Volume 5, 2017
Man Wai Carol Poon
Reading Japanese Philosophy through Parasyte
The Paradox of Coexistence
Popular culture not only entertains audiences on the surface, it even stimulates readers to work through certain contemporary issues in a way that older art forms cannot. A number of scholars have described Japanese popular culture as a powerful means to understand Japanese society via the images, movement, story, and language it contains. In this way, it may be like other, older forms of media, such as books and newspapers, which are often used as “texts” for “decoding” societal structures and values. In this article, I adopt the view that manga is a fruitful medium for capturing the prevailing issues that intersect our everyday activities, as well as the shifting of images in a constantly changing society. As manga is a useful mirror into contemporary Japanese society, it may offer a path of insight for us to understand the reality or distortion of reality of Japanese society. One assumption in my work is that if manga is actually a reflection of the structure and values of society, then the changes that the concept of “self” has undergone in Japan will certainly appear in anime and manga, as well. Therefore, the overall aim of this article is to analyze the content of a popular Japanese manga, Parasyte, in order to understand the paradoxes of subjectivity and coexistence in Japan.