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“Parasyte: The Grey” Is A Fast Paced Slow Burn With Just Enough Edge To Be The Perfect Gateway K-Drama + Will There Be Season 2?

The highly anticipated Korean sci-fi K-Drama “Parasyte: The Grey” is finally streaming, and over the weekend, it has already taken the #1 spot on Netflix’s most-watched TV shows chart. This is the first #1 in a while for a Korean production on Netflix, which speaks volumes of the drama’s high quality, but also of its mass appeal.

“Parasyte: The Grey” is a wonderful extension of Hitoshi Iwaaki‘s “Parasyte” universe, but it makes a bold creative choice in adopting broader themes and a more easily palatable plotline than the original, thus serving as a gateway for the popularization of Korean sci-fi. However, it’s a far cry from the idiosyncratic humor and particular complexity of Hitoshi Iwaaki’s work.

As a result, much like the title, “Parasyte: The Grey” falls a bit in the grey area. You see, fans of the manga and/or anime will easily recognize the recurring parallels while acknowledging the deviations, but they might find themselves grappling with the lack of humor that the original work is characterized by. On the other hand, viewers who have not encountered the original work yet may be left underwhelmed by the simplicity of the K-Drama, especially when considered as a part of Yeon SangHo’s oeuvre.

However, despite this, there remains a wide scope for the general audience, who perhaps checked out “Parasyte: The Grey” simply by chance or out of sheer curiosity and unaffected by biases, to enjoy this work. Not only is “Parasyte: The Grey” a fantastic K-Drama for beginners, boasting outstanding set design, impeccable CGI, fleshed-out characters, and a storyline that is neatly wrapped up with a bow of the perfect happy ending, but it also unveils the novelty of Korean sci-fi to the world, drawing attention to this budding genre from a wider audience.

So, in order to appreciate this K-Drama for what it is and not what it could/should have been, it is important to look at “Parasyte: The Grey” as an isolated work.

Spoiler Alert!


The Positives


First, let’s justify the title of this review. “Parasyte: The Grey” is undoubtedly an action-packed, riveting thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat. The episodes seem to fly by, and before you know it, you’ve binge-watched the entire series in one day. Then, why am I calling it a slow burn?

This is because despite all the breathless momentum, the quick turn of events, and quite a few shockers, the true essence of “Parasyte: The Grey” doesn’t really settle in until the last two episodes. Most of the action scenes involve parasites sprouting out from human heads and having it out with our heroine, Jung SuIn (Jeon SoNee), or, more appropriately, Heidi.

When it’s not that, it’s Seol KangWoo (Koo KyoHwan) evading gangsters, which is brilliantly choreographed, albeit slightly dampened by the shaky camera cinematography. Such scenes are complete with the Koo KyoHwan breed of humor we’re familiar with from “D.P.”, which gives viewers just enough space to breathe and unclench our tense jaws.

"Parasyte: The Grey" Is A Fast Paced Slow Burn With Just Enough Edge To Be The Perfect Gateway K-Drama + Will There Be Season 2?


However, despite all the extraterrestrial spectacle, the heart of the drama is hidden in the most ordinary human themes – identity, belonging, and loneliness vs. being alone. Throughout the first half, Jung SuIn is pained by the fact of her endless misfortune, unable to find community or comfort. Darkness veils her peripheral vision, so all she can register is the despair she keeps stepping into.

From being abused as a child to getting stabbed for no reason and even ending up hosting a parasite, essentially becoming a monster – Jung SuIn has lost all sense of agency and identity. All that is left is the husk of a woman who wants nothing to do with her own self because, to her, no one else does either!

Still, when she is repeatedly consoled by Detective ChulMin (Kwon HaeHyo) or “ahjussi”,  feels needed by Seol KangWoo, and on a larger scale, the world, she regains clarity, empathy, trust, and camaraderie. All these feelings are those she longed for from others but inadvertently ended up finding in her own self. Such a realization only dawns after SuIn spends some time inside her head, literally, but it leaves a deep enough impact on her to want to save the world.

"Parasyte: The Grey" Is A Fast Paced Slow Burn With Just Enough Edge To Be The Perfect Gateway K-Drama + Will There Be Season 2?


