Parasyte: The Grey and The Question of Being Human

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Art of Lily K
| April 11, 2024
hello world!

It’s K-Drama time in Lily K’s house again. Welcome back everyone; it is time for us to talk about Netflix’s new series, Parasyte: The Grey

I was really looking forward to this show dropping for one very important reason. The creator is none other than the director of one of my all-time favorite movies: Train to Busan. Yeon Sang-ho also created Hellbound for Netflix, and the two titles have a thing in common. Both of them are based on a popular manga and/or webtoon. Although their stories are vastly different, one key point can be found in Sang-ho’s works: the study of humanity. If you are not up for watching TV shows you can just put on Train to Busan to understand what I mean. And I mean, you shouldn’t even think about this. Go and watch Train to Busan. Now. Because I said so. Anyway, I am getting a bit side-tracked here. 

Parasyte: The Grey is based on the Japanese manga Parasyte by Hitoshi Iwaaki and can also be linked to the very popular anime adaptation Parasyte: The Maxim. The main difference is that instead of Japan it is set in South Korea. 

So, let’s review this K-Drama, shall we? Also, a Spoiler Warning is in order! 

Kang-Woo makes a heartbreaking discovery

The story they went with is pretty similar in setup to the anime. One night, an alien lifeform arrives on Earth with one goal: taking over human bodies. They enter through either the nose, ear, or mouth, and it is pretty disgusting. I nearly turned off the TV; one of my biggest fears in life is parasites, so you can all imagine what it was like for me to watch this. Anyway, going on tangents again. One of these little alien buddies (later named Heidi) has the misfortune of landing next to a dying Jeong Su-In (Jeon So-nee). As it enters her body, the parasite has no choice but to heal Su-In’s deadly stab wounds, which prevents it from fully taking over her brain. So, from then on, they share a body, and we learn more about these life forms through their unique bond. Thanks to an incident, the government quickly catches on to the alien takeover and forms a special unit called The Grey, led by a very determined Choi Jun-kyung (Lee Jung-hyun) and the fight against the parasites begins. 

Since I have never seen the anime or read the manga it is based on, I went into this completely blind. All I knew was that I loved Yeon Sang-ho’s works so far, and I was interested to see what he does with this sci-fi story. It was also put under the horror category – which I love –  but I wouldn’t necessarily agree. The scariest parts are the body takeovers (for me, I was freaked out), but those are only included two or three times, so nothing I couldn’t handle. It is more of an action and drama series than anything else, and that is not a bad thing. Some of the scenes are gruesome, but not in a manner where it becomes too much. I would also say here, though, that for those who can’t handle any kind of violence and blood – this is probably not for you. 

Kang-Woo needs to make a difficult decision

I have to point out a thing about this series. Many people are already comparing it to one of my favorite K-Dramas: Sweet Home (you can read two of my articles about it right here on Couch Soup). The two couldn’t be any more different except for one standout similarity. The main characters. In Sweet Home, Song Kang’s Hyun-su is not affected the same way as others by the monsterisation, and eventually, in season 2, it turns out that his “monster personality” has its own will. In Parasyte, Su-in is special, a mutant. Since the parasite couldn’t take full control over her brain, they share her body, and so Heidi was born. Su-in and Heidi’s connection is explored so beautifully that it is easily my favorite part of the entire series. 

Through their relationship, we learn the most about these alien life forms, how they view things and their goals. In episode four, we find our protagonist stuck in her own head along with Heidi, who protects her from the pain of their capture by shielding her mind. First, the visuals in their scenes are both haunting and beautiful, but the importance of that conversation blew my mind away. 

You see, Su-in was left behind all her life. Her mother left her with an abusive father. Then, when Su-in reported his father to the police for beating her up, she was shoved away by the community because how dare a child report her dad? The only person who stood by her was the detective, Cheol-min (Kwon Hae-hyo), who eventually came to her rescue. All her life, Su-in only experienced abandonment, yet there was kindness and openness left in her toward everyone. Although it seems like she is giving up for good in episode four, it is Heidi who shows her a new way to look at her life. It’s a lesson for all of us really. It’s so easy to concentrate on the bad things and ignore the good that is still there. Sometimes, we just need someone else to see things that we can’t. Top-tier content, especially with the final letter Heidi sends to Su-in at the end. This is the kind of character-building I love more than anything. 


This series is excellent when it comes to character. Besides our main lady, we have the fantastic Seol Kang-Woo (Koo Kyo-hwan), whose storyline and character development are my favorite. He starts as nothing more than a gang member who doesn’t care about others, just his well-being. But slowly, we discover that he is full of kindness and care for others. He spends the first half of the series looking for his sister, and when he finally learns her fate, it’s one of the most heartbreaking scenes. By the end of the season, he changes from coward to brave and seemingly uncaring to the most caring guy out there. Koo Kyo-hwan is absolutely perfect in the role on top of it all and makes Kang-Woo one of the most lovable characters we’ve got in a while. 

All the other characters are pretty much spot on too, so we can’t have any complaints about it. Director Yeon Sang-ho once again does an excellent job of focusing on the characters, their stories, and their motivations. The only problem I had with the series was pacing. It felt a tiny bit rushed at places, but nothing too major to complain about. The action sequences were absolute bangers, and obviously, hats off in front of the VFX Team because the visuals were fantastic throughout the entire show. 

The surprise at the end implies continuation and my only advice would be to make the second season longer. This first season definitely would have benefited from an eight-episode run instead of six to give room for the story to breathe. That was my only problem really, that it felt like it needed a bit more time. 

Still highly recommend it to all of you Sci-Fi lovers out there, it’s a very good watch and an emotional rollercoaster.

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