Parasyte (寄生獣 Kiseijū?, "Parasitic Beasts") is a manga series written and illustrated by Hitoshi Iwaaki, and published in Kodansha's Afternoon magazine from 1990 to 1995.

The North American version of the manga was published by Tokyopop. The Tokyopop English-language manga went out of print on May 2, 2005.[1] At the 2006 Comic-Con, Del Rey Manga announced the licensing rights to the series.[2] The new U.S. editions of the manga are in the collected wideban format, and in their original right-to-left formats. The final volume was published in 2009. A Hollywood movie version is also in the works, with Jim Henson Studios and Don Murphy allegedly in charge of production.[3]


Parasyte centers on a teenage boy named Shinichi Izumi who is an ordinary teenage boy. He lives with his mother and father in a rather quiet neighborhood when, one night, an alien invasion occurs. The aliens are called Parasites. They are worm-like creatures that enter human "hosts" through their ears or noses, and take over their brains. A Parasite attempts to crawl into Shinichi's ear and take over his brain while he sleeps, but is stopped by his headphones and accidentally burrows into one of his hands instead. In the Japanese version, it takes over his right hand and it is named Migi (ミギー?), after the Japanese word for "right".[4]

Because the Parasite infected his hand instead of his brain, Shinichi and Migi each retain their own, separate intellect. This gives them an edge in battling the other Parasites, who frequently attack the pair. Initially other parasites see them as an aberration that needs to be destroyed, but eventually come to see their pairing as a threat. Shinichi also feels compelled to fight other Parasites, who kill and eat humans for food.

The Parasites

The Parasite begins life as a worm-like creature which emerges from a spore that drifted to Earth from the sky.[5] The Parasite crawls or burrows its way into the head of a human host, transforming the brain. This effectively kills the victim, replacing their personality and intellect with that of the Parasite. Parasites have a strong, apparently instinctive, drive to kill and eat humans (Reiko Tamura calls it a "command"). Parasites have no memories of their own and do not know where they came from, but are, as a general rule, extremely quick learners who master the language and customs of the surrounding human population.

Parasites have the ability to shapeshift the area of the body of which they took control. They can alter their facial features in order to change their identity. When necessary, they can perform bizarre and grotesque transformations, sprouting supernumerary eyes, mouths, and even wings, as well as extruding an array of blades, fangs, and tentacles, later returning their face to its normal shape. These extrusions can be moved with superhuman speed, and a Parasite can easily kill several nearby humans with an array of whirring blades before the humans are even aware that they are being attacked. Their primary use for this ability is murder in order to feed; although they can eat other foods, all normal Parasites have an instinctive compulsion to kill and feed upon beings of the same species as the host body they occupy.


A parasite attacking

Parasites have neither compassion for nor malice against humans. As a general rule, they display little to no emotion and act according to whatever seems sensible and likely to ensure their own survival. However, Parasites do sometimes appear shocked or surprised, and do develop individual personality traits. For example, Reiko Tamura (Tamara Rockford) is philosophical, Mr. A is antisocial and violent, Goto enjoys playing the piano, and Hideo Shimada prefers practicing sports. Because they are not emotionally troubled by pain or physical exhaustion, a Parasite can push its host body to the limit, performing much better than the host may have originally been capable of doing. Of course, this also increases the risk of exhaustion or injury.

Parasites have the instinctive psychic ability to sense the location and emotional state of nearby parasites by "reading" their brain waves. They are also aware of any killings committed by nearby Parasites.

Although the head of a Parasite-controlled body may appear to be made of normal human flesh, bone, and hair, it is not. Every cell of a Parasite-controlled body part is alive, and small hair and tissue samples removed from the Parasite will quickly cry out, wither, and die. Parasites can be identified by plucking strands of hair or with an X-ray which reveals a head with no bone tissue inside. In this regard, as well as in their ability to suddenly create bizarre shapes out of normal human features, the Parasites bear a strong resemblance to The Thing. Occasionally, a Parasite displays the ability to temporarily detach itself, or part of itself, from its human host, crawling on makeshift legs to escape danger or surprise an opponent. Both Migi and Reiko have demonstrated this skill.

Parasites are very dangerous in combat. Although Parasites feel pain, it does not bother them, and they can shrug off a great deal of injury to their host body before dying. Its shape-shifting body parts can become incredibly tough and resistant to damage, deflecting blades and bullets with ease. When Parasites fight one another, they usually try to kill their opponent by severing the head from the body, or by piercing the heart (or ripping it out from the victim) in order to cause death by rapid, massive blood loss. A parasite's host body is just as vulnerable as any other; however, their resistance to pain coupled with their incredible speed makes it very difficult to hit them with a killing blow. Because all of the Parasite tissue is a "thinking muscle," they are uniquely vulnerable to injuries which damage the entire surface of the body (such as fire or acid), which can cause them extreme confusion, loss of coordination, and loss of control over their shapeshifting abilities.

Occasionally, a Parasite makes a mistake and fails to assimilate the brain of a human host. The Parasite may accidentally merge with another part of a human's body (as in the case of Shin'ichi Izumi, the protagonist), or even accidentally merge with the brain of an animal, rather than a human. In such cases, the Parasite either subsists on the nutrient intake of the host (as is the case with Shinichi and Uda), or has a compulsion to eat whatever animal species it assimilated, rather than humans. Such cases are seen by other Parasites as either pathetic failures or unsettling threats.

Additionally, although it is only shown in the series once, a Parasite can become partially absorbed into a human body, where in this case the human body itself becomes "super-powered", even though the Parasite still retains command over whatever part of the human body it's absorbed. Subsequently, this turns the Parasite into a symbiote of sorts, since its primary goal is to survive - which could easily be compromised should its host falls to harm. For example, with a normal Parasite, it would have taken over the head and it would be able to use the host to human limits as it pleases: with this aforementioned method, the Parasite still regains command, but now the human body can far surpass human limits, to almost super-human levels. Only one character in the series ever has this happen to them, so it could be a total fluke.



Cover of the Mixx edition of Volume 4

Shinichi Izumi (泉 新一 Izumi Shin'ichi?)

Shinichi is the protagonist of the manga, a thoughtful, compassionate high-school boy whose hand is infected with a Parasite. Shinichi is repeatedly put into difficult positions. He must find a way to peacefully coexist with Migi, the Parasite which has taken over his hand, and reconcile his desire to protect humanity from the Parasites with his desire to keep his own Parasite a secret in order to avoid being killed or used as a laboratory specimen. Like a superhero with a secret identity, he must also find a way to explain away his Parasite-fighting activities, as well as the stress and grief they cause him, to his friends and family. Shinichi's retention of a human mind, emotion, and sensibilities causes other Parasites to see him as a threat. He and his Parasite must defend themselves from attacks by other Parasites, and their ability to think and act independently, and as a team, gives them a tactical edge over normal Parasites.

Kazuyuki Izumi (泉 一之 Izumi Kazuyuki?)

Kazuyuki is Shinichi's father. Shortly after his wife was killed by a parasite, he had some suspicions as to whether or not Shinichi was infected (although he never said so outright).

Nobuko Izumi (泉 信子 Izumi Nobuko?)

Nobuko is Shinichi's mother. She "dies" early on when she is taken over by a Parasite, and stabs Shinichi through the heart when he refuses to accept it; she is then killed later on by a tag team of Shinichi and Uda.

