MPD Psycho - 多重人格探偵サイコ (manga)
written by Eiji Otsuka, illustrated by Shou Takima
I debated whether or not to review this. It's a manga, and I'm not sure how many people who read my reviews are into that. To be perfectly honest, even I only read yaoi, when I read manga at all. At least I used to. For while I dearly love reading about men hump, the yaoi I keep finding is a little too cute and clean for me. I like my fiction to come rolled in blood and dirt. The question was, could I find something to match my tastes on the same shelf as stories about precocious high school kids making smoochy faces at each other? (Keep in mind, I know about as much about manga as I do about nuclear physics). Long story short, Japan makes some delightfully sick shit. MPD PSYCHO is a horror story, no bones about it. And so, without further ado...
Gore: You might want to take a shower afterwards.
Sex: No, but copious nudity. Copious, deeply disturbing, nudity : )
Angst: If you can't feel for these characters, especially Amamiya, you might be dead inside.
First things first: We have all seen/read the dissociative identity disorder (previously called multiple personality disorder) angle done badly. I'm talking "Lifetime: For Women" badly. Mercifully, Otsuka keeps his story from turning into the fodder of soap operas. The basic plot: Yosuke Kobayashi is a detective on the trail of a man who liked to chop the arms and legs off of naked victims. Kobayashi is sweet and down to earth, though a little tense and apologetic at times. He is also thoroughly unprepared to become the focus of a psychopath. When push comes to shove, Kobayashi ceases to be. In his place, two other personalities vie for dominance. One goes rogue, only to cut and run when his actions get him arrested. Kazuhiko Amamiya is left holding the bag, and becomes the chief character in what was once Kobayashi's mind. Otsuka brings shades of "Silence of the Lambs" into the plot at this point: a detective uses Amamiya to help profile serial killers and, after his sentence ends, Amimiya is hired to help track down dangerous criminals. First off: a man who really, really likes flowers.
For me, this is a story of isolation (Amamiya's), coupled with tales of stark brutality. As someone who cannot visualize things well, I was thrilled to have Takima's illustrations. (My husband now thinks I have more issues than before, after watching me grin and giggle like a school girls at Takima's tender illustrations of depravity). The impact of the horrors Otsuka's characters face is burned into your brain, over and over again. They are relieved by moments of gentle humanity, and occasionally levity. Like any good horror story, MPD Psycho creates compelling, three dimensional world. No one is perfect, and the bad guys have elements that you would see in your best friend, or even yourself. By the end of the issue was left feeling stunned, and very inspired. Not to write my own MOD Psycho, but to tap into the same kind of passion Otsuka and Takima have.
Some might think that reading (or reviewing) a manga is cheating. I say if it the story is well done, if it grabbed you and affected your muse, then it's equal to any novel you take off the shelf. The worth of stories is not measures in page numbers. As readers or writers, we owe it to ourselves to find joy, be it covered in blood and guts or rainbows and unicorns, wherever it lives.