Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service MMF: Day 1

OK, for each day I’ll do a morning and evening roundup. If there are links waiting in my inbox in the mornings, I’ll post them straight away. Anything else will be posted up in the late evening! Good luck and keep those links coming!


Johanna Draper Carlson at Manga Worth Reading:

Terry Hong at Book Dragon:

Individual Volumes:

Russell Phillips from the Chuo – Dori Blog

Johanna Draper Carlson at Manga Worth Reading:

Terry Hong at Book Dragon:


Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Overview

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.

The Characters:

Kuro Karatsu

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.


Makoto Numata

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.


Keiko Makino

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.


Yuji Yata

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.



Kere Ellis

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…


Ao Sasaki

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.



The Book:

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.

The Authors:

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.

The Opinions: 

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.

Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service v01 057

Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Overview 1-4

If you’ve just started reading this month’s MMF then I would suggest reading my brief overview of the series beforehand as I explain the setup of the books.

I really enjoyed the pace set up by the first volumes of the series. While none of the first volumes are connected to each other, having an almost anthology feel to them except that the cast is the same, the second volume deals exclusively with Sasaki’s childhood and the events that shaped her adolescence. I like this but I don’t think it needed to be a recursive thing in one volume. Other characters have some of their stories fleshed out over a much longer and better paced speed. Of the characters, Sasaki in these volumes is my favourite. She sports a mix of world-weariness and friendly ruthlessness. Now that might sound weird but Sasaki sometimes can’t believe how stupid Karatsu and Numata are sometimes and doesn’t wait to tell them. But she doesn’t put them down for being idiots, rather that she’s come to expect and accept it from them. In terms of ruthlessness, she can cajole, threaten or leverage anyone of anything to help the group. She however doesn’t ever indicate whether she would carry out said blackmail. Karatsu really is the glue that holds the squad together, figuratively and literally. Sasaki forms the company around Karatsu’s channeling ability and he’s usually the peacemaker within the group, especially around Kere Ellis and Numata. Yaichi is the silent ghostly protector, primarily of Karatsu (who he is, is not revealed at this point. As our introduction to the world of KCDS, the first four volumes serve as a taster rather than a proper introduction to the series. Sure, we meet the characters and yes, we understand the parameters of the story. But not enough is revealed to begin with and if truth be told, I prefer this kind of story.

When the gang gets together, it’s not really shown how they all got there. And even after four volumes, I might know about Sasaki’s childhood but I can still be surprised by her phobias. Likewise, the growing importance of Yaichi who hangs around Karatsu still isn’t really resolved by volume 4 (spoilers: it’s not even resolved by volume 12!). The best way I can describe the storytelling structure is as follows: the characters react and act around the plot events. However, we get little bits and pieces about them and their backstories as we go along. Please note though, only Sasaki’s story is explored here. The others start to get fleshed out in subsequent volumes.

The stories behind the people the company serves (and the recipients) vary greatly with each volume. The father in the first volume in “Less Than Happy” is just…vile. Really, when the full horror of what he’s done is revealed, the authors work is done. I saw coming but still it’s hard to stomach. In “Magician of Lost Love”, we are in full EC Comics mode with the delicious serial killer setup. With an innocent off-screen voice over, we see the killer at work and then the snap twist. In the third volume, “X+Y=Love” we find ourselves in that strange mental places people find themselves in with a Japanese rerun of The Most Dangerous Game.

Artwork wise, I think the run of the mill artwork in the book is competent and smart. It’s nice to look at but it’s not really polished. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, far from it, it gives a stability to the flow of the book. Where it really excels is the depiction of bodies being reanimated and doing the usual things reanimated bodies do: i.e. getting revenge. It’s got an EC Comics vibe to it where you often see the evil person/antagonist’s view of the approaching horror and it’s great. Yamazaki’s best trait is the way he depicts the expressions on people’s faces. An eyebrow here, a stunned look there, it’s all very well suited to break the flow (no pun intended) of gore and blood. Curious thing about the books, each cover, front and back, have thumbnails of the gang. Only Karatsu’s doesn’t change. It’s an interesting choice to isolate Karatsu like that, no explanation given.

The best thing about Kurosagi, outside of the actual story, is the exhaustive liner notes from Dark Horse editor Carl Gustav Horn. I mean, they go into real small detail (sound FX, meanings behind conversations, the fact that a lot of the chapters are song titles), getting into the meat of Japanese culture and the lifestyles of people and it also rambles into his own opinions which are great.

Kurosagi isn’t for the faint of heart nor is it for people looking for ultra-cute stuff, you won’t find it here. The characters are doing a messy job and they have as much fun as you can hauling around stiffs. It has a wonderful sense of respect for the dead and complete irrelevancy for the societal do’s and don’ts that just get in the way, don’t ya know? With 12 English-translated (beautifully done by Toshifumi Yoshida) volumes with more to come (hopefully, right, Dark Horse?), it’s a welcome jump into a nice, horrible little horror.

