Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Vol. 1

Written by Eiji Otsuka
Art by Housui Yamazaki
216 pages, black and white
Published by Dark Horse

One of the easiest way to get a new reader’s attention is with a good title for your comic, or a good cover design. In the case of The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Vol. 1, both are provided. From the schematic design on how all the pieces of a body fit together, to the brown paper wrapper style cover paper stock, to the different colored inks to make up the logo, this is a book whose appeal has been carefully thought out and executed by all involved parties. And if the outside is that good, well, it’s hard to imagine that the inside won’t be as well.

It’s hard to find a job when you’re a student at a university for budding Buddhists. All the good jobs for in-house monks are taken for people with better qualifications, and it seems like no one wants a Buddhist office assistant these days. That’s how Kuro Karatsu ended up agreeing to go with a prayer group out into the woods, for lack of any other good leads. What he didn’t realize is that like himself, all of the other four people in the group have their own special abilities. Makino is a master embalmer. Numata’s dowsing powers have a knack for finding dead bodies. Yata can channel aliens through his hand-puppet. Sasaki is a master of the internet (and also sells pictures of bodies online). And Kuro? He can speak to the dead when their souls are still trapped inside the corpse, unable to move onto the next life. And that’s how they all got pulled into finding a profession—locating trapped souls and helping them move on. Hey, it beats being an office assistant.

Eiji Otsuka is using a tried-and-true story structure in The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service; a selection of different/misfit individuals band together and form a group that’s stronger as a whole than apart. When looked at on a clinical level and matter-of-factly, there’s nothing particularly original or special about it. Where Otsuka succeeds, then, is in the actual execution of the idea. It’s a strange combination of mystery and suspense; sometimes you’re left guessing how the person died, other times it’s presented to the reader very early on in the story and Otsuka provides the tension with the anticipation of our heroes entering a situation where we as readers know just how bad it really is. The situations themselves are also nicely varied, from an insurance adjustor who’s able to figure out the probabilities for any and every possible accident in any situation, to an old story about a field where bodies can be left in and its modern day equivalent. While there’s currently not much in the way of an over-arcing plot (unless you count the mystery of Kuro’s spiritual companion that even he doesn’t seem to know is there), each of the individual stories has enough charm and entertainment to keep one interested. The characters themselves are fun, and while Yata and Makino seem a little underdeveloped compared to the rest of the cast, the series is young enough that hopefully there will be more depth given to them before too long.

It took me a little while to figure out why Housui Yamazaki’s art made me feel like I’d seen it somewhere before. I hadn’t, but it actually reminds me a lot of American comic artist Mike Allred’s work. Like Allred, Yamazaki has a young, youthful art style with thick locks of hair and expressive, slightly cartoonish facial features. Yamazaki also has a real sense of style in his art, dressing his characters in continually different contemporary styles and fashions. It’s a small touch but one that really stands out, helping ground the characters in reality and making them seem just like college students that you’d know yourself. Yamazaki’s able to at the same time still bring a much needed menace into his art. Kuro’s spiritual companion looks progressively creepier as the series progresses, and scenes like the jigsaw corpses rising up to attack, or the solitary altar in the middle of Dendera Field have the right level of unease about them. It’s an attractive book, and the stories are just beginning to really showcase Yamazaki’s abilities as an artist.

The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Vol. 1 is just the right kind of hook for a new series; four stories that set the tone of what to expect from the book, but providing just enough variety in the small details to keep the reader from getting bored. Add in an attractive look to the series, both in the interiors as well as the exterior packaging, and you end up with a book that makes you wanting more. This is the first comic I’ve read by Otsuka and Yamazaki, but I’m impressed enough that I’ll remember their names for future projects. Until then, I’m quite ready to sign myself up for regular deliveries. This is a thoroughly entertaining book.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com

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