Both shows absolutely lacked a sense of the coziness that most adventure shows offer.
A show like Hunter X Hunter spends a lot of time on cozy elements. The heroes are good friends. (In fact, even some of the villains are fairly loyal to their comrades.) The heroes have sane emotions. The heroes enjoy eating. And most of all, the heroes have desirable superpowers. I rather envied the heroes – not only did they have superpowers, they were excellent at martial arts and meditation – two real-life areas where I fall short. Such shows present a situation that is both rather cozy and tremendously enviable.
With Parasyte and Death Note, I absolutely don’t envy the heroes. I am glad that I am not in their shoes. I don’t much like their superpowers, and their romantic prospects don’t seem very enviable.
Most action shows depict a certain kind of sanitized danger, but little indignity or angst. E.g. the heroes might face a lot of machine gun fire, but usually important characters will get unrealistically mild gunshot wounds. Perhaps at some dramatic point, a supporting character will die so that the hero can cry manly tears.
With an anti-cozy show, there is a considerable amount of serious angst. Sometimes there is indignity (although that doesn’t sell very well – but it shows up in some shows such as Gantz and Berserk).
It’s hard to write angst. Anti-cozy adventure shows are ultimately necessary to counterbalance the childish, patronizing optimism of TV shows made by stupid adults to mislead impressionable kids.
A very different kind of angst can be found in horror shows such as Another or Tortured Souls. A horror show can slip into excessive gloom and doom, and if the audience decides to give up, the audience will emotionally disconnect – which usually means that they turn off the video and do something else. Tortured Souls managed to keep me watching, even though it kept twisting the knife and lacked internal plausibility. Finally it ratcheted the angst up way too high, but that was the final scene, and I could only shrug my shoulders – I had given up the chance to quit the show halfway through. However, if I ever see a show from the same writer, I might boycott it pre-emptively. The characters suffered pointlessly. If I want to see that, I can just watch the news – it requires less intellectual effort than fiction.
Another was good in that it did a reasonable job of balancing hope and despair. The characters suffered meaningfully, and I want to see more shows like that. While the supernatural elements were not exactly enviable, they were somehow evocative of a meaningful, romantic world – and when one lives in a meaningless society, the prospect of a meaningful, romantic world IS enviable, even if one must put up with horrifying ghosts to get there. Further, the romantic elements in Another were sentimental and enviable.
I don’t think Parasyte will turn out to be as good as Another, but I’ll watch it to the end. Both Death Note and Parasyte offer a great deal of internal logical consistency. Another had some consistency, but it was a little too mysterious to engage my critical thinking; it seemed to appeal to female intuition rather than male analysis; it seemed to present a gloomy, entrancing world of melancholy that could be appreciated by a poet, but could not be analyzed by a scientist. Parasyte is a show for men who want to analyze something according to knowable, comprehensible principles.