Author: Eiji Otsuka
Manga-ka: Sho-U Tajima
Publisher: Dark Horse
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: July 2008
Synopsis: “In MPD-Psycho, volume 1, Yousuke Kobayashi – a seemingly innocent police detective – is pushed into a complex tempest of interconnected deviants and evil forces. With its absurd twists, sci-fi touches, and inventive torture scenes, you’ll be mesmerized by the plethora of odd conspiracies and case files found in Eiji Otsuka and Sho-U Tajima’s uncontrollable, urban horror show.”
MPD Psycho, (aka Multiple Personality Detective Psycho) follows in this first volume a key number of characters. Central to them is Yousuke Kobayashi, a detective who possesses several different personalities within himself. They are independent of each other and some more dangerous than others. When a serial killer murders his girlfriend, Kobayashi’s resulting vengeance (though committed by another of his personalities) has him thrown in jail. Years later, he’s out on parole and invited to join a private firm to make use of his uncanny criminal profiling abilities.
After hearing so many great things said about it, and being a fan of Eiji Otsuka’s other work, Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, I had to go out and pick myself up a copy of this first volume of MPD Psycho. I never knew what the MPD in the title stood for but it didn’t take long into reading to figure it out. Kobayashi (which I’m going to call him for convenience sake through this review) personality changes definitely aren’t subtle and are just outright crazy, making for interesting, if not a little sympathy invoking, contrast between the different identities. They act different, speak different and go by different names, and their actions often leave Kobayashi’s top-personality with gaping holes in his memory.
Other characters of importance right now include a sharp-eyed female officer with faith in Kobayashi, plus a very independent newscaster who knows his stuff and lives deep in the darker parts of society’s pop culture. One way or another, they all become parts of solving grisly serial murders around the city, from dismemberment to human flower pots. The stories are disturbing and grotesque, fuelling the curiousity, for those with a stomach for it, to discover the killer. Probably less unnerving than the whos of the murders is undoubtedly the whys, and though there’s no concrete way to profile why a person would do such things, a sinister plot is already brewing beneath the crime-solving in the form of strange barcode-shaped bruises on the eyes of the killers.
Sho-U Tajima’s art works well with the author’s form of storytelling. The character designs are fairly diverse, making different people distinguishable and often faces and mannerisms can speak volumes about them (or in the even better rendered scenes, speak nothing about their true selves at all). The art overall has a stark, sharp look to it with emphasis on white and black contrast, never muddled in screen toning or too much happening at once. It’s an appealing style for this kind of story and works well to move readers from casual conversations to scenes involving gruesome mutilated corpse.
More power to Dark Horse also, for yet another quality release. The front cover was attractively designed and was printed on really nice, higher contrast paper. The interior paper is bright and crisp. I liked what they did with the translation, including care taken to the way people are speaking. Occasionally I was tripped up by the stammers and stutters of characters but it only worked to emphasis their current emotional states. The back of the book includes an afterword by the author and detailed translation notes. Certain parts of the book in-story also had explanations neatly placed next to panels which was a great, unobtrusive, help understanding some scenes.
Overall, my only real disappointment with this series so far is how thin each volume is. Despite that, it still felt like I got a good solid read out of it (though this means I’ll be buying two or three at a time from now on!). Having been told by several recommenders that volume one of MPD Psycho is the weakest in the series, I’m preparing myself to be pretty darn impressed because if everything following this intriguing first instalment is only destined to be better, than I have lots to look forward to.