With so much interest in Japanese manga and anime overseas, it can sometimes be difficult to keep hot properties at home. The Parasyte (Kiseiju) franchise is a case in point. The sci-fi tale of a high school student whose right hand is taken over by an extraterrestrial parasite began life as a manga serialized from 1990-95. The U.S. edition flipped layouts for left-to-right reading, and the hand-alien’s name had to be changed from “Righty” to “Lefty.”
After three separate English editions, Hollywood came calling, and in 2005 it was announced that Transformers producer Don Murphy would be making a big-budget film with Jim Henson Studios providing the creatures. That project was never realized, however, and the movie rights eventually reverted to Japan, where Always: Sunset on Third Street director Takashi Yamazaki was handed the property.
“A big Hollywood film would have had to simplify the story too much for a wide audience,” Yamazaki explains. “I chose to separate the story into two films. The second one will deal more with philosophical issues about human existence. That would have been lost in the Hollywood version.” Yamazaki hopes his version will appeal to fans of the manga. “I think it can play at festivals, but I am not sure about a wide release overseas. But if it turns out to be a big hit in Japan, perhaps Hollywood will remake it.”
Parasyte Part 1 opens November 29.