Summary: Detective Kobayashi Yousuke manifests new personalities after witnessing the violent death of his girlfriend. The "selves" within him battle for dominance, while following horrendous crimes perpetrated by serial killers with a disturbing link... a link to the detective himself.
Makoto's Notes: MPD is a damned fine mystery series. It's also the bloodiest and most deeply distressing thing I've ever read. MPD's blatant and unapologetic violence beats the pants off any TV cop drama, largely because of Tajima-sensei's jarringly realistic style. So be warned, this is nasty nasty stuff. I was given the first issue as a gift, right before I decided to pursue a degree in Forensic science... gosh, what does that say about me?
Can violence be inherited? That question creates the core of this manga series (which also has novels and a live-action TV drama to its credit). Amamiya Kazuhiko is the "main" character, and one of the two most powerful personalities. He's cool and scientific, and extremely knowledgable in criminal profiling techniques. His entreaty from the very first page is "Who am I?", and we follow his search to find the answer.
In Jekyll and Hyde fashion, the perceived protagonist and antagonist are within the same person; Nishizono Shinji is the Id to Amamiya's Ego. Shinji is witty, impulsive, violent, and charming in the way only a serial killer can be. The rest of the cast are vibrant characters themselves (though generally second to the lead character's "personalities") and often serve as much-needed comic devices. If you don't enjoy black humor, there's very little here that will make you smile.
As far as art goes, I have nothing but glowing things to say for Tajima-sensei. His style is not recognizably "manga", but really has a Film Noir feel, with realistic figures and crisp black and white panels. (Thanks to Kadokawa's high production values, these are the oldest books on my shelves with no discernable page yellowing; the pure white pages are vital to getting the right effect.) The grotesque cover images may be startling, but his manga art is approaching technical perfection. Every personality is clearly recognizable as a unique individual, just through subtle manipulations of expression and posture.
Even with furigana, I consider this is a pretty tough manga to read. The cases aren't too complicated (if you have any knowledge of profiling, and most people who watch the Discovery Channel do), but the genetics that comes up later in the series is quite heavy. It's nothing Crichton-level, but it's still too important to skim.
Warnings and Suggestions: I can't stress the violence warning enough. And due to the nature of the story, the violence often involves children. There is also explicit nudity, but while some of the serial killers are extremely twisted, so far there has been very little sexual content. I'm having difficulty setting a proper audience for this, so I'll use the movie "Seven". If you enjoyed that (and didn't gag), give this a run. The intelligent creepiness will stick with you.
ISBN 4-04-713188-1 (Volume 1)
ISBN 4-04-713210-1 (Volume 2)
ISBN 4-04-713260-8 (Volume 3)
ISBN 4-04-713286-1 (Volume 4)
ISBN 4-04-713328-0 (Volume 5)
ISBN 4-04-713374-4 (Volume 6)
ISBN 4-04-713450-3 (Volume 7)