Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Vol. 5

Written by Eiji Otsuka
Art by Housui Yamazaki

I can't express enough how much I enjoy The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service.  This manga series is pretty bizarre in its subject matter and characters, but I find it an effortless read (thanks in no small part to the helpful and informative notes by the editor, Carl Gustav Horn).

The KCDS is a group of underemployed Buddhist Studies graduates who have either an interest in, or abilities pertaining to, the dead.  They seek out corpses, and then communicate with them to help them achieve their final wish.  They hope that there will be some sort of profit in this, although there usually isn't.

This volume has four stand-alone stories.  The first has to do with a small village that was left abandoned after a killer murdered all of its inhabitants.  The second story has to do with a professor of Egyptology who has been manufacturing mummies as a way of paying off his debts.  The third has the crew working as professional mourners at funerals, and stumbling upon a mystery.  The final story addresses the shadier sides of the cryogenics industry in Japan.

All of these stories work as examples of Otsuka's ability to blend creepy horror with a sharp sense of humour and a lighthearted approach to writing.  It's a difficult balance to maintain, but he does it well.  He also does a great job of showing the growth of the characters, and deepens the mystery of just where Karatsu's abilities come from, and who the figure we see appearing around him at times really is.

This series is highly recommended.

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