kurosagi-v2The idea of a horror manga wrapped in an almost “Friends” like diatribe of mismatched people with their interesting social quirks mixed with say a “Buffy” sensibility is always a different kind of toss up. The essence of “The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Vol. 2” [Eiji Otsuka/Dark Horse/224pgs] delivers this within the realm of traditionalism and certain ideas of spiritualism in the Japanese culture. Most of the structure here revolves around the fact that one of the team can sense dead bodies while another can converse readily with them as long as the soul hasn’t left the body. The constant element is that no one will pay them for this kind of job so they are always looking to pay their bills despite their best intent. One of the first story progressions involves neurological experiments that were an extension of World War II. The corpse progression in these stories is meant like a puzzle where each clue opens up a new idea. This is where the two girls on the team come in as one is a research maven and the other is an infiltrator who can mix herself in with the locals to gain more intel as needed. After freeing the souls of those unduly tortured, one of the next stories in this volume involves a dead baby but the jealousy and essence of betrayal between two friends is what sets the murder in motion. The texture of these ideas is most assuredly dark and some of the visuals interface in this way as well but because of its presence as a black and white manga, the story still manages to contain itself at a precise distance. This is very true in another story which uses snails as a neurotoxin making its victims think they want to fly. By this extension, they end up being impaled trying to fly and reach for the sky. This balances a lot of subliminal metaphors in play. Another two stories take into effect a serial killer but through the eyes of one who died trying to stop him while the other focuses on an entrepreneur killing people and mummifying them to jump start a high end business to rich clients who think they can take it with them. Again, a lot of this is played with a texture of humor including a “cleaner” wrapped like a mummy who says he has just been injured but never gets better.  This continues with a side story about the team being “criers” for hire at funerals for people who have no one or are hated. Sort of sad but the irony is what makes it work. Another tale plays on the same notion of “taking it with you” with a bunch of people who had their heads frozen (supposedly via cryogenics) but were just conned because someone dumped them in a dark cave until our team discovers them. One great thing about this manga for non Japanese readers in a series of footnotes that explain certain aspects but are also meant as sound effects of sorts to create a more complete experience. The last two linear stories of the volume take into effect the idea of wanting to die versus not knowing where the line of death lies. One functions within the “Suicide Forest” which is known the world over. The team finds a competitor in the post office who retains that it as service has to diversify. The postmaster however is killed and they must solve his murder. The other story is about a girl who lived her entire life out of sight in an attic without anyone knowing of her existence. Its trajectory reads more as a fable. The final progression of the volume is a side story about Jack The Ripper coming to Tokyo and the mystery that it might function as his spirit. It is a nice epilogue although it truly doesn’t add any closure. This “Cleaning Service” tome is again, like “Astro Boy”, sprawling in the breathe of its pages but does give an adequate view of the world however steeped in lore it becomes.


By Tim Wassberg


Posted on December 23, 2015, in Other Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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