Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Manga Mondays: The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Vol. 6

I can honestly recommend Dark Horse's THE KUROSAGI CORPSE DELIVERY SERVICE to any mainstream comic book reader who knows nothing about manga. It's paced like a TV show (think "Psych" or "Pushing Daisies"), has separate "episodes" that have a beginning, middle, and end, and contain elements of comedy, mystery, and horror that have a universal appeal. And for $10.95 you get the equivalent of about 5 comic books with consistent art. Not bad.

Add to this Dark Horse's unique packaging design and 17 pages of notes illuminating the reader on aspects of Japanese culture and manga conventions contained in the material. These are handsome volumes that really stand out on the comic rack or manga shelf.

The plot of KUROSAGI revolves around a team of ne'er do wells with various skills (embalming, mediumship, puppetry) who make a living retrieving bodies in various states of decomposition and delivering them. In volume 6, the team faces off against the post office (who, falling on hard times, have also taken to corpse delivery) and gets another body psychoanalyzed. The last arc, taking place in the late 1800s/early 1900s, is a change of pace and concerns Jack the Ripper.

It is that final story in KUROSAGI, "The Kunio Matsuoka Demon Hunting Side Story," that was of particular interest to me, as I had just read it after Marvel's THE IMMORTAL IRON FIST: ORSON RANDALL AND THE GREEN MIST OF DEATH. The tone and narrative technique of both stories were quite similar...which made me think:

Oh, so there might be a touch of manga influence in some of the most popular Western mainstream comics today -- one not even about the art style, but about the storytelling itself! I'm sure it is old news to those reading who are familiar with both genres -- but as you know, I am only a beginner.


  1. Yeah, Kurosagi is a great read. I've been reading it since it started being released in the US.

    A title I would like to recommend to you is: Monster, by Naoki Urasawa. Below is the description from the first volume on Amazon.

    "Brilliant doctor Kenzo Tenma risks his reputation and promising career to save the life of a critically wounded young boy. Unbeknownst to him, this child is destined for a terrible fate. Conspiracies, serial murders, and a scathing depiction of the underbelly of hospital politics are all masterfully woven together in this compelling manga thriller."

    It is just a great piece of work. However, unlike Kurosagi, you have to start reading with volume one.

  2. Funny you would mention Monster -- I just read Vols 1-2 of that as well! You are right, it's really good stuff. These "horror" mangas really touch a nerve with me.

  3. Monster and Kurosagi are both pretty great, but if you're loving the Horror stuff, you've got. to. read. Drifting Classroom. I'm blown away by every single volume. It's the most imaginative thing i've read in years.

  4. Kurosagi is awesome, as is Monster. I also recommend Mail, done entirely by the artist of Kurosagi, which features a ghost-hunting detective and his creepy sidekick. There are only three volumes before it ends, and it actually ties into Kurosagi for one story. Just brilliant, creepy stuff, done in that same short story style.

  5. Kurosagi is one of the greatest manga I've ever read. And if you liked it, go and pick up Uzumaki. It's hard core horror, but it's gloriously amazing.

  6. @ Adalisa

    True enough, Uzumaki is brilliant, and finally available again thanks to Viz. Gyo, by the same creator (who also did Tomie, which I liked but not as much) is also great. Zombie fish on stilts- what's not to like?