Reviewby Casey Brienza, Oct 14th 2008
Nearly a year has past since Kazuhiko Amamiya disappeared, and Onihigata is ready to pull the plug on the Isono Criminal Research Lab. Even so, Machi remains confident that Amamiya will return. But her confidence is shaken when the stalker from her past resurfaces to blow up more people who have caused her the slightest inconvenience. Something isn't quite right, though. Could the person who is truly behind the killings be…Miwa?! Machi and Sasayama penetrate the secret stronghold of the Gakuso Society and learn about their secret genetic engineering projects. Apparently the key to the ultimate killer is the union of the Shinji Nishizono personality with his female counterpart. That counterpart is Miwa. As for Miwa, she's on a hijacked plane…and guess who's on the plane with her!
To the undoubted delight of faithful readers of MPD-Psycho who have become impatient with the series' superficial spectacle of dismemberments, decapitations, and disembowelments, the plot of volume six, as they say, thickens. A lot. There is also a major revelation to be found here, which, if not strictly a surprise to veteran suspense readers who were surely wondering if Miwa was ever to have a purpose beyond jailbait otaku eye-candy, definitely adds to the thrills and chills. Author Eiji Otsuka has outdone himself.
The richness of the plot in this volume is quite a surprise, actually; manga that begin on page one with a full-color shot at crotch-eye level of a nude teenage girl aren't typically characterized by their ahem cerebral pleasures. But the ante gets upped almost immediately when we find out that the crotch in question is Miwa's, and that she has been “awakened”—to a tremendous amount of gloomy, misanthropic alienation. Like Toguchi before her, it's clear that she is a time bomb that has just begun ticking. Well, to be more specific, she was at the doctor's to get something problem with her right eye checked out. Ri~ght.
The true potential Miwa has to rock MPD-Psycho's world, though, is not obvious from the get-go. We are momentarily distracted by government testing of Tetora Nishizono's ability to swap personalities with other people and by the serial killer a la mode, who turns out to be the bomber-stalker from Machi's past. As usual, we see him take out a bunch of innocent bystanders before getting taken out himself. Then, about halfway through the volume, things start to come to head in a big way. Machi and Sasayama are entrusted with Tetora, but the Gakuso Society quickly catches up with them, revealing to Machi by implication that her father was involved in upper echelons the organization. On the Gakuso's ocean liner, they learn that the XY Shinji Nishizono personality is not complete until it combines with the XX personality held by Miwa. The completed personality will then become Lucy Monostone, the perfect killer.
Cut to Miwa, on a plane with the rest of her class, on their way back from a school trip to the Philippines. She tries to initiate a complementation, but the person that serial killer Umemiya thinks is Tetora is actually a random drugged boy. However, Gakuso is not concerned. A hijacker has taken over the plane, but there is a person looming behind him—a person we have not seen since the end of volume five… (One guess as to whom that would be.)
As always, Sho-U Tajima's artwork is cool and clean—elevating acts of murder to sublime, aesthetic cruelty. Content aside, it is elegant, sensual, and instantly, stylistically recognizable. But in spite of the confident, fluid lines, there is a paradoxically hard-edged quality to the buildings and bodies portrayed. It was a pleasure to note that, with the exception of the nude shocker in the beginning, volume six thankfully dials down the extremes of violence a few notches. While an up close and personal exploration of the contents of a woman's skull or a man's abdomen 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, and in this volume, the worst of all possible outcomes is left just over the horizon. Bravo.
All in all, this was an excellent, plot-driven installment to MPD-Psycho that takes the momentum of volume five and then puts the petal to the metal. While remaining true to its theme and overarching narrative style, it manages shed some serious light on a slew of the series' most pressing mysteries to date while leaving us on balanced on the edges of our seats, simultaneously dying for more and terrified of what is to come.
Overall : A-
Story : A-
Art : A
+ Some big plot reveals that will leave diehard fans craving more.
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