A yakuza enforcer is ordered to secretly drive his beloved colleague to be assassinated. But when the colleague unceremoniously disappears en route, the trip that follows is a twisted, surreal and horrifying experience.
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
Another example of Miike's talent as a storyteller
Takashi Miike was given the daunting task of translating the MPD Psycho manga onto film, and no other Japanese director could have done it as successfully as he has.
Let me clarify my above statement: the MPD Psycho series is nowhere as good as Audition or Ichi The Killer, but given the material and the constrictions of Japanese television, Miike used his experience to craft a tense, psychological story that hits a nerve with me every time I watch it.
Miike has a knack for exploiting weaknesses in the scripts he's given, and MPD Psycho is no exception. The manga is dense with plots, subplots and characters, and I get the feeling that Miike recognized the fact that translation would be difficult, so he chose a schizophrenic approach to making the series. This approach works for any viewer (like me) that has enough patience to watch the entire series from beginning to end. Watching one episode will get you confused, but watching them all in chronological order is a satisfying experience that eventually unfolds a colorful and chaotic story.
Technically, the series - on first look - suffers from a low budget, but once again Miike exploits this as he has on several of his other films. Colors are saturated and sharply contrast with each other, light and shadow are over-accentuated, and it all give the feel of seeing the world through the eyes a synesthesia-suffering psychopath. The special effects are overdone (neon rain, urine-colored skies), but it all adds to the effect. It's like watching a serial killer music video from the early 1980s.
The plot is probably the hardest thing for people to get around. I had to watch the entire thing from beginning to end several times before I finally understood what the hell was going on; there are so many subplots and twists that the viewer becomes overwhelmed after the first ten minutes. In addition, Miike's use of flashbacks and juxtaposition, while adding to the schizophrenic feeling that underlines the series, makes it hard to follow the storyline without feeling slightly unbalanced at the end of each episode.
There are so many characters introduced by the end of the second episode that you start to lose track of who's who and why they're doing what they're doing. That's why it's a MUST to watch it all chronologically. Some of the characters don't have their motivation or importance in the story explained until way after their introduction. At points, some characters disappear entirely until they make another reappearance further down the line. It's all rather overwhelming but very rewarding- each character is entertaining and has some sort of story to tell. My favorite is police chief Sasayama (wonderfully played by Ren Osugi), who goes through so much crap to expose the truth that by the end of the series you've got to feel sorry for him.
All in all, MPD Psycho is certainly not one of Takashi Miike's best works, but it showcases his talent and showmanship more than any of his other projects. Watch it through its entirety and you won't be disappointed, especially if you're a Miike fan.
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