Point of interest: I’m a big fan of macabre horror, especially from Western literature. People like Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft (whom I had known about for years but only read very recently) really capture the essence of the dread that awaits the unwary. These are tales where the author (or someone the author knew) usually is the one sucked into the horror. The way the poor unfortunate is dispatched is always fun. So that is one aspect of KCDS that is really fun to read because it’s the same. People are killed, dismembered, drowned, set on fire, choked and those are just the victims. The authors are not indifferent to the suffering of their victims, it’s just they have an equal view of violence. The perpetrators seem to get worse punishments than their victims. But then, their perpetrators usually fall into two categories: the ones who just get killed and the ones who really have a number done on them. I really don’t feel all that sorry for either group. But the way in which the gang in KCDS after the first couple of chapters don’t seem to be fazed by having to hold back an out of control dead guy or nearly being drowned in a freak flood is neat and refreshing. By contrast, the other people they encounter who witness this stuff with them have more in common with the aforementioned New England horror crowd.

Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service MMF: Call for Participation

Hello again to all my friends! August is finally here and so the Manga Moveable Feast has arrived. For those who do not know, the MMF is a monthly collaboration amongst manga bloggers from across the globe where we write for a week about a particular subject, author or series.

August’s MMF will run from Saturday the 25th to Friday the 31st and will cover the Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service. One of the darker and macabe manga series out there, KCDS is written by Eiji Otsuka and drawn by Housui Yamazaki. It’s been published in Japan since 2002 by Kadokawa Shoten and in America since 2006 by Dark Horse. The manga follows the adventures and travails of a group of newly minted former students from a Buddhist college. All of them have abilities that make them different from the average person. Karatsu can talk and temporarily reanimate the dead, Numata can find the dead using a pendulum, Makino can wrap up the bodies for proper disposal, Yata talks to the sock puppet on his hand, Kere Ellis and Sasaki runs the business and paperwork. They deliver people, animals and so on, that have recently died to their proper place of burial or to do their last wishes. Usually that last point involves a bloody, gory or otherwise disgusting end to either the corpse or another person. But it’s all in a day’s work for these people.

KCDS is one of the craziest, funniest, bloodiest and all round insane manga I’ve ever come across and I am thrilled to discover what other people think about it. It really has one of the original plot setups around and doesn’t shy away from presenting the full horror of what it is to be a dead person or to have to be around dead people for a living.

As the MMF kicks into high gear in the last week of August, I’m hoping to give overviews of the 12 volumes available in English (as of this writing) rather than straight reviews of each of them. But don’t let that stop you from writing as much as you like on the subject! Reviews, roundtable discussions, podcasts, I don’t mind if you don’t! No blog of your own? I can take care of that, just send your reviews to me and I’ll post them on your behalf!

I’ll be doing a more lengthy overview on the 25th to kick things off and I’ll also post the first submissions on the same date. The archive page will also go live on the same day so you can all see your works in one place. Oh, and if you have any written pieces, vlogs or podcasts already done, please email me at eeeper – at – eeeperschoice.com. Good luck to you all!

You can email as prescribed above or find me on Twitter. Please mark your tweets with #mmf and #kcds. The MMF Google Group can be found here.

Jiro Taniguchi MMF: The Ice Wanderer and Other Stories

I have noticed since I was a teenager, the disparity between man and nature. Man, overcomes nature through force of willpower. Nature, seemingly, has no comeback most of the time. But when it’s a man or men against nature, then the story is different. It’s in these situations that humanity, in its little oases of “civilization”, finds out how little it knows and also how pitiable its attempts to fight back are. After reading The Walking Man, I was delighted to discover more of Taniguchi’s work, this time taking place in the realm of nature rather than an urban environment. While the main title is its lead story, the book contains more tales to enthrall.

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Noburu Ishiguru 1938 – 2012

Chances are, if you’re reading this, that you probably have heard of the passing of famed anime director Noburu Ishiguru. Mr. Ishiguru passed away aged 73. I won’t keep you all very long. This is my personal recollection of Ishiguru.

I knew of Ishiguru’s work in anime even before I knew of he, himself. Growing up with Robotech, you, sort of, had no choice in the matter. Even after discovering about Macross, and his involvement with it, I remained impressed that one man kept it all of it together. Today there are committees, companies and like for this sort of thing. Back then nobody knew about cross media opportunities, having record companies work hand in hand with anime producers to the degree Macross did. Ishiguru helmed a series that did all that.

Working on the 1980’s Astro Boy series, you can see his flair even inside this most Tezuka of Tezuka’s works and having the added pressure of working alongside the God of Manga himself. I am only now digging into the treasure that is Legend of Galactic Heroes. Such an amazing work. Oddly, I saw his latest work, Tytania, before starting into LoGH. Does this distract from his earlier space opera? Not at all, in my book.

