Parasyte: The Maxim Season 1 Review

Parasyte: The Maxim Season 1 Review

Now streaming on Netflix and Hulu. Rated TV-MA.

Its been quite a while since I’ve been able to sit and enjoy an anime: and considering the fact its October I thought it was the perfect time to start a horror anime. Maybe because I am fascinated with body horror that I choose Parasyte.

This show is full of many highs and lows. There are times where the story is well-paced and exciting, but also just as many where it’s neither. The majority of the show is overall well done, but it’s its lulls that are it’s downfall. 

My most significant complaint comes from the tonal shift that happens early in the series. The show starts with a fair amount of morbid humour that is later thrown entirely to the wayside. Of course, for this story, this makes sense to an extent, but the sheer speed of this change is whiplash-inducing. 

Parasyte, like all horror, offers more than creepy visuals. Parasyte’s inherent nature opens it up to allow a substantial amount of contemplation over the human condition. We are given essentially three prospectives throughout the series: that of the human, that of the semi-human, and that of the inhuman (in the form of the parasites). This series becomes less about the spectacle of the parasite’s morphing ability and quickly takes the more philosophical route of the broader implication and nature of the relationship between parasite and human. The story delves into the deepest motivations of life, and the things that make us, well, human. The series philosophical endeavours alone, make up a lot for its shortcomings. 

If you are going to watch this show, which I recommend you do, don’t go into it expecting it to be non-stop action. This show boasts a fair amount of action, but the real highlights are the time it takes to contemplate what it’s set out to explore. This often leads to long lulls in the story that could have been handled differently, but ultimately serve their purpose.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’m Not Okay with This Season 1 Review

I’m Not Okay with This Season 1 Review

Now streaming on Netflix. Rated TV-MA.

I’m not quite sure what compelled me to watch this series, but in retrospect, I’m glad I did. As a big fan of superheroes and their lore, I was immediately brought in by the prospect of a young woman developing telepathic abilities. The opening scene that introduces the film added to my interest as it is reminiscent of the horror classic Carrie. In many ways, there are a lot of parallels between I’m Not Okay with This and Carrie, as well as X-Men (and I’m sure many related works that I’m not thinking of at the moment of writing this).

I’m Not Okay with This is a charming coming-of-age story full of angst and sarcasm. We follow as the characters in the series go through very real struggles, and– in the case of our protagonist– mysterious struggles as well. Additionally, we get a considerably accurate depiction of depression, anxiety, and grief. The characters seem very real, as none of them is perfect and their imperfections are beautifully portrayed by the actors flawlessly. 

This show also boasts some pretty impressive special effects that, to me, are reminiscent of the ingenious effects used in films like Chronicle. It’s subtle and seamless, and the sparse use of it is perfect for the tone the show maintains throughout. 

The story is fast-paced and easy to follow, and with only eight 30 minute episodes this is a quick watch. The story, which you can probably infer from what I’ve written thus far, is very much character-driven which culminates into an emotional ride. As the season progresses we are given a glimpse into what this series can become as small details are revealed and questions are raised only to be left unanswered. The questions interesting enough to warrant interest in a second season.

Subjective Rating

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Final Rating

Romance is a Bonus Book Review

Romance is a Bonus Book Review

Now streaming on Netflix. Rated TV-14.

Is it just me or are Korean dramas absolutely addicting? Romance is a Bonus Book is no exception. It’s many things: a heart-warming slice-of-life, swoon-worthy romance, cheesy comedy, and gripping mystery. And somehow, it manages to wrap all those things up with a neat bow, providing the viewer with an overall all addicting and extremely fun adventure.

This show is definitely– without a doubt– character driven. We follow an ensemble of lovable characters, all of which go through some sort of growth throughout the series. While the focus is primarily on the protagonist Dan-I, we are given enjoyable and easy-to-follow glimpses into the lives of those around her. The show focuses on Dan-I’s struggles, as well as her wins (no matter how small) and her losses; ultimately presenting her as an exceptionally relatable character. As she goes through her own story we see the characters around her go through their own journeys; we have Ms. Song who has to accept the man she loves won’t return her feelings, and we even have (arguably tertiary character) Ji-Yul grows as a person and learns the importance of taking responsibility. If, for whatever reason, you don’t relate to our protagonist I guarantee you’ll find someone you can relate to.

While the series gives you a sympathetic view into the lives of its characters it also gives a unique view into the Korean publishing industry. Though it is presented through a fictional lens there are still things to be learned about the industry as well as work-life and the book industry in Korea. If you are an avid reader, I would recommend this series because of its glimpse into the behind the scenes of the book industry, even if the one it presents differs from that of your home country. 

For a Korean drama, this one may be a little bit on the longer end, but it’s totally worth a watch. But warning: it’s hard to not binge!

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Final Rating

Beastars Season 1 Review

Beastars Season 1 Review
In a world where beasts of all kinds coexist, a gentle wolf awakens to his own predatory urges as his school deals with a murder within its midst. (Netflix)

Now streaming on Netflix. Rated TV-MA.

I don’t know if I’m the only one, but a few months ago an interesting video showed up on my YouTube recommended list. It was called something along the lines of “Dwarf Rabbit Spends Night in Love Hotel with Grey Wolf.” Obviously curious I clicked it, not really knowing what I was getting myself into. I would later learn it was a scene from a series called Beastars, and that was really all I needed to have an interest in this series. Though, from that video alone, you don’t really get a good representation of what the series really is about. 

With knowledge only from that random video, I went into this series thinking of it as some sort of weird R-rated version of Zootopia. I expected to be weirded out, and not really enjoy it. Of course, this isn’t the case as I find the series extremely enjoyable and honestly somewhat of an allegorical masterpiece. 

It’s not a very long series to begin with: only one season on Netflix (at the moment.) I was able to watch it in two sittings. While my schedule allows for easy binge-watching; with only 12 30-minutes episodes one can get through this series quickly regardless. 

The story is set up to be interesting from the get-go, but I will warn you that some of the questions raised early on won’t be answered by the end of the season. We can only hope future seasons remedy this, but for now you have to live with knowing that you may not be completely satisfied with some of the subplots set up. In particular the murder mystery, which is essentially the first subplot opened in the series. But even though it isn’t brought to a clean conclusion it does work as a good introduction to the political and societal climate of this alternate universe of anthropomorphic animals.

The series has a cast of interesting and well-developed characters. Not only are we introduced to characters who are interesting on their own, we slowly find they’re well-thought out allegorical symbols that provide a surprisingly deep commentary on society as well as give the characters actions and thoughts an added level of realism and relatability. An easy example of this can be seen in the character of Louis/Rouis (for the sake of continuity I’m going to refer to the character solely as Louis from here on out, for no particular reason.) Louis is a buck, who throughout the story is striving to become the school’s titular “beastar,” which is essentially a school representative and a highly sought after position. He is presented as a menacing character, predatorial regardless of his status as “prey”. But not only is he aggressive, he’s diplomatic and strives to be an example for all students. This is a fascinating commentary on society, where aggressiveness is a quality important in leaders along with strong diplomatic abilities. What makes this commentary work so well and be so obvious comes from the author’s decision in making Louis a buck. An animal, that for all intents and purposes is “prey,” but is also known for being territorial, aggressive and capable of powerful predator-like violence. Throughout the series you notice symbolism used in this manner, and it only enhances the story. 

World-building is also done well in the series, but is primarily for the advancement of the plot. The story, for the most part is character driven, so added details about the world only make the story that much better. And, honestly, the world is very much like ours, primary differences are explored and showcased throughout the series. 

In addition the visual storytelling is also notable. With exceptional use of computer generated animation, this show is visually stunning and an experience in many ways. It is a true example of the enginuity of modern day animators and the continuing potential of CG animation in animated television series. And of course, one must mention the claymation opening that can only be described as beautiful, eerie, and charming.

If you are a fan of animation I would definitely recommend this story, and discourage those from dismissing this story as some “weird furry stuff.” This is an honestly interesting story with a lot of nuance and potential. I look forward to future seasons, and hope to soon get the opportunity to look further into the manga source material.

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