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Yosuke Kobayashi, a detective assigned on a homicide unit, saw his wife killed by a serial killer, Shinji Nishizono. From a shock he suffered MPD (multiple personality disorder) and became Kazuhiko Amamiya. Soon after he managed to hunt down and killed the murderer of his wife, new series of murders have occurred and the suspects claimed to be Shinji Nishizono himself. Is it really him? Or a copycat? And who is Kazuhiko Amamiya? Written by
"I feel as though there was someone else inside of me."
It comes to mind immediately for comparison- Twin Peaks, the great cult TV show, as being what Takashi Miike used as influence for his much more 'cult (or rather, little seen but raved in its small circles of fandom) take on an investigation of bizarre crimes in an even more bizarre half real-half dream environment. In so much that Miike, via Eiji Ootsuka's original Magna book, does create something of an alternate reality, where the multiple personalities transfer, where the blurred vision of the girls in the room with strange incantations, and where it rains green drops, this is an accurate comparison to the notorious black lodge in Lynch's universe.
But even through Miike's own acknowledged influence from Lynch (one can see it pretty clearly in Miike's Gozu), it's only something of a surface comparison at best. MPD Psycho is perhaps even MORE confusing, at least at first, than TP, with the circumstances surrounding the crimes to hold a lot more mystery, and just weird f***ed up adult-oriented Japanese theatrics, and with its protagonist with just as many demons and past troubles as those he's after. Plus, in the world of MPD, there's no telling if the actual victim may be the criminal as well, or what might be connected or not.
As with a good whammy of a Manga (or for that matter the average bear of a Miike flick), MPD Psycho is filled with incredible visual tricks and experiments, with animated bits (the little girl drawn before our eyes), intentionally crude visual effects (the rain drops, the quick visions into another personality as it transfers to another), and even creative censorship; who knew that a filmmaker as outrageous and shocking as this could make it a riot to see private parts and ultra-bloody sections blurred out and make it *work* for the sake of the show?
Like Miike at his best, there are very satisfying doses of dark comedy thrown in, sometimes unintentionally ("not your baby miss, you're just a vessel?"), and sometimes with the dead-aim of Miike at his most playful (the scenes in the big police lecture-hall where the one officer creates little clay figures he's very proud of) and savage, like the numerous moments of unexpected violence- here toned down but still graphic in-so-much as what isn't shown, and how uncomfortable the subject matter becomes in dealing with dead-end abortions and whacked out Catholic girls. As with the most depraved scenes in Ichi the Killer and Visitor Q, sometimes one can't help but chuckle through the mayhem.
Reccomending a series like MPD Psycho, perhaps, is a little trickier than in simply going on about what makes it a work where clarity in knowing what is going on- and it's not really incoherent when piecing it bit by bit, which the screenwriters and Miike end up doing very cleverly as each episode goes along (with, by the way, an excellent turn from the ultra-cool but doomed Amamiya/Kobayashi/who knows)- but rather if it would appeal to the average CSI type of TV viewer, or just to Miike's fan-base. In truth, I'd say for the former it's worth a shot, if only to see how Japan goes about turning the conventions of an mystery programmer on its head with levels of rough horror and chills and in-your-face satire. Though that being said, it's certainly not for anyone, not least of which for those who expect their detective stories to make sense every step of the way. This one, at least at the start, seems like a mystery coiled up in another mystery about how the bar-codes work, how they figure into the detective(s) and what Lucy has to do with it all, and Amamiya/Kobayashi's partner, and so on, which can be a little frustrating.
However, if you love how much of a wild-man Miike can get with already subversive material, MPD- Psycho is for ardent fans and casual admirers a trippy concoction where science fiction, film-noir, and the aforementioned Magna combine somewhat into a sweet mini-series event. As groundbreaking as TP? Not quite, but it's a lot of fun watching Miike create silly myth and disturbing subversion all the same.
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