Thursday, April 12, 2012

Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Vol. 3

Written by Eiji Otsuka
Art by Housui Yamazaki

As impressed as I've been with Naoki Urasawa's Pluto, I think that Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service is my favourite manga.  It doesn't really have any literary pretensions, but the sheer weirdness and inventiveness of this comic, coupled with its strong sense of character, has me coming back again and again.

The entire concept of the KCDS is that the five employees of the Service (six if you count the space alien that is channeled through a hand puppet) track down unclaimed and lost dead bodies, and work to fulfill the spirit trapped in the body's last wishes.  They do expect that at some point this business will begin to make money, but that hasn't happened yet.

In this volume, which has four chapters, there are three separate stories.  The first, and longest, involves transplant failure, and the wishes of necrotic donor organs.  Soon, the group discovers that many recent deaths are caused by acute rejection of organs that all came from the same donor, who was in turn an illegal immigrant from Iraq.  This story is set against the rather tepid anti-war protests that Japan was barely able to muster during the beginning of America's war in that country.  It contains some interesting insights into Japanese culture, and is also an interesting story.

The second story involves bodies that are being discovered in homes that have Onis, or demons, painted outside of them.  This leads to a rather complicated tale involving the Japanese salesman's version of hobo graffiti.  It's a strange story that doesn't hold up to its own internal logic, but it gets points for originality.

The final story is about a rash of train track suicides that seem to have a strange genesis.  The suicides don't plan to kill themselves, but are being influenced by an outside source that again shows that Otsuka is approaching his stories from a direction that is not often used.

This volume introduces a new recurring character to the series - Sasayama, a social worker that is apparently an ex-cop, although the main characters all believe he is yakuza.  This is a series that is always interesting, and works very well.

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