Sunday, August 5, 2012

Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Vol. 6

Written by Eiji Otsuka
Art by Housui Yamazaki

I think this is the strangest volume of The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service that I've read so far.  A usual volume has four to six chapters, which are usually self-contained stories, but occasionally a story will take up two or three chapters.  This volume has six chapters, and tells a total of three stories, one of which doesn't feature any of the regular characters in this comic.

The first story has the group, which carries out the last wishes of the recently deceased, and takes their corpses where they want to go, return to their roots, in Japan's famous Aokigahara Forest, where many people go to commit suicide.  The problem is, there aren't many corpses to be found, as the local postal office has begun branching out into the Kurosagi's territory, by offering their own corpse delivery service.

In the next story, a woman's body is discovered in an apartment.  When the Kurosagi group show up to offer their services, they discover that a new rival, the Shirosagi Corpse Cleaning Service has beaten them to the scene.  There's something odd about these Shirosagi people though, as we learn when another body is found in the attic to the apartment (found only after Numata, the KCDS's dowser, moves into the apartment for its cheap rent).  This leads to a long story which is not fully resolved in this volume, a first for this series.

After that, there are two chapters of a gaiden story.  This is translated as a 'side story', something peculiar to Japanese comics.  This one is set in the past, around the beginning of the 20th century, and involves a killer murdering women in Tokyo.  It is especially notable for two reasons - it brings the Jack the Ripper myth to Japan, and it features a young boy with some strange abilities who has facial scars matching those of the ghost that is always protecting Karatsu.  It's a good story, but it only makes me more curious to find out what the connection between this child and Karatsu is.

This book is always a good read, and that has not changed with this volume.  I love the way that Otsuka blends humour into his horror, and continue to appreciate the editor's notes in the back, which cover most of the cultural references that don't otherwise translate into English.

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