By Eiji Otsuka and Housui Yamazaki. Released in Japan as “Kurosagi Shitai Takuhaibin” by Kadokawa Shoten, serialization ongoing in the magazine Young Ace. Released in North America by Dark Horse.
I am pleased to report that this volume of Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service has exactly what its readers look for each time around. There’s lots of grotesque set pieces which allow the artist to display a flair for horrible imagery. There’s wry and witty commentary between smart people. There’s genuine mystery, with our heroes being clever, and a nice use of synaesthesia as a plot point. And there’s copious endnotes from editor Carl Horn, explaining things like Karatsu’s Space Battleship Yamato reference and who Terry and Dory Funk are.
That said, there is one other development that not only surprised me but irritated me a bit. Not because of what the revelation was – yes, it sinks one of my ships, but given that this isn’t a harem manga I can deal – but because of its offhand nature. I am reminded of an earlier volume, when we saw a storyline end with Karatsu set on fire and an intense cliffhanger. Come the next chapter… and we’ve moved on, with nothing ever getting resolved. Here we see Sasaki and Karatsu get back from the Okinawa trip mentioned in the last volume, and for the most part it’s the same thing, except for that revelation. Which is laid out more to explain the deus ex machina of the story rather than for any dramatic tension. I do hope we eventually come back to it.
With all that said, it is an intriguing revelation, and also leads to some misdirection and amusement when we see Sasaki being sick and think it may be due to other reasons. Sadly, nothing quite so pleasant – it’s just the joys of being a woman. (KCDS is as blunt and matter-of-fact when dealing with periods as it is when dealing with corpses.) Sasaki also gets more to do than usual here, as she’s the focus of the 2nd case in the book, involving a jury trail where a man has already admitted his guilt. The jury system is still fairly new in Japan, and Carl’s notes help to lay out how it’s different from the U.S. The use of auras and synaesthesia manage to give it both a fantasy and realistic feeling, and the murder victims are both quite sympathetic.
Lastly, there were clearly not enough shots of nude women in peril in the series recently, so the final story more than makes up for that, combining a look at land redevelopment and harvest rituals with a good old fashioned psycho who likes to chop up young women. Luckily, the ‘karmic justice’ aspect of this series also makes a reappearance to give the reader someone to root for. Overall, this is a good but not great volume of our favorite cynical horror manga, offering some solid imagery and a few interesting revelations, even if the authors may not have figured out what to do with these revelations as yet. The series is still ongoing in Japan, so we may have a ways to go. Especially as I’m not sure when Vol. 14 is scheduled here. Fight on, Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service!