Monday, September 20, 2010

The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Volume 11

By Eiji Otsuka and Housui Yamazaki. Released in Japan as "Kurosagi Shitai Takuhaibin" by Kadokawa Shoten, serialization ongoing in the magazine Young Ace. Released in North America by Dark Horse.

This volume offers a comparatively long story for this series, taking over 3/4 of the book. But it's all good, as this is one of the better stories they've done, focusing on a little girl trying to 'start over' after supposedly murdering her mother and sister. As Carl Horn notes in the Endnotes, the story is loosely ripped from the headlines, riffing off of Nevada-tan and using a box cutter prominently. It goes in a different direction, of course, with the girl having some supernatural abilities.

The girl herself may be a minor weak point here, as she's shown to be very calm and unemotional through the whole sequence. Of course, this may simply stem from the shock of seeing her mother killed in front of her, and then being arrested and convicted of her murder. (Speaking of which, that mother was absolutely badass, doing her best to protect her daughter while dying of a slit throat. Major props.) The girl has a natural distrust of people from that point on, and her abilities don't help, as they tend to show her the dark underside of humanity.

We also get more political commentary, something you don't necessarily expect from a horror manga. Sasayama tells our heroes the girl's back story, and notes that the girl's conviction was pretty much railroaded through the system, especially once the tabloid press got a hold of the story. A great line here, noting "Why do you think Japan has such a high conviction rate? It sure as hell isn't because they're *all* guilty." Eiji Otsuka has used this series to advance his own beliefs many times, and the beauty of the series' setup is that it never really feels out of place. And even when it turns into a long talking-head lecture, there's always more corpses around the corner.

As for our heroes, they do a lot less this time around, mostly being there to find corpses and let events play out as they should. They get more to do in the other story in this volume, involving a miracle swimsuit that turns out to get into doping Olympic Athletes. Readers who dislike rats may wish to stay away here, though they're mostly just rat corpses. I also cannot help but note that both stories featured Karatsu and Sasaki staying behind while the other 3 do the 'leg work'. Usually Karatsu would have been right there with them. This is lampshaded when Karatsu notes that it's nice hanging out here with Sasaki, something which causes her to blush. Is she trying to make her move in her best socially inept way?

However, really this volume of Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service is about Chihaya, the little girl from the first story. Her story runs the emotional gamut, and gives us plenty of gore (lotsa slit throats here) and eerie horror (page 142 is your creeeeeepy of the volume), but not in such a way that I was nauseated or wanted to stop reading. And the fanservice is higher here as well, with several pages of a bath scene, but it's presented naturalistically rather than perversely, just like its corpses are. Really, this series is for fans of all good manga, not just horror fans. Everyone should be reading this. Highly recommended.

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