Friday, August 31, 2012

The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Vol. 7

Written by Eiji Otsuka
Art by Housui Yamazaki

I never get bored of the Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, the manga series that follows the adventures of a group of young university graduates who use their various skills (corpse dowsing, channeling, mortuary make-up) to locate corpses and take them to where they wish to be.  It sounds like the type of concept that would get old, but seven volumes in, I find that the series still feels fresh and exciting.

This volume tells three stories across its six chapters, which all deal with themes of obsession.  The first story involves the Japanese love of robots, as a group of university students try to build a mechanized suit, and then a robot, to help with heavy lifting.  The Kurosagi crew, broke again, agree to test the equipment when they take on a job delivering heavy tombstones.  It's not long before corpses are involved.  Japanese otaku culture is major component of this story, and that leads to endnotes by editor Carl Gustav Horn that would make David Foster Wallace jealous.  I learned a lot from this story.

The second tale involves the Japanese fixation on Audrey Hepburn (although the famous actress here is given a different name), and their predilection for cosmetic surgery.  A clinic is offering revolutionary surgery that gives its customers pointy ears like their idol.  The problem is that these ears often sport a jinmenso, or ghostly face of their own.  As the Kurosagi group get involved in this case, they discover that their sinister counterparts, the Shirosagi, are also involved, and have a plot to capture Karatsu.

The final story involves the ambitions of a long-time assistant to a famous Japanese director, who decides that he needs to take some drastic steps to move out of his boss's shadow.

All of these stories deftly blend humour with horror, and all feature strong characterization.  I find that I am always surprised by just how much I enjoy this book.

No comments: