Tag Archives: MMF

Final Day of Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service – End Of Line

And with that, the Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service MMF comes to an end. I can’t tell you how nervous I was hosting this and how much I worried that I wouldn’t be able to finish it. But with, as the saying goes, hard work and guts, we pulled it off. I wish to thank everyone who contributed to it and who give of their time and writing skills to make this the success it is.

I had to postpone the KCDS Feast in April because I was going to be squeezed for time and I asked to do it in August instead. OK, great! August! Now, I still had only about 4 volumes around May and spent the early summer buying the remaining ones and then had to make sense of them all. And as I read, I found that I missed reading it. If nothing else, it’s made me a more careful reader. Usually I read manga and think “THIS IS GREAT!!!” and then not wonder why it’s so great. With KCDS, I had to read and re-read the same volumes over and over again. I hope I’ve communicated what I’ve learned about the books, successfully. So, now that that’s out of the way, let’s wrap this up with our last links of the MMF

Finishing up our adventures are Jenn from the By The Mochiko?! with volume 3, volume 4 and oh, I dunno, 5,6 and 8! Ash Brown from Experiments in Manga takes a look at Makino, the team’s embalmer and a comparison with The Embalmer, I look at the last overview of volumes 9-12 and Jason Yadao looks at the series in general but looks at volume 1 and 2 specifically.

I also want to especially thank Ed Sizemore for his encouragement, Matt Blind for his pointers and Alexander Hoffman for his advice on the structure of the archive.

Finally, I would like to thank everyone who read our posts and commentaries and who sent in feedback. This is what the MMF is all about: a bunch of people with a passion for Asian graphic novels wanting to let more people know about what is so awesome, cool, creepy, annoying and sublime about them.

Now, the archive for KCDS is permanently shelved on my site now, if anyone wants to look over it. I’ll be cleaning it up into some kind of proper order soon and I’ll be adding a recommended list of the blog posts I found the most insightful during my research for the MMF in the coming days. Thanks again, everyone.

- End Of Line.

Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Overview 9-12

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. Also, if you’d like more information on volumes 1-4 or 5-8, please see my reviews of them.

And as I reach the end of the available volumes of Kurosagi, I’m sitting here, wondering what exactly have I learned from this batch? Well, it’s for certain that our heroes have settled into their roles and the situations they find themselves in. When the gang help a local cop in a coastal town solve a series of crimes and the inevitable massacre of the bad guy at the heart of the matter, they advise him to not write up what he just witnessed. Before, they would have avoided working with the police for fear of what the police would ask of them. Here, they are pretty laid back about it all. Another thing that surfaces is the back stories of both Numata and Makino. Makino’s is only really told as a side piece and Numata’s is kinda bleak. But like the others, they share a similar thread in that the key that holds all the kids together is that they all lost their families when they were young. Sasaki even mentioned the fact to Sasayama that he seems to bring together people with this type of background. But maybe Otsuka is speaking through Sasayama when he replies to her that she’s reading too much into it. Is it a coincidence or not? It’s not told at this point. Also, the eleventh volume’s bulk is taken up by one of the better continuous arcs. The story starts off with a simple idea of a girl who carries a boxcutter around and ends with a paedophile’s psychic essense being devoured by a giant mental projection of a marsupial. Yeah, it’s that wicked.

Other things they tackle in these volumes are the pop idol who’s a complete bitch in real life, an invisible man corpse (no, that’s really what happens), a VR/Second Life and a side story about a couple of kids who find each other only to have tragedy strike. In many ways, the scenarios on display here hark back to the days of pulp sci-fi where the idea on display didn’t necessarily have to involve big things. The hook is all you need. So, if they want us believe that there’s a guy cycling round zapping everyone who recently died so they can finish up their affairs, OK, I’ll buy it. Otsuka and Yamazaki make their creations relatable rather than believable. This distinction is important: if they were believable then you’d be asking yourself why is raising the dead to help put their affairs in order, believable? Relatable makes them seems like you could know them, have lunch with them, go shopping with them, etc. On the flip side of things, the concept behind the books has to be believable rather than relatable. Seriously, if you knew that raising the dead was the same as going through a customer query with a customer in McDonalds, then it kind of takes away the mystique of the whole thing, no? But if you knew that while the idea is far fetched, if the authors present the facts of the case in, at least, a scientific way then you’re in and it would take a serious jumping of the shark for you to un-buy the idea.

One thing, and it’s a minor thing that my screenwriting cap won’t let me let go of, is that after twelve volumes, only one other person has outright mentioned that they knew of the Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service and what they do. Now two other groups, The Nire Company and the Shirogani Service knew about them but they work in the other industry so it’s logical that they should know about them. But this is the 21st Century, for pity’s sake, something like the KCDS should be, I dunno, public knowledge. If not on a public level, then the internet should be awash with people asking questions about them. Yes, I know, Japanese culture values privacy but still the chatrooms should have said something by now. It’s the only niggling point I can find with the whole setup of the books.

