MPD Psycho vol. 4 – Eiji Otsuka

5 out of 5

Brutal. And focused. And frightening. MPD Psycho has been poking and prodding at its Amamiya multiple-personalitied mystery, throwing crazy killers his (and Machi’s) way, giving the series a complex, and occasionally wayward structure. This all seems to lead to quite a boiling point in this volume, however, which is wholly given to journalist Toguchi’s mental slide into a public display of violence: he loads up on guns, shoots anyone in his way without provocation, and holes himself up in a public building, asking for “requests” from “fans” via email, which are really just juvenile wish fulfillments he reads aloud during his broadcasted footage. Eiji isn’t subtle with his handling of this, but it’s to the volume’s benefit: politicians have discussions about the effects of comics and video games and whatnot that might’ve led to this, while Toguchi is being celebrated by those seeing his actions as some type of upending to authority… That this then gets subverted in to being another part of the larger Lucy Monostone intrigue makes things even scarier in a way, as it undermines any easy explanations – if Toguchi’s actions are as a result of some ununderstood factor, they are that much more random.

As readers, our feeding in to this violence is further tickled by the overtly sexual imagery that Shou-u uses for the chapter frontispieces; his work on this volume is outstanding in general and adds to the text’s effects: the shootings are cold, not “cool,” and there’s a curtain of senselessness that hangs over the whole thing. Instead of shaking a finger and lesson-ing us on what this all might mean, though, Otsuka seems more interested in exploring it: putting all the base stuff on display, and seeing how his characters react to it. It’s bleak, but fascinating.

Mixed in to this are many important plot beats regarding Kitou, Toguchi’s past, Gakuso, and a surprising code with Machi.