Welcome to the MMF Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service month! So if you’ve never heard of Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, this is the place to come for answers. This will be an overview of the series, characters and its creators. If you would like more information on the MMF, see this link.
So, what is the series about? The series follows the (mis)adventures of six buddhist graduates from a Tokyo college and their attempts at earning a living running a delivery service. The service in question is a somewhat bizarre one: after finding the body of a recently deceased person, they can find out it’s last requests as to where it wants to be delivered. Any cash the body has on it, or any money that can be raised from its worldly possessions can be used by the company to pay for its services. Along the way, the six employees get dragged into all kinds of weird, crazy and sometimes dangerous situations in their attempts to get their clients where they are going to.
A good-natured lad, Karatsu has one of the most laid back attitudes of the groups. Only the truly bizarre can scare him. While all the students are versed in buddhist practices, Karatsu is the one displays them the most. Possibly because of his somewhat mysterious childhood but whatever the reason, he has the ability to commune with the dead, directly when he either touches the dead body in question or if he is near it. Constantly being belittled by Kere Ellis for having no hair.
Numata is the general dogs-body of the group. Perennially sporting shades and a goatee beard, he is constantly trying whatever new fad or service promising easy money or success. This leads him to doing things that give the company more clients or trouble, whichever happens first. Despite his appearance, he is the most generous of spirit, especially with children. His ability is dowsing, but instead of finding water, he finds bodies.
Dressed as a punk or in gothic lotita style, Makino is constantly amazed by the stupidity of Numata and Karastu and can usually be found with Sasaki in the comany’s offices. A fountain of knowledge, she is the voice of reason sometimes, when Sasaki is not around. Despite her appearance, she is one of the most talented of the group. Makino is a registered embalmer, a rarity in Japan given its propensity towards cremation of bodies after death, and is able to use her skills on the bodies they find. She is not scared of bodies but rodents don’t appeal to her.
Yata, on first glance, is the group’s wallflower. Shy, retiring and forever having to apologise for his partner, Kere Ellis’, behaviour, he nevertheless is extremely smart having working knowledge of fractals and Mendelbot sets and has, on occasion, come up with information the group can use. He has a sock puppet on his left hand called Kere Ellis which he, and likewise the puppet, claims is an projection of an alien being. He also has the ability, through Ellis, to contact the spirit world and other alien life.
The unofficial sixth member of the group, Kere Ellis is a foul-mouthed sock puppet that lives on Yata’s left hand. Despite the angry screeds he goes on, he is aware of psychic disturbances in the environment, people’s true motives and has keen observation skills. Of course, if the view is taken that Ellis is nothing more than an extension of Yata’s psychology, then it simply means that part of Yata’s personality is aware of human behaviour separate to Yata. This also would mean that Yata can commune with aliens…
Sasaki is the groups leader and the de facto “responsible adult”. She deals with local authority figures, files paperwork and keeps the group together. She can manipulate other people for information using unknown methods. After Makino, she is the most fashion conscious person in the company, looking comfortable in anything. She has good forgery skills and will use them to get herself or the group into government buildings. She has a phobia about bugs and insects. She also has a particular interest in Karastu but the details of which are unspecified at this time.
Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service has been published since 2002 in Japan by Kadokawa Shoten. Initially published in Kadokawa Mystery, in 2006 it transferred to Shouen Ace before being moved to its current home in Young Ace. It has been published in the US/OEST by Dark Horse Manga since 2006. The series in Japan has published 13 volumes and is ongoing and the thirteenth volume will be published in English by Dark Horse later in the year. A live action US film is supposedly in development.
Writer Eiji Otsuka has written in primarily manga form since 1987 with Madara, MPD Psycho (Multiple Personality Detective Psycho) and of course Kurosagi being the most well known of his works.
The illustrator Housui Yamazaki has worked on Developers – Mobile Suit Gundam Before One Year War and his own title, Mail whose main character has appeared in Kurosagi, and has been working on Kurosagi since its first volume.
Lissa Pattillo from Kuriousity: (speaking on volume 5) “There’s nothing like the twist of the victims being directly involved with a killer’s discovery, and with such a defined cast of characters accompanying them, Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service is something any fan of horror, or someone looking for a unique mature manga title, should definitely check out.”
Sean Gaffney on the Manga Curmudgeon (speaking about volume 1): “For our heroes, dealing with corpses isn’t like searching for mysteries a la Scooby Doo – it’s a job, and they are usually trying desperately to get paid. It just so happens that their various skills go really well with solving problems involving dead bodies. Nestled in among the sarcastic dialogue and long pointed looks at Japanese politics and society is some really creepy imagery…”
Johanna Draper Carlson from Comics Worth Reading: “The series certainly qualifies as horror, but I appreciated the mysteries and the sense of humor that enlivens the more gruesome events. And bless Dark Horse for including page numbers on almost every page, which comes in handy with the copious endnotes. Most of them reference the untranslated sound effects, including an essay on how kanji work, but some are fascinating cultural notes, or even odd little references to editor Carl Gustav Horn’s life or why Pac-Man is named that or mention of the lack of handguns in Japan. They’re the best translation notes in manga.”
Brigid Alverson from Manga Blog: “Despite these flaws, there is a lot to like about Kurosagi. I really enjoyed watching the students try to get to the bottom of each case; the characters are well defined and work nicely together, although the kid with the puppet is a bit much. Yamazaki’s art style is clear and expressive, and Dark Horse does a great job with production: high-quality paper, attractive design, and copious endnotes by editor Carl Gustav Horn.”
ArtisanKirei from Anime-Planet: “So, that’s Kurosagi. Dark, funny, emotionally stirring at times and generally, the most beautifully bleak manga I’ve ever read – Offering a slice of real life that’s not often seen in manga, everyone dies – and everyone makes money… some in more ‘interesting’ ways than others.“