Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Vol. 1

Written by Eiji Otsuka
Art by Housui Yamazaki

I've been a little more curious about manga of late, and was attracted to this series by the title alone quite some time ago.  When I saw it at a significant discount during an on-line Black Friday sale, I figured it was the perfect time to give it a try, expecting something very strange.

Well, there can't be much stranger than The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service.  The series follows the adventures of a small group of Buddhism students who decide to pool their special talents to help relocate corpses they discover to wherever they want to go.  One of the group members, Kuro, is able to speak to the dead, and he serves as the Service's medium, taking orders if you will.  Another member, Numata, has dowsing abilities that lead him to undiscovered corpses.  Also among the group are Yata, who can channel an alien consciousness through a puppet he keeps on his hand, Makino, one of the few American-trained embalmers in Japan, and Ao, who serves as the group's boss.

In this first volume, there are four different stories that all involve the Service finding a corpse, and then going through some sort of adventure to take it where it wants to go.  The story begins in Aokigahara Forest (also the setting for the IDW graphic novel The Suicide Forest which I've been meaning to buy).  Aokigahara is a famous place in Japan for suicides, and when the group, who are there to perform Buddhist community service (praying over the bodies), they stumble upon the knowledge that the man they find wishes to be reunited with his equally dead lover.

All of these adventures involve people dying in strange ways, and they are all pretty Japanese (except for the serial killer-centred third chapter, which could be an episode of Dexter).  The second chapter involves the concept of Dendera Field, the place where Japanese communities used to abandon their old in a form of euthanasia.  Were it not for some of the explanatory notes in the back of this book, I wouldn't have been able to follow that one at all.

I found this book to be pretty enjoyable.  It was a quick read, but it provided me with some further insight into Japanese culture, and it was pretty amusing.  I'm not sure how many volumes there are in this series, but after I finish the next two on my pile, I'll be hunting down more for sure.

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