MPD – Psycho (Multiple Personality Detective) (2000): Japan – directed by Takeshi Miike
Not rated by the MPAA – contains plenty of bizarre content, gore, sexual content, etc.
Note: some of the content is rather disturbing, as the review will reveal. Proceed with caution, as some of the pictures might be too gruesome for some readers. Seriously, some of the photos are rather strange and gross
Takeshi Miike’s miniseries MPD – Psycho (Multiple Personality Detective), based on the manga, has a little less blood, gore, violence, and perverted sex than the majority of his films. This could be because it aired on television as a miniseries, but even though the content has been toned down his sensational sense of absurdity and complexity remains. It makes no sense. It contains a wonderful, perfect, lack of sense. It’s like the “The X Files” met “Twin Peaks,” had a ménage à trois with Eraserhead [review here] and gave birth to Riget (The Kingdom), a Danish miniseries by Lars Von Trier (who brought the world Antichrist [review here]).
MPD looks to be filmed on digital and doesn’t look all that great most of the time. But it was cheaper and easier to incorporate digital special effects such as fake rain that doesn’t get anyone wet. It’s rather amusing, actually, watching “drops” fall while nothing happens though the pitter-patter continues.
In spite of some low-budget effects, MPD is actually a fairly serious detective/cop story, with enough moments of random physical comedy to elicit a few laughs per episode. It is broken into six parts, each one a little less than an hour long. The “plot” involves the police department of Multiple Personalities, as far as I could tell. There’s a detective who used to be one person, but is now another. Apparently there is a programmed personality which transfers itself to different people and the detectives think it’s responsible for a series of serial murders. The first set of murders, in one of the first episodes, involves ripping babies out of pregnant women’s bodies, then having the women kill themselves. No, wait, the first murders also involve dead girls planted in the ground with flowers growing out of their brains, and whose skulls have been cut open so as to allow the flowers and brains room to grow and show. I think. Oh, and telephones were found planted in the women’s bodies where the babies used to be.
But all that happened five years ago and now the Multiple Personality team is hard at work on another case. The team consists of Sasayama (Ren Ôsugi from Miike’s Audition and Dead or Alive: Hanzaisha), Amamiya (Naoki Hosaka), and Manabe (Sadaharu Shiota). Amamiya is also Yosuke, because he is the multiple personality detective. But he’s also Shinji Nishizono sometimes, but we only find that out toward the end because Shinji is the bad guy for the whole series. More stuff happens, and there is a female investigator named Machi (Tomoko Nakajima) who knows things and uses a Mac.
Nishizono transfers himself (because he’s really just a programmed personality) into a great number of people and lets them fulfill their darkest desires. In one of the most audacious moments of the series the front two rows of a class of Japanese school girls stand up and shoot everyone else many times before killing themselves. Amamiya (also Yosuke) is the common thread in the series. He’s crazy about Chizuko (Rieko Miura), who used to be his wife (I think) before her baby was ripped out and she was left for dead and then disappeared and then reappeared. No, wait, she was Yosuke’s wife, but when Amamiya’s personality came back into the person of Yosuke he forgot about the pain her death/disappearance caused and focused more on the case. Or something like that.
But I haven’t mentioned one of the most important parts. There is a secret organization that joins with Lucy Monostone (whose theme song is haunting and quite interesting), a famous rock star/terrorist, to develop children with bar codes in their left eyes. The series spends a lot of time with close-ups on the eyes. Kids with barcodes can have Shinji’s personality transferred into them, either through physical contact or cell phones or sometimes the internet (I think). There’s also a snuff video dealer named Toguchi (Yoshinari Anan) who goes around taping crime scenes and whatever other dead bodies he can find. He is somehow tied to the secret organization. Sasayama has befriended him and uses him to help crack cases, sometimes. However, Sasayama has a couple different families, one (his mistress) has a son, and the other wife is a porn star (I think). There is also an odd bully character who has an eyeball attached to the end of his eight inch tongue.
As you may have guessed, MPD makes about as much sense as this review. It is typical Miike bizarreness wrapped in a different package. Instead of the insanity of Fudoh: The New Generation or the absurd world of Visitor Q, MPD presents a five and a half hour cop/science fiction drama with some surprisingly strange elements. It is not aimed at any sort of mainstream audience. You already know if you are a fan of Miike, and if you are MPD will not disappoint. Be forewarned, however, that the the craziness is spread out over a longer period of time than many of his films. As you might be able to tell from whatever I wrote above, MPD is certainly crazy and confusing.
P.S. Star ratings of any kind are really quite worthless in this situation, but what the heck.