Migi (ミギー Migī?, also called "Righty")

Migi is the Parasite which lives in Shinichi's hand. Unlike "successful" Parasites, Migi has no desire to kill humans for sustenance, and is nourished by the food Shinichi eats. Migi is, like other Parasites, completely without emotion. His primary consideration is survival, and he has threatened (and in some cases attempted) to kill other humans who pose a threat to his and Shinichi's secrecy. When he and Shinichi were first coming to terms, he even threatened to remove Shinichi's other limbs in order to render him unable to place the two of them in danger. Migi can be reasoned with, however, and has just as much reason to be mistrustful of other Parasites as does Shinichi. On the other hand, unlike Shinichi, Migi has no inclination to place himself at risk in order to protect other humans from Parasites. As the series goes along however, he becomes more human, whereas the reverse happens to Shinichi, up until an event involving a baby occurs.

Satomi Murano (村野 里美 Murano Satomi?)

Shinichi's best friend and sometime companion. Shinichi and Satomi develop a romantic relationship over the course of the series, but their attraction to and fondness for one another is hampered by Shinichi's fear of his own monstrous nature, and Satomi's fear of Shinichi's secretive behavior and the mood swings that result from the trials and tribulations in his life. Up until the last volume, she has no idea about Migi, until a near-death experience may have driven him to use his abilities without Shinichi's realization.

Reiko Tamura (田村 玲子 Tamura Reiko?)

A Parasite who, coincidentally, infected Ryōko Tamiya (田宮 良子 Tamiya Ryōko?), one of Shinichi's high-school teachers. After the Parasite took over Ryōko Tamiya's body, the Parasite took the name "Reiko Tamura." Reiko has scientific inclinations, and is driven to discover the biology, origin, and purpose of Parasites. Reiko discovers - by becoming impregnated by another Parasite named Mr. A - that a pregnant Parasite will bear a normal, human child, and that Parasites have no apparent means of reproduction. Reiko is more logical and reasonable than many other Parasites, and allows Shinichi to live unmolested largely because she finds him an interesting anomaly worthy of study. She eventually gives birth to Mr. A's baby; after betraying her fellow Parasites and killing quite a few of them, the police brutally kill her. The baby survives because of her decision not to fight back against the police.

Kana (加奈?)

Kana is a disobedient "bad girl" who develops a crush on Shinichi. She is attracted to him because of his sensitive personality, and because she can sense something "different" about him. In reality, Kana has an unexplained psychic ability to sense Parasites. However, her senses are not as fine-tuned as those of the Parasites themselves, and she cannot tell whether she is sensing the presence of Shinichi or of a normal Parasite, putting her in considerable danger. This ability is eventually what leads to her death, and a total breakdown of Shinichi for a good volume or so, until he recovers from it; the after-effects of this lead to estranging him from his friends and get police to keep an eye on him, all of which last until near the final volume.

Mamoru Uda (宇田 守 Uda Mamoru?)

Uda is, like Shinichi, a human who had a Parasite merge with a part of his body other than his brain. In Uda's case, the Parasite lodged in the lower part of his head. Uda's Parasite originally does not have a name, but is later renamed Jaw (ジョー ?). It is brash and crude-it even seems to have a sense of humour-and sometimes assumes control of Uda's mouth, distorting it into odd shapes and forcing Uda to say strange or inappropriate things. The pair befriend Shinichi and Migi, but prefer to simply avoid Parasites. Because Uda is slightly overweight and his Parasite is located in the jaw area, fights with other Parasites tend to leave him out of breath. However, because it is located in the lower part of the head, his Parasite can extend itself downward into his chest, protecting his heart (a popular target in Parasite duels). Uda is normally a peaceful, easygoing man, but is nervous under pressure and cries easily. He works as a hotel employee.

Hideo Shimada (島田 秀雄 Shimada Hideo?)

Hideo is a Parasite with a teenager's body who decides to integrate with human society. Hideo enrolls in Shinichi's high school and expresses a desire to become friends with Shinichi, who does not trust him. Although Hideo is a relatively peaceful Parasite, he has no qualms about brutalizing or even killing bullies who try to start fights with him, and he continues to hunt humans (although he claims that he is learning to eat normal food instead). He is killed by Shinichi and Migi after another student discovers his secret and confronts him about it, causing him to go on a killing spree.

