Monday, March 19, 2018

The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Omnibus #1 by Eiji Otsuka and Housui Yamazaki

The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service is comprised of five people with special skills. Kuro talks to spirits when he touches corpses. Numata uses a pendulum to dowse for the location of corpses. Makino is one of the few people in Japan that embalms the dead. Yata has a hand puppet that insists he's an alien completely independent of him. Lastly, Ao has a mercenary nature. She makes sure they are paid and figures out unique ways to make money with their talents. Together, they fulfill the wishes of the dead and make a meager living off of it.

The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service is an odd manga series and their adventures helping the dead and the living. The most unique thing about this is how it's a horror series that has reverence and respect for the dead. Many of the gut punch moments are emotional in nature, not because of gore or extreme situations. Corpses walk occasionally and it seems to be only if a spirit has an overwhelming need to accomplish something. The author wanted to make the walking dead scary again and does so while maintaining the emotional aspects of the situations. I also very much enjoyed how Buddhism is their main training and faith rather than any Christian religion.

Each story brings something unique that I haven't seen before. The first story is the most extreme with a pedophile, necrophile father and two suicide pact teens. The other stories are less offputting. One of the most emotional ones is when the group finds an elderly woman dead in an abandoned alter. It turns out she put herself there, sacrificing herself so she wouldn't drain the resources her family has. It was tragic and uplifting at the same time, especially with the ending. Other stories I enjoyed involved an elaborate assisted suicide insurance scam (that almost claims the lives of some of the Delivery Service), a melody that influences people into killing themselves with a mundane source, and a funeral home that offers to resurrect murderers for families to kill in revenge. Each story has an element of mystery and an attempt to fulfill the dead's wishes.

Some characters are developed well like Kuro, the main character of the piece, Ao, and Yata. At first, I thought the hand puppet thing was super obnoxious and just there to be weird, but over time, the hand puppets personality is shown to the be completely different from Yata's and actually helpful sometimes. I know the series isn't over yet, but Numata and Makino are useful without much development at all. My only other criticism is the constant inclusion of women either nude or half dressed for no reason at all. When it's just a part of the story, I don't mind. However, when it's completely unnecessary like Ao answering the phone topless or questionable wardrobe choices for only female characters or posters on walls or magazines in the background, it gets annoying and frustrating that this manga is clearly aimed at men by the artist. At least add some sort of detail that makes sense if the artist really wants it there.

The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service is a lot of fun despite its flaws. There is a section at the back of each one that translates the sound effects and defines some terms or situations that are culturally unfamiliar to American audiences. The sound effect part is a bit unnecessary and I can find it out by context, but the other definitions and explanations are enlightening. There are 4 omnibuses out right now, each of them containing 3 full length manga. It's a bit unwieldy to read with a 600+ page book, but the unique stories are worth it. I look forward to more character development for all and more Delivery Service adventures.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

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