Fall was probably one of my least researched seasons of the year, largely due to my busy life schedule and struggle to keep up with the summer shows. I ended up very quickly scanning through what the new season had to offer and choosing a handful, relying later on my friend’s initial reviews and tweets about shows worth watching. Kiseiijuu happened to be one I chose from my first grouping, not because of the art or studio or premise. It was actually KWoo who wanted to try it out. So imagine my surprise when the sci-fi turned out to not only be gripping, but to also have horror elements right up my alley. I was immediately reminded of an old favorite of mine, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, where plant-like aliens invade a town and take over the bodies of its residents without many people noticing until it’s too late. Similarly, Kiseiijuu features spore-like parasites bent on overtaking humans’ brains to survive and consume on Earth. The image of a small, drill-like blob fighting to enter Shinichi’s body through any orifice was terrifying but fascinating. Like a slow motion disaster headed your way, you can’t help but stare and wait for the consequences. The unexpected result of Shinichi’s luck and determination in turn gives us one of the most successful adaptations to anime in 2014.
I have a hard time thinking of titles that I would deem quality work in the horror genre. There are plenty that are entertaining, but wouldn’t hit my top thirty in overall quality. Kiseiijuu surpasses these obstacles with ease and continues to keep the audience in suspense over what the future holds. While we know that the parasites’ main objective is survival, we do not know why they came to Earth, and how they mean to affect humankind’s leadership. There are already several scenes showcasing the parasites thinking beyond existence and experimenting with the human reproductive cycle, physical strength, and intelligence. When all we knew of the aliens was their hunger and violence, they actually seemed much less menacing and understandable. Like mindless beasts, they killed and ate whatever they could to make a place for themselves. The instant they turned to experimentation and began blending into Japan’s political parties, the water muddied and its depth became undeterminable.
From an objective point of view, humans are weak, illogical, and destructive. Migi and Shinichi’s discussions at the start are exemplary of the differences between alien and man. The outlooks on life are all too often contrary to one another. Where Migi would stand and fight with a good chance, Shinichi would rather bow and run away. Where Migi can analyze a situation and deem himself the loser and advise fleeing, Shinichi instead ignores the warnings and rushes in to save others at the risk of his own wellbeing. You don’t really see self-sacrifice in any species but our own, and Migi repeatedly points out the oddity of this nature. But the instance that the protagonist’s life is saved at the cost of his clean-cut separation from Migi, we see a gradual and alarming change in his mentality. Shinichi begins speaking phrases that he would have otherwise never uttered, and devalues lives that have already passed. Those close to him immediately notice the change, remarking continually how cold he seems, how like a different person he seems. The lines between him and Migi blur, and now I often feel like the minds are merging and the human words we hear are actually spoken by the alien. I can no longer see a future where Migi and Shinichi can be separated. As this story is still ongoing into the winter, there are plenty of directions this show could take to continue its titillating coverage of Shinichi’s evolution. Invasion of the Body Snatchers had two different endings with completely opposite results, one I approved of much more than the other. I can see Kiseijuu going either way, and admit to hoping for an ending favorable to the aliens.