Due to the fact that I didn't know the source material, I had no prior expectations before watching the movie. Although I know that the manga is said to be very good, I never had the opportunity and time to read it beforehand which on hindsight, is probably a better thing. As such, my review is from the viewpoint of someone who knows close to nothing about the manga so a fan might have an entirely different take on this movie. If you haven't watched this movie and do not want me to spoil the fun for you, perhaps you might want to skip this review.
As this is going on, we are introduced to the lead character of this story i.e. Izumi Shinichi (Sometani Shota), an ordinary high school student who lives with his mother (Yo Kimiko). One night, while he is lying in bed listening to music, the parasyte tries to invade Shinichi's body through his ears but fails because of the earphones. It then attempts to go in through his right arm but this startles him and he manages to tie a rubber rope around his arm to stop the parasyte in time before it attacks his brain. However, when things settle down, Shinichi is left wondering if what he has experienced moments ago was just a dream and doesn't think much of the episode.
Later on, Shinichi discovers what a close shave he had with the parasyte who calls itself Migi (voiced by Abe Sadao) and has taken over his right arm instead. Despite the disbelief and inconvenience of Migi's presence, Shinichi sort of resigns himself to his fate as he tries to conceal its presence from those around him including his childhood friend Satomi (Hashimoto Ai). On the other hand, Shinichi's existence (human and parasyte co-existing in the same human body) becomes something of interest to fellow parasytes including Tamiya Ryoko (Fukatsu Eri) who has appeared as a new teacher in Shinichi's school, Shimada Hideo (Higashide Masahiro) who later becomes a transfer student at the same school and A (Ikeuchi Mansaku). Tamiya in particular seems more intent on studying Shinichi as she is currently pregnant with the offspring of parasytes in a human's body. It would seem like Shinichi would have led an entirely parallel life from the parasytes aiming to take over the human race if not for an unfortunate mishap befalling his mother,
Not only does Shinichi have to come to terms with the fact that he has to kill A who resides in his mother's body, he faces a bigger challenge when Hideo's identity as a parasyte is suddenly exposed in school thus resulting in the latter going on a bloody massacre. In order to stop Hideo's rampage, Shinichi uses his newfound physical prowess and powers to overcome Hideo. At the end of Part 1, Shinichi resolves to use his abilities to stop the parasytes from achieving their aim as they are already making inroads into the political arena through one of their comrades Hirokawa Takeshi (Kitamura Kazuki)...
First of all, the uneven pacing of the story was quite obvious. As the movie was around 120 minutes long only, there was a lot of material it had to address within this timeframe e.g. how the parasytes came about, how they invade humans, how Shinichi became drawn into the conflict of humans vs. parasytes, how Shinichi changed as a result of his mother's death. Some things were probably not necessary to describe in detail such as showing how Migi got its knowledge about the human world through the library's books and the Internet while critical parts such as Shinichi's change in personality after Migi's cells were integrated with his were not given due attention especially since this could be used to explain Shinichi's his future actions in Part 2. Due to this, I felt myself getting really bored and sleepy during the first half of the movie as the story seemed to be meandering for no reason and things only picked up after the Shinichi-Migi integration.
Last but not least, the problem of having multiple installments for a movie can be a double-edged sword. If Part 1 is fantastic, chances are people will be interested to watch Part 2. However, there is also this alternative thinking that the highlights of the story should be reserved all the way to Part 2 so Part 1 becomes nothing more than a mere introduction to the action in Part 2. Personally, I'm of the former opinion i.e. if all parts of the movie don't do well, the entire franchise doesn't. Just because the movie companies want to make more money through having multiple installments or there is indeed a need as to why the story has to be split up, it doesn't mean that the movie-goer should be short-changed by having to accept a less-than-perfect Part 1. Ultimately, Part 1 and Part 2 are standalone films. You can't be telling me that Part 1 is just the introduction and the best is yet to come. If you can't do a decent job for the introduction, how can I be convinced that Part 2 will be something fantastic? Of course, in order to find out about the ending, people might still go ahead to watch Part 2 but there is probably a group of people who would just hop off the bandwagon because of Part 1's lacklustre quality.
And that is what the problem is with this movie. The trailer of Part 2 promises a lot e.g. Shinichi having to deal with stronger powers in the form of parasytes in strategic positions within society, the array of new characters who have yet to see the day in Part 1 and the looming threat of what Tamiya's baby might become. When you compare with the lack of excitement in Part 1, you can't help but wonder if watching Part 1 was a waste of time after all. If the best is yet to come, I might as well watch Part 2 only. Then again, if you look at Part 1, it's filled with problems here and there so my confidence in Part 2 bucking the trend is somewhat affected.
And my ratings for this movie...
Story: 2 out of 10 (It would have been better if Part 1 didn't seem like a mere introduction to Part 2)
Acting: 5 out of 10 (Nobody really failed big time but then nobody impressed me very much too. It felt that the hands of the cast were tied due to the limited development of their characters.)
Theme song/BGM: 2 out of 10 (Not much of an impression though even in climax scenes such as the battle between Shinichi and Hideo)
Visual effects / Scenery: 3 out 10 (Other than the parts where the faces would split up and the fighting scenes, there really isn't much to say about the CG effects. Maybe it would be better in Part 2?)
Teamwork / Chemistry: 2 out of 10 (Bland is an understatement. There wasn't really any tension so as to speak between humans and the parasytes so sparks didn't fly onscreen. Sometani and Hashimoto's relationship wasn't really developed in Part 1 so there's not much chemistry to speak of yet.)
Total: 14 out of 50