By this time, Seol KangWoo joins hands with Detective ChulMin to save SuIn, and the action picks up. We are thrown into a compelling sequence of gore and destruction but hope shines feebly in the midst. Only then does the drama find true conviction, bringing the slow burn to a most satisfying climax.

Now, when speaking of positives, we cannot forget about the unmatched acting performances we got from the cast of “Parasyte: The Grey”. Jeon SoNee is an absolute master of her craft, effortlessly weaving through light and dark, SuIn and Heidi, while Koo KyoHwan is at one with his character, a soft-hearted delinquent. Kwon HaeHyo holds a lot of the story’s substance together with his firm resolution, and Lee JungHyun sprinkles in the much-needed unhinged genius of Choi JunKyung.

Nevertheless, “Parasyte: The Grey” is not without its shortcomings, although they are few.


The Negatives

"Parasyte: The Grey" Is A Fast Paced Slow Burn With Just Enough Edge To Be The Perfect Gateway K-Drama + Will There Be Season 2?


“Parasyte: The Grey” is, for the most part, less show and more tell. The drama drags on with a lot of exposition, such as when the pastor parasite (Lee HyunKyun) explains his philosophy, when Choi JunKyung presents her findings about the parasitic creatures, or in the final episode, when a parasite-possessed Kang WonSeok (Kim InKwon) bitterly reflects on the monstrosity of humans and their selfishness, destroying the earth with evils like war.

This anti-war sentiment is an incredibly important theme of the show and yet, its impact falls short of its potential. The dialogue between Kang WonSeok and Heidi, representing a clash of philosophies between two of a kind, lacks the profound impact it aims to deliver. Instead, it comes across as somewhat preachy, especially coming from a man-eating parasite, missing the opportunity to resonate deeply with the audience.

Even stranger is Heidi trying to reassure SuIn that she isn’t alone. This scene inside SuIn’s head is especially inconsistent with what we’re told about parasites so far. These parasites are supposed to have little to no understanding of human emotions. After all, they’re barely getting by with their best imitation of humans. So, it is a little disconcerting when Heidi can not only offer sympathy to SuIn but also rationalize her mother’s actions!

"Parasyte: The Grey" Is A Fast Paced Slow Burn With Just Enough Edge To Be The Perfect Gateway K-Drama + Will There Be Season 2?


If we are to understand that Heidi could scan SuIn’s memories and come to the logical conclusion that her mother didn’t really hate her, it still does not explain how Heidi is so confident about her mother’s perspective. Alternatively, she might just be telling SuIn what she needs to hear to move on. Either way, such emotional intelligence is unexpected from a parasite unless, of course, Heidi isn’t like other parasites. Perhaps, this connection between SuIn and Heidi is what gives this show the K-Drama sensibility.

The change in scenery as we enter SuIn’s inner thoughts for this sequence, though, is quite reminiscent of Netflix’s latest sci-fi offering, “3 Body Problem,” so it doesn’t leave too deep an impression but rather appears out of place.

Still, undoubtedly, the positives far outweigh the negatives, making “Parasyte: The Grey” a worthy watch.


Will There Be “Parasyte: The Grey” Season 2?

One of the best parts about “Parasyte: The Grey” is how beautifully the show ties the loose ends, signals a happy ending on the horizon and gives fans of the original work the best cameo possible. Izumi Shinichi, the protagonist of the manga “Parasyte” by Hitoshi Iwaaki, played by Japanese top star Masaki Suda, makes a cameo in the very last scene of the K-Drama, as he meets Choi JunKyung.

This has left many fans wondering if Netflix is leaving the possibility open for a second season. While “Parasyte: The Grey” season 2 has not been confirmed yet, the fact that this K-Drama is not labeled as a “limited series” means there is a chance for a second season.

Netflix usually decides whether or not to renew a show based on the response of viewers worldwide, quantified through numbers like hours streamed and completion rate metric. The completion rate metric measures how many viewers completed the show after starting it. As such, the number of people who watch all the episodes within, say, 30 days of the show’s release, matters the most in Netflix’s decision to renew it or not.

So, if you really want to see “Parasyte: The Grey” season 2, hopefully with the original cast returning alongside Masaki Suda joining the main cast, then rewatch all the episodes of the show, share the show as much as possible, post about it all over social media, and hope for the best!

“Parasyte: The Grey” is now streaming on Netflix.

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