Story by: Eiji Otsuka
Art by: Sho-U Tajima
Translation by: Kumar Sivasubramanian
10.95 | 184 pp | ISBN 1-59307-897-8 | 5" x 7" | Right to Left | 03/2008 | 18+
Content: A- Art: B Packaging: A- Text/SFX: A-
Is Volume 4 of MPD-Psycho the turning point where the story finally starts to (gasp!) make a tiny bit of sense? That was about the last thing I'd expected to think after diving into the book's opening, which is fairly shocking even by MPD-Psycho standards: Toguchi, recently dumped by his mistress and fired from his job over his failing vision, has decided to go out in a blaze of media attention by going on a killing spree and laying seige to the Tocho government complex. While Toguchi holds the government employees hostage inside Tocho, his fervent followers outside begin distributing pamphlets showing Zenitsu apparently regenerating his right arm -- or, as Toguchi puts it, "the truth hidden by the mass media". Whatever this secret actually means, its revelation infuriates Zenitsu enough to seek retaliation by executing Zenitsu's parents.
Zenitsu's actions drive Toguchi half-mad, forcing Toguchi to set his end-game into motion. Amamiya finally re-enters into the story at this point, when Toguchi makes Amamiya's presence his only condition for releasing the hostages. Before he surrenders to the authorities, Toguchi meets with Amamiya on Tocho's roof to reveal the whole story behind the bizarre killings of the past three volumes. Of course, Otsuka's not about to give away the keys to the kingdom here, so Zenitsu cuts Toguchi cut short before he can give too much away. Even still, Toguchi lets slip one sentence that finally ties together several of the major, seemingly-unconnected plot threads that have popped up so far in the story.
As it turns out, this single sentence couldn't have come at a better time for me as a reader. As convoluted and random as the plot was getting, I was getting the feeling by the end of the last volume that Otsuka was just making it all up as he went along, and that the whole thing was just turning into an exercise in shock value and ridiculousness. Though the connection that Otsuka draws between these myriad plot threads near the tail-end of this volume is still pretty flimsy at this point, it makes just enough sense that I'm willing to believe that Otsuka's really got a Grand Master Plan up his sleeve ... at least for now. (Of course, this doesn't exclude the possibility that Otsuka's just gotten so good at making things up on his feet that I'm willing to buy into his scheme. And if that's the case, he at least deserves some kind of credit for pulling it off.)
That's not to say that Otsuka's already gone soft. As the oversized "Parental Advisory" sticker plastered on the front cover suggests, he's turned the graphic content up another notch in this volume; readers who were borderline about MPD-Psycho's content in prior releases might finally find Volume 4 to be too much for them. At the same time, the story developments we see in these chapters make me more willing to recommend MPD-Psycho to readers who can stomach Otsuka's often-brutal imagery: as unlikely as he is to wrap the whole thing up in a tidy package anytime soon, I'm at least a little more convinced now that he knows where he's ultimately going with it.