Japan recently released the trailer for the live action Kiseiju (寄生獣) aka Parasyte movie. While seeing one of my favourite manga of all time brought to life on the big screen should give me a hard-on that could be seen from space, in reality, it didn't. In fact, it had pretty much the opposite effect.
Now let me be clear; the movie — actually, 2 movies — is not out yet and trailers are known to lie, so my gut reactions may prove to be completely invalid. That said, my gut reactions are my gut reactions, and over the years I've learned to look for the warning signs when something isn't exactly kosher.
(subtitles by Toshi Nakamura)
Here's my main problem with the trailer for Parasyte: it feels like looking at the trailer for Watchmen. It's a great live action video adaptation of the source material. It looks like my favourite scenes have jumped right out of the page. But that's all there is. It's got the look, but none of the feel. I feel no substance, no subtlety, and it pales in comparison to the source material.
Let me add here that I actually liked the Watchmen movie as a movie. But as an adaptation, it was a letdown. My favourite part of the Watchmen movie was actually where they weren't slaves to the source material and changed things. Unfortunately, with the Parasyte trailer, some of the scenes are straight from the 9th book which means they're not going to be changing all that much. I know people will say I shouldn't bring any baggage into the movie, but when the movie is a film adaptation of such an influential piece, that's a bit of a tall order.
Take a look at the scene from the trailer where a creature bites off a woman's head.
Here's the same scene from the manga.
Sure, the live action looks more "realistic" than the manga, but it captures none of the emotion. It's a movie that doesn't understand how to be a movie. It doesn't understand the differences in visual mediums — how the manga saviors the moment because it can by being a sequence of images that, though seemingly simplistic and less "real," invoke a much stronger emotion that cannot be captured by simply recreating the exact same thing on the screen.
The best adaptations bring something new to the table that they utilise because they are the medium that they are while avoiding the pitfalls of their own limitations.
The Silent Protagonist
Another thing that had warning klaxons blaring in my brain was the fact that the main character, or rather the most important character, has absolutely no dialog in the trailer. The parasite that fuses with protagonist, Shinichi Izumi's hand, Migi (aka "Righty," aka "Lefty"), is a powerful, introspective, and iconic character who offers insight on the nature of humanity and what it means to be both a creature of logic, emotion, and instinct all at the same time.
In the case of the movie, a lot of pressure is going to be on getting Migi's character right. If Migi doesn't work, then the movie will fall apart. Which makes me suspect that's why you see so little of the character in the trailer. People love Migi. He(?) is the heart and soul of the entire story. I can almost guarantee that Migi is going to be the deciding factor as to whether fans of the original manga will see the movie or not, and the fact that Migi has so little screen time in the trailer and does not indicate to me that the people behind the film are aware of this fact, or are afraid of it.
Having the most important character of the series be silent says to me that the people making the movie do not have confidence in it, which subsequently diminishes any confidence I might have in it as well.
The movie has yet to come out, and it might be good. Hell, I want it to be good. It will probably look great (I don't have any problem with the "obvious CG is obvious" parts) but the more I look over the trailer, the less and less enthusiastic I feel. At best, I see the Parasyte movie being "OK" and at worst I see it joining the annals of "why the fuck did they think they could make a movie out of that!?" movies. Either way, one thing I don't see is it being as powerful and life-changing as the original manga was.
I really hope I'm wrong.
The first Parasyte movie is scheduled to hit Japanese theatres on November 29. The second movie is scheduled for release in 2015.