Finally, I’ve learned that horror can be fun as well as scary. As I’ve said before, there’s an almost EC Comics/Twilight Zone sense of irony at work here. People who have had their dead face ripped off for profit, only want to shag the person who betrayed them, dripping blood and all. Drug runners who use Chinese and Korean drug mules to make drops using the sea is dragged to the beach and out of sea. And so on. At this stage, I look forward to the hammer falling on these edjits as much as the chapter’s setup and execution.

Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service continues to go from strength to strength, building the mythos behind its characters, expanding its scope and delving deeper into the whole idea of death and how you deal with it once it happens to you. As long as we continue to buy, enjoy and pass on this series as recommendation to our friends and fellow Netizens then I’m pretty sure we stand a fair chance in seeing it to the end. I commend these volumes to you in the hopes that you too will read them and come up with your own likes and dislikes about it. Let me know, eh?

Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Overview 5-8

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. Also, if you’d like more information on volumes 1-4, please see my review of it.

Moving swiftly into this second bunch of volumes, the gang get their first clues as to Yaichi’s identity and we also see the Nire group in here for the second time. All the while, they go from client to client trying their best to not either get arrested or dead. The Nire Group are interesting. Initially they came across as complete bad guys (and to be frank, reanimating a dead convict who’s already been executed by the state only to have someone kill them again is sick) but as we learn about them, we realise that Nire himself is simply a driven man, not a vindictive one. But Mutsumi, his adopted daughter, has a similar talent to Karatsu and used it to her own ends. These ends aren’t evil in themselves but I dare you to face down a finger-chomping, zombie cat and not poop your pants. Also, the appearance of Shirosagi Cleaning Service is evil personified. It’s one thing to profit from another person’s misfortune, resulting in their death. It’s another when you keep profiting from them after they’re dead. They turn up again later in the series and they just ooze a “We is the bad guy!” vibe. I’m glad that they’ve turned up in the story. Other than Sasaki’s origin story in volume 2, the book has shied away from doing continuous stories and as a result doesn’t have a arc, per se, to follow. So having recurring villains is the next best thing.

I’ve learned something about the title while reading these volumes. There seems to be a double standard going on in terms of nudity. I’ve already seen Sasaki naked from the waist up and in this bunch we see Makino naked, albeit from a distance. And yes, in this batch we do see full frontal male nudity but not from the male cast members. So, it’s OK to see a nondescript corpse’s yoo-hoo but not Yata’s, Karatsu’s or Numata’s? Hmm, it’s kinda one sided, don’t ya think? It’s a minor gripe in an altogether great series but still it niggles at me. Oh, I should bring up Tooru Sasayama, the social worker who used to be a police detective in Otsuka’s MPD Psycho, and who appeared in the first volumes but I forgot to include him on my first review. He’s a bit of a curmudgeon but he really does have a good sense of honour about him. He’s forever giving the kids (as he puts it) terrible unpaid jobs but in the blink of an eye, is cursing them for costing him money (main bone of contention is unidentified bodies have to be paid for by the local prefecture, i.e. Sasayama’s). Also, we are being deliberately misdirected about the origin of Yaichi, the spirit that rests around Karatsu. One origin is set in the mid-twentieth century, another is turn of the twentieth century, yet another is that one of the Shirosagi Cleaning Service’s people has similar scars. They can’t all be the same person so what is going on here? I don’t know but I hope this doesn’t turn into a Darth Vader moment, that’s all I’m saying.

I’ve no real problems with this batch of volumes. The gruesome is consistent (never thought I see myself writing that) and the little bits and pieces we are discovering about the characters are coming along nicely. I really can’t say why I like it. I think it’s a mixture of a few things: the gore done in such an EC Comics way, the fact that the cast aren’t all that fazed anymore, the people they meet are just people plain and simple, the equality of death is shown, the overarching Buddhist system of Karma in action when the wicked are punished for their transgressions and the irreverent way the authors put Japan in the dock in each volume.

The series continues to impress me and I can’t recommend a better book for grown ups who like their blood and guts along with a monthly dose of humor and snark.

Point of interest: another great cog in the machinery of the book is the black, black, comedy on display. You can’t help but chuckle at the way some of the antagonists get their comeuppance. Again, (and I’m really not trying to labour the point here) the EC Comics vibe is really strong when it happens. The cast almost have a collective “Oh, dear. Whatever shall we do to help the poor git?” look on their faces when the poop hits the fan for the chapters antagonists. Also, the way that the one-liners, great comebacks and delivery is presented is stellar. I can’t count the amount of times I laughed and then checked myself because someone had been brutally murdered (they deserved it, of course). Also, the cast is in the joke, while initially scared by what they see, by the third volume they actually can use the scrapes they’re in to their advantage. Just watching Numata and Karatsu coming to a halt and staring in slack jawed amazement as a corpse gets up and whales on an evildoer is great. The end of the chapter dealing with the cyonics swindler still makes me laugh. I feel that the authors are saying to me “Hey, if you can’t laugh at this sort of stuff, what can you laugh at?”

 

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!

Overviews:

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.