Mr. A

Mr. A is a Parasite who considers Shinichi a threat. Reiko calls him a fool while Migi describes him as "not one of our smart ones." Mr. A has no capacity for subtlety or deception, and no qualms about using his shapeshifting abilities in view of the public, reasoning that he can always get out of trouble by fighting, running away, and changing into a different face. Mr. A (or rather, his host body) is the father of Reiko's child. Shinichi is forced to battle Mr. A when he attempts to hunt Shinichi down and kill him at school. Though Shinichi and Migi badly wound him, they are forced to flee before he can be completely destroyed. He is killed after their battle by Reiko Tamura for endangering her undercover lifestyle.

Gotō (後藤?)

Gotō is an "experimental" Parasite created by Reiko. He is actually a combination of several Parasites, whose shapeshifting ability has advanced to the point where they can switch positions, each forming a different limb as the situation requires. Gotō is the most intelligent and skilled, and is the de facto leader of the composite body. Because his head and all of his limbs are made of Parasite cells, Gotō is much faster, stronger, and more dangerous than standard Parasites, and nearly impossible to injure. Gotō is the last Parasite that Shinichi and Migi take down; Gotō actually ends up causing the temporary death of Migi, and absorbs Migi into his body for a small period of time. Shinichi is left with only one arm during this period, but manages to recover Migi and secures victory. The name "Gotō" is a pun on a word "五 Go" meaning number 5, implying he can control 5 Parasites, whereas the other Parasite in the same body called Miki (三木 Miki lit. Three trees) can control only 3.

Takeshi Hirokawa (広川 剛志 Hirokawa Takeshi?)

Hirokawa is the leader of a cabal of Parasites which counts Reiko and Goto among its members. The group attempts to accrue political power in order to set up safehouses where they can take their victims, killing and eating them in secret. Hirokawa gains election to the office of mayor in East Fukuyama City, a small town (by Japanese standards) of 500,000 people close to Shinichi's hometown. Hirokawa wins by running on a campaign centered around locally-based environmentalism. Secretly, Hirokawa is a radical environmentalist who believes that the Parasites' purpose is to cull the human population, standing one step above them on the food chain. The police force kills Hirokawa and discovers that he was 100% human and a Parasite sympathizer.

Names in Tokyopop publication

In the Tokyopop publication the main character's name was Shin and his hand was called "Lefty," as the image had been flipped to read left to right.[6] Satomi Murano is Sara. Jaw, Uda's parasite is referred to as Jaws, in reference to the film Jaws by Peter Benchley. Tamura is known as Tamara Rockford in the Tokyopop version.[7]


Parasyte was originally serialized in Japan in Morning or Morning Special,[8] and switched to Afternoon after a few issues.[8] It was collected into ten tankōbon by Kodansha, and was later republished in eight kanzenban. It was originally licensed for English translation and North American distribution by Tokyopop, who published the series over twelve volumes. Del Rey Manga later acquired the rights to the series, and have published eight volumes following the kanzenban release.


The series won the Kodansha Manga Award for general manga in 1993.


  1. "Tokyopop Out of Print". 2007-10-13. Retrieved 2009-09-10. 
  2. "Comic-Con News Wrap". Anime News Network. 2006-07-24. Retrieved 2007-12-18. 
  3. "Parasyte movie". Anime News Network. 2005-09-20. 
  4. In Tokyopop's version, it takes over his left hand because the images were flipped horizontally.
  5. The Tokyopop version referred to the monsters as "parasytes", while the Del Rey version calls them "parasites". On page 187 of volume 7 of the Del Rey version, "parasyte" is used to refer to humanity.
  6. "Parasyte: Character Info." Tokyopop. February 26, 2003. Retrieved on June 6, 2009.
  7. "Parasyte: Volume 9." Tokyopop. February 26, 2003. Retrieved on June 6, 2009.
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External links

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ko:기생수 tl:Parasyte zh:寄生兽

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