By Julie Opipari
I picked up The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service to spotlight because it is fairly episodic, and you don’t have to read it in order. I have read the first volume, and then several later in the series, and didn’t have any trouble following along with the story of this second volume.
The title is character driven, and writer Eiji Otsuka manages to sneak in cast introductions, so you won’t feel lost if you pick up a random volume and give the series a try.
It is a very unique title, peopled by a bunch of misfits who, try as they might, just don’t blend in with the rest of society. They all have special “gifts” which set them apart and keep more normal people from wanting to hang out with them. I mean, who wants to pal around with a bunch of peeps who can talk to the dead? Or are experts at embalming? Or better yet, talk to sock puppets?
The reason I love The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service so much is because of the weirdos who make up the main cast. There’s Karatsu, who can communicate with the recently deceased; Numata, who finds not gold but dead bodies by dowsing; and Ao Sasaki, who I want to say is the most normal because her gift is finding things out, but personality-wise, she might be one of the biggest oddballs in the group. Then there’s Makino, who is a licensed embalmer, which, okay, isn’t all that strange, but let’s face it—she gets a little too excited at the thought of getting down to work with the latest corpse that they encounter. My favorite characters are Yata, a self-proclaimed channeler, and his dirty sock puppet, Kereellis, who is incredibly foul-mouthed and claims he’s from outer space. As if!
Our dysfunctional little group met at their Buddhist university, and since they probably chased off all of the normal students due, I am sure, to their preoccupation with the dead, they kind of got stuck hanging out together. Most of them are also unemployable, because who wants to hire a guy who can find dead bodies, or even worse, one with a foul-mouthed sock puppet alien permanently attached to his hand? Yata could never work in customer service because Kereellis would be screaming obscenities the whole time. I guess being an alien isn’t some kind of crime, but add in that evil temper and nobody wants to be your friend anymore.
In an effort to earn a few bucks, the gang decided that it’s their duty to help the dead find closure and move on to the afterlife. A commendable goal, but dead men don’t pay very well! When your clientele is comprised of penniless corpses, it’s hard to pay the rent. You can bet that Karatsu eats a ton of instant ramen. The situations the cast find themselves in are creepy and often dangerous, as they try to help the spirits of the dead resolve any lingering regrets keeping them from passing on.
In addition to very crisp and precise line work, the series entertains because of the characters. Their interactions often have me laughing out loud, both at the clever dialog and at the outrage behavior that plays out during the course of each new adventure. Volume 2 actually contains a one-volume story arc, with key moments that had me cringing. The creators don’t shy away from gruesome shocks, and that is one of the things that keeps me so engaged in the series.
In this installment, Sasaki realizes that their latest corpse is the man who murdered her parents when she was a child. As events unfold, we learn more about her tragic background. The thirst for revenge against the perpetrators of violent crimes is also explored, with an unflinchingly brutal outcome.
If you enjoy edgy stories with quirky characters, give The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service a try. I can’t recommend it highly enough, and I bet you haven’t read anything else quite like it. Alien sock puppets? Yeah, right!
When Julie Opipari isn’t mucking around the barn, she can be found trying to make a dent in the massive pile of manga that keeps following her home from the bookstore. Not wiling to admit she has a problem, she blissfully continues to anticipate the latest releases despite the cries of agony from her credit card. She cheerfully blames her addiction on the stresses of college and post traumatic work disorder, and is grateful that her family grumbles only occasionally about the amount of time she spends buried in her books. In addition to reading Your Manga Minute every Wednesday, you can read more of Julie’s work on her blog, Manga Maniac Cafe.