by Casey Brienza,


GN 5

MPD-Psycho GN 5
Metropolitan Police Department Detective Sasayama solves a crime on television in a stroke of good luck and becomes a media celebrity cast in a criminal profiler reality show contest against an American profiler by the name of Michelle Partner. The well-meaning but bumbling Sasayama soon finds himself over his head, even with Amamiya around as a “manager,” when the remote location chosen for the show becomes the site of some new crimes! The Lucy 7 children are back and taking out the crew one by one. Seems they are under the control of a rogue faction of the Gakuso Society—and they have designs on Tetora Nishizono. That is, if Partner doesn't hunt them all down first and Shinji Nishizono doesn't surface in order to make trouble…

Let's face it: dismemberments, decapitations, disembowelments, and even flower bulbs planted in the brains of women in bondage gear get old after awhile. There are only so many ways and occasions that one can show a human being getting murdered before it all becomes, well, deadly (excuse the pun) dull. And after an incredibly strong—if controversial—start, Eiji Otsuka's tense plotting of MPD-Psycho had been slowing down to a episodic series of serial killers who always seem to get offed themselves at the end of their creative killing sprees. Fortunately for readers who have been fast growing impatient with this superficial spectacle of grotesquery, volume five throws out a bit of intriguing new plot on which to ruminate.

The bit of plot in question comes late in book, and it comes to the reader as a bit of a surprise. At first, the reality show contest looks to be yet another excuse for a serial killer of the week subplot. Members of the crew are being killed one at a time, and the suave Michelle Partner (male, by the way) looks to be the perfect, puissant personage to solve these unexpected crimes. But then we find out the reality show killers are actually the Lucy 7, a cohort of six kids with barcodes on their eyeballs that started their killing sprees last volume and that Michelle is actually a very creepy personage who has come from America expressly to hunt down the Lucy 7. Even better, Partner reveals, after ripping off his own face to unmask the ugly blotching on his real countenance, that the Lucy 7 are the products of a rogue faction of barcode psychos that splintered off from the main group of barcode psychos. Whew!

None of this by itself would have been especially noteworthy since all six of the Lucy 7 are dead or out of the picture before the volume ends, and so is Partner. The stuff the kids where saying about how they needed to find their seventh member is, for now at least, a red herring. Meanwhile, Amamiya is, once again, more or less an incidental bit part doing little besides looking pretty sporting his new haircut. No, the exciting twist has to do with the unexpected appearance of Tetora Nishizono, who is able to take on—and even pass on—a psychotic Shinji Nishizono personality that appears identical to that of the ostensible protagonist's. The multiple personalities of the killers that have appeared thus far have, we find out, been programmed. These people are, for lack of a better adjective, manufactured murderers…and it is a huge and long-awaited series revelation. It goes a long way toward explaining, incidentally, why the rogue faction has a Kazuhiko Amamiya of their own. But that Amamiya has a weird scar over his eye. Could “our” Amamiya be just a programmed personality? And if so, who is he really?

As always, Sho-U Tajima's artwork is cool and clean—elevating acts of murder to sublime, aesthetic cruelty. Content aside, it is quite lovely and instantly, stylistically recognizable, and despite the profusion of fluid lines, there is a paradoxically hard-edged quality to the buildings and bodies portrayed. However, it leaves absolutely nothing to the imagination, not even the contents of a victim's abdominal cavity. While that is admittedly a pretty neat trick, any master of the horror genre can tell you that the scariest thing in the world is that which is not shown. Nothing we see on the page can ever frighten us as much as what we see only in our minds' eye. So ironically, after you get accustomed to full-frontal dismemberment (it only takes, oh, three or four times), Tajima's artwork actually makes the series less viscerally (full of puns today, aren't we?) affecting than it would have been with slightly less skillful art.

Anyway, the fifth volume ends with Tetora Nishizono agreeing go with a member of the rogue faction. What they will do—or, for that matter, what he will do—are for now mysteries. But hopefully they will build up sufficient momentum for subsequent installments so that MPD-Psycho fall safely on the side of substance, and not merely spectacle. The manga still has so much potential. It's not quite great yet, but it could be, and watching it fall a little bit short forever would be a truly horrible shame. More horrible than yet another dismembered body could ever be.

Production Info:
Overall : A-
Story : A-
Art : A

+ Powerful draftsmanship and an intriguing bit of plot that seems likely to build momentum for subsequent volumes.
Violence for its own sake does not a great story (or art) make.

Script: Eiji Ohtsuka
Art: Shou Tajima

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MPD-Psycho (manga)

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MPD-Psycho (GN 5)

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