Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Message from MPD-PSYCHO's Editor

Sorry for the lack of posts this past week or so! The two main reasons for things being quiet on my end were:
1) I was on relaxing, getaway vacation from July 4th until the end of the weekend and
2) It's impossible to top that Shintaro Kago scanlation. Right?

(Oh, and on the Shintaro Kago scanlation tip, we've actually just heard from the guy that did the Abstraction scanlation, and will be talking to him about hosting and posting his other Kago comics here. He's done some impressive stuff.)

Here's to posting more frequently again, starting today! First off, here's an interesting read from Philip Simon, the editor of MPD Psycho. This was posted in late May on the Manga Zone section of the Dark Horse site. I found it an interesting read on their approach to this infamous, fan-favorite title.

Also, a quick note-- Philip talks about MPD translator Kumar Sivasubramanian, who I have a fanboy manga crush on. In addition to his work on MPD, Kumar produced one of the best recent translations for another DH title, Octopus Girl. Seriously, this dude has talent.

By Philip Simon - Updated 5/22/2007

When I first looked through the eleven existing Japanese volumes of MPD-PSYCHO, I was struck by Sho-u Tajima's arresting art style and, sure, those scenes of death and mutilation that everyone's talking about and anticipating. However, when Kumar Sivasubramanian's English-language translations started coming in (e-mailed from Australia to my Dark Horse computer in Oregon), I found that I was struck more by the humor that writer Eiji Otsuka has peppered throughout this story than the violence. I was surprised that a book with such a gruesome, sensational reputation could be so funny--dark humor, slapstick humor, and a little nervous laughter on my part--so be watchful for Sasayama's exaggerated personality, a guerrilla journalist's curiously hip eye patches, chocolate mousse cake, and the jaded banter between cops, private detectives, and their somewhat sane companions and tagalongs.

If you're not familiar with this series, MPD-PSYCHO is a gory and complex tale. The first few volumes probe into the troubled life (and past) of an ex-cop who suffers from dissociative identity disorder. After an encounter with a serial killer hits too close to home, this good cop--Yosuke Kobayashi--winds up doing prison time for act of violence supposedly committed by another personality inside him. When Kobayashi can't deal with certain pressures or situations, he shifts to an alternative self. Upon his release, he's invited to join the Isono Criminal Research Lab to assist in solving grisly murder cases. (The Isono team is somewhat similar to the colorful investigative team in the Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service manga, also written by Eiji Otsuka and also published by Dark Horse Manga.) Kobayashi becomes, literally, a multiple personality detective, now going by the name Kazuhiko Amamiya. We'll be providing character charts as the series rolls on, and there will be plenty of names for you to keep track of as the body count climbs.

The intelligent, problem-solving Kazuhiko Amamiya . . . driven ex-cop Yosuke Kobayashi . . . the ruthless (murderer?) Shinji Nishizono . . . and the tentative, stuttering (murderer?) Kiyoshi Murata are all in the same body, and Amamiya, for the most part, is in charge. He's the voice we first hear and the personality we first meet when MPD-PSYCHO begins. Amamiya's on a quest to figure out which personality is his true core personality, his real voice. Looking at it this way, MPD-PSYCHO can be seen as a very personal chronicle of one man's fall and his attempt to sort his life out and find emotional balance. It's also a fun, grisly thrill ride, with Amamiya acting as our "tour guide" from twisted case to twisted case and with the team of Otsuka and Tajima pushing the boundaries of fear with their creative, fictional murders.

Actually, each new crime that the Isono team investigates seems to be linked to a wide-reaching "Barcode Puzzle," the influential pop star Lucy Monostone, or the shadowy Gakuso Organization. So enjoy each read for the strange deaths, mysteries, and shock value fun, but keep looking at how a larger mystery evolves. As each book tops the last in brutality, each book also adds more layers to an overall puzzle and more links to other MPD-PSYCHO volumes. Oh, and be ready to be surprised--not only by a manga that lives up to its sensational reputation, but by some comic moments that Otsuka and Tajima have snuck in just to make sure you're breathing.

I'd like to mention, too, that Dark Horse Manga is releasing every MPD-PSYCHO volume completely uncensored--a promise we were able to make to Kadokawa Shoten Publishing when we were in the process of acquiring English-language rights. As the project's editor, I am quite proud to be a part of the team that's finally bringing this work of art to English-language readers. I'm also proud to be a part of a publishing company that values creativity, freedom of speech, and creator rights as much as Dark Horse does. As a teenager, I discovered the works of William S. Burroughs and Henry Miller at my local library (both banned authors at some point), and they changed the way I thought about writing and literature. I feel that it's necessary to trumpet and support works of art that push boundaries, instigate discussions, and explore concepts and situations that should never happen in the real world--but are so damn enticing (and perhaps necessary) because they exercise and exorcize our minds. MPD-PSYCHO is such a book, and I can't wait to read your reactions to it. Please visit our manga message boards and share your thoughts.

Okay, so that was a lot of text (and I didn't even write it). To make this post a little more worthwhile, here are the original Japanese covers for MPD Psycho 1-11: