. But it takes some slowness and concentration. The entire song is so much impressionistic noise and storm and fury and feeling, it doesn’t really register in my brain as words with meanings.
Here at I Want to Watch Movies, but for Free, we are open about the fact that we are giving biased as hell reviews. This is not going to be a biased review. This is going to be an unbalanced review. Like if I step back and take some space to breathe — not just to think, but to feel freely away from the raw AHHH of Parasyte — I can stop to realize that there’s greater works of art in the medium than this brilliantly executed, halfway cliché shonen battle anime. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is just as brilliant and covers more ground; Cowboy Bebop speaks more universally to the human condition; Miyazaki carries a greater tradition of imagination and wisdom; etc. But in the middle of watching through the Parasyte series it grips you by the neck so hard that you can’t help being
(extra bonus points to anyone who recognizes this ancient meme)