by Hitoshi Iwaaki; adapted by Andrew Cunningham
published by Del Rey Manga; $12.99 US
I think that’s the creepiest cover yet for this series. I’m probably reading too much into it seeing the giant eyeball as symbolic of the opening scene, in which Shinichi is forced into a kind of staring contest.
The police have captured a serial killer who’s able to detect parasites, and they’ve sent Shinichi against him because they suspect the boy of being inhuman. As the first chapter makes very clear, the killer is disgusting in what he’s done to his victims. He attributes his ability to the way “animals… know if you’re one of them or not”, but he’s got it backwards. He thinks he knows humans and so can tell when something’s not — but really, he’s a monster, and so he can recognize his own kind.
The killer’s atrocities, so similar to those of the parasites, are contrasted with the ways they have protected Shinichi. In other words, this particular human detector would gladly kill those of his kind, while the aliens take care of someone not their own.
I’m really impressed how effective these scenes of people sitting at a table staring at each other are. Hitoshi Iwaaki varies the expressions in detail and uses illustrated flashbacks to keep the pages visually interesting … and that diversity makes the silent head shots all the more powerful when they do occur.
The majority of this volume follows an army unit as they seek to root out a squad of parasites who have infested a town hall. With so many humans also occupying the office building, they must correctly identify and dispose of the monsters while rescuing the people without causing panic. It’s a big, visual sequence, with a combination of tactics, action, and suspense. The balance of power swings back and forth several times as each side tries to outwit the other, with violence and death spiraling out of control.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter much to the reader, because it’s just setup to make the bad guy seem like an immense threat. That way, we really fear for Shinichi’s future; he’s the one we care about, since we’ve been living with his worries and changes from the beginning. In that way, we’re not that different from the parasites — only certain deaths matter to us.