At Otakon 2011,I had the delightful opportunity to see Mr. Ishiguru in person as he, Makoto Shinkai and Kazuya Murata were jointly holding a Producers and Directors panel (well, the producers were too scared to come up on stage, so it became a directors panel!). We heard from a variety of their recollections, most of which I struggle to recall at the moment to be honest, and then got a chance to ask questions. Unfortunately, some idiot decided to ask the inevitable Tsunami question and that ground the whole panel to a halt. As a result, a lot of us never got a chance to ask our questions. I had a few but now I think of it, there really was only one: “For Ishiguru-sempai, and the rest of the panel if they like, what do you want to be remembered for?” Sadly, I’ll never get the chance to ask that of Mr. Ishiguru, but looking back at his long body of work, his contribution to what we regard as modern anime and his great take on being an animation director, I think I’ve got the best answer possible, in my mind. Thank you, Mr. Ishiguru, for all your hard work. You have most certainly earned your rewards, whenever you are.

Go raibh maith agat.

Wandering Son Volume 2


Wandering Son Vol.1 was an eye-opening read for me, full of opinions and options I had never considered before, and that I’ve already watched the series means nothing to how much I’ve enjoyed the manga. The first volume serves as a reintroduction to Nitori and Takatsuki, the young boy and girl who wish they were the other’s gender, and for those who’ve never seen the series, will not confused or disheartened. Looking at volume 2, we are presented with a new dilemma: now that I know how I’d like be, there’s the world to deal with. If Vol.1 was a masterclass in people not wanting to accept the status quo within their own minds, Vol.2 shows the uncertainty of the waiting world. The way that Nitori and Takatsuki fumble forward with no plan is painful and endearing. They know the two of them are better together but there’s the problem of dealing with classmates, family and teachers. It’s not easy and well done to Takako for not short-circuiting the process. It’s not easy writing characters in distress but it’s wonderful to read it. If you can recognise the character’s pain and sympathise despite your differences, it proves you’re human and so is the author.

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Jiro Taniguchi MMF: The Walking Man


Jiro Taniguchi is a wonder to behold. You could read one of his books, marvel at the artwork and not even have to read the dialogue. I’m not saying you will follow every window but you could get by without them. The man is a modern wonder. He hasn’t written a magnus opus (well, I think he has but I’m not everyone) but there’s a world in all of his books. I’ve written before about this effect in his books where you try and peer around buildings and people because you want to see more. I am happy to read and write about Taniguchi for as long as I can keep reading his stuff. With that, I commend to you, The Walking Man.
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Kingyo Used Books 1 – 4 Overview

Finding time to read a book these days is something that I didn’t give much thought to when I was younger. I mean, bookshops had been around forever? They weren’t going anywhere. Then the Internet arrived. Bookshops shrugged. It’s the Internet, where people posted images on Geocities and browsed Usenets. Then the iPad arrived. Bookshops shuddered and when the Kindle arrived, things have never been the same since. So in the English speaking world, the power the big book chain shops had acquired was demolished, literally, brick by brick. Today I can find, maybe, five or ten bookshops in my city. Of them, I would trust three of them for recommendations. But in Japan, it’s different. The book publishing industry seems to be, er, booming? OK, that’s a lie. Japanese publishers are also feeling the pinch from eBooks and online reading services. But the used book shops do well. People always want to read the books they read when they were young. Or find that classic book they had put off but now want to read. Or even, the books that people have never heard of and that wait in the patient hope someone will read them. There must be people to read those books and they must have stories of their own, right?
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Leiji Matsumoto’s OZMA first review plus quick impressions of the VIKI service

OK, so I’ve just seen Matsumoto’s new show OZMA on @viki. It’s pretty good.


It’s the future, the earth has dried up, people will in the outcroppings of rock in the desert. Our plucky hero, Sam Coyne (great Irish name) rescues the whisp-ish girl, Maya, from a Theseian (I think it’s spelled
that way) patrol who seem to know her. Just as they chase her down in their huge sand destroyers, she and they are thrown into a micro-sandstorms (because you know they can be very dangerous) by a Dune sandworm called an Ozma, allowing Sam in his sand flyer to snatch Maya out of the bad guys clutches. He takes her back to his home, a town built into a huge rock plateau where the ship he serves on is docked.

So, our adventure begins. I love Matsumoto and everything he does. The character designs never change, the ideas are all similar but still I’m glad he’s around. If anything, this first episode reminds me that he can make the best kinds of stories. When he announces a new show I get excited for watching a show or movie that I’ve seen replayed dozens of times before. Normally, I’d say this is not a good thing but he’s different. He’s always like that. The cast talks about Natura’s, quantum resonance, Ozma’s and so on but it’s not really that important. Matsumoto’s not that pushed to give you explanations. He’s got a hero, a beautiful girl, old Tochiro, Queen Esmeraldas without the scar, Harlock being the debut episode’s bad guy, the Man to fight and that’s all you need to know. A little bit of this, a little bit of that and you have your setup and your reason for watching. The blurb on the Viki page says this series will “tackle the ultimate question of life and its existence”. If that’s true, I’m all for it.


Trying out Viki on Android, the subtitles are clear, if literal, and the font they use is huge and crisp. You will not be able to NOT read this stuff. The people at Viki can only subtitle this stuff with community help. I know it’s on Crunchyroll as well but this is a new service and they are a worldwide outfit straight out of the box. That, in and of itself, deserves our praise. So, head over to Viki.com and check out their other shows.