Author: Eiji Otsuka
Manga-ka: Housui Yamazaki
Publisher: Dark Horse
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: January 2009
Synopsis: “Shigo kekkon – marrying the dead! It’s a quaint old country custom in Japan that’s becoming the next big fad in Tokyo… and that makes it the business of the Corpse Delivery Service! And meanwhile, back on campus, since they’re technically a college club, the kids from Kurosagi host a membership drive during the school festival! But you’ve got to like corpses, you know.”
What I continue to find most enthralling about Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service is its subtleties, the kind of moments that can often be overlooked, but when noticed, add their own kind of impact to a scene. Whether its a certain kind of smile on Karatsu’s face or the independent Sasaki’s neck wrapping after an incident, instead of being hit over the head with these characters, we instead learn more about them gradually over time. Through all their actions, both big and small, readers come to know these characters are people and it makes it all the more engrossing to read.
Also true to the talented portrayal of these characters as fleshed out human beings, its fun seeing them go through familiar paces of everyday life. In this volume, the Kurosagi group continue to struggle financially and their odd jobs delivering items for clients keep them afloat between delivering corpses (which time and time again has proven more morally fulfilling than pocket-book sustaining). The opening chapter of the book takes the group back to its roots when they try recruiting some new members at their college and its an entertaining reminder that that which has become second-nature to their tight-nit crew, remains more than a little disturbing to the general public.
I also loved some of the book’s more personal moments as when Karatsu finds himself charmed by a young woman with passions similar to his own. Certain other characters’ tempers bubble beneath the surface, while others react in jest, giving us readers another angle of the characters we’ve come to follow for these eight volumes. The young woman to whom I referred is a nurse by the name of Yui Kikuchi, who plays a pinnacle role in one of the book’s stories. Personally I enjoyed her involvement, and the resulting subtle impacts on the group, so I hope to see more of her in future volumes.
And continuing with consistent trends, this eighth volume offers plenty more ghoulish stories and dark twists that keep its firm hold in the horror genre. From deceased infants, to a return to the ‘suicide forest’, there’s lots here to give readers the chills, and if anything a fair share to think about. Some of my favorite parts of reading these books is how much I learn about old Asian tradition and culture, much of which may come as a shock but is no less interesting or thought-provoking to read about.
We also can’t forget about Karatsu’s guardian spirit, who despite some foreshadowing and potentially pinnacle revelations, still remains a large enigma that is slowly becoming more and more relevant to the underlying plot that’s been threading itself through the episodic chapters. While this particular volume is fairly light on these aspects, the spirit still makes his well-timed entrances and I find myself just as excited and anxious every time he does.
Strong character development and a perfect dash of creepy-factor keeps Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service up at the top of my to-read list and I look forward to each and every volume without disappointment. Dark Horse’s high quality release work, from the snazzy package design to the incredibly detailed translation notes (think DVD-director commentary) and some wonderfully written dialogue (if the gothic loli dismissal doesn’t crack you up…), all brings this engrossing series together as an English-translated manga that shouldn’t be missed.